Oliver Baker, Chief Executive at Ambion Heating, explains why computer-controlled infrared heating could be a great low carbon alternative to air source heat pumps.

In January 2021, the government published its response to the Future Homes Standard, with Housing Minister Chris Pincher announcing that all new homes must have greater energy efficiency and be “zero carbon-ready” by 2025. 

Specifically, new homes will need to produce 75-80% fewer carbon emissions compared to current homes, with an additional target of having a reduced carbon footprint of 31% by 2021, compared to current levels.

A key part of this will be reducing the carbon emissions from heating, with the phasing out of fossil fuel-based systems being a major step in the drive to hit these targets. As such, heat pumps have largely been the focus when it comes to the decarbonisation of heating. 

However, they are not the only solution. At the end of 2020, concerns were raised by the Environmental Audit Committee that the proposed roll out of technologies, such as air source heat pumps (ASHPs), could be hampered by the high cost of electricity; i.e. it would not be as affordable as gas systems.

As such, there are other low carbon heating technologies that can match, if not better, the performance of heat pumps when it comes to reducing emissions and bills. One of these is computer-controlled infrared (CCIR) heating. 

How does CCIR work?

CCIR works by using infrared combined with processors and sensors. Compared to traditional convective systems that heat the air within a room, CCIR achieves the same levels of comfort by using infrared to heat the walls and other surfaces of each room.

The processors and sensors give CCIR its ability to learn about the environment it is operating in and optimise the amount of energy required to achieve the target temperature accordingly. This unique combination enables users to benefit from high-performance, cost-effective, and comfortable heating. 

In an independent performance review, CCIR provided the same levels of comfort within a room, using 60% less energy than a standard electric convection system and 3% less than ASHPs. This reduced consumption rate means that carbon emissions are also more than 60% lower than traditional systems.

What type of properties are suitable for CCIR?

While CCIR is naturally a good fit for those properties that aren’t connected to the mains grid, it is suitable for all properties, from newbuild houses that will need to comply with the Future Homes Standard, to retrofitting older properties. 

CCIR can also easily be installed in apartment buildings and social housing properties, providing cost-effective, low carbon, comfortable heat. It is also suitable for a wide range of commercial and public sector installations, helping organisations to reduce their energy consumption.

Easy and cost-effective installation

One of the barriers to making the switch to low carbon heating is the associated cost. This is particularly true when it comes to retrofitting projects – according to recent analysis by the Labour Party of data from the Climate Change Committee, householders buying a new home in the next four years could face an average cost of more than £20,000 to retrofit the necessary energy efficiency and low carbon technologies.

CCIR costs less to install and run than many other low carbon heating alternatives. It’s up to 40% cheaper to install than ASHPs and has similar running costs. For example, in a typical three-bedroom house, the estimated capital cost of installing a CCIR system is around £6,000, compared to nearly £10,500 for an ASHP. 

They are also easy to install, whether they’re being retrofitted into an existing building or installed within a newbuild, have no moving parts, and require no annual maintenance. This means that installers can save valuable time and move onto the next job as soon as possible.

A long-term heating solution 

2021 has started with a very clear message – the future of heating is low carbon. However, many of the solutions being championed now are likely to need upgrading further down the line. That is why time should also be taken to investigate all the heating alternatives, such as CCIR, which are futureproof, longer term heating solutions. 

As such, we are working in partnership with installers across the country to ensure a full understanding of the benefits these new and successful technologies can bring