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Gas or electric heater with solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 December 2012 at 11:25 am

Q: In discussions of draught proofing a room I realise that a lot of heat must be drawn up the flue behind my gas fire & therefore wasted due to its inevitable escape to the environment. Would it be worth it to replace my gas fire in the lounge by an electric fire with resultant minimal loss of heat, bearing in mind that it would cost a capital sum between £400 - £500 to do so? PS I have solar panels installed.

A:  Good to hear that you have solar panels. Whether they play a part in your decision will depend on when you use the fire in your lounge.

If it's only on in the evening, solar electricity would not contribute anything to the running costs, as the panels are not generating when you need the electricity.  If the fire is on during the day, the solar panels might make some contribution (depending on how large your solar PV system is), but the main heating months are when there is the least sun, and your solar generation is at its lowest.

The key figures for your decision (if it's based on the financial aspects) are probably the relative costs of mains gas and electricity. Heating with electricity will cost you c.14p per kWh of heat. Mains gas will cost 4.5p per kWh of heat. I don't know how much heat is drawn up a flue (although heat loss through an open fire is very significantly greater than heat loss through a wood burning stove - and my guess is that a gas fire would be more equivalent to a wood burner in heat loss terms). 

If it's more about waste, electricity has considerable energy loss on its way from the power station to your house, and is more carbon intensive than gas.

I hope this helps.

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Comments

3 comments - read them below or add one

richmc

richmcComment left on: 10 January 2013 at 5:15 pm

No brainer, the cheapes energy source available, i.e. gas.

Reason- during the months you need to heat your home the PV generation will be minimal. If you are worried about loss through the flue etc install a heat recovery system.

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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 20 December 2012 at 3:53 pm

Thank you for that feedback beachlife. That's really useful.

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beachlife

beachlifeComment left on: 20 December 2012 at 3:35 pm

I had similar thoughts with my open gas fire after I fitted solar panels. I decided to replace my open gas fire with a glass fronted gas fire. Since then I have noticed a great reduction in down draughts from the chimney. Also when I enter the living room in the morning the temperature is a few degreees warmer with no increase in heat input to the room.

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