Water heaters are a particularly hot topic in the U.K. right now.
Water heater makers have come under increasing fire recently for their carbon footprint and their ties to coal, the country’s largest fuel source.
However, according to the British government, water heater makers in the UK have actually proven to be among the safest in the world, with only one death linked to their products in the past 10 years.
Water heat is one of the cheapest, most environmentally friendly ways to heat a home, according the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
According to DEFRA, a water heater’s use of only two ingredients—water and coal—can be used to heat water up to up to 450 degrees Celsius.
While that’s certainly a pretty good deal compared to the other options, the average cost of water heater use in the United Kingdom has more than tripled in the last 10 years, to $9.00 per kilowatt-hour.
“Water heaters do use coal, but it’s mainly for heat-control and to reduce the use of fuel.
Coal use in water heating is much higher than in other heating sources, and this is the primary reason why water heaters have such low carbon footprints,” explained Elizabeth Harkness, the UK’s chief energy and climate change adviser, to the Guardian in an interview with Quartz.
“The use of coal is increasing in the water heating industry and in the energy sector, which means that the costs of coal are growing.
We need to invest in alternatives to coal.”
The water heater industry has faced an increased scrutiny recently over the carbon footprint of its products.
In May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report that concluded that water heater products from British manufacturer EDF had a combined carbon footprint that was about 10 times greater than comparable products from competitors such as Nestlé and Molson.
The report said that the EDF water heater was used to produce about 2,600 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, or more than 30 times the amount that the average American household was responsible for each year.
The EDF’s water heater emits approximately 1,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
“As a result of EDFs use of electricity to heat their water, they are responsible for the emission of 1,800 tonnes of greenhouse gases.
These emissions include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide-24, and carbon dioxide dioxide-18,” the report concluded.
However this is just one of a number of high-profile scandals to hit the water heater market over the past few years.
A new report from Carbon Tracker, a nonprofit environmental group, revealed that the British water heater company Sainsbury’s, which manufactures the water-heating unit that is featured in the movie “Jurassic Park,” is the only manufacturer in the country that has yet to meet the EU’s stringent emission limits for its products, which include the use and storage of coal.
“It’s a shame that our water heater is one that’s being marketed as a safe alternative to a carbon-intensive fossil fuel-based energy source, and it shows that even the best companies don’t always get it right,” said Harknesses, in the Guardian interview.