Green Heating Solutions

What are the problems with boilers?

The UK’s homes are responsible for about 14% of the UK’s carbon emissions [1]. In 2021, the UK had 26 million gas boilers with each one releasing the equivalent of 3.54 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. When added together, the 92 million tonnes is more than double the 41 million tonnes released by the UK’s gas fired electricity power stations. Gas boilers also emit over 8.5 times as much harmful nitrogen oxide than all of the gas fired power stations which increases the risk of respiratory illnesses[2]. There is also the environmental impact of around 1.6 million homes using heating oil.

What are the Solutions?

The first priority for any home is good insulation. Friends of the Earth are currently campaigning on this issue. Click here to find out more. However, most homes will still need a solution for providing the remaining heat and hot water. Are there any alternatives to heat the UK’s homes without contributing to climate change and polluting the air we breathe? We looked at a number of solutions on the market and in November 2022 we invited three companies to tell us how their products work and to answer questions from the public. The video's introduction and overview of heating can be found here.

1) Zero Emission Boiler

We were joined by Iain Duncan from Tepeo. He is their Chief Commercial Officer leading the customer roll out of their Zero Emission Boiler (ZEB). This is helping move Tepeo from CleanTech start-up to scale-up. Iain has a wealth of experience across the domestic energy sector, having had previous senior commercial roles at both OVO Energy and Centrica. 

The Zero Emission Boiler (ZEB) is a replacement for your gas or oil boiler and, if located in the same place, will need minimal changes to the existing pipes and electricity feed. Because of the weight (375kg) it does need a solid floor so might not be a solution for everyone. The current module is suitable for homes with up to 3 bedrooms.

Picture taken from with permission

The boiler works by taking low carbon electricity to heat a high density insulated storage core. It can store 40KWh of thermal heat energy. When heating is required the core releases heat to a heat exchange which sends the water to the central heating system. The boiler can provide hot water to any temperature between 35-80 centigrade.

If you have solar panels you can store the excess electricity in the ZEB instead of exporting it to the grid. It’s also a great solution for using the grid’s excess renewable electricity. Often wind turbines have to be switched off when it is too windy and demand is low (when people are sleeping). It is so much better to keep them running and store the excess electricity as heat. The ZEB’s smart technology can utilise time-of-use tariffs to charge the boiler at the greenest and cheapest times.

As of July 2020, the boiler and delivery costs £6,000 including VAT. A standard installation is roughly £1,500-2,000 including VAT, but this depends on your home and the installer. This is significantly cheaper than installing a heat pump. At the moment the company is only offering their solutions in the South of the country but please check with their website as hopefully they will expand over time.

If you currently have a combi boiler then don’t worry, a new combi boiler model is due to be released shortly.

More Information...
The ZEB website can be found here.
The presentation used in the Zoom meeting can be found here
The Zoom video of the presentation can be found here.
There is also a video on the Fully Changed Show:

2) Infrared Heating

Adam Broadbent from the Leeds office of Herschel Infrared joined us to explain how their product works and to explain how Herschel Infrared was chosen as the heating solution for a Zero Carbon House that was designed for the COP26 Summit. The house was built within 8 weeks near the COP26 site to demonstrate that beautiful, affordable, healthy and comfortable homes are achievable now - using ecological responsible materials with minimal impact on the environment.

So, how do Infrared Heaters work? Instead of directly heating the air in a room, Infrared (IR) panels heat you, the walls, ceiling and floor evenly which absorbs the heat and gently re-emits the heat back into the room. This is more efficient than conventional heating systems which waste energy by heating large volumes of air. It is difficult to understand how this works, but the sun and coal fires produce infrared heat so the experience should be similar to the sun shining on your face.

Picture taken from with permission

As the IR devices use electricity they are zero carbon when using green electricity from solar, wind or other renewable technologies. They also use less electricity than equivalent electric radiators.

The IR panels are produced in a range of colours including mirrors and blackboards. A great option is to have your own photographs printed on the panels to mimic canvas artwork. IR heating solutions also come in the form of towel heaters and portable heaters.

Current radiators waste space because you can’t place items in front of them. The IR panels can be mounted on the wall or ceiling which frees up more space in the room. If you haven’t got an electrical power supply in place then an electrician can fit one for you.

The IR panels reduce the expensive process of fitting hot water pipes and central heating radiators. The total cost of ownership is reduced as the panels are designed and manufactured to last a lifetime, often come with long warranty periods, and do not require annual maintenance contracts.

IR heating panels can reduce damp problems in homes. Traditional heating works by convection which warms the air around the heater. Warm air carries more moisture and can create damp spots when it meets cold surfaces like walls.

More Information...
Herschel Infrared's website can be found here.
The Zoom video of the presentation can be found here.
There are a few useful videos below:

3) Heat Pumps

Our final guest of the night was Robert Stiby who is a heating product champion for Daikin UK, holding the highest technical level in the UK for Daikin heating products. 

Picture taken from with permission

A heat pump heats your home and provides hot tap water by extracting heat from the air, ground or a water source.

If you want to know how a heat pump works then think about your fridge. A fridge removes heat from the inside of a space, and releases it outside the space. A heat pump does the opposite, drawing heat into a space and releasing it there.

Even if it’s cold outside, a heat pump extracts heat from the air, ground or water and uses it to heat a home. It’s a form of ‘renewable energy’: it will never run out, and is more efficient than typical heating systems which rely on fossil fuels like gas or oil.

A heat pump connects directly to a central heating system, so it feeds heat into your radiators, wall units or underfloor heating.

Your heat pump runs on electricity, removing the need for gas in your heating system. Plus, if you generate the required electricity yourself – for example, with solar panels – your bills and CO₂ emissions will be even lower.

More Information...
The Daikin website can be found here.
The PowerPoint presentation can be found here
The Zoom video of the presentation can be found here.
There is a useful video below: