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United Kingdom (UK) - Heating and Air-Conditioning
A good number of heating options are available for homes, however some choices seem more prevalent than others. Radiators, boilers and condensing boilers are typically the major choices. With radiators it is possible to install central heating throughout the home. Pipes are routed in the house with vents in each room. According to research in 2000-2009, it is more common for a central heating system to be installed, with fireplaces presenting a rare heating choice in newer builds.
Heating units are typically gas; roughly 60% of UK homes use gas central heating, with the next most popular choice being oil. There are very few electric heating systems in United Kingdom homes.
Radiators are convective central heaters, which can work from either a single or double pipe system in which steam or hot water is used to provide warmer air throughout the house. Radiators can be combined with a central boiler which will circulate steam or hot water throughout the entire home. Typically the single pipe radiator works with steam rather than hot water. A radiator creates thermal energy, which many feel is a better producer of warm air than other available heating systems. Radiators have been used since Roman times. Some wall units look more like electrical baseboard heaters rather than old-style standalone units.
A number of boiler choices exist, including hydronic, water-tube, fire-tube, steam, and condensing. For the home, the most common are conventional and combination boilers. Conventional systems work with two water tanks: one with cold water storage and the other feeding through hot water when switched on. The condensing unit for the central heating boiler will ensure that the cylinder is heated, and then hot water is available through the taps. Typically the condenser or conventional system has faster flow rates, can work with multiple taps, and can be used as a way to heat your home.
Combination boilers tend to be economical as there is a constant stream of hot water available and it is not limited when other taps are on. There is no storage cylinder to heat up, thus the water comes directly from the main water pipes. It is a smaller, space saving unit.
As concern about the environment rises, solar thermal heating is becoming more popular. It is not currently a predominant choice, however in years to come using solar panels to generate heat may become prevalent.
Warm Air Systems
Warm air systems are central heating options in which gas is used to create hot air that is then circulated through ducts in the floors or walls. This is currently seen more in UK businesses than in homes. It is a forced air setup in which a fan helps to blow air through the ducts.
Fireplaces might be used less in recent years, but they are still considered a highly efficient method of heating one room, or several rooms if the house has an open floor plan. Fireplaces such as wood burning stoves can be cost efficient depending on the price of wood or whether it is possible to harvest your own wood. Rural locations with plenty of wooded acres on the property could be a perfect location fireplace heating. Fireplaces using gas or electricity are also available, however most consider these units less efficient.
The climate certainly has an effect on heating and air conditioning in the UK. The rain, dampness, and cooler temperatures can warrant a higher and longer use of heating units compared with the expense of installing air conditioning that is only used perhaps once or twice per year.
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