What is a condensing boiler?
A condensing boiler is a highly energy-efficient water heater with considerably lower fuel and running costs than a conventional boiler.
You may not have especially heard about condensing boilers before. Since they were first introduced to the market in the 1980s, there has been a general lack of awareness of their merits.
However, the use of condensing boilers is now heavily encouraged by government bodies and environment groups across Europe and in North America, as they offer a more energy-efficient alternative to conventional domestic central heating systems – this is one of the main advantages of a condensing boiler.
In the UK, since 2005 it has been compulsory for all new gas central heating boilers installed in England and Wales to be condensing boilers.
How do they work?
While a conventional boiler will usually just project any excess heat from its flue into the atmosphere, a condensing boiler will recover as much of this waste heat as possible and put it to much more efficient use.
This is because a condensing design uses an extra-large heat exchanger, which, during the condensing process, maximises heat transfer from the burner. The heat given by the flue gases can then be recovered by the heat exchanger, effectively recycling the energy.
Virtually any condensing boiler therefore has a better operating efficiency than a conventional non-condensing design.
So… why should I get one?
There are two main benefits to gain from using a condensing boiler: lower energy bills, and a reduced carbon footprint.
As condensing boilers are so much more efficient than their conventional counterparts when turning fuel into usable heat, less fuel is required overall to heat both your water and your home. This efficiency could amount to savings of over £225 per year on your gas heating bills when compared to a non-condensing design.
Their fuel efficiency will also have an effect on your eco-friendliness, as condensing boilers can significantly reduce your carbon emissions. Replacing a G-rated boiler with a condensing system will save approximately 1, 220 kg CO2 each year. Some condensing boiler manufacturers also claim that up to 98% thermal efficiency can be achieved with a condensing model when compared to the 70-80% achieved with typical designs.
Other benefits of condensing boilers include:
- Space savings: Condensing combi boilers don’t need a hot water tank and are available in a wide range of compact sizes, making them much sleeker and convenient to fit in a kitchen cupboard when compared to conventional models.
- Supply reliability: New boilers are all fitted with a heat exchanger made from a non-ferrous metal, usually stainless steel, so that they don’t corrode over time. There is no need to wait for the hot water cylinder to refill, either, so hot water is available in unlimited supply.
- Simple controls: Conventional boilers tend to operate fairly simply, with either a temperature on/off switch of a controller with a few standard heating options. However, condensing boilers don’t need a timer, as they automatically produce hot water whenever a tap is turned on.
Whether running in condensing mode or not, a condensing boiler will always be 15-30% more energy-efficient than its conventional counterpart, helping householders by reducing their energy bills while limiting the impact that domestic heating has on the environment.
As long as your new condensing boiler is properly installed and maintained by a Gas Safe engineer, it will undoubtedly prove to be a reliable, cost-effective and energy-efficient investment for your home.
About the author:
This blog about eco-efficiency and reducing energy bills was written by Kim Whitley on behalf of home energy savings experts UK Power.co.uk, specialists in helping homeowners and business owners get better deals for their gas and electricity.
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