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Which sustainable heating system suits you best?

Do you have trouble deciding which sustainable heating system to choose? With this handy overview, ETIKL Magazine puts you on your way.

When building or renovating your new home, it is important to take many factors into account: budget, comfort and, of course, sustainability. Find out what options you have for choosing a sustainable heating system here.

Choosing a completely new, sustainable energy source

The first way to heat your home with renewable energy sources is to use solar energy. Solar panels are very efficient to provide your home with green electricity and hot water. Solar panels combined with a solar water heater are particularly interesting for new builds, and the solar water heater accounts for 40 to 100 per cent of your hot water consumption.

A second option you can choose is geothermal heat. The geothermal heat pump is not a cheap option, but it provides you with sustainable hot water for a whole year. How does it work exactly? Well, the system takes energy (heat) from the earth via a probe. This is placed at a depth of about 70 metres in order to heat the fluid there. Via the probe, the slightly heated liquid is pumped upwards and the geothermal heat pump will heat it further to about 45 degrees. The water is brought up to the surface for showering, bathing, turning on your floor heating, and so on. Once the liquid has cooled down again, it is pumped back down through the closed network. The process can continue indefinitely because the heat of the earth remains constant at this depth.

In the summer, a ground source heat pump can cool your home passively, because the soil is cooler than your home. By switching off the compressor, the water is not heated any further and the water is around 15 degrees Celsius. If you run this water through your underfloor heating system, your home cools down. The absorbed heat is pumped back into the ground via the water, causing it to cool down again.

A third option is to use indoor and outdoor air. For private homes, it is possible to install an air-to-air heat pump. Air is sucked in via an air vent on the outside of the house. The air takes on the temperature of the refrigerant gas and is blown into the house. And just as with the ground source heat pump, it is possible to do passive cooling by having the system work in reverse. An air-water heat pump is a variant of this system, with the option of connecting your hot water pipes to it as well.

Finally, the heating energy can also be extracted from groundwater. With the water-water heat pump, two wells are made from which ground water is pumped up. Energy is extracted from the water pump, which can be used to heat our home and tap water. When the water has cooled down again, it is pumped down again. So the main part of your heating system is underground.

It is important to note that in order not to disturb the soil, the heating and cooling demand for a water-water heat pump must be in constant balance. This means that in summer, you need to cool down again to recharge the source. And since this type of installation is probably one of the most expensive, groundwater is often shared with a group of houses or a company buildings.

Do you have trouble deciding which sustainable heating system to choose? With this handy overview, ETIKL Magazine puts you on your way.

Replace your existing heating system with a more sustainable alternative

Is your boiler 15 years old, does it heat with oil or natural gas and is a major renovation not possible? Then replace it with a hybrid heat pump or condensing boiler. Thanks to the energy savings, the costs of installing a new boiler are often recovered after just five years.

A hybrid heat pump, the more sustainable choice, consists of the combination of a high efficiency boiler and a heat pump. Why is this combination so popular? Mainly because it is so easy to install. In countries where the gas infrastructure is already well established, a hybrid installation can help to drastically reduce your gas consumption. For most of the year, the air-to-air heat pump takes care of heating the house, while the high-efficiency boiler is used for drinking water and sanitary facilities.

Finally, a condensing boiler runs on natural gas or fuel oil. The first advantage is heat recuperation: whereas a traditional boiler lets the hot flue gases disappear via the chimney or an exhaust pipe, a condensing boiler recuperates the heat from this itself. Therefore, there is no heat loss, which makes this boiler much more efficient. The second advantage of a condensing boiler is its efficiency. A high efficiency boiler sounds like it has more efficiency, yet a condensing gas boiler has 15% more efficiency.

The third advantage is that a condensing boiler looks much more modern than a traditional boiler and therefore does not have to be pushed aside in your interior. If you invest in the top models on the market, you will also benefit from features such as smart sensors. The latest condensing boilers adjust their functioning based on the weather conditions outside the home. In the event of sudden drops in temperature, they anticipate hot water consumption, so that they can heat up at a steady pace and consume less energy.

Is choosing a sustainable heating system not yet on the agenda, but would you like to change your habits in order to reduce your energy bill as much as possible? Read our practical tips here.