Choose energy with care for the future
Whether you live in a house, apartment or larger farmhouse, you need to decide how you want to warm your home and heat your water. Perhaps you are considering changing your current energy supply and thinking about a more environmentally friendly and sustainable solution and hoping to save some money.
There are many different options to choose from and it can be difficult to assess them all to find the solution that best fits your needs. In the following section we will review a number of options and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each individual energy solution. That way you should be able to make a well-informed decision when selecting your energy source. And one that considers the environmental as well as your own personal circumstances.
Oil-fired heating is an old and well-known source of heating that most of us have experienced at some time in our lives. The oil stove works by burning oil and thus heating the radiators in the house and hot water for the taps.
- Oil-fired stoves are easy to install
- An oil-fired stove can quickly heat even a poorly-insulated house
- You do not need to refill the oil-fired stove yourself
- An oil-fired stove only needs one or two service checks per year
- An oil-fired stove is really only suitable for those with no other options
- Oil-fired stoves emit large quantities of CO2 and contribute significantly to the greenhouse effect
- Oil-fired stoves must gradually be replaced by more environmentally-friendly solutions
- The price of oil varies greatly
Communal heating is a very common source of energy in some areas, which comes from waste heat generated at power stations. Hot water is pumped from the power station through pipes and around the local district where it heats radiators and water within the housing.
- It is an easy and user-friendly solution
- This solution is environmentally-friendly
- In the vast majority of cases you can be confident that the price will not vary dramatically
- Ensure the system is suitable for your accommodation otherwise consumption may be too high
- In some locations the price of district communal heating is high
- Completely replacing an old communal heating system will be a costly investment
With these points in mind, a communal heating system can be a sensible solution which many may benefit from. The ease of use and mostly reasonable and stable price all make this form of energy very attractive.
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Solar heat is an alternative energy source which takes advantage of the heat of the sun and its ability to convert that into useable energy. However, it requires that you thoroughly understand the solar power system to make sure you get the most from this energy source. It is not yet very common, which is linked to the initial investment required and its susceptibility to seasonal variations in the weather which all make this a difficult energy source to totally rely on.
- A solar energy system is environmentally-friendly, and you can reduce your CO2 emissions
- A solar energy system can work for many years
- A solar energy system needs regular inspection but requires no specific maintenance
- You can combine solar energy with other energy sources
- You are very dependent on hours of sunshine, so it can be an intermittent energy source in the UK
- A solar energy system is expensive to install and therefore it may take many years to make a return on this investment
- A solar energy system is not aesthetically suitable for every house and could impact its value
- A solar energy source rarely provides for a family’s entire energy needs
There is something fantastic about solar energy. It is an inexhaustible source of energy that we have not yet managed to fully harness. But a solar energy system is certainly a good solution if you are looking for an environmentally friendly source of energy that you can use to supplement your primary energy source. Solar energy is best suited to playing this supplementary energy role because in the UK it is not possible to rely fully on the weather.
Geo-thermal energy has not yet been widely adopted, which is linked to several factors. We will examine them in detail below. Geo-thermal energy takes advantage of the heat that is found between the layers of soil in the garden or beneath your property. This is transferred through a pipe into your house where it is then used to heat radiators and water.
- After installation this is a cheap energy source
- Geo-thermal energy is environmentally friendly
- The system can be used for many years
- It requires no special maintenance but must be inspected annually
- The initial investment is very high
- You need plenty of space outdoors for burying the pipes
- Some electrical power is needed to keep the system going
- To make optimal use of geo-thermal heating, your house must be very well insulated
A geo-thermal energy installation may be suitable for new buildings where energy efficiency and insulation are a priority right at the initial build-phase. However, the installation cost is still high, and a relatively large outdoor area is necessary, so this energy source is not suitable for every new build. However, should you have the necessary space and upfront finance available, a geo-thermal energy installation can be a good solution that will benefit both you and the environment for many years to come.
Air to air heat pump
An air-to-air heat pump is an energy source that can be beneficial for smaller buildings or as a supplement to another heating source. Using a suitable ventilation system, this works by extracting renewable energy from the air outside and then converting this into warm air to be pumped around your house.
- An air to air heat pump can save money on your heating bill
- This is an environmentally-friendly solution
- An air to air heat pump is not too expensive to purchase and install
- You do not need radiators in your home
- An air to air heat pump cannot provide hot water for your dwelling
- An air to air heat pump requires the housing to be well insulated
- An air to air heat pump usually requires supplementing with energy from another source
- An air to air heat pump is not suitable for larger houses
An air to air heat pump is therefore a very environmentally friendly way of acquiring energy and heat. Just bear in mind that it has its limitations and is therefore primarily suitable for smaller homes, or holiday homes. If you are still interested in an air to air heat pump for your main home, remember that you will probably need to supplement it with energy from another source in order to heat your water.
Wood pellet stoves
With a wood pellet stove you are sure to have an energy source that meets your current and future needs. A wood pellet stove must be fed either manually or automatically with wood pellets. Burning these wood pellets provides the energy to heat your home and water.
- A wood pellet stove is an economical solution that can cut your heating bills in half
- A wood pellet stove uses wood pellets which are CO2 neutral and thus do not harm the environment
- A wood pellet stove is easy to install
- A wood pellet stove is easy to use, and many modern models are highly automated
- There is some time needed to keep the hopper full
- Wood pellets take up storage space
- You need to find a reliable source of high quality wood pellets
- Wood pellet stoves must be inspected at least once every two years
At first glance a wood pellet stove might seem a little complicated, but in fact it offers great value for money. Taking into account the savings on your heating bill, a wood pellet stove will repay its initial cost over and over, and you are simultaneously helping to preserve the environment by using a CO2-neutral energy source. Wood pellets are a very sustainable way of getting energy. When you realise you will have a sustainable energy source well into the future, this energy solution becomes more and more attractive.
What shall I choose?
It is apparent there are many different options when choosing the energy source for the future. However, your choice must be sustainable in light of the energy policies increasingly being advanced by various governments. There is in fact a broad consensus that we now need to be more aware of the consequences of our energy decisions, and source and consume energy in a very different way than we have up to this point.
In order to maintain a healthy environment, we have been forced to think differently. Energy consumption and, in particular, the use of fossil fuels, was so prevalent in the 20th century that we might find ourselves paying a price well into the future. Only by thinking and acting differently can we see things from the perspective of future generations and ensure that they too will have easy access to clean, warm water and warm radiators. So, it can pay in every way to choose an energy form which gives you greener heat for your money.