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What you need to know if you want to go ‘gas free’

With record increases in global gas prices causing the energy price cap to rise by 54% and the Government encouraging homeowners to move away from fossil fuels with Net Zero goals in mind, many Brits may be looking to switch to alternative solutions.

However, almost half (43%) of UK residents have admitted that money is the biggest obstacle to them ‘going green’ with their home heating, according to new research by Electric Radiators Direct.

So far, just 6% of British homeowners have already switched to ‘greener’ energy solutions in their property, and a quarter (24%) admit they don’t know which ones would be best.  For some, investing in new heating solutions may not be a viable option at the moment. However, for those choosing to make the switch, ditching gas can come with a number of benefits, including lowering your home’s carbon footprint and minimising energy waste.

When looking to make improvements that could lower emissions, reduce bills and make homes more energy-efficient, there are options available. Stephen Hankinson, Managing Director at Electric Radiators Direct, gives his advice on where to start.

What to consider before ‘making the switch’  If rising energy costs are your immediate concern, it may not be feasible to invest in new solutions for your home right now. It could be helpful, however, to consider the long-term benefits of ditching gas, and plan ahead for a switchover in small steps.

Although gas is a cheap energy source per unit, there are other options that can work out less expensive in the long run and are also better for the planet.

Electricity for example is more expensive per unit, but electric heating is 100% efficient at its point of use which means that every watt of electricity you use is converted into heat, and nothing goes to waste.  Gas central heating, however, sustains system losses, which naturally occur at the point of combustion, as well as across the pipe network. Up to 50% of the heat produced by a gas boiler can be lost through the pipes, especially if they’re not well insulated. This means you end up paying for warmth that you aren’t actually benefiting from.

Your options  As our survey has shown, many feel they need more information about what their options are and would like some guidance on what the best solution would be for them. For example, if you’re looking to move on from gas central heating, you may want to do some research into the best alternatives for your home before you commit.

Heat pumps The Government is offering help and grants to encourage the nation to install low carbon heating systems, including heat pumps.   Heat pumps work by taking the heat from outside a property, either from the surrounding ground or the air, and transferring it indoors. They are highly efficient and could also be used to cool down the house in warmer months. As such, for the right household, they could be the answer.  Typically, air source heat pumps cost around £8,000 to install, while ground source pumps, which extract solar energy from the earth and convert it into power, can be closer to £35,000 for a 2-3 bedroom house. Even with Government help, the total cost to install could be around £3,000 for an air source heat pump, and £30,000 for a ground source heat pump. For many this is a big investment and something they’d only consider installing in a property they’re planning on living in for some time.  In terms of running costs, outgoings for a heat pump in an average-sized home could be around £1,725 a year in total.

Biomass boilers Biomass boilers are another carbon-free heating solution the Government is offering grants for, as part of the new scheme to encourage Brits to move away from gas.

They use materials such as wood pellets or logs to create heat, making them a good option for rural homes, and for those able to source suitable matter that can be turned into fuel.

On average, they can cost between £5,000 and £13,000 to install, but can be quite cheap to run as the cost of fuel needed is around £5p per Kw/h. If you’re thinking of choosing a biomass boiler, make sure you have enough space to house one, as they can be considerable in size.

Electric radiators As an efficient and effective heating solution already used in many British homes, electric radiators are yet another great alternative. They supply heat through a combination of convection and radiation and can also be paired with a green energy tariff for completely carbon neutral heating.

Switching to a green tariff means that your provider is agreeing to buy energy only from renewable generation methods. Green energy suppliers can also replace the electricity you use with renewables and feed it back into the National Grid, making your home heating carbon free.  In terms of costs, electric radiators can fall between £200 and £550 per unit, depending on wattage and model. They generally have no installation fees and could cost around £1,220 collectively to run for an average 3-bedroom home.

Infrared heaters Infrared heaters are a good solution if your home is not perfectly insulated. Instead of warming the surrounding air like convection heaters, they produce 100% radiant heat that travels in a wave.

As a result, they heat surfaces directly, reducing the chance of warmth being lost           to draughts. They generally have a lower wattage compared to radiators, which    means they use less electricity, but may need to run for longer if your home is very               spacious or poorly insulated.

Like electric radiators, they can be paired with a green tariff, to ensure your home heating is carbon-free. They cost between £200 and £500 per unit and are generally up to £615 to run collectively.

It’s always worth noting that running costs and potential savings for each solution vary based on a number of factors. This includes the size and location of your home, as well as insulation, so it’s always advisable to consult a professional before you make your final decision.

Getting rid of your gas system 

Due to high risks involved, whichever solution you choose, you will need professional help to get rid of your gas system, which includes your boiler and pipework.

The overall cost will depend on several factors, such as the size of your house, the age of your boiler and how many radiators and pipes you have, so it’s always worth comparing quotes from a few different professionals in order to get the best one.

Before you do so, always ensure you’re only getting in touch with Gas Safe registered engineers, to avoid any risks.