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Heating supplier: Why are we only talking about heat pumps?

An electric heating supplier has criticised the UK’s obsession with heat pumps when it comes to meeting net zero targets.

The government offers a 5,000 grant towards installing heat pumps, and so far just shy of 10,000 have been handed out since the scheme launched last year.

Keith Bastian, chief executive of electric heating company Fischer Future Heat, said installing 600,000 a year by 2028 is ‘optimistic at best’.

He said: “There’s no question that heat pumps will play a part in helping us to net zero. But heating homes in the UK is not a one size fits all solution.

“The government needs to put just as much effort into highlighting other forms of zero emission heating – giving consumers greater choice to suit their circumstances.”

Heat pumps can struggle to reach comfortable temperatures in colder weather, while the noise can be an issue due to the outdoor fan which usually placed in the garden.

They’re also very pricey, with purchase and installation costs ranging anywhere between £7000 and £14000 – considerably higher than the £2000 average for a replacement gas boiler.

Fischer Future Heat outlined a number of alternatives to heat pumps:

Electric Boilers

Electric boilers offer high levels of efficiency and produce zero emissions in the home. With no requirement for external flues, and minimal moving parts, maintenance is a lot easier compared to heat pumps and gas boilers. They are available as a Combi-Boiler which can be swapped directly with a gas boiler to provide heating and hot water. Similar to heat pumps, a well-insulated home is important but installation is relatively straightforward and can be completed in under a day.

Electric Radiators

Modern electric radiators are a far cry from the big and bulky storage radiators of the 1970s and can be an effective and efficient method to provide your home’s heating. The best electric heaters come with individual thermostats which can be programmed to suit the user’s lifestyle and may even help reduce energy use.

Electric Water Heating

Keeping your water heating separate from the heating in your home can prove more efficient. Electric water heating systems have also come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and you no longer need huge water tanks in the loft or airing cupboard to enjoy a long hot bath. The Aquafficient uses phase change material to heat hot water and can fit into much smaller spaces than water tanks. An electric hot water system can be paired with an electric ‘heat only’ boiler or electric radiators.

Infrared Radiators

Infrared heaters transmit heat through thermal radiation generating infrared rays around the room. It’s the same way as the Sun works (but thankfully without the UV rays and temperature levels). Heat comes from infrared light warming your skin and clothes and bouncing off other objects in a room to heat the space.

Biomass Heating

Biomass uses wood, plants and even manure to heat homes. While is is thought to be a renewable form of heating, there is an argument that emissions released from this type of heating can cause health problems. A biomass stove burns logs or pellets for heat and can also be fitted with an additional boiler for hot water. They don’t come cheap though, with average costs reaching £16,000 for an average sized home.

Bastian said: “Having individual systems to focus solely on your hot water is far more efficient as every kilowatt will be used for that single purpose. In the summer, you can also turn off the system that supplies heating saving you money on your energy bills and if anything goes wrong with your heating system you will never be without hot water.”

He added: “Mass adoption of zero carbon heating systems can only be achieved if the government push heavily towards people moving to any form of electrical heating. The end result is we’re no longer using fossil fuels in the home which ultimately is what we are all trying to achieve.”