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Introduction

Utility bills have a habit of arriving when least expected, and usually seem unreasonably high, especially after a long winter. Often the main reason for the expense is an inefficient boiler. Replacing an old boiler with a gas condensing model, or even a solar-powered system, may cost a bit more initially, but once installed they can be much cheaper to run. Installing an ethical, eco-friendly boiler is an ideal opportunity to both help the environment and save money.

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What is condensing?

Of the central heating boilers available, the most popular usually provide a combination of central heating and hot water for household use. Most systems are gas-fired, although there is also the option of using LPG or fuel oil. The most important question to ask when thinking of buying a new boiler is whether it works on a condensing or a non-condensing system.

Environmental campaigners are all agreed that gas condensing boilers (GCBs) are the best technological choice for most people. This is because they operate at about 90 per cent efficiency, compared to only 70 per cent efficiency for the more common, and cheaper, non-condensing boilers.

GCBs include heat exchangers, which mean that they retrieve heat that would otherwise disappear in water vapour emissions, and then return it to the system. This process helps to reduce emissions, not only of carbon dioxide, but also of nitrous oxide – a positive step for all of us.

Of course this advantage comes at a price, and GCBs tend to cost between £700 and £1,400 – about twice as much as noncondensing boilers. However, GCBs are more efficient and their annual running costs usually turn out to be around 20 per cent lower than most other boilers. So, calculating how much is spent every year on gas or other fuels, these apparently rather expensive machines can pay for themselves in little more than five years. The government has introduced a scheme called The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to run between January 2013 until March 2015, which offers low-income homeowners or tenant’s grants for energy-saving improvements, including free boilers and cavity wall/loft insulation. See www.gov.uk for more information or call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 to find out if you might be eligible.

Efficiency labels

Just like fridges and several other domestic appliances, all new boilers are now required by European law to display energy efficiency labels. These run on an A to G scale, with A being the best. The most extensive details of boiler models and their efficiencies are available on a British government sponsored website at www.sedbuk.com. There were, at the time of writing, over 2,400 different models labelled with an A rating – a number of these are also endorsed by the Energy Saving Trust showing they exceed minimum performance specifications.

Suppliers

The table below features some of the main companies supplying the UK market. They all produce A-rated gas condensing boilers and were taken from the Sedbuk and Energy Saving Trust (www.est.org.uk) websites. Half are relatively small, privatelyowned British companies which specialise in heating systems. Several others belong to European-based heating specialists. Such companies may also make air conditioning and other heating systems, such as showers, for household or corporate customers.

Ethical Boilers Rankings Detailed Table


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Buy our detailed Ethical Research Reports. See the findings behind companies’ ethical ratings, as featured in The Good Shopping Guide. Several different product sectors available covering hundreds of consumer brands.

We have created ethical rankings for the following brands, based on the activities of the company group (see above tables): Atmos, Ariston, EcoMax, GLOW Worm, Arena, Barcelona, Baxi, Eclipse ESS, Gas 210 ECO, Keston Boilers, Potterton, Quinta, British Gas, Bosch, Carfield/Germinox, Ideal Boilers, Worcester Greenstar

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