It is estimated that as much as 15% of the UK are effectively ‘off the gas grid’, meaning they are not connected to mains gas in any way. This equates to millions of people who are forced to find alternatives, many of which come at double or triple the cost. Finding economical alternatives can be tricky, though we have put together this page as a resource that can help you with your search for heating options for homes without gas.
LPG and Oil Boilers
For decades, many off the grid homeowners have relied on LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and oil for their heating. Both of these combustibles pass through a boiler or generator to provider heat around the home. Modern boilers for LPG and oil condense the materials and make them more efficient, meaning that costs are noticeably reduced. However, unless you are loyal to LPG and oil boilers, we recommend alternative heating options for homes without gas, as these boilers are comparably expensive to run.
It seems almost an ancient concept to try and heat a home by burning wood, especially for those of us who live in towns and cities with numerous modern conveniences at our disposal. For those who are off the grid, which by definition would make one assume they are somewhere deep in nature, the availability of wood makes it a great solution. In rural communities it is sometimes possible to acquire wood for free, though that doesn’t make burning it totally efficient.
The greatest downside to a wood-burning stove is that it unevenly heats the house, generally providing large amounts of heat to the area immediately surrounding the stove, and very little to the areas furthest from it. This usually leads to people operating electric heaters or additional wood fires in these parts of the home. To get hot water for baths or showers, a wood-burning stove would need to be hooked up to a water heating system or immersion tank, though this is not always possible, or affordable.
Biomass boilers are one of our favourite heating options for homes without gas, but like several of the other solutions, they come with a large upfront cost. This cost can be offset with government subsidies, though the energy savings may take decades to pay back this cost. Biomass works by combusting natural materials like wood pellets and logs, sometimes which can be found for free.
Infrared Heating Panels
Infrared heating panels are one of the cheapest ways of heating an off the grid property, over time. Initial costs for the panels may be high, but the heat is then free after that. Fears that they don’t work in the winter are incorrect, as infrared science dictates that the air temperature and the temperature of the infrared radiation from the sun do not necessarily correlate. Infrared heating is 100% safe and the science behind this fairly new innovation is very interesting, in fact you can read more here.
An electric boiler can be a cheap form of heating or an expensive form of heating, it depends how you go about it. By using the electric boiler as one of your heating options for homes without gas, you will be paying up to three times as much as alternatives, BUT, and it’s a big but, if you install solar panels to power the electric boiler, you will pay almost nothing (on top of the costs of the boiler and panels). Often when it comes heating options for homes without gas, combining two or three of the solutions will give you the desired results.
Renewable energy is a recurrent theme on this page because it is so well suited to off the grid properties. Heat Pumps are a brilliant investment for heating these homes, but they come with a very large cost of installation which tends to put people off. They will pay themselves off over many years, but last for a very long time. Heat pumps don’t actually generate heat energy, they move it from the ground inside, or from inside to the ground. When it’s cold outside, they pull heat energy in, and when it’s hot outside, they circulate colder air, acting like an air-conditioner. To fully understand how heat pumps operate requires a strong understanding of thermal energy and heat flows.
Solar Heating Panels
Due to the fact that they are powered by sunlight, they are not the most effective option for heating your off the grid home, but they can be effective when combined with a home battery or a water heating system that covers the whole home. The benefit of solar panels is that they make electricity more affordable (or even free) and due to this, make it more accessible to try some of the other heating options for homes without gas. Infrared heating panels are a far more direct approach to heating.
Plug-in Electric Heaters
There are far better ways to heat your home than plug-in electric heaters, but they still deserve to make this list as they are a solution for many. Generally, they offer better heating properties on a room-by-room basis, rather than covering the whole home, so to use these as your main heating supply would mean buying multiple heaters. The energy consumption would be huge, outweighing many of the options on this list, though the initial outlay would be a lot smaller. It simply takes a lot more electricity to provide the same heat that fuel can provide, and as such we don’t recommend plug-in electric heaters.
Whilst insulation doesn’t generate heat, it is your best ally in protecting heat from escaping, and for that reason we always recommend properly insulating your off the grid home. An uninsulated home wastes heat, energy and money, literally allowing them to seep through the walls, floors and roof. Our recommended insulation type is eco-friendly Icynene spray foam, which is lightweight, lasts for decades and doesn’t harm the environment.
Those are our heating options for homes without gas. As you may have noticed, storage heaters didn’t make this list. The reason for this is because coal and nuclear plants are in decline in the UK, meaning storage heaters will become increasingly expensive to run. As such, we no longer recommend using them.