Last Updated on January 20, 2022
An ever-increasing pressure has been mounting to improve the UK’s carbon emissions in order to fight climate change. While the UK Government have set targets to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, households themselves are also increasingly aware of their own carbon footprint and use of resources and therefore seek to make improvements.
Gas boilers make a large contribution towards the UK’s carbon emission levels and as such, the UK Government have sought to ban the new installation of gas boilers within new build properties from 2025, and new gas boilers are banned completely from 2035.
Due to the introduction of this legislation property developers, homeowners and landlords will need to find alternative heating solutions to gas over the coming decades.
In this guide, we will be discussing the eco-friendly boilers available currently on the market as well as all of the considerations that impact selecting a new eco-friendly boiler, including how to select a boiler that is suitable for your property and household requirements.
In addition, we will also cover the approximate cost of eco-friendly boilers so that the investment can be compared with other types of boilers.
What are Eco-Friendly Boilers?
An eco-friendly boiler is an energy-efficient type of heat source that produces little or no carbon emissions. Due to the high energy efficiency levels of eco-friendly boilers from both the device itself and the heat loss mechanisms, homeowners should see a reduction in their household energy bills when installed, therefore recouping some of the initial investment of the new boiler itself.
There are many highly efficient boilers on the market, however, they will often still produce greenhouse gases during both the manufacturing process of the boiler itself and the operation process when running the boiler.
Eco boilers are different from energy-efficient boilers as they are powered via renewable energy sources that can either be replenished quickly or will not run out at all.
How can you tell if a boiler is eco-friendly?
All household appliances including boilers should have an Energy Related Products Directive (ErP) rating. This can be found on the product packaging and will also usually be displayed via a sticker on the appliance itself.
This system rates appliances on how efficient they are, using a scale from A+++ to G e.g. an A-rated boiler is the most efficient boiler available and will have efficiency above 90%.
Types of Eco-friendly boilers
There are a few major types of eco-friendly boilers currently available on the market that a property developer, homeowner or landlord may consider when either installing or replacing a current boiler, these are:
Condensing Gas Boilers
After 2005, new “Boiler Plus” legislation was passed in parliament that meant all new gas boilers needed to have condensing technology. This basically means they have a new design that enables them to recycle the hot flue gases, increasing their efficiency drastically.
Therefore, if your boiler is over 10-15 years old, it’s likely to be a non-condensing model, which had efficiency ratings between 60% – 80%, while today’s condensing variety are 90%+.
In simply monetary terms, that means that for every £1 spent, 90p is converted directly into heat, so as you can see the savings can be substantial.
These are boilers that burn hydrogen gas as fuel, as opposed to the usual natural gas. The benefit of this is that when hydrogen is burned it produces zero carbon and only water vapour, which is extremely eco-friendly as it’s a carbon zero heating method.
100% hydrogen boilers are not yet available to purchase, however, boiler manufacturers are currently working on prototypes, which it is assumed will become available over the next decade.
However, new gas boilers are able to accept a mix of hydrogen and natural gas, which is hoped to help households prepare for the transition to hydrogen fuel via the national grid.
Eco Biomass Boilers
Biomass boilers are fuelled by burning renewable organic materials such as wood chips or pellets. The wood fuel chips or pellets are deemed carbon neutral as, during the life cycle of growing the wood for the chips or pellets, the trees absorb an equal amount of carbon as the process of burning the outcome as fuel.
Modern eco biomass boilers are highly efficient for heating water and providing heating; however, most types of biomass boilers require manually loading of the fuel which therefore requires attendance when needing to be operated and can be costly. A typical price for a biomass boiler would be in the region of £9,000.
Electric boilers can be fuelled purely by renewable energy sources such as solar or wind-generated either at the property or by selecting a green energy provider or tariff. Electric boilers operate in a similar way to a gas combi-boiler and therefore can be a fairly hassle-free switching solution for households due to similar space requirements and facilities already in situ.
There are a number of manufacturer’s producing electric-powered boilers on the market, including The Electric Heating Company, Heatrae Sadia or Elnur, offering a range of electric boilers averaging around £1,500 plus installation.
What are the Benefits of an Eco-Friendly Boiler?
There are a number of benefits that a household receives when selecting an eco-friendly boiler including:
- Reduced carbon emissions – As already highlighted, the pressure of reducing each household’s carbon footprint is growing and therefore the first benefit of opting for an eco-friendly boiler is knowing that you are doing your bit for the environment.
- Increased safety – By eliminating the use of gas within a property, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from traditional boilers is removed.
- Maximum fuel savings – Eco-Friendly boilers generally offer an energy-saving rate of at least 90%, therefore using less fuel to provide hot water and central heating, and subsequently saving the household money by decreasing their energy bills.
When is the Best Time to Replace a Boiler?
Commonly an ageing boiler will show signs that the internal parts are beginning to fail either during observations undertaken via regular maintenance or by breaking down more regularly.
In addition to these more obvious signals, there is also a more subtle indication that your boiler may require replacing within the fuel efficiency of your current model.
If your household energy bills are hiking up despite the cost per unit remaining the same, the fuel efficiency of your boiler may be decreasing with age and you may wish to consider a boiler replacement. An installation of a new modern boiler will be more energy efficient due to the increases in technology and in turn, reduce household energy bills.
When a homeowner or landlord has come to the conclusion that a boiler replacement is required, it is highly recommended that advice from a qualified heating engineer is sought regarding which eco-friendly boiler would be most suitable for their property.
Further Eco-Friendly Measures
Should you not be ready to commit to a new eco-friendly boiler as of yet, either due to your current model still working or due to the costs of a new boiler installation, there is a range of other measures that can be taken to decrease the households carbon emission in the meantime such as:
Install Insulation or draught-proofing measures within the property
There are an array of insulation options or draught-proofing measures that can be installed depending on the suitability for the property such as loft insulation, underfloor insulation or cavity wall insulation.
There are many websites online available providing more details of the available options, including a number redirected from the Government’s own website. In addition, should someone within the household be eligible for Government schemes, there may be funding available to install such measures.
Install a Passive Flue Gas Heat Recovery Devices (PFGHRD)
A PFGHRD is a device that has been developed to capture the heat generated within the flue of the boiler and then recycle this to heat up the water entering the boiler. Modern boilers will have a PFGHRD already fitted however if your model does not, it is worth investigating the options to add this device.
Install Smart Technology
Smart thermostats, zoning tools or monitoring apps all can help minimise wastage of energy.
Fit the radiators with temperature control valves – Check that the radiators have temperature control valves already fitted that enable manual operation of the temperature of each radiator. If not already in place such valves can be fitted onto the side of each radiator providing an option of turning the radiators down or off in rooms that are not in constant use.
Installing Weather or Load Compensators
Weather or load compensation controllers provide additional controls in order to improve the efficiency of a heating system. Load compensators monitor the internal temperature and adjust the boiler settings in reaction, whereas weather compensations provide external sensors to adjust the boiler settings for the weather. Such technology provides the boiler with actual temperature readings rather than simply operating on a programmed timer, therefore saving energy.
Eco-Friendly Boilers Conclusion
There are many benefits of installing an eco-friendly boiler, including reducing the household’s impact on the environment or simply aiming to lower the household energy costs.
We have given a brief overview of the most common types of eco-friendly boiler’s available on the market, as well as typical costs of purchasing. Should you need any further advice on which type of eco-friendly boiler would be most suitable for your property, please seek advice from a qualified heating engineer.