If you’re looking to replace your old boiler, it’s time to decide whether to stick with tradition or to look at greener options for your home.
So what’s right for you – a traditional or a biomass boiler?
Here’s our guide to making your decision:
What is a biomass boiler?
A biomass boiler runs on wood pellets, wood chips, or logs, and is connected to a central heating and hot water system. The Energy Saving Trust says that using a biomass boiler could save you up to £990 a year compared to electric heating. It is worth keeping in mind that these figures depend on how much you need to heat in any given year, the insulation of your home and even the price of wood pellets.
- It’s cheap to run – often far cheaper than gas or electricity. If you’re replacing an old gas boiler, you could save you around £200 per year.
- It’s low carbon – the amount of carbon dioxide released when wood is burned is the same as the amount absorbed when the tree was growing. Provided you obtain your wood locally and from a sustainable source – on which new trees are planted for all the trees felled – this is a green option. Wood which is shipped for miles causes more emissions from the petrol or diesel used to ship it. If you’re replacing an old coal-fired boiler, you could save 15.7 tonnes of CO2 every year. If you replace a gas boiler, that’s a saving of up of 6,900kg of CO2 every year.
- You could get funding from the Renewable Heat Incentive – this is a government scheme set up to encourage uptake of renewable heat technologies. Owners of renewable heating systems in England, Scotland, and Wales, get financial support for seven years after installation. Check our whether you’re eligible at the Ofgem website www.ofgem.gov.uk.
A boiler which is automatically fed with pellets costs on average between £9,000 and £21,000 – including VAT, the flue, the fuel store, and installation. Self-fed systems are cheaper. The cost of wood or pellets varies, but you can buy pellets for £220 a tonne. Logs can be even cheaper.
Biomass boilers need to have their flues or chimneys swept regularly and the ash needs to be removed, and there needs to be a regular maintenance check. Some have self-cleaning systems.
Should I choose a combination boiler?
Although there are system and regular boilers on the market, combination boilers are the most popular these days.
A combi boiler is an efficient water heater and central heating system in a compact unit. As it heats water directly from the mains, there is no need for storage tanks and hot water comes out of the tap at mains pressure. This is great for power showers, in particular.
- It’s cost-effective – you only heat the water you need to use there and then, it doesn’t sit around in a tank slowly cooling. There’s also less pipework, often making installation cheaper.
- It’s energy-efficient – there’s no need for a separate pump.
- It’s small and frees up space – compared to a system or regular boiler, where you’d need tanks. It can be fitted in small rooms, and the lack of water tanks means you can convert your loft.
- There’s less risk of pipes freezing in winter – if there are no pipes in the loft, generally the coldest part of a house, there’s less risk of freezing.
Generally between £1,500 and £3,000 including installation, pipework, and the flue.
All gas appliances require good, annual maintenance by Gas Safe-accredited engineers. It’s also recommended that systems are power flushed to rid them of sludge and prevent corrosion, and have magnetic filtration systems installed.
On a low income? You could also qualify for a free boiler or receive a significant grant funding contribution towards a new boilers under the government’s Energy Company Obligation Scheme (ECO). Talk to us to find out if you qualify.
If you need more advice on which boiler option is right for you, please contact our expert staff. They love to help! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02920 499183.