Heater radiator on yellow wall in house. 3d image

Wouldn’t it be great if the wasted energy from your heating system could be used to power your home? This is possible with a combined heat and power (CHP) boiler as it uses the waste gases to generate heat and electricity at the same time.

The models available for the domestic market are known as micro-CHP.

How does it work?

A micro-CHP boiler will produce heat like any other boiler but instead of wasting the gases that are created as a bi-product it uses them to drive an electricity generator within in the boiler unit. This electricity can then be used in the home or be exported to the national grid.

Technology in this area has advanced in the last 10 years and there are several micro-CHP models available that use Stirling engine powered technology. However, over the next 5-10 years advancements could see fuel cell technology starting to be more widely used.

The current micro-CHP boilers are a similar shape and size as some standard boilers and can be floor standing or wall mounted. They run either mains gas or LPG and can match the heating output of a standard boiler. The energy used generates 6:1 heat and electricity and can generate 1kW of energy when at capacity.

Install and maintenance

When searching for an installer you will need to ensure that they are approved by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme if you want to receive the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT), and they will need to be a gas safe engineer.

Due to the boiler being very similar in terms of space requirements to a standard boiler it can often be easily homed in the same place as your previous boiler and can be connected to your existing heating system.

Once installed the servicing and maintenance costs are fairly similar to standard boilers, although you would need to use a specialist engineer who is experienced in working on micro-CHP.

What are the advantages?

CHP is regarded as a low-carbon technology as it is a more efficient method of burning fossil fuels for heat as it uses the waste gas to generates electricity, and therefore it reduces the carbon footprint of your home.

Not only will the boiler heat your home and produce electricity it will also generate a cash income. As a low-carbon technology that generates electricity, it is eligible under the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) to receive an income for every kWh of electricity generated as well as an export tariff for exporting the electricity.

The advantage that micro-CHP offers over other domestic electricity generating technologies is that it is more likely to be generating energy when you are home to use it, unlike solar PV unless you are home during the day. This means that you are more likely to use the electricity you generate than exporting it which offers a much lower rate than buying electricity from an energy company.