/ Is installing gas central heating in 2017 a mistake?

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TheHorroffice - on 15 May 2017
Hi all,

I just bought a Victorian doer-upper/total wreck and was about to install GCH when I started to read about the Paris agreement and gas in domestic properties going the way of the dodo. If you were in my boat would you still go for GCH or try to read the future and go night storage or pellet stove? I hear most new builds are being fitted with electric heating, is that right?!

Any thoughts appreciated!!

Miles
1
summo on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:
Many variables. Is it graded or in a conservation area. Are there existing pipes and radiators. Open plan? Level or scale of insulation you plan, your budget aspiration or priorities. South face roof...

It is a matter of doing what your allowed, that suits the building and your budget.
Post edited at 10:31
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La benya - on 15 May 2017
In reply to summo:

Didn't really answer his question there. He asked specifically about the likelihood of gas being an obsolete technology due to the environmental implications of the Paris agreement.

My 2P. Electricity is still more expensive than Gas. thats unlikely to change for a decade, but beyond that who knows
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marsbar - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

I wouldn't panic just yet. Gas central heating may or may not be phased out from 2030 to 2050. I can't imagine they will force you to rip out your boiler at the beginning of the process, so if you want gas central heating you may as well put it in.

Personally I wouldn't have electric heating if I didn't have to.
1
summo on 15 May 2017
In reply to La benya:

> Didn't really answer his question there. He asked specifically about the likelihood of gas being an obsolete technology due to the environmental implications of the Paris agreement.My 2P. Electricity is still more expensive than Gas. thats unlikely to change for a decade, but beyond that who knows

It's not likely to be phased out very quickly and I'd focus on doing what's best for the house. If the house, planning and budget allows there are numerous better options than gas. I'd simply approach the problem from the other direction.
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Oliver Houston - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

I had similar thoughts recently, having installed gas ~5 years ago, would it be better to have wifi-controlled electric for each room...

From brief discussions with people who seemed to know what they were talking about, consensus was similar to La Benya and marsbar, gas is most likely the best for now.

That said, we don't like relying on one source for anything, so we have underfloor electric in the kitchen, a woodburner and an electric shower. If gas prices go through the roof, it won't cripple us.
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tripehound - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

In a well insulated building a ground or air source heat pump are the way to go.
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wintertree - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

Depends on your insulation.

As a nod to the future you might get radiators suitibable for use with an air source heat pump to be installed one day in 10 years or so when the boiler gets old; this basically means large output area and run at a lower temperature. This would also improve your efficiency with a condensing boiler.

I think gas may make a resurgence with industrial scale reactors making methane from intermittent excess renewables. There's a *lot* of gas storage infrastructure in the country.

We are off the gas grid. I put an oil boiler in and have a 10-year plan to improve insulation and fit an air source heat pump. So far we've dug out half of the floors to rebuild them insulated and done one external wall...

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mbh - on 15 May 2017
In reply to tripehound:

But a solid walled Victorian house isn't well enough insulated, even with decent under floor and roof insulation, unless the walls have been clad, I think I am right in saying.
1
AllanMac - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:
Like oil, gas is finite.

I'd consider spending the time and money retrofitting the house to be as thermally efficient as possible, with extra insulation, double glazed windows, solar panels and a biomass boiler for the CH. Underfloor heating is more efficient than conventional radiators because it distributes heat more evenly and only requires water heated to lower temps than would conventional radiators (making your boiler effectively more efficient).

Solar panels can look a bit naff on an older property, but Tesla has a solution in the pipeline, with solar roof tiles that look like ordinary slate (available in 2018):

https://www.tesla.com/en_GB/solarroof

In my opinion, all new builds should have heat recovery systems and air-source heat pumps linked to underfloor heating installed as standard. But it would be difficult to retrofit an older house due to problems with required airtightness for it to work.

Edit: typos
Post edited at 12:15
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springfall2008 - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

I'm not aware of new builds with electric heating, it's a lot more expensive to run.

I think if you wanted good electric heating you want to go for split air-con style units which have a reverse option for heating. In the US they do these with a ducting system to send the air around the house, but it's hard to retro fit as you need pipes in the ceilings/walls.
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krikoman - on 15 May 2017
In reply to Oliver Houston:

> I had similar thoughts recently, having installed gas ~5 years ago, would it be better to have wifi-controlled electric for each room..


Why not have Wifi controlled radiator valves, for each radiator?
2
gribble - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

I think I would definitely go for gas, but as it's a doer upper I would make sure that I would rewire the entire house and keep in mind any provision for future requirements, such as electric heating.
1
Babika - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

I'm just happy as Larry that our village has no gas and we're all on oil.

My bills have just returned to the level of September 2010 - still almost half what they were in Feb 2013. I know it can't go on forever but households on oil have had a bit of a windfall in terms of falling energy costs over the past 4 years.
1
Neil Williams - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

Yes, I would (and indeed I didn't long ago get a new boiler). Other presently available options (i.e. storage radiators) are utter garbage. Heat pumps may be worthy of investigation but are a bit expensive at the minute.

If you fit a gas to radiator system you can always swap the gas boiler for something else later. I'd expect alternatives to be getting big in about 10 years time, which coincidentally is the typical economic life of a typical gas boiler.
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jkarran - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:
Gas is unlikely to be obsolete or punitively expensive within the lifetime of your boiler but if you're doing an extensive renovation now is the time to do the work to make the place future ready, even if for now you stick with gas. Insulation, draught control, thermal storage, solar thermal collector and either underfloor heat or big low temperature radiators all make future adoption of a heat pump more viable without sacrificing performance or having to tear up the work you're about to do. I expect incentives for heat pumps will improve again in the coming decade unless Britain totally retreats from the rest of the world. Low temperature heat and storage is good for gas boiler efficiency too. I don't know anything about wood pellet stoves but I'd guess they need thermal storage to work properly.
jk
Post edited at 12:54
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Neil Williams - on 15 May 2017
In reply to La benya:

Gas may become obsolete, but transmission of heat around a house using moving hot water has big advantages (e.g. safety[1] and simplicity) and isn't likely to go away any time soon, adding to which it is such a common fitment in houses that any new technologies are likely to offer a heat-to-radiator option for the foreseeable future.

[1] Unlike most electric heating devices, there is no fire risk posed by obstructing or covering one, for instance.
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Neil Williams - on 15 May 2017
In reply to Oliver Houston:

> If gas prices go through the roof, it won't cripple us.

If gas prices go through the roof and look like staying there, just swap the gas combi for an electric one (or swap to a traditional system and use an immersion heater). They exist, and there will be loads of them on the market in the event of that scenario coming to pass.
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Clint86 - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

My thoughts are that we need to start changing direction quickly, and now. You asking a question like this is a good sign that we are. All these targets of 2020, 2030 2050, shows an unwillingness of the governemnt to lead the changes. They want future governments to take the tough decisions. Hope you manage to work out a good alternative. If you don't, don't worry too much. You'll be doing what most peole are still doing, carrying on regardless. Apparently Barclays have sadi today that they are withdrawing the financing of fracking in North Yorkshire. Hopefully another good sign that change is under way.
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Fraser on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

I'd go down the gas CH route if I were you, given what you've described.

At work just now we're involved in a large, upscale resi development of about 150 units. They'll all have dedicated heat interface unit in their utility rooms, serving u/floor heating through the apt. But for a one-off Victorian house, I'm 99% sure I'd install gas CH. Electric heating is only really useful or "more appropriate" (in the eyes of landlords) for rented properties as it's typically lower-maintenance than gas.
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Irk the Purist - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

If it's Victorian and you go for an option that attempts to hermetically seal the house and insulate, everything will rot. They need airflow everywhere. That's my experience anyway.
1
gethin_allen on 15 May 2017
In reply to Irk the Purist:

> If it's Victorian and you go for an option that attempts to hermetically seal the house and insulate, everything will rot. They need airflow everywhere. That's my experience anyway.

Totally agree with this,
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cb294 - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

Paris agreement aside, if you are renovating a house or building new in 2017 you should aim for some form of CO2 neutral heating, even if our governments prefer to kick the issue into the long grass.

Pellet stoves are a huge faff IMO, the one in my parents' house keeps my dad busy, which is a good thing too, but I would not have the time!

However, we have had an excellent experience with an electrically driven, Buderus ground source heat pump. Now running 15 years without any glitch, just a bit of maintenance / topping up every three or four years. Since we are only buying "green" electricity (I know that we cannot control where the actual electricity we get is generated, bla bla ....), our house is more or less CO2 neutral, and the extra investment then has long been recouped through the savings in our energy bill.

Of course you would need underfloor heating (or huge radiators), as well as state of the art insulation, as the temperature on the hot side is only 40°C, but if you are redoing the place anyway it may be technically possible.

I would avoid air source heat pumps, most are still too noisy.

CB
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Toerag - on 15 May 2017
In reply to springfall2008:
> I'm not aware of new builds with electric heating, it's a lot more expensive to run.

I suspect as newbuilds are invariably built by developers it's actually the case that gas is cheaper to install and there's more profit in it. Gas here is the most expensive heating, yet developers fit it all the time because it's cheapest for them.

1
Timmd on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:
In the sense of a definitely greener alternative being a good thing anyway, I'd possibly be thinking about what greener alternative you can afford to run more than trying to predict what might happen?

I don't know what building type (terrace or semi) you have, but in my situation of living in a terraced house, for electricity and gas combined my energy bills are currently around £800 a year if I use my wood burning stove in which I burn free (clean) scavenged wood (living near to extensive woodlands to source windblown and dead wood from helps). I plan on a particulate filter at some point to help with air quality, and on solar panels too at some point.

It's hard to know what's going to happen, to do with 'greening up' the UK might end up dragging behind other countries in the future, depending on who is in power, which leaves me feeling like (as far as myself goes) a personal approach is one thing it's possible to be certain of.


Post edited at 14:10
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Lusk - on 15 May 2017
In reply to AllanMac:

> Like oil, gas is finite.

http://www.biogas-info.co.uk/

There's enough shit in this country to fuel this option
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Tony Jones - on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

Very interesting discussion.

I'm interested in the rationale of the phantom disliker(s) in this thread though. Surely, if you disagree with a statement, it might be more constructive to explain why rather than just click a button?
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Timmd on 15 May 2017
In reply to Tony Jones:

I wonder if somebody's finger slipped?
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stevieb - on 15 May 2017
In reply to Tony Jones:
> Very interesting discussion. I'm interested in the rationale of the phantom disliker(s) in this thread though. Surely, if you disagree with a statement, it might be more constructive to explain why rather than just click a button?

Well that's blooming cunning.
I've seen enough episodes of Scooby doo, to know that this means you are almost definitely the phantom disliker, and just trying to throw people off the scent.

Re gas - I've heard that new houses will not be built with gas connections from 2020, and will have super dooper insulation. but I think that has been an aspiration for quite a few years now.
How much would the gas connection and boiler cost? And can you install a ground source heat pump?

Edited to add an r
Post edited at 14:44
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mbh - on 15 May 2017
In reply to cb294:
That all sounds very sensible and commendable, but I doubt if a GSHP will make environmental, let alone financial sense in a Victorian house unless the carbon intensity of electricity is very low. With 200 mm solid brick walls, under floor heating is not sufficient at an acceptable temperature, and even large radiators within a reasonable size limit would have to be so hot as to drive the COP right down. The COP needs to be higher than the ratio of the carbon intensity of the electricity used to that of gas (about 200 g/kWh) for a GSHP to make climate change sense in the present.

... but a GSHP is a nod towards a greener future. If electricity is clean so are they, but gas never is.
Post edited at 14:55
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summo on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

In an ideal world. I'd internally insulate the external walls. Secondary glazing. Then go for an open plan layout. Air sourced heat pump(and/or heat recovered system), with water & pv panels on the roof.

But, retro fitting an old house is rarely so simple.
1
Timmd on 15 May 2017
In reply to Irk the Purist:

> If it's Victorian and you go for an option that attempts to hermetically seal the house and insulate, everything will rot. They need airflow everywhere. That's my experience anyway.

I think it's now being found that extremely well sealed homes are causing certain issues with air quality inside them, but the details escape me.
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summo on 15 May 2017
In reply to Timmd:

> I think it's now being found that extremely well sealed homes are causing certain issues with air quality inside them, but the details escape me.

That's one of the advantages of air sourced systems that move air, or heat recovery, when compared to wet air/ground sources. You get the air movement and moisture removal.
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cb294 - on 15 May 2017
In reply to mbh:

I completely agree. A heat pump would only make sense with i) a renewables only electricity supply (I know that the actual electricity will not necessarily be generated that way, but buying from a supplier that sources its electricity in this way will drive up the market share i), and ii) if you rip up the house sufficiently to add the required insulation. If this is not practical, gas is probably the next best option.

We live in a newly built (15 years ago) semi detached house with a reference standard insulation, and for us the the extra cost of a heat pump over gas has long been recovered.

If you need higher temperatures in you heating circuit a pellet burner is probably the only carbon neutral option, but in my father's case it is also the hobby that keeps him busy in retirement.

CB
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jkarran - on 15 May 2017
In reply to mbh:

> That all sounds very sensible and commendable, but I doubt if a GSHP will make environmental, let alone financial sense in a Victorian house...

Zero carbon electricity (and carbon offset gas for that matter) is basically the same price as standard variable rate mixed-source energy at the moment. I've just switched mine and I didn't have to forgo much of a saving for the zero carbon option).

Solid walls and floors can in most cases be insulated, inside or out. There are details of a Passivhaus conversion on a Victorian Dublin terrace knocking about somewhere on the internet. IIRC some of the work was excessive but they exceeded their target and concluded more was done than was actually required in the end.
jk
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Dax H - on 15 May 2017
In reply to mbh:

> That all sounds very sensible and commendable, but I doubt if a GSHP will make environmental, let alone financial sense in a Victorian house.

Or any house if what I just read is correct.
Our boiler is 9 years old this month and reading this thread about 10 year life spans on them got me googling.

Apparently a GSHP costs on average £655 a year to run and between £13k to £20k to install.
Our gas bill for heating and cooking is £600 per year.
Most definitely not viable from a financial point of view and taking in to account the environmental impact of its manufacture and the machines used to dig the trenches and all the oil used in the production of the plastic pipe that gets buried it's probably only a little bit better than for the environment over a gas boiler anyway.

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Tony Jones - on 15 May 2017
In reply to stevieb:

> Well that's blooming cunning. I've seen enough episodes of Scooby doo, to know that this means you are almost definitely the phantom disliker, and just trying to throw people off the scent.

Ha! I've given you a like for that.
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Philip on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

YES.

Bought a house in 2014, no CH. Storage heaters + coal fire with BB.
No mains gas in the village but that wouldn't have changed my mind.

Oil would have been £9k for boiler, tank and rads (big house).
Air source HP + solar thermal + solar PV = £20k

After subtracting government grants and saving on oil vs electricity over 7 years of the RHI scheme I was £6k up on oil. Oil fell a bit, but the electrical usage is even lower than expected and the house is so warm. Added benefit that radiators are child safe at 30 - 35 C.

But it does rely on having £20k to hand or cheap source of loan.
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summo on 15 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:
A recent R4 costing the earth programme might be worth listening to.

One of the points it highlighted was how willing people are prepared to invest vast sums in their homes kitchens and bathrooms every decade, compared to how little on insulation and making their home more energy efficient. I sense a few echoes of it in this thread. That and how little air sourced is understood in the UK.
Post edited at 17:20
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jkarran - on 16 May 2017
In reply to Dax H:
> Or any house if what I just read is correct.

You're making a lot of assumptions there. The primary one being that we as a society will continue to basically ignore the true cost of polluting energy and technology. As a bolt-on at today's prices heat pumps are an expensive way to heat homes but for homes that need additional heat (not a given for good new build) they are technically the right solution. Air sourced heat pumps are cheaper to install and efficiency in the uk climate remains reasonable-good. Renewable power was uncompetitive without subsidy ten years ago but the world is changing fast.
jk
Post edited at 10:34
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cb294 - on 16 May 2017
In reply to jkarran:

I wonder why you got a dislike for this post. Somebody working for British Gas or selling central heaters?

CB
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knthrak1982 on 16 May 2017
In reply to cb294:

I think some bored dickhead has gone through all the comments and given each one a negative.
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Oliver Houston - on 16 May 2017
In reply to krikoman:

> Why not have Wifi controlled radiator valves, for each radiator?

It was more to avoid the hassle of installing gas/water lines, less things to go wrong, rather than to upgrade a gas system.
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The Potato - on 16 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

im reading this as im in a similar situation regarding replacing heating system so cant offer any advice but thanks to those who have replied.
One thing that strikes me as curious is that somebody has disliked every single reply so far? come on own up
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Siward on 16 May 2017
In reply to The Potato:

Who's the phantom disliker? Nearly every post has one dislike. Obviously this is hugely controversial stuff being discussed in this thread...
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Dax H - on 16 May 2017
In reply to Siward:

You don't appear to have had a dislike so I gave you one just to keep up appearances.
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Dax H - on 16 May 2017
In reply to jkarran:

The world certainly is changing fast.
Personally I would like to see all new build developments (estates rather than single houses) being tied in to a common heating system for the entire estate.
Also we need increases in insulation and more thought in the layout of the houses.
Rather than squashing as many houses as possible in to the space planning should only be granted for South facing to maximise the sun for natural heating and I would like to see solar on all new builds feeding in to a central system (offsetting the individual heating costs maybe)
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jkarran - on 16 May 2017
In reply to Dax H:

> The world certainly is changing fast. Personally I would like to see all new build developments (estates rather than single houses) being tied in to a common heating system for the entire estate.

Why? District heating makes sense where there is low grade waste industrial heat available but otherwise I don't see the benefit.

> Also we need increases in insulation and more thought in the layout of the houses.

Agreed.

> Rather than squashing as many houses as possible in to the space planning should only be granted for South facing to maximise the sun for natural heating and I would like to see solar on all new builds feeding in to a central system (offsetting the individual heating costs maybe)

I disagree all new houses need to face south but agree we could and should do much more with available solar gains, either through passive collection (big south facing windows and conservatories) or active collection and storage (various options). There is however from a solar-electrical standpoint much technical value in utilising the east and west facing surfaces, these extend the solar generation peak well into the morning and evening significantly reducing the need for electrical energy storage to manage the diurnal variation.
jk
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Toerag - on 16 May 2017
In reply to Dax H:

> Rather than squashing as many houses as possible in to the space planning should only be granted for South facing to maximise the sun for natural heating and I would like to see solar on all new builds feeding in to a central system (offsetting the individual heating costs maybe)

A proposed development of 8 houses in a field on my road has done exactly this - big windows and french doors on the southern 2.5 storey aspects, and small windows and a 1.5 storey aspect on the north sides. Lots of waffle in the planning application about how solar panels 'could be easily installed', and toilet flushing with rainwater 'would be explored'. In short, the developer isn't actually going to install any of these eco-friendly things. I really hope the planners force them to do it. Even better for the environment would be for the planners to reject the application.
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summo on 16 May 2017
In reply to Toerag:

There was a classic case on grand designs some years ago... fantastic eco house was built but needed x number of points for its special planning permissions, otherwise planning would be refused even after it's built.

They lost points because the builders didn't have their own rest cabin, lockers and showers on sight, they operated out of their vans. They recovered the points by planting more sq. M of wild flowers gardens. Neither of which had anything to do with the eco house itself.
1
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kevin stephens - on 16 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice: gas central heating with condensing boilers is very efficient and in winter less carbon intensive than electricity (when the fossil fuel power stations fire up to meet higher demands and less seasonal renewables) Under floor heating rather than radiators enable the boiler to work at lower temperature and hence condense more= even higher efficiency. For a complete doer upper do a lot of research in maximising insulation while maintaining ventilation. This will cost a bit but be worthwhile, in fact it may be worthwhile paying an architect for professional advice on this.

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Lusk - on 16 May 2017
In reply to kevin stephens:

> This will cost a bit but be worthwhile, in fact it may be worthwhile paying an architect for professional advice on this.

I know of the very chap who does this, here in Manc.
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kevin stephens - on 16 May 2017

In reply to Kevin Stephens
Come on phantom disliker show yourself and explain. I and many others spend time trying to help with advice, some of it professional. What have you got to say? Come on before your mummy sends you to bed
Post edited at 18:34
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Fraser on 16 May 2017
In reply to Dax H:

> ... planning should only be granted for South facing to maximise the sun for natural heating

The generally accepted preference (at least in the UK) is east-west orientation, so you get sun into the plan both in the morning and the evening.

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Neil Williams - on 16 May 2017
In reply to kevin stephens:

> In reply to Kevin Stephens Come on phantom disliker show yourself and explain. I and many others spend time trying to help with advice, some of it professional. What have you got to say? Come on before your mummy sends you to bed

Maybe there's a dislike bot?

I do wish UKC listed names against likers/dislikers like FB does.
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FactorXXX - on 16 May 2017
In reply to Neil Williams:

I do wish UKC listed names against likers/dislikers like FB does.

For a bit of fun and interest, disclose them randomly...
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Lusk - on 16 May 2017
In reply to kevin stephens:

> Come on phantom disliker show yourself and explain. I and many others spend time trying to help with advice, some of it professional. What have you got to say? Come on before your mummy sends you to bed

It could be a pissed off Eskimo, whose heating and keyboard are knackered.
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Pursued by a bear - on 16 May 2017
In reply to Lusk:

> There's enough shit in this country to fuel this option

There's enough hot air on this site to keep us all toasty.

T.
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Dax H - on 17 May 2017
In reply to Fraser:

> The generally accepted preference (at least in the UK) is east-west orientation, so you get sun into the plan both in the morning and the evening.

Maybe my perspective is a bit compromised.
My last house was a south facing back to back terrace that only needed heating on in the coldest of winters.
The only heating in the house was a small gas fire and we only used that a few times a year.

Now we live in an East to west house, the back gets sun in the morning and the front in the afternoon but we don't seem to see much solar benefit.
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ad111 on 17 May 2017
In reply to Irk the Purist:

> If it's Victorian and you go for an option that attempts to hermetically seal the house and insulate, everything will rot. They need airflow everywhere. That's my experience anyway.

The trick is to do what every other country in the world does when they build a well insulated and air tight house and ventilate it properly.

Every day life creates a huge amount of water vapour and as soon as your house is air tight you have removed all of the exit points. So basically stick in a heat recovery ventilation system and all will be fine.
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Shapeshifter - on 17 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

I don't think gas per se is going anywhere soon for domestic applications, so I wouldn't let that put you off.
Government seriously investigating substituting Hydrogen for methane in the home

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/09/uk-homes-could-be-heated-by-hydrogen-under-plan-to-tackle...

Boiler, gas fire and cooker suppliers are already developing Hydrogen ready appliances for when it happens. Assuming it happens, I'd say we're sticking with gas in the home for a while (not withstanding the issues of how you make the Hydrogen and store the CO2 produced).

However assuming you have no planning or budget issues, personally as others have said, I'd still go for Solar and Heat Pumps as a preference.
1
Lusk - on 17 May 2017
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

> There's enough hot air on this site to keep us all toasty.T.

1
jkarran - on 17 May 2017
In reply to Shapeshifter:
> I don't think gas per se is going anywhere soon for domestic applications, so I wouldn't let that put you off.Government seriously investigating substituting Hydrogen for methane in the home

The risks with hydrogen (leaks and explosive mixture formation) are orders of magnitude higher than for methane. I struggle to see how the switch could practically be achieved unless automatically adaptive dual fuel appliances are mandated and rolled out for years before the gas supply is changed. I also see it being very hard to make the safety case though on the upside it is less likely to pool sub-floor when it does leak. Hydrogen exposure also causes metalurgical problems you don't get with methane.

'Synthetic' methane seem more likely to me than hydrogen if we remain gas dependent into the coming century since we have the storage facilities and infrastructure in place.
jk
Post edited at 12:30
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Shapeshifter - on 17 May 2017
In reply to jkarran:

Seems like govt think the risks are likely to be manageable - BEIS have just put out a tender to deliver a nationwide demonstration programme of new appliances in test houses, agree hydrogen standards, address safety issues etc.

A few extra snippets in here https://www.theengineer.co.uk/converting-the-gas-network-to-hydrogen/


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jkarran - on 17 May 2017
In reply to Shapeshifter:

> Seems like govt think the risks are likely to be manageable - BEIS have just put out a tender to deliver a nationwide demonstration programme of new appliances in test houses, agree hydrogen standards, address safety issues etc.A few extra snippets in here https://www.theengineer.co.uk/converting-the-gas-network-to-hydrogen/

New-build demos with all new gas lines in suitable materials, freshly installed and tested are a very different scenario to injecting hydrogen into our hodgepodge existing gas network.

Perhaps I'm a bit twitchier than some about the state of our gas infrastructure. Around me there isn't a week goes by when the roads aren't dug up to deal with another leak and a few years back my friends were lucky to escape with their lives after heavy-traffic set off a sub-road leak which demolished their house and ejected some of them through walls and windows in their sleep. That was methane which is comparatively safe. Locally a man was killed and several homes wrecked last year by unforeseen pipework embrittlement (caused by ants in that case rather than hydrogen).
jk
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PhantomDislike - on 17 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

!o)
Lusk - on 17 May 2017
In reply to PhantomDislike:

Did you go back in time to do your dislikes?
You're Dr Who, 5 Groats, please.

1
PhantomDislike - on 17 May 2017
In reply to Lusk:

!o)
Loughan - on 18 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

Really interesting topic - i'm on the cusp of buying an 80s timber frame bungalow which has oil boiler but i had been thinking about moving to gas - now i don't know what to do!

It has traditional rads but actually putting in underfloor heating with an air source pump could be the long term best option? As it needs significant renovation then there isn't an issue with lifting the floor
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Big Ger - on 18 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:
Can I throw my situation into the mix?

House: Bungalow, original building (pig sty*,) built circa 1870, converted into a house in 1980's.
Long rectangle shape.
Not on mains gas.
Electricity supply in winter can fail, but this is being addressed.
Already has a wood stove at one end of the house which will be kept.
The other end of the house has a damp problem.
Not on mains sewerage, (just bye the bye.)

Next year, I will be gutting the interior totally, and redesigning the layout. Seeing as I will have virtually a "blank canvas", what form of heating would you go for?

Current recommendations by friends who are in trade, are for a combi boiler either with 3-4 radiators, or underfloor heating, or a combination of both.

Your thoughts?

*Don't bother, been done to death.
Post edited at 09:50
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Siward on 18 May 2017
In reply to Big Ger:

Well there you are. I've just liked every post on this thread (except my own), thus cancelling out the phantom disliker.
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Toerag - on 18 May 2017
In reply to Big Ger:
If you go for wet underfloor you future-proof yourself as the water can be heated by any fuel source. However, wet underfloor takes a long time to warm up or cool down (24hrs+), so having additional fast 'on demand' heat sources is desirable. This is why your mates have suggested a mix of the two - the underfloor takes care of the 'base load' and the other sources takes care of 'peak demand'.
As stated further up the thread, condensing boilers are most efficient at low output temps, so if you're going down the route of rads then 'oversizing' the rads will be a good idea (it's what I've done). Actually, oversizing the rads is a good idea in general in terms of efficiency - heat transfer into the water will be more effective if the return water is colder because it was able to lose more heat through bigger rads, and your boiler won't cycle in and out all the time. Heat pumps only output at low temps, so using oversized rads also makes them a possible option.
Post edited at 11:52
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elsewhere on 18 May 2017
In reply to Big Ger:
Underfloor takes ages to react (~2hrs) but the house is well insulated so a mere 13A fan heater is sufficient until the house warms up.

A smart boiler controller that you can control from your 'phone means you can just boost the heating a couple of hours before you get home so you don't need instant heat. That's our plan.
Post edited at 12:08
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jkarran - on 18 May 2017
In reply to Big Ger:

Get the insulation sorted properly when it's gutted. If it's solid stone built you'll be losing the thermal mass of the walls so you'll find it heats up and cools down fast especially if you have any draughts. An insulated slab floor with wet heating in it will help stabilise the temperature by adding some thermal mass back into the insulated envelope as would solid internal walls (which can also be heated). A heavy heated floor will react slowly so zone it carefully if one end is used in the day only for example and maybe add some radiators anywhere you might want to heat quickly on a chilly day.
jk
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wintertree - on 18 May 2017
In reply to jkarran:

> If it's solid stone built you'll be losing the thermal mass of the walls

We also live in a converted pig sty. The stone walls are not very nice cosmetically and most have an old and failing render that is temporarily bodged back to serviceability. The plan is to replace this with an external insulation and render system and to keep the walls as thermal mass inside the insulation.

We just insulated on the inside of the one wall that is not clad and looks passable.

This is more motivated by me liking windows and a conservatory, and me disliking the way well insulated, well lit (naturally lit) buildings turn in to a hotbox in the summer.

Edit: This will leak some more heat into the ground and the roof than internal insulation, but I don't want to live in an air tight box so we aren't insulating or sealing to fully passive standards. We've got enough logs to last us 20 years after the massacre of the leylandii, and the stove convectively heats the house now even before we finish insulating...
Post edited at 14:05
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jkarran - on 18 May 2017
In reply to wintertree:

If you can make the look of external cladding work then it seems to me the better option for solid walls. I'm insulating inside my 1930 brick build because the cavities and mortar are a mess and I don't fancy adding penetrating damp to all the other variants I already have
jk
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Toerag - on 18 May 2017
In reply to jkarran:

> If you can make the look of external cladding work then it seems to me the better option for solid walls.
Yes, because this means the walls stay warmer and stops them absorbing rain if they're brick. Insulated render is becoming a popular retrofit here.

> I'm insulating inside my 1930 brick build because the cavities and mortar are a mess and I don't fancy adding penetrating damp to all the other variants I already have jk

Brick walls are inherently not watertight - the mortar shrinks in the vertical joints and pulls away from one or both bricks. So if your cavity is bridged you'll get penetrating damp in wet and windy weather. Covering your brick walls with insulated render will eliminate this problem, not increase it.


2
jkarran - on 18 May 2017
In reply to Toerag:

Yeah but it looks terrible as a big boxy coat around a single house in a brick terrace and the cold air flowing in the cavity would negate the effect anyway. Useful technique for solid walls or with a cavity fill but I have neither and no plan to fill the cavity.
Jk
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Big Ger - on 18 May 2017
In reply to jkarran, Toerag, elsewhere :

Many ,many thanks for pertinent and thought provoking responses guys.

> If it's solid stone built you'll be losing the thermal mass of the walls so you'll find it heats up and cools down fast especially if you have any draughts.

The external walls are massive stone build, some 2 1/2 foot thick Cornish granite, all internal walls are not structural, and most will be rebuilt and insulated to modern standards, will this have any effect?

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TheHorroffice - on 19 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

I must apologise, I have not had a chance to jump back on since the first post but THANK YOU all for your considered responses.

I like the sound of taking the opportunity to insulate and had not heard of heat recovery systems before. Unfortunately the house is west facing so I think that rules me out of solar which would have been ideal. I'm thinking a wet system with air source HP + combi + log burner with a back boiler should do the job for the time being and look to replace the gas in due course with what ever option the government comes up with in 10 years?
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jkarran - on 19 May 2017
In reply to TheHorroffice:

There's nothing wrong with an east-west roof for solar, it just requires more area to get the same energy from the panels. On the other hand you get morning and/or evening heat which is when you use the hot water.
jk
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Denzil - on 19 May 2017
In reply to jkarran:

> There's nothing wrong with an east-west roof for solar, it just requires more area to get the same energy from the panels. On the other hand you get morning and/or evening heat which is when you use the hot water.jk

I can confirm that a West facing roof works fine for photovoltaic solar - I was doubtful originally but used one of the online calculators to work it out for mine, and had solar fitted in 2011 on a roof which faces due West. They have generated 15MWHr in 6 years.
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Toerag - on 19 May 2017
In reply to Big Ger:

> Many ,many thanks for pertinent and thought provoking responses guys.The external walls are massive stone build, some 2 1/2 foot thick Cornish granite, all internal walls are not structural, and most will be rebuilt and insulated to modern standards, will this have any effect?

If you insulate the inside (drylining/thermalboarding) it means the room warms up quicker (because you're not heating the massive walls), however, because the insulation stops the heat getting into the walls it means they don't get warmed up. Thus when you open doors and windows the warm air escapes and the house gets cold quickly. So it all depends on how you use your house - if you're out all day and just want it warm when you're in it, then internal insulation will be fine. My concern would be that making your walls cold will render them more susceptible to retaining moisture. This potentially means more rot in joist ends. I too have massive walls and would insulate the outside if I could (building is listed, so can't). Also bear in mind that internal insulation will reduce room sizes.
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Toerag - on 19 May 2017
In reply to Denzil:

> and had solar fitted in 2011 on a roof which faces due West. They have generated 15MWHr in 6 years.

How 'big' is the system and whereabouts in the country are you?

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Toerag - on 19 May 2017
In reply to jkarran:

> Yeah but it looks terrible as a big boxy coat around a single house in a brick terrace

Ah, fair enough. It looks OK on detached houses. Maybe ask the rest of the terrace and do the whole lot?
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Big Ger - on 20 May 2017
In reply to Toerag:

Mate, all your thoughts have been cut and pasted and saved.

My oldest mate is an architect and will be doing the plans for the redesign*, I'll be running the thought of yourself J Karran, and Elsewhere by him, for his consideration.

I'm indebted to you three..



*for the grand price of a bottle of Laphrohaig.
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ad111 on 22 May 2017
In reply to Toerag:
> How 'big' is the system and whereabouts in the country are you?

He'd need a big roof - for a west facing roof to generate 3 MWh a year you need 4 KW capacity which is about 22m * 13m of panels. That's assuming location around Bristol with 40 degree slope.

http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pvgis/apps4/pvest.php#

Edit: If it was facing south you'd generate about 20% more
Post edited at 20:53
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Denzil - on 23 May 2017
In reply to Toerag: it's a normal domestic 4kW system, and I'm in Saddleworth.

1
jkarran - on 23 May 2017
In reply to ad111:

A 4kW pk install (could be limited by the inverter, there may be 4+kW of panels so they're hitting 'peak' output more consistently) would need to generate at full power for 4.5H on 150 days in a year to rack up 15MWH in 6 years. Doesn't seem unreasonable.
jk
1
Toerag - on 23 May 2017
In reply to ad111 & Denzil:

thanks guys
1
Owen Meany on 23 May 2017
In reply to Big Ger:

I'm making notes too as we hope to be in a similar situation soon:

Stone built cottage with very thick rubble walls
Completely off grid (no main electric, gas or water)
Currently powered by a diesel generator (no battery back up) and oil powered Aga
Difficult access so getting oil and diesel is not an easy task (and also hugely expensive)

Current thoughts:
Upgrade power system to add solar panels and battery storage
Underfloor heating powered by ASHP (under stone flags which will have insulation installed underneath)
Add lots of internal insulation

None of this will be cheap, but is probably essential to make the building liveable in and practical (ie reduce need to transport 1000L tanks of fuel up a steep track....)

My big worry with the internal insulation is that rubble walls tend to be quite damp if they don't have any heat on them, so would the damp just get trapped behind the insulation? Also, you'd lose the benefit of the walls themselves being a thermal heat store.

Is there a better option?

OM

1
Big Ger - on 23 May 2017
In reply to Owen Meany:
Don't know mate, I'm dependent on those here that do.

We cannot put external insulation on our place, as although it's not listed, it's in an AONB.
Post edited at 22:29
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Toerag - on 24 May 2017
In reply to Owen Meany:
> My big worry with the internal insulation is that rubble walls tend to be quite damp if they don't have any heat on them, so would the damp just get trapped behind the insulation?

Yes. Unless you use natural insulation materials damp will get trapped, especially if the walls are painted on the outside with standard plastic emulsion.

> Also, you'd lose the benefit of the walls themselves being a thermal heat store.Is there a better option?OM

Aside from external insulation, I don't know. Obviously damp walls massively increase the risk of the ends of the joists rotting out and the inside of the house falling down. The rotten joist ends I've found in my house have always been worst in the coldest, dampest, or stagnant-est air bits of rooms - corners (including internal ones away from cold outside walls). All the joists on the ground floor rooms were rotten 'cos I have a high water table under my house (for that read 'a lake under the downstairs floors'), but I've also found rotten ones on the first floor too where the walls are way drier than downstairs.
Internal insulation will reduce the amount of water vapour entering the walls from inside, but conversely reduce evaporation from all sources. I think it's worth insulating bathrooms and kitchens internally to stop condensation and have done so - wediboarding my bathrooms has made a huge difference to the condensation levels in them. Keeping the walls and air above dewpoint means the extractor fan has a chance to vent the moist air out before it condenses on the walls.
My house is Victorian with rubble external walls and no DPC. Downstairs joists weren't even sat on slates .
Post edited at 10:11
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