It is no secret by now that net-zero is hot on the national policy agenda. Since taking office in 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has published a variety of strategies. The Ten Point Plan, the Heat and Buildings Strategy, and finally the Net Zero Strategy; the recommendations in each are all geared towards reaching the net zero by 2050 target. Considering the built environment is responsible for 40% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. The decarbonisation of the UK’s housing stock will play a significant role in reaching net-zero. Therefore, as part of the decarbonisation of homes, the Ten Point Plan strategy outlines the Government’s commitment to adopt a heat-pump first approach. By installing 600,000 heat pumps a year, with gas boilers due to be phased out of use in new-builds by 2025. Yet, why are heat pumps the government’s go-to, in order to achieve net-zero aims?
A new report provided by EnTRESS (Environmental Technologies & Resource Efficiency Support Service), in association with Solutions by Jigsaw, UK manufacturers of infrared heating, has shown that Infrared heating can provide a range of benefits over and above air source heat pumps, the government’s go-to approach. The benefits include heating efficiency, cost savings and health benefits. Additionally, it results in a substantial reduction in the reliance upon the national energy grid, which is key in order to boost the UK’s energy resilience and security.
The report has shown myriad reasons to opt for IR heating compared to both traditional heating and air source heat pumps, including the innovative and energy-efficient way in which it heats a room. The radiation transfers heat from the infrared panels to heat up objects, which in turn heats the room. As a result, the warmth from infrared panels can be felt in a room in under 10 minutes. Conversely, the report found that air source heat pumps have a lower output than gas boilers and IR heating, meaning they fail to deliver heat as quickly as the infrared heating system, and gas central heating takes up to half an hour. There are also health benefits to the consumer, as infrared reduces the occurrence of damp in the home and cold-related illnesses, ensuring people are safe and well in their homes.
Full study reports
- Infrared Heating Characterisation-Source Aston University – ETICC
Why choose Infrared heating?
Infrared heating can also be a more consumer-friendly alternative to air source heat pumps. A two-bed property can be fully retrofitted in one day. Comparatively, it can take up to a week for air source heat to be installed, which also requires more substantial work. Once installed, Infrared panels require little to no maintenance, unlike the annual costly maintenance required for heat pumps. The result is the overall cost over a 50-year lifespan means that Infrared heating is significantly cheaper than heat pumps. A system cost comparison estimates the overall cost for IR will be £49,925. Inclusive of replacement, maintenance, and operating costs based on a 20-year lifespan. Comparatively, based upon a much shorter 10-year lifespan, it is nearly £66,000 for an air source heat pump, even with the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) applied on its installation.
The report demonstrates that infrared heating provides a credible alternative to heat pumps and challenges the Government’s approach which is fixated on installing 600,000 heat pumps a year as outlined in the Ten Point Plan. It remains to be seen whether the Government will accept the shortfalls of the heat-pump first approach by adopting a greater range of alternative renewable technologies like infrared and improve the chances of achieving net zero by 2050.