A central heating system keeps a property warm and helps regulate the temperature of the entire house. There are various types of central heating systems that can be designed for a new house or installed into a new home. Systems also require regular servicing and maintenance, and may need to be upgrades when they no longer use energy effectively and become inefficient. A central heating system should always be designed, installed, serviced and maintained by an experienced engineer. When gas is involved, installers must be Gas Safe registered.
Boiler-based Central Heating
Most central heating system use boilers, which are used to heat water. Water heated by the boiler then circulates through radiators or underfloor heating in the property. Heated water from the boiler is also used for a household's water supply. Many boilers found in UK homes use oil or gas for fuel.
The most popular types of central heating systems use a combination boiler, which provides hot water instantly. A combination boiler is perfect for a small property since it requires little space and does not use a hot water cylinder or tank. Combination boilers work with the electrical mains supply.
Conventional or regular boilers are used in gravity-fed central heating systems. A conventional boiler is also known as a system or open vent boiler. Like a combination boiler system, a conventional or system boiler supplies heated water to radiators or underfloor heating units in the house. Using gravity, water travels from a storage tank located in a loft or roof space and into a heating cylinder, which also provides hot water to taps. This option for central heating requires a lot of space for storage tanks and the hot water cylinder.
A high pressure central heating system uses cold water from mains rather than a storage tank. Water is then heated by a boiler and stored in a tank. This type of system uses stored hot water to heat the home and provide hot water, and also delivers strong water pressure. This option is often more expensive than a combination boiler system.
Other Types of Central Heating
Typically, central heating systems require a boiler in their design. However, there are alternatives to how power is supplied to the boiler. Renewable energy is increasingly used in the design of central heating systems, including solar and biomass. While these options are generally more expensive to install, they typically pay for themselves in the long-run through savings and potential income from selling surplus energy.
Solar heating uses panels to absorb daylight that is converted into energy. This energy is used in the home to provide heat as well as electricity. Solar heating is one of the most energy efficient ways to heat a home. Energy generated by solar panels is used to heat one or more water tanks. Heated water is then used for radiators and underfloor heating, as well as provide hot water in the home. Solar panels or tiles are generally placed on the roof.
Biomass central heating systems use wood or waste as fuel to heat a property. This carbon neutral heating option uses a specialised boiler that generally uses wood pellets or logs. Heat is generated from the fuel that is burned. Biomass is also used for individual stoves, which can be used to heat single rooms. Biomass central heating systems require a flue or chimney.
Micro combined heat and power (Micro CHP) uses a small generator to heat a property. The power generator in a boiler produces electricity that can be used to power and heat the home. Excess energy can be sold back into the grid. Surplus energy generated from solar and biomass central heating systems can be sold back through the government's Feed-in Tariff initiative.