Could a Solar PV and Infrared Heating Mix Be Ideal for the UK?

The issue of heating is set to become big in the next few years as many countries try to reduce their carbon footprints in line with the Paris Agreement. Currently in the UK, about 40% of the country’s energy usage is taken up by hot water and heating, much of which is supplied as fossil fuels such as gas.

And therein lies the problem. According to the Committee on Climate Change, there is much that needs to be done in the UK:

“The Government needs a credible new strategy and a much stronger policy framework for buildings decarbonisation over the next three decades. Many of the changes that will reduce emissions will also contribute toward modern, affordable, comfortable homes and workplaces and can be delivered alongside a major expansion in the number of homes.”

While the UK Government is taking steps to promote low carbon solutions such as biomass and heat pumps, there are other viable options currently available that could make a big difference. One of these is infrared heating which has numerous benefits including low electricity usage and easy installation. In fact, when used in conjunction with power produced by wind or solar, infrared can be considered a hundred per cent carbon free option.

This raises an interesting question about how we combine different types of technology to make more eco-friendly homes and offices. It’s all well and good installing solar panels on your roof but if you are still using fossil fuels for heating and hot water, those CO2 emissions are going to be high.

With the development of solar storage technology starting to take hold and the potential for all of us to have homes that are energy independent, the Government and the population should be thinking about how everything fits together better. In the UK, according to the Solar Trade Association, some 670,000 homes now have solar and could benefit from also updating their current heating technology to something that doesn’t use fossil fuels.

So why isn’t more being made of infrared heating? While the Government has invested in the Renewable Heat Incentive for tech like heat pumps and biomass, they have yet to create the same incentives for infrared. It’s strange because it could be the cheaper option for many homes and businesses. Granted, biomass boilers can be used for heating hot water as well but the large majority of energy usage in homes is from room heating.

The Benefits of Infrared

While it has received less coverage over the years than other forms of heating such as biomass, infrared heating can deliver some real benefits to home owners and businesses beyond the potential lowering of carbon emissions.

They are easy to install, for a start. The latest infrared panels can be quickly fitted to a wall and plugged into the electricity supply with the minimum of fuss. They can also be linked up to wireless thermostats so that you have greater control over your heating.

Infrared panels also work differently from traditional convection heaters. Step outside on a summers day and you will feel the immediate warmth of the sun on your face. This is infrared, it works by heating objects directly rather than the air around you. What does this mean? As soon as you switch on the panel you should feel the effects. No waiting for the room to warm up.

Infrared panels also use a small amount of electricity compared to other heaters and can lower your costs substantially. They’re thought to be a lot healthier and can help reduce damp in walls and could be beneficial to people with allergies and asthma.

Even if you don’t have solar installed, you can switch to an energy provider that utilises renewable sources for their customers, cutting down your potential carbon footprint. The point is that we all need to find new ways to combine different technologies and make our planet safer. Installation of something like infrared of course requires an initial outlay but the potential to reduce energy costs and combine it with tech like solar is something we should all be looking at a lot more closely.

Infrared could well be the perfect solution for homes, particularly in the UK where you have many older properties that wouldn’t benefit from technologies such as heat pumps, where the integrity and insulation of the building is an important factor. The ease of installation and panels that can now be controlled via a Wi-Fi thermostat makes this option viable on numerous levels.

Perhaps it’s time we took a closer look at infrared heating and how it can complement the renewables revolution. It’s an affordable and proven technology that works and there is a case for better promotion and maybe even subsidies to increase uptake.

 

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