A Yorkshire landlord is investing £200,000 in a trial of a low-carbon heating system in 30 homes.
Yorkshire Housing will install infrared heat panels in 30 of its flats in York, as a replacement for existing electric panel heaters which the landlord said were bulky, inefficient and expensive to run.
The infrared panels, manufactured by Wakefield-based Ambion Heating, are also electric. However, they have a very low wattage, so are more economical, the housing association said.
Additionally, their slimmer design means they take up less room.
Yorkshire Housing will assess the efficiency, thermal comfort and affordability of the infrared panels for customers before deciding if they will be rolled out across additional properties.
Installation is due for completion early next year.
Infrared technology is considered to be better suited to smaller, well-insulated properties, such as flats, that have small space-heating demand.
Conventional heating systems heat rooms by what is known as convection. They warm up the air in rooms, which then circulates, but it can escape from doors and windows.
By contrast, infrared panels warm the fabric of a building and solid objects in the room, including humans. The heat they absorb is gradually released, maintaining a steady temperature and keeping rooms warmer for longer.
Sensors to measure levels of humidity and temperature in the flats are also being installed, Yorkshire Housing said.
This will allow the housing association to monitor excess moisture in the air, which can cause damp and mould. The data will also help Yorkshire Housing understand how customers are adapting to the technology.
Critics of infrared panels argue heat pumps are a more efficient way to use electricity to heat a home. However, heat pumps come with higher upfront costs than infrared panels and can be more complicated to install.
Bob Spedding, head of asset strategy at Yorkshire Housing, said: “Our 16,500 homes across Yorkshire produce around 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and we plan to get that number to zero by 2050.
“To help us do that we’re investing £30m over the next five years in an extensive programme of energy efficiency and heating-system upgrades.
“We own and manage lots of different types of properties, from small flats in towns and cities, to large family homes in rural village locations, and when it comes to finding the right heating solutions there’s no one size fits all.”
Oliver Baker, chief executive of Ambion Heating, said: “Yorkshire Housing is to be applauded for pushing ahead with new technologies, and we’re thrilled to be working with them to improve the environment and the lives of people living in their homes.”