The different types of warm air heating systems– are they an option worth considering?
Warm air heating systems draw warm air from the outside environment, which is then heated by a flame and is then evenly distributed throughout the house through ducts, vents, or grills.
They are also known as hot air systems, unlike gas or electric boilers, they are relatively old tech and less common across London and its surrounding areas.
However, they are still efficient and greener when compared to gas boilers. Plus, the cost of maintenance is minimal. This type of heating system is usually recommended for single-story buildings, flats, apartments and bungalows. They are usually installed at the same time the property is constructed. This is due to the vents and grills needing to be concealed in the fabric of the building so as not to look obtrusive.
Types of warm air heating systems:
They come in an assortment of makes and models, each with its pros and cons. In this article we are going to look at a few and throw some light on WA systems in general:
Gas-fired Warm Air Systems
Gas-fired heating systems draw air from outside through external vents which is then heated with a gas flame. The heated air is then distributed throughout the property with the help of a fan/blower pushing the warm air out through ducts, vents, or grills.
Ground Source Heat pump
A ground source heat pump is also known as a geothermal system. It takes advantage of the natural heat present beneath the ground (absorbed by the sun). With this type of system a myriad of pipes are installed underground. This requires a garden of suitable size to accommodate the mass of pipework. The pipes absorb the heat generated by the earth and then transfer it to the air that is passed through the pipes. With the help of vents, this warm air is then released into your house. Since a ground heating system uses natural sources to heat your home, this is one of the most efficient, renewable, and safest types of heating systems out there. However, it has to be on 24/7 to produce heating and hot water. This subjects moving parts to wear and tear and needs constant energy 24/7.
Air Source Heat Pump
An air source heat pump is another way to provide heat in the home through renewable heat and could save on the heating bills. They do however, provide heat at lower temperatures than conventional gas or oil powered boilers. What does this mean? Simply, they must run virtually continuously, if you want a cosy temperature.
The plus side, savings can be made on energy bills if you’re looking to change over from the following: storage heaters (electric), oil heating (LPG) or coal. Another thing to consider before you steam ahead is the insulation of your property. How well insulated is it? It might be worthwhile engaging an energy consultant to measure your propert’s heat loss/retention value otherwise the generated heat will, unfortunately, escape more freely.
The system extracts warm air from the outside environment and uses it to provide hot air into your property. In colder weather it is said to be less efficient i.e., less supply of heat to the property. Therefore, in winter they need to be working flat out, costing more to run compared to summer usage. They can work in temperatures as low as -15 degrees. Plus, it’s also a sustainable source of energy but you will need to keep an eye on running costs!
Hybrid Heat Pump
A hybrid heat pump works in conjunction with a boiler powered by fossil fuel. However, at the moment there isn’t a renewable answer to heating a home without some dependency on fossil fuels. With a hybrid you can switch between both systems depending on requirements (similar to a hybrid car). They can be used manually and/or automatically. It’s an option if you want to minimise your carbon footprint.
What are the benefits of a warm air system?
Here’s a few of them:
- It has a speedy warm-up time, which heats your home quickly.
There are no radiators required, giving you more room when designing the layout of a room.
- The operation is quiet and efficient.
- The running costs are approx 18% lower than any other form of heating.
- They require a degree of maintenance i.e., cleaning or changing the air filters. This is extremely important if any of the family members have any allergies.
- Some warm air heating systems have electronic filtration options that reduce the pollen, pet hair, and bacteria in the air by 95% (but will still need cleaning).
- With a heating system, your domestic carbon footprint can be reduced by as much as 50-60%.
- The UK government also has domestic grants available to subsidise less carbon-intensive heating systems, including warm air heating systems.
Considerations before installing a warm air system?
- Most warm air systems do not heat water, so you will need a separate boiler to do so. However, if you still want to invest in one, a hybrid system is an option (see above).
- Installing a warm air heating system is much more expensive than installing other types of heating systems. The upfront cost for installing a ground source heat pump can be as high as £19,000, which may challenge the budget.
- There are specific installation guidelines, which need only product qualified engineers to manage the installation.
- Air source heating systems are not currently subsidised by the UK government.
- There are a very limited number of manufacturers for warm air heating systems. Thus, your options are limited and the price might be high as well!
- The installation is highly disruptive. Installing a ground source heat pump will require a substantial amount of land given over to the installation of the pipework. If your garden is not big enough for a horizontal installation it can be achieved by installing the pipework vertically via boreholes. Once the pipework is all buried then the garden can return to normal, that is of course until a problem arises in the pipework!
- With the old heating system, the ducts and vents are visible, which may not sit well in some houses of contemporary design.
Some heating systems require electricity to run, thus cannot lay claim to be completely renewable.
- Although it filters out about 95% of allergens, there’s still a chance of allergens, which can affect some family members?
Warm air heating system Vs gas heating system
Although both warm air and gas-powered heating systems are reliable, things get confusing when compared with each other. This is because both are still fairly popular, and both have their pros and cons.
The question is, which one comes out on top in terms of benefits in a head-to-head – that’s the question, and perhaps why you have landed on this page?
So let’s jump straight in:
As much as we credit the warm air heating system from an efficiency and functionality point of view, they are in no way close to what modern technologies have to offer. Going forward technological developments can only improve in terms of efficiency, reliability and cost.
Modern gas boilers have intelligent technologies such as smart thermostats and smart metres. This can add to the efficiency of a boiler, which is already nearing or at 94%.
The trusted gas boiler edges ahead here, given they are compatible with many modern technologies and can be installed in most types and different sizes of property. However, a warm air heating system needs to have adequate insulation. Plus, they cannot be installed in homes without a garden as there will be no space to install the pipes and associated equipment (unless you opt for boreholes and vertically install the pipework).
In terms of installation, modern gas boilers are much easier to install compared to a warm air heating system, i.e., no digging/excavation etc. and only a minimum amount of time required to install a gas or electric boiler. It of course depends on the size and complexity of the property but usually it can take less than a day to swap a like for like gas boiler or 1.5 – 2.5 days for a completely new installation (pipework/radiators/boiler/electrics etc.).
This is when things start to get interesting as the UK government will be imposing a ban on all gas boiler installations in new build properties in or around 2025. It is not clear when gas boilers in the UK will be phased out completely along with certain equipment in industries dependent on fossil fuels i.e., gas fired power stations to manufacturing, to achieve net zero emissions by 2050? Ground source heat pumps and electric boilers, will probably be the only viable options available in the coming years.
So, if you are considering your future options in the present, then now might be the best time to have a warm air heating system installed.
If you are looking forward to installing a warm air heating system with a central heating system or repair your existing hot air heating system, feel free to call Serviceteam. Serviceteam Ltd. is a London-based multi-service company dedicated to providing the best service all across Greater London and the surrounding areas.
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