The dizzying and constant increase of the gas price weigh more and more on the pockets of citizens, with autumn at the door and the next winter that promises to be dramatic on the bills and gods consumption (here we talked about the revolution taking place in an Italian region: how it works).
Beyond state interventions (with Draghi thinking of an “energy lockdown” to save Italy), to cut the cost of domestic heating there are alternatives to gas ranging from “special” boilers to pellet stoves (what will cost more: we talked about it here).
Are pellets and wood really worth it? How much they cost and how much you save
The sudden and unpredictable trend in energy costs has canceled the adjective “premature” when thinking about how to deal with cold season. The first alternatives that spring to mind to heat our homes remain wood, for those who own a fireplace, and the pellets. But is it really worthwhile to focus on these heat sources?
At the end of August the price of gas reached the record quota of 300 euros per megawatt hour on the square in Amsterdam, not bodes well for the coming months. L’inflation galloping and the cascading effects caused by the war in Ukraine have also led to increases in other commodities such as wood And pellets. The expenditure per quintal for the first, in 2021, was between 10 and 12 euros, while today it has risen to 18-20 euros. It is worse for pellets: if last year for a 15 kilo sack it cost from 3 to 5 euros, already before the summer the price has also touched 14 eurosfor an average of almost 1 euro per kilo.
There are, however, who, how the Italian Agroforestry Energy Association, which encourages consumers to use firewood for heating at home. Using it, he says, would save up to 900 euros a year to heat a 100 square meter house. 55% less than methane, the cost of which is around 1,650 euros. Likewise, pellets could guarantee annual savings of 700 euros (-44%).
Domestic alternatives to gas
However, there are other alternative methods to the classic use of gas, even for those who have chosen district heating and have unfortunately seen triple the amount of your bills. The price has skyrocketed even where 70% of the heat comes from waste-to-energy. Let’s see in detail the alternatives for home heating.
As the name suggests, it uses electric heaters to heat the water. However, it should be noted that in most cases it is not a recommended choice, both for the high cost that also concerns electricity and because the consumption is about 3 times that of a natural gas boiler and 4 times higher than that generated by a pump. heat.
This is the only fuel system considered to be a renewable source, with guaranteed savings compared to natural gas heating. The term “biomass” indicates a set of materials ranging from the aforementioned wood and pellets to agricultural waste and dried fruit shells. In any case, solid organic substances, which are not of fossil origin. The main limit is represented by the purchase, storage and loading of the material.
A relatively recent technology such as the ion dissociation electric boiler deserves a separate mention. It is a system that heats a technical liquid thanks to the movement of ions and that exchanges the heat generated with the heating circuit of the house. However, we always talk about high consumption on average: for each kWh of electricity used, about 2 kWh of heat are produced. The costs are therefore halfway between those of a natural gas boiler and those related to a heat pump. On the other hand, one of the advantages of the ion boiler relate to the absence of an external unit and flue and the possibility of reaching high temperatures, even 90 °, without unpleasant consequences for the structure and system.
Electric underfloor heating
The use of electricity can also unravel through a floor coil. The practical problems, however, are the same as those encountered with an electric boiler or with an electric boiler. Although there are more efficient systems on the market than the classic heating element (infrared, for example), consumption is still much higher than for methane, pellets and heat pump. Furthermore, as with most electric boilers, there is no possibility of producing domestic hot water.
It is a system that takes thermal energy from the external environment to reuse it in the domestic heating circuit. There are three types of heat pumps, all reversible:
- air-water: heats the water in the house by exchanging heat with the outside air. In summer it can produce cold water to mitigate the temperature of the premises;
- air-to-air: as for the classic air conditioner, the operation involves the introduction of hot or cold air into the house, always exchanging thermal energy with the external environment;
- geothermal: it is a system that heats or cools the water that circulates inside a radiant floor, ceiling or wall by exchanging thermal energy with groundwater (water-water) or with the ground (earth-water).
In other words, in the heat pump the electricity is only used to “move” existing heat. Consumption is 25% or 35% lower than a condensing boiler. However, if you install the system incorrectly or let it work at too high temperatures, you risk not only having to reach out to your wallet to repair the damage, but also to consume as if you were using a classic natural gas boiler. Therefore, it is not enough to replace the boiler with a heat pump, but to start a series of works by relying on professionals in the sector.
Infrared electric radiant panels
In this case, the heating takes place with radiant technology, with slightly lower consumption than the classic coil with electrical resistance. The panels can be positioned on the wall or ceiling and do not directly heat the air, but the opposite surfaces. In other words, by placing a panel on the wall, heat is “sent” to the opposite wall, while on the ceiling the heat is radiated downwards. Also in this case there is the problem of costs, on average higher than methane, biomass and heat pump.
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