How To Change To A Renewable Heating System

An increasing number of UK homeowners are taking the plunge and moving to renewable heating systems. As times are tough - and only set to get tougher - switching to renewable heating can have a huge impact on the price of fuel bills.

And renewables are great for a planet that is under increasing pressure and fast running out of resources, so it makes sense to target more natural methods of heating our homes in a bid to become more eco-conscious and care for our environment. A lower carbon footprint means lower greenhouse gas emissions which means a better, cleaner world for us all.

Think your home is too small to make an impact when it comes to CO2 emissions? You'd be wrong! Every home - and homeowner - has a responsibility to limit the damage we do by way of climate change. And reducing your carbon footprint by switching to renewable energy will have a vital impact.

In this article, we will discuss what a renewable heating system is, the types available and how you can begin to make the switch.

Renewable heating systems explained

So, what exactly is a renewable heating system? Simply put, these systems produce heat from sustainable sources.

They do not produce carbon emissions that get trapped in the earth's atmosphere and are the number 1 reason behind global warming, contributing heavily to climate change.

These sustainable sources also have the distinct advantages of, as the name suggests, not running out.

The fuels we traditionally rely on, like gas, coal and oil, are all running at exceptionally low levels. They also produce excessive amounts of carbon.

Thankfully, there are many great options to think about when deciding on a renewable system for heating your home.

The five main types are:

  • Air source heat pump
  • Water source heat pump
  • Ground source heat pump
  • Solar thermal
  • Biomass boiler

Alternative heating methods for homes UK: the best renewable heating system

We'll now talk about each renewable heating option for your home, so you can decide if any of them might be right for you.

Air-source heat pump

Air source heat pump

Air source heat pumps use the heat from the outside air to power the central heating. Many models of these air source heat pumps can utilise this outside air at extremely low temperatures, so when the weather is cold, you will still have a working heating system when you require it most.

An air-source heat pump is made up of a fan (not usually bigger than the average kitchen cupboard) that will require installation outside the home. When this fan moves, it takes in the outside air, compresses it and sends it to the heat exchanger, where it is heated to the required temperature.

There are two different types of air-source heat pumps:

  • Air-to-water source heat pumps
  • Air-to-air source heat pumps

An air-to-air heat pump use fans to heat the property, whereas a water-based pump will heat a central heating system that uses water-based elements like underfloor heating and radiators.

Water source heat pump

This type of heat pump uses an outdoor water source to extract heat. These water sources are usually a river or lake and one of which must be located close to your home, usually 100 metres away or less. The water absorbs energy from the sun, and the water pumps use this energy, extracted directly from the water, to fuel underfloor heating and radiators.

Ground source heat pump

Ground source heat pumps take advantage of the underground temperature to provide heating to your home. As the temperature underground usually sits above 10°C, a series of pipes can be built below ground (either horizontally or vertically, depending on how much space there is to work with), which collects the heat and turns it into energy.

The major downside to this type of ground source heat pump is that the installation of the pipelines can be bothersome and messy, but the payoffs have great potential.

Solar thermal

Solar thermal panels are great because they can be attached to your roof in no time, and you won't have any bulky units sitting outside your home. They are also growing in popularity here in the UK as many people look to have a renewable heating system installed.

There are no running costs involved in solar thermal. For creating hot water and for use as part of a wet central heating system, solar thermal panels absorb the heat from the sun, which is then used to heat water and your home.

Biomass boiler

Biomass boilers are unique from other forms of renewable heating systems. These boilers burn fuel to provide central heating just as regular gas boiler heating systems do.

However, a biomass boiler doesn't use any fossil fuels - they only burn natural elements like wood pellets and chips. Burning biomass fuel is a carbon neutral process; the amount of carbon released from burning biomass is absorbed by plants that will later be used by the boiler.

How will a renewable heating system benefit my home?

The UK has some pretty large carbon targets to achieve, and we can all do our bit to help out. But, with that comes some pretty big perks for homeowners when they make the switch to renewable energy in their homes.

While we have mentioned some of these benefits before, there are other perks to renewable energy that you might not have thought of, such as:

  • Minimising you and your home's carbon output
  • Making your home less reliant on the company that supplies your energy
  • Lower fuel bills in the long run
  • Much more long-lasting than standard boilers
  • Often requires less maintenance than regular boilers too

Making your home energy efficient: what else should you consider

Renewable heating isn't the only way to make your home energy efficient.


Not everyone will be in a position to invest in a renewable heating system, no matter how good the financial payoffs and effects on the planet are. Thankfully, you can do something to bring down your fuel bills and keep your carbon emissions that bit lower.

Insulation is an often underrated aspect of the home, but good insulation can mean less energy is wasted in heating your home.

When you insulate your home well, it takes less energy to heat your home because less of this energy is getting lost through the doors, walls, windows and rood.

Less waste = less energy required.

Changing to a renewable heating system

If you decide that renewable energy is best for you and your home, you'll need to know how to change to this type of system. The task of installing heat pumps and panels should be carried out by a professional, so firstly, you'll need to find someone that's up to the job.

Finding an installer


Research for a certified installer; they should be licenced with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), which provides quality assurance as well as being supported by the British government.

It's also a good idea to try and try an installer who is a part of the Competent Persons Register. This means that once the job is completed, the installer can pass you a certificate to prove that the work has been completed to the required legal standard; you, as the homeowner, will not be required to file a building notice to get the job done.

Check quotes

The second thing to do is to get several quotes. Don't always settle for the first offer you get. After all, a quality job won't always be completed at the lowest competing price, so scout around for installation costs or ask friends and family who have had renewable heating installed.

Know what to expect

Ensure that any prospective installer is happy to discuss the entire process with you and its duration. Hence, you'll know what to expect both during and after the installation.

Planning permission

Depending on the type of building you own, you might have to apply for planning permission from your local council. If you require permission, make sure you have it in full and in writing before allowing the job to commence.

Let PlumbNation take care of your heating essentials

Don't forget, at PlumbNation, we have a wide range of heating options at highly competitive prices, so you can make your home perfect for those colder evenings. Why not check out our range today!