“How can I cut my heating bills without becoming cold?”

Reasons why you should switch to infrared heating.

How to apply the carbon reduction hierarchy to reducing your heating costs

“How can I cut my heating bills without becoming cold?”

You don’t have to go cold to reduce your heating bills. All of the following measures can be adopted in whole or in part, depending on your budget and your house.  We find the Carbon Reduction Energy Hierarchy diagram (see above image) useful to show what steps can be taken in what order to cut heating bills in a home.

Whilst all of these steps imply expense, the prize, over a period of years is attractive. With more than 50% of household energy use in the UK coming from heating, the savings from a lot of these steps below are permanent and annual and make a compelling investment case.

Reduce the need for energy in the first place

Actions taken at this level – to reduce your energy requirements in the first place – have the biggest impact on your heating expenditure and should therefore be considered first. Any of the following will fall into this category:

Improve your insulation.

Money spent on improving your home insulation will reduce your heating bills. If you have to prioritise, then the key items to improve are the insulation levels in your ceiling, on any outside walls and your glazing (windows and doors). Everything else can follow. Just consider: a building insulated to the old pre 1985 standards could imply up to 2 pence per m2 per hour to heat electrically. A building insulated to modern passive house standards would require only up to 0.5p per m2 per hour to heat electrically. Imagine saving 1.5p for every metre of floorspace every hour over a winter period.

Improved insulation can also significantly reduce the cost of your next heating system. Modern heat pumps for example undeniably run at low cost relative to other types of heater. But why spend on the very high purchase and installation costs for a system that will run very little? Charlie Luxton, TV architect and designer made exactly this distinction when putting Infrared heaters into his own low energy renovation project in Cornwall. With the high levels of insulation and other sources of heat (like stoves, PCs etc) he did not need to go to an expense he would never recoup by buying a heat pump: instead he used Infrared panels just to top-up the heat he required to keep the cottage comfortable.

Estimate your energy requirements more accurately.

Energy-saving heaters of all types challenge us to make more accurate heating requirement assessments. The old rules of thumb much in use in the industry really fail to take into account the characteristics of the building, levels of glazing, the size and type of different rooms etc. The new generation of heat loss calculations as put forward by Herschel Infrared for example – really point the way forward for estimating heating requirements from new generation heaters. Even EDF told us that historical over-estimation in the UK heating industry has required the equivalent of at least one power station just to cover the excess.

Use modern smart controls (you now have to)

On 1st January 2018, the European Union required all heater manufacturers (of whatever sort) to comply with new eco-design regulation to reduce energy consumption at the consumer-side (i.e. the heaters) without reducing comfort.  Each type of heater had its own targets to achieve by adopting these controls, but for fixed electric heaters, the target was set at 8% and had to be achieved by a combination of:

  • Thermostatic control allowing setting of a number of periods during the day to match heating to occupancy;
  • The ability to set a different schedule (if required) each day over 7 days;
  • The ability to detect if energy was draining out of a room (e.g. if a window had been opened) and shut the heating off until the issue had been corrected;

All heaters manufactured since January 2018 have to state what control solution will achieve this for their heaters (if the controls are not built in). But the prize is an 8% efficiency. It is worth noting as yet energy assessment regulations which were last updated in 2012 have not yet recognised this improvement and we await SAP2018 to see if this has been changed.

Use the energy you do use, more efficiently

This set of activities concerns the choice of your heating system itself and the nature of the materials you are trying to heat.

The key to maximising the use of the energy you do consume is in storage of that heat in the fabric of the building. You don’t want to store heat in the bricks of a storage heater and then let that out into the building. This is the wrong way ’round.  The building should become a storage heater in its own right.  This way it keeps radiating background warmth even when the heating turns off.  This is what is called the “thermal mass” model of heating. Treating the building a bit like a battery, you need to put energy in to prime it, but once primed, you need very little energy to keep the temperature topped-up.

Only radiant heating (infrared) is really capable of priming thermal mass because only radiant heat has sufficient “transmissiveness” to drive energy into the fabric of the building. Heaters that warm the air fail significantly to warm the materials in the building (the thermal mass). But because our sense of comfort in enclosed spaces like houses and offices is based on the average of the air temperature and radiant temperature and not just one or the other, we have to compensate for the lack of radiance from central heating systems, by boosting up the air temperature to compensate.  This is why it is common to have stuffy air temperatures with central heating to overcome the cold materials around you: but as soon as you turn the heating off, you feel basically cold again – because you are still losing your body heat to the colder materials and walls of the building which haven’t warmed up. This is also the classic condition creating damp and condensation in a building (warm air over cold surfaces).

Radiant heating reverses this condition by heating the materials and walls of a building which then continue to radiate back even after the heating has turned off. Air temperature also warms up too, (all objects convect as well as radiate), so you end up with this correct “average” that our bodies naturally seek. And it is an energy-saving model, because the thermostat can just allow the heaters to “tick over” and not have “big on” and “big off” cycles so typical of convection-based heating that are so wasteful of energy.

Supply energy from renewable sources

Non PV properties can only use oil, gas or electric grid energy for heating. With PV on your roof, you can offset a large proportion of your heating costs with free energy.

“We have a smart meter and it’s satisfying on a sunny winter day to feel the heating panels working with little or no cost registered on the smart meter. We’re really happy with the PV + IR heating combo”

A typical domestic solar installation in the UK generates from 2.8 to 4.4 kWh and while the typical heater installation capacity for a 3 bedroom house insulated to 1996-2002 standards is typically from 6-10kWh, the actual average operating capacity will be somewhere below this (not all heaters on at the same time and not all rooms set to the same temperature).  A modern Passive House will require even less heating than this.

So, whilst total heating consumption will likely exceed PV generation, the beauty of Infrared is that you can prioritise some or all of your heaters to make use of this free energy. Spring and Autumn days where the sun is shining and the heat demand is low, it is genuinely possible for this heating to be free. As construction standards and building regulations improve, overall heat load requirements (first topic above) can only come down.

As a side note, Solar PV and Infrared make use of similar skills and trades, which is not true for other low energy heat solutions such as heat pumps, so installation efficiencies and overall costs can be kept lower.

“We experienced a range of challenges during the project, but Infrared + Solar was the simplest system to integrate with the programme.”

 

 

Get ready for winter with infrared heating

Thinking about winter while it’s still warm outside might seem a bit mad – but hear us out! Now is the best time to plan your heating system for when the weather changes. If you’re fed up of feeling cold in your home, or your bills were higher than they should have been last winter, why not try something new? More and more people are turning to infrared for more effective, efficient heating.

How does infrared heating work?

Infrared heating runs off mains electricity, but is far cheaper than any other form of electric heating- and in some cases even cheaper than gas. What makes infrared different is that it works through radiation, not convection. Infrared heating is completely safe – it’s warms you in the same way as the sun!

With convection heating, such as that given off by radiators or storage heaters, the air that is heated can be lost easily through draughts. You heat up a room, open the door, and then suddenly it’s cold again. This isn’t an issue with infrared, because it doesn’t heat the air. It targets heat at solid objects, meaning it heats you directly – as well as the furnishings and the walls, floors and ceilings. This ‘thermal mass’ then continues to give off heat once the panels are switched off.

What are the benefits of infrared heating?

It is efficient and cheap to run. It will keep you warm and can be controlled as part of a smart heating system for optimal results. The panels also look great – they take up less space than radiators, can even be hidden on the ceiling, and come in a range of finishes, including mirror and glass.

Infrared heating also helps discourage damp and mould, because it penetrates walls and helps keep them at a moderate temperature. Condensation occurs when a surface is a considerably different temperature than the air surrounding it, so by warming the walls, you will stop water vapour settling.

Infrared heating panels do not include fans, nor do they circulate hot water, so they are very low-maintenance. This means no hidden costs or DIY bleeding, balancing or replacing parts!

Infrared heating panels do not circulate dust or pollen around the room, so they are great or those who suffer with allergies.

Infrared radiation keeps you warm by increasing your blood circulation, which can also have benefits for your health.

Is infrared a good option for me?

If you have access to electricity, you have the budget for the initial installation costs, and you’re unhappy with your current heating system, then it could well be! The low running costs and aesthetics of infrared heating panels make them a great option for many homes. Give us a call at any time to talk through your requirements.

  • Inspire – White Frameless Infrared Panel Heater

    FROM £329.00
  • Select XL – Mirror Infrared Heater

    FROM £319.00

Herschel IQ infrared heating controls

Until now, while infrared heating has led the way in terms of efficiency and performance, it has lacked the option of remote control, while other heating technologies can be controlled by ‘smart’ heating systems.

Currently, infrared panels can only be controlled with switches on walls (if wired into the mains) or on the heaters themselves – or with a Salus wireless thermostat. These do not give particularly sophisticated control over your heating, unlike Herschel’s new tailor-made system.

New Herschel IQ heating controls are the easiest, most effective way to control your infrared heating panels. The smart thermostat, coupled with receivers in as many rooms as you like, allows for optimal thermal comfort and energy savings.

The units are discreet and easy to use. Units can be added depending on your budget or the level of control you require.

The Herschel IQ system consists of:

T1 Thermostat

The Herschel T1 Thermostat controls the temperature of your heaters, and when they come on. Heaters will turn on automatically at the time you choose so you never have to return to a cold home.

R1 Receiver

The R1 Receiver links to the thermostat and controls your individual panels. You’ll need one in each room that has panels in it. If you’re fed up of having to leave the room to fiddle with your heating, the R1’s ‘Boost’ button gives you an extra burst of heat, whenever you need it.

Zone your home for full heating control

By splitting your home into ‘zones’ and heating it with infrared, you can just pinpoint one room to heat. This is useful if you know you’ll be spending a few hours in the same room and you don’t want to spend money heating rooms you’re not using.

You can create zones with a closed circuit heating system by using a smart thermostat or thermostatic radiator valves. However, with these systems, hot water (heated by a gas boiler) has to travel around the whole house’s pipes before it reaches the room you want to heat. It loses heat along the way. Infrared means more efficient, quicker heating.

With Herschel IQ, you have the option of setting your heating to different temperatures and times in different rooms, just by adding more sensors. Control everything from one point and tailor your heating system to your individual needs. If you like your heating to be warmer in the day than at nighttime, or you want more heating at the weekends when you’re at home more, Herschel IQ makes this possible.

You might choose to install an R1 in each room with heaters in it, and one T1 for the whole house, or (if you’d like to set your rooms at different temperatures), you could add a T1 to every room. Or you can go even further with the WH1 Central Control Unit.

WH1 Central Control Unit

The WH1 Central Control Unit is the (soon-to-be-launched) hub of the IQ system. It controls both your T1 thermostat and R1 receivers and allows you to change the heating from your phone. If your plans for the day don’t fit your pre-programmed heating schedule, you can avoid heating an empty house with the tap of a finger.

The WH1 can control up to 6 zones, with up to 6 R1s in each (You’ll only need one R1 receiver per room if the panels in that room are all on the same circuit). This allows for maximum control over your heating. Being able to heat only where and when you want, Herschel IQ can save you money on your bills as well as keeping you comfortable.

5 reasons to buy your infrared heating panels from Infrared4Homes

1

The best products around.

We handpick products to ensure safety and performance. Our range includes panels to suit all environments and budgets

2

No-fuss customer service.

We know some people like to hear a voice at the end of a phone before they buy online. That’s why we make sure there’s someone for you to speak to Monday-Friday 9am-5.30pm.

3

Free shipping.

All orders will be shipped free of cost.

4

Expert advice.

Get in touch for free advice on how infrared works and how it can save you money on your bills. Our office is full of qualified energy assessors!

5

Unbeatable prices.

We won’t be beaten on price and will match any like-for-like offer.

Should I get a heated mirror for my bathroom?

Heated mirrors are a great way to warm your bathroom, but standard ones can encourage humidity, leading to problems down the line. We have found a solution which heats even better than standard models but avoids this inevitable downside.

  • Inspire – Mirror Infrared Heater

    FROM £424.00
  • Select XL – Mirror Infrared Heater

    FROM £319.00

Mirror infrared heating panels

Mirror-finish infrared heating panels are an efficient, space-saving alternative. They sit almost flat against the wall and emit powerful warmth within minutes of being turned on. Unlike other bathroom mirrors, infrared panels do not fog up, so they are perfect for bathrooms.

What makes infrared heating different is that it works through radiation, not convection. Infrared panels emit radiant heat, warming objects (and people) directly, rather than space. Infrared radiation is completely safe – it is the reason we feel warm in the sun, even when the air temperature is low.

Ironically, radiators are convection heaters, and they work by heating air. They are less efficient than infrared heating because they work by heating the air around you. This means the heat is easily lost through draughts and through the walls of a building.

With infrared, furniture, walls and floors absorb heat and release it slowly back into the room over time. This means you will benefit even after you have turned the heating off. It also helps prevent damp and mould by drying out walls and stopping conditions which encourage condensation.

The way the panels work means they are also are cheap to run, because they require less energy input to achieve the same heat output as other forms of heating.

Our panels all come with 5 year warranties and proven performance.