Energy Sources for Space Heating
The choice of energy source for your space heating will play a big part in determining environmental impact, costs and convenience. Choosing the right type and size of system at the design stage is essential. Fraemohs is happy to discuss these options with you!
Diesel (and Biodiesel)
Modern diesel heating systems are very efficient, and can be economical to run. Usually a tank is installed near the house, which feeds into the boiler. Diesel is a non-renewable fuel, produced from crude oil, and thus is not an environmentally ideal choice; it may however be the most convenient system for locations where other options are impractical. Biodiesel is diesel produced from renewable plants such as canola – more information can be found here.
Radiators are a good choice for a central heating system. A tank of water is heated using electricity (heat pump), wood, diesel or gas and the water is pumped through radiators in each room. Each radiator has a temperature adjustment function. Examples of radiator systems can be seen at Central Heating New Zealand.
Natural Gas and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
Natural gas and LPG are clean-burning fuels that can be supplied via pipeline (natural gas and LPG) or tanks (LPG only). These gases are non-renewable fuels, but generally have a lower environmental impact than diesel and coal. Gas may be convenient for homes which have a connection to a gas pipeline, or are in urban areas where LPG cylinder delivery is possible. Whilst a non-renewable fuel, gas is one of the cleanest fossil fuel options. More information on gas heating is available from EECA.
New Zealand’s electricity mix is one of the cleanest in the world – it is generated from around 70% renewable sources (more data is available from the Ministry for Economic Development). Despite this, coal and natural gas make up a significant proportion of our energy requirements. In addition, electricity is not always an efficient producer of heat. Electricity is best paired with heat pumps for heating.
Wood and pellets
Wood can be a great environmental choice for space heating, but it depends greatly on the choice of burner or boiler (more detail is available in the ‘space heating’ section). Wood is a renewable resource and an ideal choice for environmentally conscious homeowners, especially if it is from a local managed source. Wood pellets are a convenient, clean, renewable product made from compressed wood shavings and sawdust from wood product manufacturers. Nature’s Flame has more information on their website.
Coal has been used as a heating fuel for a centuries, and is a low-cost option in some parts of New Zealand. It is the least environmentally-preferable option as it is a fossil fuel and does not burn as cleanly as other fuels.