There is no doubt that if the UK is to meet its carbon reduction targets, the way we live has to change. A vital part of this will be phasing out gas and oil boilers and replacing them with low carbon heating. In fact, from 2025 it will become illegal to install gas boilers in new build homes. As almost all homes still rely on fossil fuels, this presents a formidable task, especially when you consider that the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has vowed to try and keep energy bills as low as possible. Though electricity supplies are rapidly switching to low carbon sources, a big percentage of people are still largely unaware of the alternatives to fossil fuels.
Infrared heating is a great way to keep warm and at the same time reduce your carbon emissions. IR heaters don’t add pollutants to the room you use them in. In essence, IR heaters add nothing to the environment and don’t take anything from it either.
Many people may not realise that the principle of infrared heating has been used for centuries. It fundamentally works in the same way as the natural heating effects of the sun. Surfaces such as stone walls or sand on the beach are warmed up by infrared energy from the sun. The surfaces that have absorbed infrared energy and heated up, then radiate heat back, creating a warmed thermal mass rather like a very large radiator. This is why a sunny hot wall is perfect for growing fruit as the stonework remains warm long after the sun has gone in.
COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS
Compare prices from local companies fast & free
In the past open fires, log burners or agas have kept us warm working in much the same way by giving off infrared heat which warmed stone walls, clay tiles and cast iron. These surfaces would hold the warmth and radiate it back long after the fire had died down. Today our lifestyles need a heating system which is far more controllable, maintenance free, clean, and easy to use, with just the same principle of infrared.
How does Infrared Heating Work?
Infrared heaters are a type of highly efficient electric heater. The panels in an infrared heating system work in the same way as the sun does, using infrared light. This is far more efficient than traditional heating methods for various reasons. Infrared heating produces heat from the light that our eyes cannot see. This type of heating keeps us warm because our clothes and skin soak up this light. It’s a bit like the difference between being inside, in the shade or out in the sun. If you sit indoors or in the shade you won’t absorb the light of the sun and warm up.
Electric infrared heating comes from a simple unit on the wall which becomes very hot. This could be a mirror or picture or just a slim white panel. There are no moving parts, no fans or noise. The heater must reach a very specific hot temperature across a large surface area to emit an optimum wavelength of far infrared which is comfortable for people but also good enough to heat objects and the air too. Most of us have experienced near infrared which glows orange and is excellent for fiercely heating people in a cold outdoor environment, but this would be the wrong wavelength for heating the home.
Infrared rays from the panel shine across the room, warming the surfaces they touch, creating a warmed thermal mass or large radiator. The rise in temperature of the walls, floor and furnishings is only a few degrees but is enough to make the room feel comfortable and cosy. The air will become evenly warmed too as there is no convection or rise of hot air and fall of cold air. This is due to the heat being radiated everywhere and not at one single point. In fact, the heater can be placed on the ceiling allowing it to shine across the room and as it is giving off infrared energy not hot air, high on the ceiling is the best place.
Unlike most heating types, infrared heaters emit heat that warms you up instantly by creating a concentrated beam of warming light. They will warm you up no matter how cold it is outside. Inside your heater there’s a circle-shaped hot coil that is designed to transfer heat evenly. This heat is then reflected by the reflector, a specific type of polished metal, which is why you can feel the warmth even several meters away from your heater. Infrared heating isn’t affected by wind or drafts in your home either.
Heating the surface of the panel requires very little energy. Unlike traditional radiators which are constantly reheating cold fallen air, once the room is warm the infrared heater only needs to maintain that surface temperature. Because the heater is not concentrated on heating air but just maintaining surface temperature these heaters are very energy efficient. The heated objects do the job of warming the air!
Air is not a good insulator which means that if our surroundings are cold, our body will lose heat and our surroundings will chill the air, ultimately cooling us, so the air needs to be hot and constantly reheated to compensate for this, which of course requires more and more energy. This is one very good reason to dispense with traditional gas central heating radiators and storage heaters.
The Benefits of Infrared Heating
Infrared heating feels just like gentle sunshine warming us directly. This form of home heating feels very comfortable and healthy as our bodies are naturally designed to absorb and emit infrared energy. Infrared heating allows the body to equalise itself with the surroundings meaning that most people feel comfortable at 19 degrees C rather than the 21 degrees usually required when heating the air only. This heat source distributes warmth evenly using hot coils and is then reflected to extend outward leading to a comfortable, gentle warmth.
Infrared heating offers an alternative to noisier options as they work without producing noise since no fan is involved and they are only radiating light.
While other types of heating can cause static or lead to dryness in your skin and sinuses, Infrared heating is thought of as a healthier option since it doesn’t reduce the content of oxygen or humidity in your home. This will reduce uncomfortable symptoms like dry throat and itchy eyes. This also reduces skin dryness that other heating sources can cause. As, it creates heat with light you can enjoy warmth as you would out in the sunshine without harmful UV radiation. It is believed that infrared heating can even lead to better blood circulation and lower blood pressure.
Infrared heating can be a cost-effective way of heating your home. With an infrared heater you have the benefit of zone heating which means that you need only heat up the areas in your home that you wish to be heated. When you don’t heat up your whole house, your heating bill will become considerably lower. You also won’t have to preheat a room, since infrared heat works right away. Some Infrared heaters only use 300 watts of power and almost all of the warmth created is sent out, leading to heating efficiency at a very affordable price. In fact, you could reduce your heating costs by 30-50 percent by switching to infrared heaters. Efficiency depends of course on the specific type of infrared heater you choose and the construction of your home, ceiling height, insulation, and more.
Infrared heaters require very little maintenance. They don’t have any moving parts and there are no air filters to be replaced. There is no engine to wear out and no lubrication needed. All you need to do to keep the unit functioning well, is to clean out the reflectors periodically.
Safety is often a primary concern when considering new types of heating. An infrared heater’s core temperature won’t even get as hot as that of a more conventional heater. These devices typically come with a metal sheath over their heating elements, too. This means children and animals can come into contact with the heater’s surface without any risk of burns.
As well as being efficient and affordable some infrared heaters can look quite stylish too. Electric panel heaters are also easy to retro fit. You should be able to find one that is portable, compact, and won’t look out of place in your home.
More and more of us are looking at ways in which we can reduce our own energy consumption. Electric heating is a fully controllable and sustainable option which can be added to your list of smart controlled appliances in the home, allowing you the option to turn the heating on or off in any one room of the house at a time. Infrared heating is very much the future of energy efficient electric heating.