Prices of energy and energy raw materials are constantly rising. Unfortunately, in the coming heating season they are expected to be even higher and we do not know what will be the “top” of the forecasted increases. It’s hard to predict. Then what to do to pay less? How can you reduce the effects of increasing prices for energy without giving up the thermal comfort? After all, it is not a good solution to reduce the basic standard of living. Considered use of heating fuel is intuitive, but improving heating efficiency would be much more lucrative.
First of all, we have to remember that there is no perfect heating system. Heating system is the most expensive of home installations and it’s difficult to be changed. Expensive is its purchase (from several thousand upwards), installation and subsequent operation. It depends on our way of life but also on the level of energy prices. And there’s no way around it – the building needs to be heated. The costs must ALWAYS be taken into account.
The choice of heat source is crucial not only for convenience in daily life, but also for the costs incurred. Of course, we cannot change energy prices – we do not have such power. Instead we can change the hot water system to the one that uses less heating fuel. It is usually our first thought.
In relation to the type of fuel used, the range of heating devices is quite large:
It must be made clear that solid fuel boilers will not be the most profitable to exploitation, even though they are considered to be the cheapest. First, they require a boiler room isolated from the rest of the house, which must be kept in tidiness. This requires not only money, but also time. Secondly, it is necessary to purchase heating fuel in advance – you need to think about the accumulation of fuel in the summer months, but even this does not guarantee a favourable price. The other element to consider is the ecological aspect which is highly problematic in the case of solid fuel. Of course, it is necessary to distinguish inefficient “old coal furnaces” from modern coal-fired boilers with high combustion standards, but this is still not the forefront of eco-solutions. The advantage of coal boilers and pellet or eco-pea coal boilers should be the relatively low cost of operation but only under the assumption of normalization of energy and fuel prices. Nowadays, it is very difficult to make such an assumption.
Solid fuel boilers are unpredictable in terms of price during operation because the price of fuel depends on global energy conditions and national policy decisions. The situation is similar with oil and gas heating – the most frequently chosen, if we follow the pro-ecological recommendations. Gas boilers are easy to operate (do not require a separate boiler room, constant refilling of fuel) and more ecological than coal-fired boilers. However, gas prices are again strongly influenced by the global political situation and EU decisions.
Electric heating is used rarely or as a second, emergency heating system, as a supplementary heat source. It is a safe and convenient option but operationally unmanageable for an average household. An electric boiler or radiators connected directly to an electrical socket is an installation that consumes a dizzying amount of electricity. If we do not have a photovoltaic system to cover such high demand, the costs presumably will exceed our financial capacity.
The most cost-effective way to heat a building is to use an installation that draws from renewable energy sources or heating hybrids that use them. In these installations, energy price is equal to zero because we produce it ourselves. Natural resources are inexhaustible, free of charge and most independent of global fluctuations in energy policy. It is a fact that regulations in the storage and resale of the electricity produced by photovoltaics may limit the profitability of this method. However, it remains profitable. The private production of electricity (photovoltaics) and heat (solar panels) offers a high degree of independence from global fuel prices. To ensure that energy prices cease to be a constant and acute problem, it is necessary to invest when implementing a RES-based system. However, we should remember that the investment will pay off.
Energy and “blue” fuel (“blue” – hydrogen) prices have risen, are rising and, unfortunately, will still rise. It is good to become as independent from them as possible, because financial shields will not stop inflation. They will only postpone its impact. If we are in the mood, we can joke that it will be cheapest to light a fire in the living room and rely on the traditional method to heat the house… But black humour, although it helps to bear reality, will not fix it. We should rethink our steps in these difficult times.
Replacing the installation is not the only option to pay less during the heating season. First, not everyone can financially afford such a costly investment and everyone wants to do something that will help to reduce monthly heating expenses. Second, even if we decide to upgrade our heating system, we still have a chance to save even more. We can achieve that by installing an efficient system that controls the heating installation – any installation, regardless of its type. So it doesn’t matter whether you have a solid-fuel, liquid-fuel, electric or gas boiler. Maybe you heat your home with a heat pump or a heating hybrid? It doesn’t matter in this case either. What does matter is the way our installation consumes the heating fuel which we will have to pay for.
This way can be inefficient if we do not use appropriate controllers. Investing in them will certainly not be as expensive as replacing the entire installation, and will bring noticeable results as automating energy consumption is highly economical. Installation of the controlling system is not at all as complicated as harmful myths proclaim. In addition, renowned brands such as ENGO Controls offer their customers free support during the selection, installation and long-term use of controlling devices.
Because the heat source (boiler, heat pump with buffer tank) controlled by efficient heating automation produces only as much heat as is needed to maintain the temperature we set. There is no overheating or overcooling of the interiors after which it takes even more energy to restore the right temperature. Room thermostats do not affect energy prices but they keep an eye on energy consumption. Thanks to this balance and smooth operation, heating costs are much lower no matter what fuel we use to heat our home with.
According to experts in the energy field, adjusting the indoor temperature by only 1℃ lower than usually is saving of 6-7% energy charges. If we convert this to the entire heating season, the savings are concrete. The numbers will convince us.
Thanks to modern heating automation (the idea of zone control – separate in each room) we can reduce the temperature by a few degrees in unfrequented rooms or passable areas (e.g. hallway, dressing room). We will do similarly when we are not at home. A few hours or a few days of economical temperatures throughout the house will make a colossal difference when paying the bills. Intentional – i.e. conscious lowering the interior temperature – will save hundreds of EUR – depending on the heated area.