HOME HEATING BEYOND GAS
In an imaginary graveyard of technology lay some iconic, though obsolete, devices such as audio cassettes, typewriters and fax machines. Soon enough, another extremely common appliance will join the list: the gas boiler.
In the UK, gas heating will be banned for any new house built as of 2025. This means that eventually, the beloved gas boiler will inevitably become a thing of the past. So what are the alternatives?
1. Heat Pumps
Using the same technology powering our fridges the last century or so, heat pumps do not create heat, but instead transfer it from one space to another. When talking about home heating, there are two types of heat pumps depending on the source: Air, Ground or Water. Heat is taken from one of these sources (even if it's cold outside) and concentrated to warm the house. The heat extracted from the environment is a form of renewable energy, as for each unit of energy consumed to run the heat pump, 2-3 unit of energy is generated in the form of heat. In other words, heat pumps can have an efficiency rate as high as 300%.
2. Electric boilers
Electric boilers can directly replace gas combi boiler with zero disruption. They simply produce heat using electricity instead of gas. This makes them extremely simple and convenient, they are more efficient than gas boilers (up to 99% energy efficiency rate), quieter, cheaper to buy and to maintain. However, your energy bill is likely to increase significantly, simply because whereas a kWh of gas costs about 3.5 pence, the same kWh of electricity will cost around 15 pence. Even taking into account the higher efficiency, they are still likely to be 3-4 times more expensive to run.
Hydrogen is a flammable gas which is seen as a possible candidate to replace the natural gas (mainly methane) currently used to fuel our gas boilers. In principle, it can be transported using the existing gas pipes and it can be burnt using very similar gas boilers, while producing zero carbon emissions. The main challenge will be to produce Hydrogen sustainably - this can be done by extracting the gas from water through a process called electrolysis, powered by electricity produced from renewable sources (solar, wind, etc.).
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