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What Is Renewable Heating?

What Is Renewable Heating? Your Complete Guide To Renewable Heating | A Greener Alternative
An ever increasingly popular way to heat the home is via renewable heating, a marked shift away from the conventional heating we see across the country. However, many are still left wondering what on earth it is; thankfully it is actually not as daunting as many are lead to believe, and once you know about renewable heating and the various systems available, you’ll be left wondering why it isn’t more widespread.

Renewable heating is a forward thinking solution to heating your home or commercial property, and it’s an eco-friendly, sustainable option compared to the common gas and fossil fuel based heating systems. Renewable heating solutions utilise natural energy resources that are sustainable, as opposed to the use of finite fossil fuels that will run out and ultimately harm the environment.

By using renewable heating and energy, you can have a much longer lasting steady supply of heat, whilst also reducing your carbon footprint and acting in a “green” and sustainable way. With choosing renewable heating, you will find a number of options available to you, as well as benefits such as the Renewable Heat Incentive. We will cover just what these options and benefits are, in the hopes that you will no longer be left pondering about renewable heating, hopefully convincing you of it many benefits…

How Does Renewable Heating Work?

The way that renewable heating works will depend on the specific type of renewable heating system that you have installed. However, for a general discussion we can say that renewable heating works as efficiently as it can by utilising natural and replenishable energy resources. This differs to standard heating which relies mainly on fossil fuels, though the results of renewable heating are much the same as a gas boiler, allowing for heating throughout a property.

Each renewable heating systems is different and will operate in a specialised way to make use of a particular heat source (such as sourcing heat from the ground or air, or by combusting wood chips or other resources). All renewable heating systems have a common component in that they extract the required heat and optimise this to maximise heating throughout your home.  

What Are The Different Types Of Renewable Heating Systems & Technology?

When it comes to renewable heating technologies in the home, you are presented with a number of core options, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. As we speak, there are new developments being made in this field of heating, with current technologies being improved and new ones being created. The main options that are currently available are Air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, biomass boilers, and solar thermal systems. From their names, it is already pretty easy to figure out just how they might operate, but let’s look into each system in some more detail.:

Air Source Heat Pumps: An easy-to-install and relatively compact system, this operates by extracting heat from the air outside the home and converting it into a heated fluid that can be sent throughout the central heating circuits, water systems, or fan heating system in your property. Air source heat pumps can provide heating even when temperatures drop as low as -15 degrees Celsius. An air source heat pump is also considered a safe and simple system to install.  

Ground Source Heat Pumps: Whilst this option can be trickier to install due to the space required and land disruption, the efficiency is among the best. Using pipes called ‘ground loops’ this heat pump takes the heat from the ground to be compressed again and sent around the home. These ground loops can be buried a few metres under the ground horizontally, or installed vertically through boreholes, installation options depend on what land is available for the property. This option requires little maintenance, saves money and is effective all year round.

Biomass Boilers: A classic renewable heating system, the biomass boiler is an environmental-friendly and powerful option for any property. Through the use of natural resources in the form of wood pellets, wood chips, and logs. The boiler will burn the biomass to extract heating that can be used around the property. All that is needed is a supply of wood, and for the boiler to be fed the wood either automatically or manually. Though it can require more maintenance than other options, a biomass boiler competes well with conventional heating.

Solar Thermal System: Not as common as other renewable heating solutions. This system uses heat radiation from the sun in order to heat your home. Simply placed in an advantageous position such as on your roof, the panels will obtain heat from the sun that can be used primarily in the home’s hot water system. This option has very low maintenance and a long lifespan. However, it does come with some common drawbacks, such as efficiency when compared to other options.

How Much Is Renewable Heating?

Often, one of the biggest concerns when it comes to the installation and maintenance of renewable heating solutions is pricing. People want to make sure that the costs will be worth it in comparison to the conventional heating options being used in their household, from initial installation to the costs of running the system. To say that renewable heating is cheap would be a lie. Unfortunately, the installation of any system is pricey, with some being more expensive than others; however, there are many upsides and ways to help with the costs involved.  

In terms of installation, a ground source heat pump can cost anywhere in the region of £20,000 to £30,000, an air source heat pump around £8,000-£15,000, a biomass boiler will vary, but is usually upwards of £10,000, and solar thermal systems often around £4,000. With conventional boiler installation prices averaging around £2,000, we can appreciate the daunting aspect of upfront costs when moving to renewable heating. These are just estimating, of course, and it is essential for you to consult with a specialist before you rule any system out.

Over time and through the ongoing usage of your system, you will usually see savings in running costs, varying on the system and efficiency when used. But most of all, you will really benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive, making up for any expensive upfront costs.

What Is The Renewable Heat Incentive?

Simply put, the Renewable Heat Incentive (shortened to RHI) is an incentive put in place by the government to help people make the switch to renewable heating. Promoting the use of renewable heating systems across the UK, the RHI is available for domestic and commercial installations, in the hopes that people can experience the wonders of renewable heating everywhere.

The Renewable Heat Incentive provides you with a financial boost and assistance to allow for a smooth switch and ultimately a reduction of your running costs. This comes in the form of quarterly payments for seven years with home systems, and 20 years for commercial; reimbursing you for the costs of the crossing to this green heating option.

The money you receive as part of the Renewable Heat Incentive will vary depending on usage, and the type of system installed. Your eligibility for the RHI will also depend on a number of factors.

You can find out more about the RHI in depth through our “How Much Is The Renewable Heat Incentive and “What Is The Renewable Heat Incentive” blog posts…

What’s The Difference Between Renewable & Conventional Heating?

The primary difference between conventional and renewable heating is of course, the resources used and how the heat will be obtained. Your standard heating system found in most homes makes use of finite fossil fuels, whilst renewable systems will use low carbon options to provide heating. Ultimately, the difference is the impact on the environment, and how long into the future the system can be reliable for, with renewable heating solutions taking the lead.

Other differences will be the costs, as we have discussed the renewable options can be expensive but are becoming increasingly affordable, and where the heating system will be placed, for example, ground source heat pumps will need to be outside in a larger space whereas the conventional heating requires very little room or disruption to land.

There is also an option in which conventional and renewable heating is used together, forming an integrated or hybrid heating system. This option uses the best of both worlds and can be a stepping stone towards total renewable usage. You can learn all about this system and how it can suit your needs via another of our blog posts. How can an integrated heating system benefit you

Is Renewable Heating Right For You And Your Home?

When it comes to renewable heating technologies there are certain properties that will be more suitable than others, but this is not to say that only certain people can reap the benefits of renewable heating. Luckily, with a range of options, you can find the right system for you. An air source heat pump, for example, is easy to include in the majority of homes due to its size and simplicity. Renewable heating is right for anyone that wants to make a valuable switch to a green future, and with developments in the interest of sustainability, it is becoming more and more accessible for all. There is no reason for you not to look into this eco option, especially with the RHI available and the option of hybrid systems for the combined power of conventional and renewable heating.

If you would like to find the best renewable heating system for you, then please contact us here at A Greener Alternative and we can help you decide on what the best renewable heating system will be for your requirements. We offer free onsite surveys and can provide our expertise on renewable heating all across the South East of England. You can get in touch with A Greener Alternative by using our Contact Form, by emailing us at, or by calling us on 01273 455695. Discover more about A Greener Alternative and what makes us a leading installer of renewable heating systems in Sussex and The South East today…

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