Renewable Heating Options for London Homes

Renewable heating options in the UK explained

As concerns about climate change and the need for a sustainable living continue to grow, more and more people are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and switch to renewable energy sources. One area where this is particularly relevant is in the way we heat our homes. In the UK, the majority of domestic energy consumption is used for heating, making it a key area for consideration when it comes to sustainability. In this article, we will explore the various renewable heating options available in the UK, including solar thermal, air source heat pumps, and ground source heat pumps. We will also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each option, as well as the potential cost savings and environmental impacts. Whether you're looking to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels or simply save money on your energy bills, this article will provide valuable information on the renewable heating options available in the UK.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are a type of renewable energy system that can be used for heating and cooling buildings. They work by transferring heat from one place to another, rather than generating heat directly like a traditional heating system. There are two main types of heat pumps: air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps.

Heat pumps are a highly efficient and environmentally friendly way to heat and cool buildings. They can save up to 50-70% on energy bills compared to traditional heating systems, and they produce very low carbon emissions. They are also easy to maintain and have a long lifespan. However, they can be more expensive to install than traditional heating systems, and they may not be suitable for all buildings or climates.

Air source heat pumps

Air source heat pumps use the air outside a building to heat or cool the interior. They work by extracting heat from the air and transferring it inside, or by absorbing heat from inside a building and releasing it outside. Air source heat pumps are relatively easy to install and can be used in both new and existing buildings.

Q: What is an air source heat pump?
An air source heat pump is a type of renewable energy system that uses the air outside a building to heat or cool the interior. It works by extracting heat from the air and transferring it inside, or by absorbing heat from inside a building and releasing it outside. Air source heat pumps are relatively easy to install and can be used in both new and existing buildings.
Q: How does an air source heat pump work?
An air source heat pump consists of an outdoor unit, which contains a compressor and an evaporator, and an indoor unit, which contains a heat exchanger. The outdoor unit extracts heat from the air and transfers it to the refrigerant inside. The refrigerant is then compressed, which increases its temperature. The indoor unit then uses the heat exchanger to transfer the heat to the air inside the building. The process is reversed in the summer to cool the building.
Q: What are the benefits of air source heat pumps?
There are several benefits to using air source heat pumps: Energy efficiency: Air source heat pumps are highly efficient, using up to 300% more energy than they consume. This means that for every 1 unit of energy used to run the heat pump, 3 units of heat are produced. Cost savings: Air source heat pumps can save up to 50-70% on energy bills compared to traditional heating systems. Low carbon emissions: Air source heat pumps produce very low carbon emissions, making them a more environmentally friendly choice. Easy to install: Air source heat pumps are relatively easy to install, especially in comparison to ground source heat pumps, which require a ground loop. Suitable for new and existing buildings: Air source heat pumps can be used in both new and existing buildings, making them a versatile option.
Q: What are the drawbacks of air source heat pumps?
There are also some drawbacks to consider when it comes to air source heat pumps: Initial cost: Air source heat pumps can be more expensive to install than traditional heating systems. Location: Air source heat pumps may not be suitable for all locations, as they are less efficient in very cold temperatures. They also require a clear, unobstructed area for the outdoor unit. Noise: The outdoor unit of an air source heat pump can produce noise, which may be a concern for some homeowners. Maintenance: Air source heat pumps require regular maintenance, including cleaning and servicing, to ensure they are operating at their best.
Q: How much do air source heat pumps cost?
The cost of an air source heat pump depends on several factors, including the size of the system, the type of heat pump, and the location. On average, an air source heat pump costs between £8,000 and £15,000 to install. However, this cost can be offset by the energy savings and government grants and incentives, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). It’s worth noting that the initial cost of an air source heat pump may be higher than a traditional heating system, but it can save homeowners money on energy bills in the long run.

Ground source heat pumps

Ground source heat pumps, also known as geothermal heat pumps, use the ground or ground water as a source of heat. They work by extracting heat from the ground or ground water and transferring it into a building, or by absorbing heat from inside a building and releasing it into the ground. Ground source heat pumps require a ground loop, which can be installed through horizontal trenches, vertical boreholes, or a pond or lake. They are generally more efficient than air source heat pumps and can be used in both new and existing buildings.

Q: What is a ground source heat pump?
A ground source heat pump, also known as a geothermal heat pump, is a type of renewable energy system that uses the ground or ground water as a source of heat. It works by extracting heat from the ground or ground water and transferring it into a building, or by absorbing heat from inside a building and releasing it into the ground. Ground source heat pumps require a ground loop, which can be installed through horizontal trenches, vertical boreholes, or a pond or lake. They are generally more efficient than air source heat pumps and can be used in both new and existing buildings.
Q: How does a ground source heat pump work?
A ground source heat pump consists of an outdoor unit, which contains a compressor and an evaporator, and an indoor unit, which contains a heat exchanger. The outdoor unit extracts heat from the ground or ground water and transfers it to the refrigerant inside. The refrigerant is then compressed, which increases its temperature. The indoor unit then uses the heat exchanger to transfer the heat to the air inside the building. The process is reversed in the summer to cool the building.
Q: What are the benefits of ground source heat pumps?

There are several benefits to using ground source heat pumps:

  • Energy efficiency: Ground source heat pumps are highly efficient, using up to 400% more energy than they consume. This means that for every 1 unit of energy used to run the heat pump, 4 units of heat are produced.
  • Cost savings: Ground source heat pumps can save up to 50-70% on energy bills compared to traditional heating systems.
  • Low carbon emissions: Ground source heat pumps produce very low carbon emissions, making them a more environmentally friendly choice.
  • Long lifespan: Ground source heat pumps have a long lifespan, with some systems lasting up to 50 years.
  • Suitable for new and existing buildings: Ground source heat pumps can be used in both new and existing buildings, making them a versatile option.
Q: What are the drawbacks of ground source heat pumps?

There are also some drawbacks to consider when it comes to ground source heat pumps:

  • Initial cost: Ground source heat pumps can be more expensive to install than traditional heating systems, due to the cost of installing the ground loop.
  • Location: Ground source heat pumps may not be suitable for all locations, as they require a large area of land or access to ground water.
  • Maintenance: Ground source heat pumps require regular maintenance, including cleaning and servicing, to ensure they are operating at their best.
  • Planning permission: Installing a ground source heat pump may require planning permission, depending on the location and type of system.
Q: How much do ground source heat pumps cost?
The cost of a ground source heat pump depends on several factors, including the size of the system, the type of heat pump, and the location. On average, a ground source heat pump costs between £14,000 and £25,000 to install. However, this cost can be offset by the energy savings and government grants and incentives, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). It’s worth noting that the initial cost of a ground source heat pump may be higher than a traditional heating system, but it can save homeowners money on energy bills in the long run.

Biomass boilers

Biomass boilers are a type of heating system that use organic materials, such as wood chips, wood pellets, or logs, as fuel. These boilers are designed to burn the fuel in a controlled and efficient manner, producing heat that can be used to heat a building or hot water. Biomass boilers are a renewable energy source, as they use a sustainable fuel that can be replenished.

There are several benefits to using biomass boilers. They are a renewable energy source, they can save up to 30% on energy bills compared to traditional heating systems, and they produce low carbon emissions. Biomass boilers are also flexible, as they can be used to heat a building or produce hot water. However, there are also some drawbacks to consider, including the initial cost, the need for fuel storage, and the requirement for regular maintenance. The cost of a biomass boiler depends on the size of the system, the type of boiler, and the fuel used, with prices ranging from £9,000 to £20,000.

Q: What is a biomass boiler?
A biomass boiler is a type of heating system that uses organic materials, such as wood chips, wood pellets, or logs, as fuel. Biomass boilers are designed to burn these materials in a controlled and efficient manner, producing heat that can be used to heat a building or hot water. Biomass boilers are a renewable energy source, as they use a sustainable fuel that can be replenished.
Q: How does a biomass boiler work?
A biomass boiler consists of a fuel hopper, a combustion chamber, and a flue. The fuel is fed into the hopper, where it is dried and burnt in the combustion chamber. The heat produced by the burning fuel is transferred to the water in the boiler, which is then distributed to the heating system or hot water supply. The flue is used to vent the combustion gases outside the building.
Q: What are the benefits of biomass boilers?

There are several benefits to using biomass boilers:

  • Renewable energy: Biomass boilers use a renewable energy source, as the fuel can be replenished.
  • Cost savings: Biomass boilers can save up to 30% on energy bills compared to traditional heating systems, depending on the fuel used and the efficiency of the boiler.
  • Low carbon emissions: Biomass boilers produce low carbon emissions, as the carbon dioxide released during combustion is offset by the carbon dioxide absorbed by the growing fuel.
  • Flexibility: Biomass boilers can be used to heat a building or produce hot water, making them a versatile option.
Q: What are the drawbacks of biomass boilers?

There are also some drawbacks to consider when it comes to biomass boilers:

  • Initial cost: Biomass boilers can be more expensive to install than traditional heating systems.
  • Fuel storage: Biomass boilers require a large amount of fuel, which may need to be stored in a separate area.
  • Maintenance: Biomass boilers require regular cleaning and servicing to ensure they are operating at their best.
  • Fuel availability: Biomass fuel may not be widely available in all areas, and it may need to be imported, which can increase the cost.
Q: How much do biomass boilers cost?
The cost of a biomass boiler depends on several factors, including the size of the system, the type of boiler, and the fuel used. On average, a biomass boiler costs between £9,000 and £20,000 to install. However, this cost can be offset by the energy savings and government grants and incentives, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). It’s worth noting that the initial cost of a biomass boiler may be higher than a traditional heating system, but it can save homeowners money on energy bills in the long run.

Solar water heating systems

Solar water heating systems use the energy from the sun to heat water for domestic use. These systems consist of solar panels, called collectors, which are installed on the roof or walls of a building. The collectors absorb the energy from the sun and transfer it to a fluid, which is circulated through the collectors and into a storage tank. The heat from the fluid is then transferred to the water in the storage tank, raising the water temperature.

There are two main types of solar water heating systems: passive systems and active systems. Passive systems use natural convection to circulate the fluid through the collectors and into the storage tank, while active systems use a pump to circulate the fluid. Active systems are more efficient than passive systems, but they are also more expensive to install.

Solar water heating systems are a highly efficient and environmentally friendly way to heat water for domestic use. They can save up to 70% on water heating costs, and they produce no carbon emissions. They are also easy to maintain and have a long lifespan. However, they may not be suitable for all locations, as they require a south-facing roof or wall with sufficient sunlight. Solar water heating systems can also be more expensive to install than traditional water heating systems, although the initial cost can be offset by the energy savings.

What is a solar water heating system?
A solar water heating system is a type of renewable energy system that uses the energy from the sun to heat water for domestic use. These systems consist of solar panels, called collectors, which are installed on the roof or walls of a building. The collectors absorb the energy from the sun and transfer it to a fluid, which is circulated through the collectors and into a storage tank. The heat from the fluid is then transferred to the water in the storage tank, raising the water temperature.
Q: How does a solar water heating system work?
There are two main types of solar water heating systems: passive systems and active systems. Passive systems use natural convection to circulate the fluid through the collectors and into the storage tank. The collectors are positioned at a slight angle, which causes the fluid to flow down towards the storage tank. Active systems use a pump to circulate the fluid through the collectors and into the storage tank. The pump is controlled by a thermostat, which turns the pump on and off to maintain the desired water temperature.
Q: What are the benefits of solar water heating systems?

There are several benefits to using solar water heating systems:

  • Energy efficiency: Solar water heating systems are highly efficient, as they use the energy from the sun to heat water.
  • Cost savings: Solar water heating systems can save up to 70% on water heating costs, depending on the location and the size of the system.
  • Low carbon emissions: Solar water heating systems produce no carbon emissions, making them a more environmentally friendly choice.
  • Easy to maintain: Solar water heating systems are easy to maintain, with few moving parts and a long lifespan.
  • Suitable for new and existing buildings: Solar water heating systems can be installed in both new and existing buildings, making them a versatile option.
Q: What are the drawbacks of solar water heating systems?

There are also some drawbacks to consider when it comes to solar water heating systems:

  • Initial cost: Solar water heating systems can be more expensive to install than traditional water heating systems.
  • Location: Solar water heating systems may not be suitable for all locations, as they require a south-facing roof or wall with sufficient sunlight.
  • Performance: Solar water heating systems may not be as efficient in cloudy or winter months, when the sun is not as strong.
  • Maintenance: Solar water heating systems require regular maintenance, including cleaning and servicing, to ensure they are operating at their best.
Q: How much do solar water heating systems cost?
The cost of a solar water heating system depends on several factors, including the size of the system, the type of collectors, and the location. On average, a solar water heating system costs between £4,000 and £8,000 to install. However, this cost can be offset by the energy savings and government grants and incentives, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). It’s worth noting that the initial cost of a solar water heating system may be higher than a traditional water heating system, but it can save homeowners money on energy bills in the long run.

Heat networks

Heat networks, also known as district heating systems, are a type of heating system that uses a central plant to produce heat, which is then distributed to multiple buildings through a network of underground pipes. Heat networks can use a variety of energy sources, including natural gas, renewable energy, and waste heat from industrial processes, to produce the heat.

Heat networks have several benefits, including energy efficiency, cost savings, and low carbon emissions. They are also easy to maintain and have a long lifespan. However, there are also some drawbacks to consider, including the initial cost of installation and the need for a central plant. Heat networks may also not be suitable for all locations, as they require a sufficient demand for heat in the area.

Heat networks are becoming increasingly popular as a way to heat buildings in a more sustainable and efficient manner. They are particularly useful in urban areas, where there is a high demand for heat and limited space for individual heating systems. Heat networks can be used to heat a variety of buildings, including residential, commercial, and industrial.

Q: What is a heat network?
A heat network, also known as a district heating system, is a type of heating system that uses a central plant to produce heat, which is then distributed to multiple buildings through a network of underground pipes. Heat networks can use a variety of energy sources, including natural gas, renewable energy, and waste heat from industrial processes, to produce the heat.
Q: How does a heat network work?
A heat network consists of a central plant, which produces the heat, and a network of underground pipes, which distribute the heat to the buildings connected to the network. The central plant is typically located in a central location, such as a power station or an industrial site, and it uses a fuel source to generate heat. The heat is then transferred to the network of pipes, which distribute it to the buildings connected to the network. The buildings have heat exchangers, which transfer the heat from the pipes to the heating system in the building.
Q: What are the benefits of heat networks?

There are several benefits to using heat networks:

  • Energy efficiency: Heat networks are highly efficient, as they use a central plant to produce the heat, which reduces energy losses.
  • Cost savings: Heat networks can save up to 25% on energy bills compared to individual heating systems, depending on the energy source and the efficiency of the system.
  • Low carbon emissions: Heat networks can produce low carbon emissions, depending on the energy source used to generate the heat.
  • Easy to maintain: Heat networks are easy to maintain, as the central plant is typically responsible for maintaining the system.
  • Suitable for new and existing buildings: Heat networks can be used to heat both new and existing buildings, making them a versatile option.
What are the maintenance requirements for heat networks?
Heat networks typically require minimal maintenance, as the central plant is responsible for maintaining the system. However, it is important to ensure that the buildings connected to the network are properly insulated and have properly functioning heat exchangers, as this can affect the overall efficiency of the system. It is also important to regularly check the underground pipes for any issues, such as leaks or blockages.
Q: How much do heat networks cost?
The cost of a heat network depends on several factors, including the size of the system, the energy source used to generate the heat, and the location. On average, a heat network costs between £100 and £250 per installed kilowatt (kW) of capacity. However, this cost can be offset by the energy savings and government grants and incentives, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). It’s worth noting that the initial cost of a heat network may be higher than individual heating systems, but it can save homeowners money on energy bills in the long run.

In conclusion, there are many renewable heating options available in the UK that can provide a more sustainable and cost-effective way to heat buildings. Options such as heat pumps, biomass boilers, solar water heating systems, and heat networks can all use renewable energy sources or waste heat to produce heat, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and reducing carbon emissions. While these options may have a higher initial cost compared to traditional heating systems, they can save homeowners money on energy bills in the long run and contribute to a more sustainable future. It is important to carefully consider the different options and choose the one that best fits the needs and circumstances of the building.

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Heat Quick Direct are Vaillant accredited engineers

Heat Quick Direct is accredited by all the major gas boiler trade bodies, such as Gas Safe and we are approved G3 unvented hot water storage engineers approved by Worcester as accredited engineers and we are approved advanced Vaillant engineers.