Whether you’ve just moved into a new property or just need to better understand your existing home, identifying what heating system you have can be confusing. There are a number of different options on the market today, each one of which has its own benefits and suitability to various buildings. Knowing this information won’t only help you when deciding what work to get done. It also helps to ensure your building stays warm with ample hot water all year round. Our blog today will take a look at 7 different types of heating systems to help you identify yours.
Most properties in the UK will have a standard central heating system. In fact, statistics report as many as 95% of households in the UK fall into this category. Central heating systems are also known as ‘gravity-fed’ systems as they rely on the forces of gravity and pumps to produce both hot water and heat. There are commonly 2 water tanks that will be located on one of the upper levels of your building – quite often, in the loft. One of these will hold all the hot water that the boiler produces – this is where the water that comes out of your taps and showerheads will be stored. The other boiler is there to provide the radiators around your home and other components of your system with water when needed. As the water needs to heat up through your boiler, some central heating systems can be slow while heat is constantly being lost during the transportation of water.
Hailed as one of the more popular, modern alternatives to central heating, combi boilers are used to provide both heat and hot water to your home. In this setup, you won’t have any tanks as the water comes directly from your mains water supply. As soon as you turn on the hot water tap, your boiler will fire up and heat the water. This means that less heat is lost during transport, making it a more cost-effective and energy-efficient solution. They are also commonly found in smaller homes such as bungalows or flats due to limited space.
Combi boilers are also generally cheaper to install and make it possible to use a pressure shower without the need for a shower pump.
Generally used as a means to save money on installation and running costs, storage heaters can still be found in many homes built during the 1970’s. Their purpose was to make use of the cheap nightly electricity that could then be used to heat a home during the day. You may also find storage heaters in homes that aren’t on the gar grid. The heater ‘charges’ during the night, heating up ceramic or concrete blocks within the heater. Some will have inbuilt fans that help to regulate the temperature in a room during the day. The best way to identify a storage heater is a two-tariff meter (one that has 2 numbers displayed on it). You will also notice that your bill may be split into day and night rates. Storage heaters are less cost-effective than general central heating because of the premium you’ll pay for the electricity.
Also known as a Mains Pressure Heating, these systems are generally used to save space. There are two different types, ones with a low-pressure vented setup and ones with a high-pressure unvented setup. With vented systems, you’ll have a hot water feed tank in your loft and a hot water cylinder to store the water in. Unvented systems are entirely enclosed and do not need to be supplied with fresh water. Sealed systems are less prone to rusting and airlocks. In addition, in the event of a damaged radiator, you’re likely to only find up to half a bucket of water leaking out from the system.
Different types of boiler
As well as identifying your heating system, it helps to understand what boiler your property has too. There are 4 main types – gas boilers, electric boilers, oil boilers and solid fuel boilers.
The majority of homes in the UK use gas for heating here in the UK. This is largely due to availability and also cost-effectiveness. Generally, you will either be using natural gas or liquified petroleum gas (LPG). The best way to identify which type your homes is to understand whether you are attached to the gas grid. If so, you’ll be using natural gas – if not, it’s likely to be LPG. You’re unlikely to be using petroleum gas unless you’re living remotely and have already identified the cylinders it is stored in.
In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of electric boilers on the market which stand-in to replace both gas and solid fuel alternatives. They can be used in traditional central heating systems and have the benefit of being exceptionally quiet. Additionally, if you’re looking to save on electricity fees, these boilers make use of cheap night-time electricity like in storage heaters to get you the best prices.
Known as the most cost-efficient option on the market, oil burners need an external tank to be fitted to your home. This makes them unsightly and can impact on building regulations if you live in a protected area. There is also a risk of serious damage should you unknowingly run out of oil as you may need to have the entire system checked and primed before refilling it.
If your building has a rustic edge to it, you may have a solid-fuel burner. This is one that runs and produces hot water by burning through fuel sources such as wood, coal and natural solid fats. They are large in size and require constant fuel to maintain the temperature. As you can expect, burning items such as timber and coal produce a lot of mess which makes them impractical for modern homes. And, they require a lot of maintenance to minimise damage and keep them running at an optimal level.
Understanding what heating system you have allows you to utilise hot water and heating effectively for your entire household. Here at Thames Gas, we have a wealth of experience in everything from boiler repairs, boiler services and central heating maintenance. Get in contact today or request a quote and let us keep your home comfortable all year round.
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