The case comparing oil and gas central heating against infrared is only really relevant these days in cases of retrofits of existing systems, rather than installation in new buildings, where these old systems are being used less and less.
For anything below a Band B boiler there is little argument that Infrared will be more energy efficient and save money. But replacement of these lower bands are markets that the boiler manufacturers themselves are aiming-for. Here are two typical savings cases we have seen for Gas and Oil, where old low-grade boilers were being used.
For the higher grade band B and band A boilers, the savings difference with Infrared becomes much narrower, especially if they are properly maintained. Infrared will always have the following advantages which will narrow the gap between the Kilowatt/Hour running costs of electricity (14 pence per kWh) versus Oil (6.43 pencer per kWh) and Gas (4.21 pence per kWh):
- better flux per kilowatt of Infrared heaters and therefore lower overall normal and peak capacity requirement;
- difference in heat transfer between radiant (Infrared) and convective (Central Heating) systems meaning less overall energy loss and lower running hours per day for Infrared when compared with either oil or gas. Central heating cannot be effectively zoned. Infrared can be zoned only where it is required.
Infrared also has the following particular advantages over oil and gas boilers which influence cost:
Purchase and Installation costs:
Installation of a new “wet” central heating system is very expensive, but for Gas and Oil is becoming less and less common (though still common enough where heat pumps are the heating unit). We have found instances where adding an extension to a building with an existing boiler system, that people prefer the ease and cheapness of Herschel Infrared opposed to the expense of extending the wet system into the extension.
A retrofit of a new boiler into an existing system should in theory be cheap. However anecdotally, installers find a combination of the following issues that increase the complexity and cost of a retrofit:
- Non-standard fittings used on old system;
- Existing pipework and wiring have to be re-routed;
Modern condensing boilers will require radiators to be replaced with 20% bigger variants to allow for the lower return temperature of the water for the condensing to take place – an expensive refit.
A modern boiler, properly serviced should last at least 10 years, but inevitably will need to be replaced. A Herschel Far Infrared panel should never need to be replaced.
Hidden operating costs:
Remember that boiler systems consume a significant amount of electricity in their operation and this figure (can add another £70 – 80 per year) is almost never factored into operating cost calculations.
Service and maintenance costs:
To keep your boiler at peak efficiency, you do need to maintain and service it annually.
Carbon Reduction Commitment:
Gas and Oil heating fall foul of carbon reduction commitment costs for companies, which Infrared does not. When used in conjunction with solar power, indeed, Herschel Far Infrared is Carbon-Free.
Summary of advantages of Gas and Oil:
- Per kiloWatt Hour costs are substantially lower than electricity (used by Infrared)
- Boilers will heat water, Infrared will not;
Summary of disadvantages of Gas and Oil:
- Central heating panels convect, rather than radiate, usually eliminating the cost difference between gas, oil and electricity;
- Cannot be zoned;
- New-build installation costs are very high, retrofits are rarely straightforward and often more expensive than originally envisioned;
- Modern condensing boilers require radiator enlargement;
- Modern boilers need regular maintenance to remain at peak efficiency;
- All boilers consume electricity, adding to running costs in addition to gas or oil;
- All boilers eventually need to be replaced, infrared heaters do not.
Summary of Herschel Far Infrared Heating as an alternative to Gas and Oil boilers:
- Lower operating and peak capacity usually means Infrared is cheaper to run than most oil and gas boiler solutions;
- Can be zoned to heat only areas you require;
- Easy and inexpensive to install, making it a very flexible solution for whole-house or extensions;
- Does not require servicing or spare parts;
- Does not require replacing every 10 years;
- You will need a separate solution for heating hot water, such as a modern energy-efficient immersion heater.