- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 03 Apr 2018
Types of domestic heating system
Heating in buildings may be necessary to:
- Create comfortable conditions for occupants.
- To prevent condensation.
- For activities such as drying and cooking.
- For industrial processes.
The term 'mains gas' refers to natural gas that is distributed through a pipeline infrastructure. In the UK, mains gas is supplied to more than 21 million homes and is the most popular fuel for heating and cooking. If mains gas is not available, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) can be used. This must be stored in a tank on-site.
 Wet systems
In a ‘wet system’, water is heated by a gas-fired boiler and then circulated through a system of pipes connected to radiators which deliver heat through convection. Hot water can also be provided for bathing and washing, either generated instantaneously when there is a demand, or stored in a hot water cylinder/tank.
 Warm air systems
This system is commonly used in dwellings in the USA, but was generally phased out in the UK after the 1960s and 70s. It is still used in commercial buildings.
Liquid oil can also be used to fire a boiler and heat water. Like gas, oil is a highly efficient fuel, although it is also a fossil fuel and prices are subject to large fluctuations. Oil is generally delivered by lorry and then stored in a tank on site.
There are a number of ways that heat energy can be generated using renewable technologies:
- Air source heat pumps.
- Ground source heat pumps.
- Water source heat pumps.
- Biomass boilers.
- Solar thermal panels.
 Storage heaters
The most common type of electric heating system is a storage heater. This involves individual electric heaters that heat up internal ceramic bricks overnight using off-peak electricity and store it for use during the day. The same system can be used to heat a hot water tank.
 Immersion heaters
Immersion heaters are electric water heaters that heat water in hot-water cylinders in a similar way to a kettle. They can provide a building’s how water and can also be used as a back-up for combi boilers.
 Local heaters
Local electric heaters can be used to as stand-alone systems, or to supplement central heating during cold periods. These may be; fan heaters, thermostatic tubular heaters, skirting heaters, infra-red heaters (radiant heaters), frost protection heaters and so on.
Solid fuel systems are most commonly fueled by coal or wood. These can either be central heating systems, such as coal or wood-chip fueled boilers, or local systems such as open fires, wood-burning stoves and so on.
Some solid fuel systems, such as wood-burning stoves may be considered 'sustainable' as the fuel is carbon neutral, however, their emissions can be polluting, and there are increasing restrictions on their use, particularly in cities.
Micro-CHP or micro combined heat and power is the small-scale generation of heat and electricity from a single energy source. Micro-CHP is becoming more common in domestic buildings, where it can be installed as direct replacement for gas-fired boilers.
For more information see: Micro CHP.
 District energy systems
For more information see: District energy.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Which room is the most fun to design? Find out the 'Grand Designs' presenter's unusual choice in our interview.
Full suite of speakers are announced for this year's BSRIA Briefing event.
Book your place for the Architectural Technology Awards 2018.
There are many ways of classifying types of building. Have a look at our range of building articles.
BSRIA have launched the 'major update' of the go-to design framework guide for building services.
How to get results with building life cycle assessment.
Government publishes a prospectus inviting proposals for new 'garden communities'.
The Morandi motorway bridge in Genoa collapses during rainstorm while undergoing maintenance works.
'Developed design' is a phrase coined by the RIBA for their 2013 Plan of Work. But what does it actually mean?
New green paper published aiming to rebalance the relationship between landlords and residents and tackle stigma.
RIBA calls for a comprehensive ban on combustible materials.