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How Can An Integrated Heating System Benefit You?

If you are looking for a modern way to efficiently heat your home with sustainability and your eco footprint in mind, then using renewable heating is the best option. However, an option that not everyone is aware of is using an integrated, dual source, or hybrid heating system; an integrated heating system combines the traditional gas/electric boiler found in most homes, with a newer renewable heating option such as a ground or air source heat pump.

What Is Renewable Heating?

The traditional heating systems used in homes around the world is often a mains gas boiler, this uses fossil fuels to heat water and rooms in the home. There is a shift in the modern world to using alternative heating sources that are more environmentally friendly and which don’t use a limited fuel source such as gas. This shift is the implementation of renewable heating which in the case of an integrated heating system will be combined with the older and more traditional heating system.  

But what is renewable heating? If you are going to be using it then you will want to know exactly what you are working with. Renewable heating utilises energy sources which are just that, renewable. This means that the heating system can be set up practically anywhere and produce heat using the natural world, leaving your home heated and your carbon footprint reduced.

There are a few options for renewable heating, the main ones being ground and air source heat pumps, biomass boilers, and solar thermal energy. Air source heat pumps take heat from the air outside to the home and move it into a system where temperature can be raised and pumped around the home, ground source heat pumps do pretty much the same but extract the heat from a series of pipes underground, a biomass boiler can use wood pellets, chips, or logs to be burnt, this converts the wood into heat to be sent around the home via central heating. Each of these can bring its own benefits and works in a way that does not require a traditional heating system, although they can often be used together for extra energy and heat.

What Is An Integrated Heating System?

Now that we have outlined what renewable heating is, we can explain what an integrated heating system is and how it could be the perfect heating system for your home. An integrated heating system, or hybrid heating system, makes use of both the traditional gas boiler in the home and a renewable source, most often a heat pump.

Using both of these sources leads to the efficient and effective heating of your home all year round. The heat pump will be working more over the summer, allowing your boiler to rest and save you money so that it is only used most in the winter months when it is needed. Simply put, the integrated heating system will be a hybrid of the traditional and greener systems and will switch between them, choosing the appropriate and most efficient source of heating.

There is a lot of talk about this being the future of heating, as it can be set up in the majority of homes and is forward thinking. It can save money in the long term and of course helps in the larger scheme of sustainability. Having this dual source heating system means that each source doesn’t have to work as hard to provide heat to the whole house, the shared workload can put your mind at ease and keep you comfortable over every season. Through the use of a thermal store, the renewable source that you have installed can save up heat to be used later, meaning that you always have enough heating or a backup supply.

Which Heating Sources Can You Combine?

At the moment there are limited options for when it comes to installing a renewable heating system alongside your traditional boiler. This is not to say you can’t choose a valid and functional system, but we hope that in the future the technology will develop and allow for an array of combinations. Nonetheless, you can find that many different systems and technologies can be combined.

The choice that you make is ultimately down to what you would prefer, what works best with your property, and what your budget is. All renewable heating has its own pros and cons, which we have covered in more detail in our blog post What Is The Best Renewable Heating System‘

With your existing and installed heating, you can combine an air source heat pump, a ground source heat pump, or in some cases a biomass boiler. Solar thermal heating is possible but will most likely not be sufficient to combine and ultimately you are better off using other sources.

Ground Source Heat Pump

This renewable heating system uses heat from the ground in your garden or another piece of land. The system of pipes or ‘ground loops’ collects the heat and transfers it into a compressor where the temperature can be increased and sent through the home to heat radiators and water. When this is installed in an integrated heating system it allows the workload to be shared with your gas boiler as it can supply heat constantly. Some of the benefits of a ground source heat pump is that it has a high RHI rate and saves money over time, there is also no need to store fuel. However, it can be quite expensive and installation means that land will be disrupted, it is also difficult to access the pipes in case of repairs.

Air Source Heat Pump

An air source heat pump works in pretty much the same way as a ground source heat pump, but it gathers heat from the air outside and converts that to be used around the home. It can also be used well for cooling your house in the summer. This is the most frequently combined heating system as it is easily implemented alongside the usual system in homes. The benefits associated with this system is that it takes up less space and has a fairly easy installation process, and it can provide heat even with lower temperatures. Downsides can be that in winter especially it may struggle to heat as effectively, luckily using it in a hybrid system means that the missing heat can be made up by your main traditional boiler.

Biomass Boiler

The least commonly used heating option in an integrated heating system is a biomass boiler. This uses wood in the form of chips, pellets, or logs that are burnt in the boiler, this process produces heat that can be sent throughout the home to keep temperatures up, especially in colder months. A biomass boiler’s advantages are it being highly environmentally-friendly, by using waste wood, and that it can compete well with gas boilers in efficiency and cost. Negatives can be the space that it takes up, and the maintenance that may be required.

Of course, all of these are great and can be used on their own as a renewable heating system, but in an integrated heating system they can really come into their own. It can also be possible to combine more than one of the renewable heating sources.

Discover the ins and outs of the Renewable Heat Incentive today…

How Does An Integrated Heating System Work With The RHI?

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was set up by the government to promote the use of renewable heating, it has been made available for the domestic and non-domestic uses of such heating. Through the scheme people can earn money quarterly over a number of years, from their use of greener heating.

Having an integrated heating system works much the same with the RHI as if you were only using a renewable heating source. As long as your system meets the requirements set out by officials then you are ready to start in the scheme. The earnings you can get through the RHI scheme will only be calculated through the amount of heat that the renewable heat source generates in your combined set up.

Ultimately you win when using an integrated heating system, as you reduce your use of fossil fuels, gain excellent heating for your home, and earn money back from your investment in the future. The RHI is an important government incentive and many people are receiving the positives that come with it, and if you aren’t committing to just a renewable heating source then it works well with the integrated systems available.


A Greener Alternative are pleased to offer a range of services, including the installation of integrated heating systems. We can combine a range of technologies to work in whatever way is best for you and your home. If you would like to discuss how an integrated heating system can benefit you then please get in touch today. You can get in touch by using our contact form, by emailing us at:  info@agreeneralternative.co.uk or by calling us on 01273 455 695.