Have you ever found yourself, mid-winter, lost in a blizzard of blankets, fumbling for the remote with frozen fingers as the radiators bang and gurgle and you try to avoid setting fire to yourself over the portable gas heater you keep just that little bit too close? Winter can catch us all by surprise.
Even after installing a new boiler, even after performing all those autumn checks and maintenance tasks, even after running the central heating before it’s cold just to get the old system going – even after all of this we can find that our existing heating system is somewhat lacking.
New Ideas for a New Year
‘Going Green’ is all the rage, and perhaps particularly in the winter months when fuel consumption rockets, the skies darken and lush green fields become barren and dormant. With incentives like the Feed-In Tariff, new boiler replacement schemes and the Green Deal for businesses, it’s no surprise that there is such a wealth of interest.
A few ambitious souls have taken the green challenge to its logical conclusion and our round-up of six unusual heating methods for winter includes ingenious ideas like using the heat produced by composting leaves to warm a home. Sustainability doesn’t necessarily mean replacing your boiler with an exercise bike wired to a generator, however.
It can simply mean trying to make your home more efficient. With the New Year approaching, perhaps a few improvements to your heating system will make it into your list of resolutions, and this guest post from the Underfloor Trade Store runs through some of the most unusual.
Our Top Six
‘Unusual’ doesn’t have to mean ‘wacky’. It can also mean innovative. Some of these ideas are not so far out at all; it’s just that people haven’t cottoned on to them yet. Take underfloor heating, for example. It’s unusual because it’s uncommon, but it’s ruthlessly normal in that it’s so unobtrusive and it’s efficient in terms of both energy and space.
- Ground Source Heat Pumps
The rumours are true – there is free heat underground. Geothermal elements – basically very hot natural occurring elements like uranium, buried deep below the ground – produce heat which can be tapped and channelled into things like radiators. The Energy Saving Trust lists a range of benefits, most of them revolving around increased efficiency and sustainability.
Installing a ground source heat pump might sound like a lot of work, but in the long run it stands to make you significant savings on your energy bill. The Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive, similar to the Feed-In Tariff, actually allows you to sell heat back to ‘the grid’.
- Underfloor Heating
Underfloor heating is the perfect means of keeping your home both warm and stylish over winter. One of the main benefits is that you can do away with clumsy, chunky radiators altogether. Some industry sources claim that you can open up as much as 15% of your room that would otherwise be occupied by cumbersome metal contraptions. And don’t be put off by your ideas of what kind of floor you can have with underfloor heating – there are types of underfloor heaters that fit any kind of surface, from fully floating timbers to joisted floors.
- Wire an Exercise Bike to a Generator
Perhaps not as stupid as it sounds, even if it is certainly unusual. Inventors of the Peddle-A-Watt Stationary Bike Power Generator claim that an average rider produces up to 200 watts of power. That’s enough to power 20 laptop computers – not so stupid after all!
- Cavity Wall and Loft Insulation
Loft insulation and cavity wall insulation are not in themselves unusual, but they promise unusually high savings. According to the Energy Saving Trust, homeowners and tenants can save up to £180 a year in energy costs by insulating their loft alone. A popular government incentive for free insulation ended in December last year, but there are still several energy providers who offer their customers a free insulation upgrade.
- Solar Water Heating
People who install solar panels to heat their water also qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The Energy Saving Trust lists the cost of installation at almost £5,000, which is an intimidating upfront figure. Solar water heating promises to provide 100 per cent of your hot water during summer months, however, even if it provides a lot less during winter.
- Compost Heat
An average compost heap needs to be 3′ x 3′ x 3′ to generate sufficient heat in its core to breakdown the leaves and other debris. A compost pile has a core temperature of around 90 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Constructing a compost water heater is just one way of utilizing this valuable resource.
This winter, ditch the blankets and beanies and adopt one of these unusual winter heating ideas. The savings themselves are almost as good as a warmer home.
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