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Home & garden.

Updated: 1 Apr 2022

Heating your home with renewable energy

Heat pumps, solar panels and biomass stoves are all options for heating your home or how water and reducing your carbon footprint.
Sarah Ingrams
Solar panels 451077

Heating your home with fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil or LPG accounts for a big chunk of your carbon footprint. In the long-term, the government plans to phase out fossil fuel heating systems.

Renewable heating systems can be pricey to install upfront but, used efficiently, can have lower running costs. Installing renewable heating, rather than relying on the grid, will reduce your carbon footprint and help protect you from future fuel price rises.

There are various different options for generating your own energy at home using low or zero carbon ‘microgeneration’ technology.

Different renewable systems are suitable for different homes. Keep reading to find out about heat pumps, solar water heating, biomass stoves and boilers. 

Before you make the switch to renewable energy, find out how to make your home more energy efficient.

How much does renewable heating cost?

Garden bathed in sunshine

If you're considering installing renewable heating, it's important to take a long-term view. Renewable heating is often more expensive upfront than fossil fuel heating. For example, an air source heat pump can cost around £7,000 and solar water heating around £3,000.

The cost of renewable technology is expected to come down in future. But there are also schemes and grants that can help:

Besides the cost of the renewable system, you'll need to factor in costs for making your home more energy-efficient. Heat pumps work most effectively and economically in well-insulated homes.

Read more about types of insulation

Solar panels

Solar thermal panels harness the power of sunlight to heat hot water. 

They're cheaper to install than other renewable systems but only heat water, so you’ll need another system to heat your home.

However they can be installed alongside other renewable or traditional heating systems (though they aren't so easy to combine with a combi boiler). 

They work best on south-facing roofs, which aren’t shaded by trees or other buildings. Read more about solar water heating

You can also install solar panels to generate electricity and help power your appliances. You can be paid for electricity you don't use and feed into the national grid. Find out more about solar panels and whether solar panels are right for your home.

Heat pumps

Air source heat pump outside a home

Unlike other heating systems that burn fuel to create heat, air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps use naturally-occurring heat in the air or ground to create power and heat your home. 

They need an electricity source to work but, when used efficiently, can cost less to run than some traditional heating systems.

Work out whether they're suitable for your home in our guides to ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps.

Biomass heating systems

Biomass heating systems burn organic material in a wood burning stove or boiler to provide heat and hot water. They’re also called wood heating systems and typically burn wood logs, pellets or chips.

Some stoves are installed with a 'back boiler' to use the heat created to warm your whole home and water. They're only eligible for RHI payments if you install them with a boiler.

If your existing heating system works efficiently, you're unlikely to need a wood burning stove as secondary heating. They're an aesthetic choice and produce pollutants.

Find out about different types of biomass heating, plus how to reduce pollution from your stove