Phasing out Fossil Fuels in Off Grid Vs on Grid Homes

Phasing out Fossil Fuels in Off Grid Vs on Grid Homes

It’s pretty clear that eventually, fossil fuel heating systems will have to go, and the sooner we phase them out, the better. Of course, this comes from the perspective of global net-zero carbon targets, but also as a solution to homeowners with inefficient systems, and as a protection measure from rising energy prices. The good thing is that the Government are fully aware of the importance of renewable energy for replacing fossil fuelled systems and have highly incentivised homeowners with funding schemes to make the switch more accessible for the early adopters. In England and Wales, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme offers between £5k to install air source heat pumps, while in Scotland, a cashback scheme offering up to £8000 is available, along with an interest free loan.
 
outdoor heater
 

Can anyone install an air source heat pump?

In simple terms, yes, anyone can install an air source heat pump to their home, the complication comes with homes that may be more suited than others and potential energy efficient measures that may need to be put in place to ensure maximum efficiency. Now this is NOT a case of new build properties “vs” older property’s or relating to the common myth that the property has to be well insulated to be suitable for air source heat pumps. Heat pumps can in fact be an amazing solution for both old properties and new and the only difference is the size of the heat pump required and the savings expected, which is just as relevant to replacing your heating with a gas or oil boiler. Another factor to consider is whether the home is off grid or on grid as this will determine if the project is financially viable or not due to a massive difference in the average running costs between the different fuel sources.
 

On Grid Vs Off Grid

On grid describes a home connected to the mains gas grid, and off grid includes homes usually in rural areas, that do not have access to mains gas and therefore use fuel sources such as electricity, solid fuel, LPG gas or oil. Due to the price of gas vs electricity, usually heating a home by a gas boiler will be cheaper to run than an air source heat pump, which is why a full heat pump replacement is not always recommended to on-grid customers. This is because the unit prices of gas are usually much cheaper in comparison to electricity, and the heat pump will require some electricity to run. Although the heat pump will deliver around 300% more heat energy than the electricity it uses, the difference in unit prices still often makes the gas boiler cheaper to run, especially in colder months when the CoP (Coefficient of Performance) of the heat pump drops a little. While now, the switch from gas to a heat pump doesn’t always make financial sense, the energy gap is expected to close and make the numbers more favourable for heat pumps in the future. For the time being, the solution for on-grid customers, is a hybrid heat pump, which combines the gas boiler with an air source heat pump.

 
hybrid heating system
 

A hybrid heating system uses smart technology to automatically determine the most energy efficient system to use based on current energy prices, outdoor temperatures, and indoor heat capacity. By making the most out of both systems, hybrid air source heating allows you to save energy when it is cheapest to do so, but still have the gas boiler taking over when the CoP drops, and the boiler becomes more efficient. By incorporating a renewable source of energy, you can reduce the carbon emissions of your home, and your own personal carbon footprint while ensuring the most efficient system is used all year round. This is the perfect solution for on-grid customers looking to utilise renewable energy without increasing their fuel bills at all!

Off grid customers, however, are usually best making the full switch from oil, LPG or electric to a stand-a-lone air source heat pump. Oil/LPG boilers for example will use much more energy than a heat pump to get water up to temperature and you will not feel the full effect of the energy that is generated. Air source heat pumps are very energy efficient generating up to 4 times as much heat energy for every kW of electricity used. This makes them 300-400% efficient in comparison to traditional off-grid boilers which are around 90-95% efficient and electric heating which is 100% efficient. Overall, when compared to the traditional heating options available to an off-grid homeowner, a heat pump wins on energy saving and efficiency every time, meaning lower fuel bills and a much lower carbon footprint.
 

Conclusions

In a perfect world, every single home would be kitted out with renewable heating and electricity systems such as heat pumps and solar panels to keep fuel bills low and the environment clean. However, not every homeowner will see financial benefit from installing a heat pump, and while a worthwhile investment with an impressive ROI, not everyone can afford the initial outlay for solar panels. In Scotland however, we are lucky to have up to £8000 available from the Government to install air source heating whether it be as a full replacement heating system or incorporated into your current one and interest-free finance options available for solar. In this post we discussed the differences between on grid and off grid homes and explained how air source heating is the perfect upgrade for most off-grid homeowners looking to cut carbon emissions and save money, all while benefitting from an effective heating system that will keep them cosy all year round. For the homeowners utilising mains gas tariffs, we outlined the benefits of a hybrid heating system, to get the benefits of both gas and renewables, without increasing the monthly bills at all – in fact decreasing them when the heat pump can provide more efficient heating.

There is no doubt that eventually, fossil fuelled heating systems will be phased out, and renewable heating systems will become the norm. With the Government currently offering funding to make the switch more accessible, we advise homeowners to look into the systems for themselves and see how much they could save by installing a heat pump. The £8000 cashback scheme will only be available for so long, so find out today how you could benefit.

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By Carla Chalmers

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