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Sustainable Boiler Systems

Micro CHP systems (micro combined heat and power systems) and Biomass Boilers look set to replace the humble domestic boiler and become the norm in our homes over the coming years.


Micro CHP systems

How does micro CHP work?

Using gas or LPG as a fuel, micro CHP installations provide both heat and electricity for your home.  Micro CHP installations look just like normal boilers. However, unlike ordinary boilers they will generate electricity at the same time as heating the water.

How much energy will a micro CHP system generate?

The actual amount of electricity generated will depend on how long the installation is set to run.  Typical set-ups will generate up to 1kW of electricity.

What are the advantages of micro CHP?

- The installations will deliver both heat and electric power.

- You will be paid for the electricity you generate from the installation under the Government's Feed in Tariff Scheme.

- Any electricity you generate and do not use can also be sold back to the Grid through the Feed in Tariff Scheme.

- Micro CHP systems are straight-forward and non-intrusive to install and do not take up much space (make sure you use an approved installer).

Are there any constraints?

- Micro CHP installations can be inefficient if they are only being used for short periods.

- There are a number of technologies on the market, some of which are unproven.

What consents will I need?

The installation of micro CHP is usually considered to be "permitted development", which means that planning permission is not required subject to certain conditions and exclusions.  However, if the installation requires an outside flue, depending on the size and location of the flue, it may require planning permission. Check out the Planning Portal Website for further advice.

Micro CHP systems will have to comply with the Building Regulations.

How much does a micro CHP system cost?

Expect to pay at least £5,000 to £6,000 (including installation costs).  Make sure you use an approved installer.

Are there any grants or other funding support available?

Micro CHP systems qualify for 10 years of tariff payments from the Government under the Feed in Tariff (TIF) Scheme.  Find out the current tariff payment rates at www.energysavingtrust.org.uk


- If your old boiler is coming to the end of its life, it is worth considering replacing the boiler with a micro-CHP installation.  

- CHP systems are straight forward and non-intrusive to install (but make sure you use an approved installer)  

- You can earn money from your CHP installation for any unused electricity that is fed back into the Grid under the Government under the Feed in Tariff (TIF) Scheme.

Further Information

For further information and for details of approved installers check out www.microgenerationcertification.org



Biomass Boilers

How do biomass boilers work?

Biomass boilers can be used in place of a standard gas or oil boiler to provide hot water and heating in your home. Biomass boilers work by burning the wood fuel and then storing the heated water produced, which then feeds into the central heating as required.

"Biomass" refers to living or recently living material such as logs, wood pellets or wood chips.  Some biomass boiler types are fuelled by logs but they are more typically fuelled by wood pellets.

How much energy will a biomass boiler generate?

A domestic biomass boiler generates around 15kW of energy.  This is easily enough energy to heat the water and provide central heating throughout a large home.

What are the advantages of biomass boilers?

A biomass boiler is an ideal technology if you do not have access to mains gas.  A biomass boiler could save you nearly £600 a year compared to electric heating.

Are there any constraints?

- The main constraint is space.  Wood and wood pellets are cheaper if bought in bulk. However, you will need space to store the material.   Biomass boilers are typically larger than traditional boilers, so will also require more space.

- Whist they may save you money on your energy bills, a good biomass boiler is much more expensive to buy than a conventional boiler.

- The market for wood fuel is still in its infancy.  The cost and quality of wood and wood pellets can fluctuate greatly.

- Biomass boilers need to be manually feed, log burning boilers in particular will require regular 'topping up'.

What consents will I need before fitting a biomass boiler?

Planning permission is not normally needed when installing a biomass boiler in a house if the work is all internal.

Biomass Boilers will have to comply with the Building Regulations.  Your installer should take into account factors such as ventilation, noise and general safety. The installer should be suitably qualified, preferably one who belongs to either the Microgeneration Certification Scheme or a relevant Competent Person Scheme.

How much does a biomass boiler cost?

Biomass boilers are more expensive than traditional boilers. Expect to pay around £10,000 to £12,000 for a good quality, automatic, wood pellet burning biomass boiler.  This price includes installation. Manually fed log boiler systems will usually be cheaper.

Are there any grants or other funding support available to help pay for a biomass boiler?

The Green Deal scheme may be able to help you pay for the upfront costs of the installation through Green Deal financing.  The installation costs will then be paid back over time, with interest, through your electricity bill.

You may qualify for payments from the Government under their Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.


• If you do not have access to mains gas and have sufficient space, it is worth considering a biomass boiler.

• You may be eligible for up to £2,000 through the Government's Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme to help with the cost of installing your biomass boiler.

Further Information

The Energy Saving Trust website provides advice on finding an installer to meet your requirements.  The Energy Saving Trust recommends that a biomass boiler is installed by an MCS (The Microgeneration Certification Scheme) certified installer.

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