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Keeping Warm This Winter: The Most Energy Efficient Heat Sources

December 18th, 2020

Last updated: December 18th, 2020

For any organisation, the health and wellbeing of employees over the cold winter months is a number one priority. But energy usage can be a huge cost to a business, so we need to explore ways to do this cost-effectively and whilst maintaining our targets for net zero carbon usage and reducing our environmental impact.

All operating costs are measured using different metrics and criteria, and heating is no different. The type of heating system you choose can be dictated by the type of premises you have, the type of business you have and what budget you have for investment. But certainly, energy costs should be a big part of this selection criteria.

Comparing heating systems like-for-like is very difficult because of the different unit prices and infrastructure required, particularly in a big organisation. Mains gas is traditionally much cheaper than electricity, but in terms of heating a business it is not quite as simple as that. Some businesses operate 24/7, or have multiple rooms in use, whilst others have some rooms used frequently and others used infrequently. Some premises may be old and inherently inefficient from a heating point of view, so a heating system has to be flexible to meet demands, but also be able to do it economically to suit an individual business. Here we look at some of the most popular heating options for a business as we gear up for winter.

Portable gas heaters: These are cheaper to run than electric heaters, but are cumbersome, prone to gas leaking (and therefore there can be wastage and inefficiency) and are only good for heating specific areas. They are also powered by a non-renewable fossil fuel, so they are not the most energy efficient. Gas canisters need to be kept in stock and vapour escaping requires the need for good ventilation. However, for a small business with simple premises, this might be a good option.

Portable/fixed electric heaters: Electric heaters are very efficient because they turn 100% of the energy they produce into heat, there is no wastage. You have the same issues here in that portable electric heaters are only good for heating specific areas rather than multiple rooms, however. Fan heaters can heat an area very fast, but they are noisy. Convector heaters are very effective but can take longer to heat the area. Halogen heaters are probably the cheapest to run and are very effective in that they heat the object or person the heat hits, rather than heating the air. Oil-filled radiators are also quite cheap to run and effective in heating a room, because oil itself is cheap to buy and it retains its heat for long periods, making it a very efficient heat source. An electric heater is better if used with thermostatic controls, to manage temperature and usage as you need it, and if fitted with a timer so it can be turned off when the room is not in use.

Gas boiler: A conventional central heating system can be expensive to buy and install, but is perhaps the cheapest multiple room system to run. It is effective in heating different rooms from one heat source and using thermostatic controls and timers to manage usage. With a good service and maintenance programme, a boiler should last 10-15 years and effectively pays for itself over time. Find out more about our gas boiler repair and maintenance services.

Biomass boilers: These work on the same principle as a gas boiler, but use wood chippings as their energy source. These can be very cheap to run and quite simple to manage, but again, there is an investment required in the purchase and installation, you also need quite a lot of external space for a biomass boiler, which some organisation may not have.

Air source heat pump:  A heat pump works by turning external air into a liquid, which causes it to boil and become a gas, this raises its temperature and produces heat which is pumped into a system, much like a gas central heating boiler. Heat pumps are very efficient because they can work all-year-round, can be linked to smart technology to control usage and only use a small amount of electricity to produce more than three times the amount of heat per unit used. We specialise in air source heat pump repairs and maintenance.

Solar thermal boilers: Here you can use free heat produced by the sun to provide heating and hot water, but you will most likely need to integrate your system with a conventional boiler to produce sufficient heat for all your needs, particularly at times of year when there is less sun.

Regardless of which heating source you want for your business, the efficiency can often be dictated by your premises, in terms of how well insulated they are, whether doors and windows are sealed, what insulation you have. Also, of course, in terms of size, a system that works efficiently in principle, may become inefficient if you are asking it to do too much, ie. a small heat pump to heat a big building, so always speak to the experts.

Call the Robinsons Facilities Services team today on 01423 226578 or click here to contact us.

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