4 Types Heating Systems For Homes: The Pros and Cons

Posted on January 25, 2019 in  | Tags: ,

When it comes to installing a new central heating system it can be a difficult job sifting through the information in order to choose the right one for you.

Not just that but there’s a vast range of types, styles and variations of heating systems for homes to choose from.

Here are four of the most popular with their pros and cons to get you started:

1. Oil

Home heating oil is used in a ‘wet’ system where an oil-fired boiler heats water that provides central heating via radiators, and hot water via taps. The main difference between gas and oil systems is that oil is delivered to your home as you need it and stored in an external tank, whereas gas is supplied through a direct feed to your home.

Pros of oil Heating

Home heating oil is a highly efficient fuel, and modern condensing boilers are now 90% efficient, or more. If your boiler is more than 15 years old you may want to consider replacing it with a more modern and energy efficient model. Replacing old or out-dated boilers is relatively straight-forward, and heating your home with oil is usually cost-effective provided the changeable oil prices are low.

Cons of oil Heating

As a fossil fuel, oil produces carbon dioxide when it is burned, so it is not considered to be a clean or sustainable source of energy. The price of heating oil can fluctuate significantly, which means it can be an expensive way to heat your home depending on the current oil prices. Prices are impacted by weather conditions, seasons, demand, and even political unrest.

2. Gas

With current gas prices, a gas central heating system can be a cost-effective way to heat your home, provided you are connected to the national gas grid. Gas central heating is a ‘wet’ system, which means a gas-fired boiler heats water that is pumped through your radiators and hot water taps.

Pros of Gas Heating

Gas is a highly efficient fuel, and modern condensing boilers also have very high efficiency – in some cases up to 90% or more. Gas is piped directly into your home, so you don’t need to store any fuel and you won’t run out of fuel unexpectedly (unless there is a problem with the local supply).

Cons of Gas Heating

As a fossil fuel, gas produces carbon dioxide when it is burned, so it is not considered to be a clean or sustainable source of energy. Gas heating systems need to be maintained regularly, and by law engineers carrying out the work must be a Registered Gas Installer. If you don’t already have a gas heating system, installation can be expensive and disruptive, especially if your home is not already on the gas network.

3. Electric – Storage Heaters

Overnight storage heaters are the most cost-effective form of electric heating. Storage heaters contain bricks that are heated overnight using off-peak electricity, with the stored heat released slowly during the following day. Storage heaters typically have two controls – one to control how much electricity is used, which determines how much heat is generated and stored, and a second control to determine how much heat is released.

Pros of Electric Heating

Almost every home is capable of using electric heating. Electric storage heaters are typically cheaper to install than other forms of central heating systems, and they typically don’t require much maintenance. Electric heating systems also do not require annual servicing.

Cons of Electric Heating

While often cheaper to install compared to other types of heating system, electric heating is usually the most expensive to run. Currently, electricity is around three times more expensive per unit than gas, and prices continue to rise. Electric storage heaters can also be difficult to control – if you haven’t had the heating on for a few days and turn your storage heaters on, you won’t benefit from heat until the next night. As a result, heating requirements need to be planned in advance so that the heat is available for you to use when you need it.

4. Solar Thermal  

Gas and electricity prices continue to rise, and oil prices fluctuate considerably. You could cut your household energy bills by installing a renewable heat technology, such as solar thermal heating. In addition, generating your own energy for heat reduces your carbon footprint and is environmentally friendly.

Pros of Solar Thermal

Generating your own energy for heat could reduce your utility bills by up to 70%. Most solar heating systems come with a five-year or ten-year warranty, and they require little maintenance. The system won’t need an annual service, though it is recommended that the system is inspected every 3-7 years. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) offer up to €1200 towards the cost of installing a solar thermal system to all homeowners, including landlords, whose homes were built and occupied before 2011. For more information, go to: www.seai.ie/grants/home-energy-grants/solar-water-heating-grant/.

Cons of Solar Thermal

The upfront cost of installation may seem more expensive, but over the lifetime of the system you will reap the rewards. Not every home is a suitable candidate for solar thermal heating, or even other kinds of renewable technologies.

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