Is It Worth Upgrading To A More Sustainable Heating System?

Jeshua Cardenas
Smart Home heating controls app

During the colder seasons, many of us look to our central heating to keep us warm and cosy. But have you ever stopped to think about the impact heating systems can have on the environment? 

With traditional heating systems burning fossil fuels, such as gas or coal, home heating is one of the UK’s largest sources of harmful emissions, which directly contributes to climate change. 

New systems, however, such as heat pumps or solar panels, can come with an expensive price tag and often involve home renovations. This can be a huge undertaking making these a less accessible option for some. 

So, is it worth upgrading to a sustainable option? In this post, we’ll look at the benefits and challenges of upgrading to a more sustainable heating system, whilst exploring the options and costs involved.

Types of Sustainable Heating Systems

When it comes to upgrading a heating system to a more sustainable one, there are several options to choose from. Each type operates uniquely, harnessing natural resources or using energy more efficiently. 

Here’s a breakdown of these systems and why they are considered sustainable:

1. Heat Pumps

Heat pumps work by extracting heat energy from a renewable source, either air, water or underground. They work on the principle that even in cold weather, there’s some heat available in the environment. 

Heat pumps are considered sustainable because they don’t rely on fossil fuels to generate heat. Instead, they transfer existing heat from the environment, making them highly energy-efficient.

2. Solar Thermal Systems

Solar thermal systems use sunlight to heat water, which can be used for space heating or providing hot water for your home. They consist of solar collectors that absorb sunlight, convert it to heat, and transfer that heat to water. 

These systems are incredibly sustainable because they utilise a free and renewable resource: the sun. By harnessing solar energy, they reduce the need for traditional heating methods, reducing both your carbon emissions and energy expenses.

3. Biomass Heating

Biomass systems burn organic materials like wood pellets or logs to generate heat. These boilers are highly efficient and can be a good fit for areas with ample biomass resources.

4. Modern Boilers

Modern boilers are designed to be highly efficient, using less fuel to produce the same amount of heat compared to older models.

When paired with renewable energy, boilers can become a sustainable option. By using clean energy you can heat your home in an environmentally responsible way while enjoying the benefits of a reliable heating system.

The Benefits of Sustainable Heating

Choosing a low-carbon heating option isn’t just about protecting the environment. Here are some other benefits of sustainable heating.

1. Lower Carbon Emissions

Traditional heating systems, which use fossil fuels, release harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which contribute to climate change. Sustainable heating systems produce far fewer emissions, making them a greener choice. 

2. Potential Energy Cost Savings

Sustainable systems may cost more upfront, but they can lead to significant savings in the long run. You’ll use less energy to heat your home, and that means lower energy bills. 

3. Improved Safety

Most sustainable systems are considered a safer solution, as they do not require the burning of highly combustible materials or gases. Air pumps for example can replace an oil boiler and eliminate the safety risks associated with storing and burning oil. 

Can New Boilers Be Sustainable?

New advances in sustainable technologies could mean you don’t have to lose the familiarity of a boiler.  With a few simple changes, you can still operate a boiler to heat your home AND do it sustainably. 

Below is an overview of the steps you can take to run a greener boiler system. 

  • New Efficient Boiler Models:
    Many boiler brands now offer products with efficiency levels above 92%. This means that when you burn fuel, less of it is wasted as harmful fumes. 
  • Electric Boilers

These are the most efficient boilers you can get, as they return 100% of their fuel as usable heat. To get the most from these boilers, however, it is recommended that you pair them with a renewable energy source. This will ensure they are sustainable and emissions-free. 

  • Hydrogen-ready Boilers

Plans are in progress to supplement 20% of the natural gas supply with hydrogen, which is a less carbon-intensive gas to produce. Many new boiler products will state if they are ‘hydrogen ready’, meaning they can convert easily if the hydrogen gas switch happens.

  • Solar Energy Use:
    Finally, if you install solar panels in your home, you can run several heating systems with free, renewable solar energy. This can run an electric boiler for free, heat a solar thermal hot water storage tank and even supply energy to solar batteries – so that you can access free electricity during the worst weather conditions. 

Costs Associated with Installing a New Boiler

Choosing to install a new boiler is often something we do because we have to – the old one has failed or it’s costing too much. Picking a more sustainable option can have incredible environmental benefits, but when faced with this all we want to know is ‘how much do new boilers cost?

Below is a table which outlines the current estimates for new boilers. 

Boiler TypeBoiler CostCost + Installation Fees
Combi (1 Bathroom)£500 – £3,000£1,500 – £4,500
System (2+ Bathrooms)£580 – £3,500£1,700 – £4,000
Conventional/ Regular* £600 – £3,500£1,700 – £4,000
Electric £590 – £2,500£1,600 – £3,500

*Considered an old boiler style, only suitable in replacement scenarios.

Factors to Consider Before Upgrading

When deciding whether to upgrade to a new system, there are some crucial points you should consider. These steps will ensure you make the best decision for your home and circumstances.

  1. Estimate your energy needs and consumption to assess how much heat your home requires to ensure the new system you choose is adequate.
  2. Research and choose the system that best fits your needs and your location.
  3. Make sure you understand the upfront costs, potential incentives, and long-term savings before making a decision. Be sure to also research installation fees and compare quotes to get the best price!

Conclusion: Is It Worth Upgrading to a Sustainable Heating System?

If you’re keen to live a more sustainable lifestyle, using efficient technologies and reducing your impact on the environment – then the answer to this question is a resounding yes! 

Traditional heating methods are having a devastating impact on both the environment and the cost of energy. Choosing a sustainable system is an incredibly positive step to take. 

With advances in boiler systems, there are also options now to upgrade your system without the worry of adapting to a new technology which might require more space. 

There’s no doubt that there are some barriers to accessing these technologies – cost for one – but as things progress, prices will become more manageable and through incentives, with government support, hopefully, we can all make this positive switch soon. 

Jeshua Cardenas

Leave a Reply