With the cost of energy bills continuing to rise, and questions marks over the long-term environmental impact of fossil fuels, thought-leaders in the energy sector are looking for heating solutions that provide homeowners with cutting edge technologies.
As a result, the future technology of home heating could look a lot different in 20 or 30 years time. The ultimate goal is to hit zero emissions. However, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), drastic changes are needed. A CCC statement reads:
“Meeting future carbon budgets and the UK’s 2050 target to reduce emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels will require reducing domestic emissions by at least 3% per year. This will require existing progress to be supplemented by more challenging measures.”
In other words, we don’t have time to develop heating technologies that are capable of dramatically eliminating carbon emissions by 2050.
The immediate response has been to design combination boilers that improve energy efficiency by around 88-94%. It’s a short-term solution but given 8 out of 10 homes in the UK rely on the National Grid to heat their homes, combi-gas boilers are the obvious choice for homeowners to lower carbon emissions in the foreseeable future.
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The CCC has proposed several alternative options. The most likely to materialise in the UK is a hydrogen network. Hydrogen is an emission-free gas. When burned it only produces vapour.
The sticking point at the moment is switching from a gas-pipeline directly to a hydrogen network. The upheaval to implement an entirely new infrastructure is not logistically viable.
A proposed solution is to usher in hydrogen-heating systems by manufacturing gas-hydrogen hybrids. This would ensure there is a sufficient amount of fuel being delivered to UK households all year round and smooth the path for a complete transition.
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Innovations taking place on a global scale is a race against time. Home heating systems of the future need to reduce energy consumption, reduce costs, insulate homes and enable consumers to access the technology easily.
Leading the race appears to be the next generation of heat pumps. Capable of heating and cooling all-year-round, experts estimate heat pumps will reduce heating costs by approximately 40%.
It is claimed that solar panels are the most energy-efficient heating system that does not impact the environment. However, the jury is still out on the long-term prospects of cityscapes donning a sea of blue attached to household roofs.
The initial expense of installing solar panels is high. A typical system will set you back around £6,200. Moreover, reports indicate that whilst photovoltaics are less damaging to the environment than fossil fuels, chemical pollution could pose problems for wildlife and natural habitats.
The target of achieving a no-carbon future appears to be a long way off. Experts cannot see past a solution beyond 2050 and households will still be producing carbon emissions. In the meantime, homeowners are encouraged to replace outdated boilers with energy-efficient alternatives.