What is hybrid heating, and could it be the future for sustainable heating?
With the burning of fossil fuels recognised as the key component in climate change, there is a national and global initiative to find heating solutions that can be rolled out at scale and accessible to all.
So what is hybrid heating?
A hybrid heating and hot water system is a combination of two or more technologies generating heat together to reduce carbon output. Typically these consist of a combination of a typical gas or oil boiler and an air to water heat pump.
The boiler only kicks in occasionally when the heat pump cannot combat more extreme temperatures, topping up the energy provided by the heat pump about 20% of the time.
Heat pumps alone can only work effectively, generally, in really modern homes – because the insulation and structure of them is designed and implemented for efficiency, which is why hybrid systems could be a better option on a larger scale for the 80% of houses in the UK built before 1960.
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) – do hybrids qualify?
Unfortunately, currently there are no grants available for hybrid heating systems, however, the grant, which now pays up to £5000 towards a completely renewable heating solution, could be hugely outweighed by hefty installation costs, alongside upheaval and property adjustments that we’ve seen rack up into five figures. A hybrid system is a much smaller outlay and a much more viable option for many homeowners.
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), a Government scheme that was introduced in 2011, was initiated to encourage people to invest in renewable forms of heating, by paying them for the renewable heat they produce, and became available on a domestic basis in 2014. The scheme helps with the installation and maintenance cost of biomass boilers, air to water heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, water source heat pumps and solar thermal.
How much will a hybrid system save me and the planet?
We’re working hard to educate our customers about hybrid systems, as many are totally unaware that they could reduce their carbon output by up to 80%. Which is a significant drop for a much more manageable investment. Even better? Almost every single person who currently has a gas boiler will benefit from a hybrid system. With some estimates suggesting that a hybrid heating system can save homeowners 30 – 50% per year on their energy bills, that’s a huge step in combating financial hardship nationwide and taking great leaps in the reduction of carbon emissions.
Who can install hybrid systems?
There are no formal requirements needed to install a renewable heating system. However, those engineers that are certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) can demonstrate, and reassure customers, that they are able to install renewable technology to the highest standard. Similarly, hybrid systems do not require any specialist training or certification for engineers to install them. However, to futureproof our skill set and ensure customers have access to professional support, we have made sure our engineers all have F-Gas certification, which means we can provide best practice advice and installation. Our engineers have a full understanding of how the systems work from both a technical and an efficiency perspective.
Have the Netherlands got it right?
The Netherlands seem to have caught on. With an infrastructure and property profile similar to the UK, they are making great strides in incentivising hybrid systems, pledging that by January 2026, hybrid systems will be the standard heating system in all homes. This means when a boiler needs replacing, people will have to install a hybrid heat pump. Houses not suitable for a hybrid heat pump will be fitted with an electrical heat pump or a connection to the heat grid as an alternative. While there is no silver bullet for providing efficient and planet friendly heating for older properties, The Netherlands have hedged their bets on hybrid systems.
The government in The Netherlands is offering a subsidy to buy a heat pump which amounts to approximately 30% of the purchase price. There is also additional financing available as a loan for the Dutch National Heat Fund, which helps lower and middle income households with 0% finance options. Meaning everyone can access this new technology in a bid to save on energy bills and make a notable dent in the consumption of fossil fuels.
Get expert advice
If you’d like to find out more about whether a hybrid system could be the right solution for you, you can get in touch with our team who will talk you through your options.