In Energy Tips, Solar Advice, Solar Panels

Gas boilers are king. Or, they have been, when it comes to being the standard Irish home’s primary source of heating. That said, there’s increasing demand for alternative solutions. People are opting for products that can reduce their carbon footprint, increase their sustainability credentials and more recently, future proof their homes against the volatile energy market.

Ireland, on the whole has become, with the support and encouragement of the government (and their initiatives) a more eco focused nation. Agreements have been put in place to actively promote moving in a greener direction both from a residential and industry perspective. These changing behaviours at a structural level, are putting increased pressure on energy suppliers and companies to look at what products they’re offering and come up with alternative forms of heating and energy.


Gas boilers burn gas fuel to heat water. That water is then distributed through pipes that run throughout a building and into your radiators. The gas fuel can be a natural gas which comes through a network of underground pipes or, from refillable canisters that are regularly topped up.


Gas boilers have retained pride of place in Irish homes for decades for a number of reasons:

  • They’re able to meet the high demands for heating and hot water.
  • Due to traditional market demand there is a lot of choice in terms of available systems to suit various needs.
  • Gas supplies have, up to now, been consistent in comparison to electricity.

That said, there are a myriad of less marketed notes which include:

  • Expensive upfront installation and equipment costs
  • Recommended yearly maintenance service fees
  • The risk of gas leaks
  • Getting connected to the gas grid network


If it is time to look at an alternative, it’s worth looking at the positives of going green. They provide a host of benefits that should be noted.

  • Cost-efficiency
  • Government subsidies
  • Energy efficiency
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Smart heating controls
  • Future-proofing against volatile markets
  • The range of alternative products is growing at a significant rate to cater to demand

If the government subsidies caught your eye, here’s more information on what’s available.


1. Electric Radiators

Electric heaters are often the smarter option; not only are they better for the planet but they’re safer, cheaper and can be more easily managed. This allows customers increased control, which in turn, assists in keeping bills in check.

There are countless, beautifully designed electric radiators that can fit into your home’s aesthetic. They can heat the largest of rooms while being silent which many gas boilers fail to do. They can be customised and allow you to programme a heat schedule specific to your own, meaning less waste and less cost.

Electric heaters are simple and speedy to install. It’s all a straightforward process in comparison to gas boilers. They can be free-standing or wall mounted and can be used in spaces where it could be difficult to plumb in gas radiators, such as a garden shed or extension.


  • Affordable 
  • Highly customisable
  • Straightforward installation
  • Lots of options available


  • Susceptible to power cuts
  • Strain on you power circuit
  • Most economically feasible with well insulated smaller homes

2. Electric Water Heaters

If hot water is a priority in your home, this might be just the ticket. Hot water can be ready in record time. When talking about cost, these are one of the most affordable options on the market. They also fall into many of the same positive categories as electric radiators. They’re efficient and don’t need much maintenance, again reducing costs on repairs. They also tend to come with a warranty of up to 5 years.

We’re almost match for match on our pros and cons here for electric radiators and electric water heaters.


  • Affordable 
  • Highly customisable
  • Straightforward installation
  • Lots of options available


  • Susceptible to power cuts
  • Strain on you power circuit
  • Most appropriate for low demand situations or remote rooms

A Little Side Note…

You could of course, take a mixed source solution; a combination of electric radiators and electric water heaters. That would give a well rounded alternative to the traditional gas boiler while giving you a more energy efficient home.

Of course, we’re not solely limited to all electric powered heating. There are other options out there

3. Heat Pumps

These are the new kids on the block when it comes to getting airtime recently. They’re units installed inside your home that absorb natural heat from the ground or air (from outside). The heat is taken in as a fluid and pumped around a series of pipes called ground collectors which are laid underground at around 1.5 – 2 metres deep (or in vertical boreholes, around 100 metre deep). At these depths, the ground maintains an average temperature of 10-12°C all year round


  • Low running costs
  • Low maintenance
  • Reduced carbon emissions
  • Eligible for government subsidies


  • High installation cost
  • Difficult to install
  • Less efficient in cold weather

4. Hybrid heating system

In a hybrid system, an air-source heat pump is backed up by an auxiliary combustion furnace. When temperatures plunge below a certain level, the combustion furnace kicks in, keeping your house warm in even the coldest weather.


  • Programme the exact temperature that you require allowing you to fine tune your system
  • Low running costs
  • Reduced carbon emissions


  • High installation cost
  • Difficult to install

PV solar panels mounted on a roof

5. Solar Panels

On to our personal favourite. Adding a solar solution can instantly take the pressure off your existing heating solution. Solar panels absorb the sun’s energy which is then be used to heat your home’s water and electric products which can reduce your need for more traditional suppliers.



  • High upfront cost
  • Specific installation needs
  • Not suitable for all heating systems

6. Infrared Heating Panels

This is a lesser spoken about option. Rather than heating a space, infrared panels emit radiant heat to warm objects and people rather than the air itself.


  • Energy efficient
  • Faster heating capabilities
  • Easy installation


  • Require significant space to install but perform best in smaller, new and very well insulated spaces
  • Expensive
  • Does not cover water heating

7. Biomass Boilers

A biomass boiler uses organic, natural materials and can be used alongside combustion to produce heat. Alternatively, it can be converted into fuel to power boilers.


  • Biomass fuel is environmentally friendly
  • Carbon-neutral
  • Low cost


  • Requires significant space
  • High maintenance
  • High upfront cost

What are the Challenges of Switching to Gas Boiler Alternatives

It’s important to weigh up both sides of the argument when deciding to go one route or another. 

Many of the alternative solutions will be dictated by factors beyond your reasonable control. For example, if you were to choose our preferred system, solar panels; you do need to have space, the right orientation and in most instances, be prepared for the fact that you’re still likely to be somewhat dependent on the national grid.

For heat pumps or biomass heating options, the maintenance and high installation costs can be enough to stall a decision to invest and, unlike electric radiators and water heaters, these alternative solutions can’t be returned.

Advantages of Gas Boiler Alternatives

Some of the products available offer key advantages that overcome the negatives and flip the balance.

With the electric options installation is much more straightforward and cost effective. They are also returnale and can be sold on in the future. With some of the other options, there’s a high up front cost but that’s offset with the return on investment over a number of years. Most of the options are low maintenance while reducing your carbon footprint significantly. The greener the option the more you future proof yourself against volatile markets. In addition there are grants available for various solutions and for good reason….that’s the way the heating economy is going.

The way we use energy is changing and our behaviours need to align with what is good for the planet and our homes. It’s time to start investigating solutions that enable you to do just that.

Based on your reading of this article, we thought you might be interested in the following:

5 Ways to Insulate Your Home

6 Ways to Generate Green Energy at Home

Most weeks we post a blog about a topic that has been raised through dealing with our clients. Most months, we send a brief synopsis of them out via our newsletter. If you’d like to sign up to keep in the loop you can do so here.

Caldor are specialists in both residential and commercial solar panels.  Discover our green solutions to generate optimal returns.

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