3 Tips for Long-term Sustainable Heating Cost Management

3 Tips for Long-term Sustainable Heating Cost Management | EcoBlog
When it comes to heating, even small choices can have a massive impact on your electricity bills and carbon footprint in the long term. Moreover, what is seemingly cheapest in the short term is often not the wisest choice financially.

Personally, I don’t like giving people advice that is sustainable but also demands that they uproot the way they live. I like focusing on the things that may be beneficial for your wallet and help you become more eco-friendly at the same time. Here’s how you can be sustainable and save on electric bills at the same time.

1- Intro to Gas Heating System Inefficiencies

The most common heating system in most homes in the UK is gas boilers. Gas boilers are often the cheapest in terms of fuel source (in regions where gas is cheaper per kWh, at least). However, there are a number of reasons gas can be more expensive over time and switching to other systems might just help you cut down on heating costs.

First of all, despite lower cost inputs, gas boilers tend to be less efficient than electric boilers. Gas boilers are 90% efficient when first installed, but this declines over time and might cost you more and more without you knowing it. In contrast, electric boilers run at 98% efficiency (with some even being 100% efficient) when they are first installed.

Secondly, they are more difficult to maintain, which feeds into the first point about inefficiency. Gas boilers generally require an annual maintenance check which can also be a hassle on its own. Otherwise, they will start declining. Electric boilers and other heating systems are slightly lower on the maintenance scale.

On a non-heating-related note, gas boilers can also be dangerous. Older ones might leak carbon monoxide which can cause brain damage. Carbon monoxide is also odorless, so it’s an even riskier prospect for any inhabitants.

That said, there are still many situations where the gas boiler is recommended. The best boiler for a 4 bedroom house is a system gas boiler, but if you don’t live in these kinds of homes, you may not need something quite as powerful (depending on your average water consumption).

So, what are the alternatives to gas boilers?

Gas Heating Alternatives

The cheapest alternative in terms of installation is getting an electric boiler. While the running costs can be higher if you tend to use a lot of water, they can be a viable option for smaller homes with lower water demands. Electric boilers can be divided into both system and combi boilers, with combis being suitable for smaller properties and system boilers for larger ones.

Aside from electric boilers, you can also invest in biomass boilers. While these have very high upfront costs, some of those can be mitigated by government subsidies for sustainable heating. A biomass boiler can cost between £5,000 to £15,000 but government programs like the UK’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme could net you about £5,000. Biomass boilers are by far the most sustainable boiler.

However, boilers aren’t the only game in town. Heat pumps, if your budget allows, can be the most handy over long stretches of time. Some heat pumps sport an efficiency as high as 400% (4 times that of an electric boiler and even more compared to gas). While they can cost a lot, they save you tons in annual electricity bills and are also applicable to many sustainable heating grants like the aforementioned Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

So, if changing your heating system sounds too costly and time-consuming, there are other things you can do.

2- Windows & Glazing

Have you ever considered upgrading your windows? There are many benefits to it, such as decreasing your heating bills by retaining heat. Better heating and thermal insulation aside, they can also benefit from sound isolation.

Generally, wooden windows are the most effective and have the highest sustainability (if they are sourced from faster-growing trees like softwoods). They can retain the highest amount of heat and are endlessly recyclable. Another thing that makes them a solid investment is that they can last 50 to 75 years if maintained properly. This severely cuts down on your window replacement costs.

Aside from wooden windows, aluminum can also be a great option. As long as the window has a thermal break, you can be sure it will be sustainable for your wallet and the environment. 

If your current window frames are already fine, you can still improve on it. If you live in a cold region, you could try out triple glazing. This won’t be appropriate for every household since if you don’t meet the right temperature threshold, the extra layer won’t change much. However, it can be great during winter and can improve noise reduction.

3- Smarter Heating Controls

A smart thermostat can help regulate temperatures in your home while making sure you get the most out of your central heating system. Smart thermostats have a ton of benefits like the level of control they provide and how they can autonomously provide heating reports.

More sophisticated systems can identify when heating is most required and judge occupancy rates and times to find the ideal temperature schedule. These systems can even be controlled through your phone, allowing you to take better care of your home heating needs by implementing insights using data.

While these solutions may not work for everyone, implementing even one of them can have a lasting impact on your heating and energy consumption. Hopefully, this resource has given you something you can apply to your household.


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