Domestic Heating Choices - fighting climate change

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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,047
459
Lancashire
Just wondering where the future of domestic heating is going. With a future ban on gas fired boilers what will replace in the majority of households?

Flats and densely populated areas would be perfect for community heating schemes. What about less populated areas?

My boiler is getting on to 10 years or more of age. At time my central heating and hot water system was almost the highest energy efficiency. A+ rating or a few pluses more. I'm wondering when I replace it what will there system be?
 

Laurentius

Native
Aug 13, 2009
1,830
142
Knowhere
I always thought that this day was coming, and I have been ahead of the curve in that when all of the other flats were converted to gas boilers, I stuck with an open fire back boiler and immersion heater. Nowadays I do not use the open fire, and I use the immersion heater on economy seven. Any additional hot water needs during the day are met from an electric kettle.
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,287
1,492
S. Lanarkshire
I want all electric. It's clean, the power stations deal with the pollution, and they're getting better at it too.

We have a very efficient gas boiler and yet I hate having gas in the house. I grew up with houses where we had gas pipes running beside the electric cable. We plugged things into the gas lines with bayonet fittings...like light bulbs use, but heavy duty brass things....everything from the fridge and the cooker, to the gas poker that lit the coal fire in a hurry. Neighbours had wall mounted water heaters too. We had little portable gas fires that could plug in to heat up bedrooms or the bathroom.
Thing was though, no one had insulated houses or double glazing back then. Homes were draughty and well ventilated. Now, we don't have that movement of air and gas isn't something I want in the house.
I know folks claim that it's the best cooker :dunno: I've used electric since I got married and I don't miss gas. I think you get used to what you have and modern electric stoves are very responsive and adjustable.

I was looking at the ground based heat pump things, but I don't think it's really accessible, not yet. Solar is too limited in our climate for our housing stock as it is, but at the end of the day, solar, wind, hydro, heat pump, tidal, or even nuclear, are all electric technology.

If you insist on being self reliant then it's still possible, just no coal, gas or fuel oil and a good understanding of technology.....and LED lights are brilliant :)
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,287
1,492
S. Lanarkshire
I always thought that this day was coming, and I have been ahead of the curve in that when all of the other flats were converted to gas boilers, I stuck with an open fire back boiler and immersion heater. Nowadays I do not use the open fire, and I use the immersion heater on economy seven. Any additional hot water needs during the day are met from an electric kettle.
My bother still had the open fire back boiler and immersion heater. He converted not so long ago into a wood fired stove version. His wood pile is awesome :)
When we moved into the house the back boiler was brand new and shone and gleamed, it was copper, but by the time we'd lit the fire once or twice no one would have ever known that it was there, it was black like the surrounding firebricks.
I miss the fire, but I don't miss the work of keeping everything clean.
 

TLM

Settler
Nov 16, 2019
524
167
66
Vantaa, Finland
I would think that the BI would be a perfect place for air to air heat pump for heating, for warm water one needs a two stage pump because of the temp requirement.
 

oldtimer

Full Member
It worries me that so many people think that electricity is a source of power. It is a means of transmitting power that has had to be generated somehow. Pick the pollution problems you want: nuclear fuel disposal, ugly wind farms blighting the land and sea, emissions from gas or fossil fuel fired power stations, exhaust emissions from vehicles, planes ships and factories producing junk to be sold to increase profit before becoming pollutants in their turn. Meanwhile demand for electricity increasing relentlessly because of insatiable demand for gadgets and household goods which didn't exist in the last century.. Computers maybe, but electric toothbrushes and the like ?!! And how will demand for the electricity needed for all those electric vehicles be satisfied?

There must be plenty of folk throughout the country right now whose electricity supply has failed because of wind or floods wishing they had wood burners to keep them warm and cook their food.
 

TLM

Settler
Nov 16, 2019
524
167
66
Vantaa, Finland
Electricity is the most versatile form of energy. Heat is in a sense a very concentrated form. In heating one has two main points, the amount needed and the temp needed. In burning things it is wasteful to burn something at high temp and then cooling it to the needed temp.

At outside temp +5C and inside wanted +22 the difference is so low that a good new heatpump operates with a COP of 5, meaning for every watt put in one gets five out. Quite efficient and a lot better than just using electricity for resistive heating.

For self sufficiency it is hard to beat a wood burning stove. Unless you happen to have a small stream with sufficient drop in your back yard that you can use for electricity production.
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,287
1,492
S. Lanarkshire
It worries me that so many people think that electricity is a source of power. It is a means of transmitting power that has had to be generated somehow. Pick the pollution problems you want: nuclear fuel disposal, ugly wind farms blighting the land and sea, emissions from gas or fossil fuel fired power stations, exhaust emissions from vehicles, planes ships and factories producing junk to be sold to increase profit before becoming pollutants in their turn. Meanwhile demand for electricity increasing relentlessly because of insatiable demand for gadgets and household goods which didn't exist in the last century.. Computers maybe, but electric toothbrushes and the like ?!! And how will demand for the electricity needed for all those electric vehicles be satisfied?

There must be plenty of folk throughout the country right now whose electricity supply has failed because of wind or floods wishing they had wood burners to keep them warm and cook their food.
I'm sure there are, but it's so much cleaner than any alternative we've yet found. Last year the UK used no coal at all for a week to produce all the electricity we use. The technology of electricity production is keeping pace, and at times exceeding, the increase in gadgets....and those gadgets themselves are becoming more and more energy efficient. LED light bulbs for instance. Electricity production is also becoming more and more environmentally friendly because of the improvements in the emissions from the power stations. The electricity for electric vehicles is much less polluting than every car in the land spewing out toxic waste.

The greatest amount of small particulate matter emissions in the UK now comes from wood burners. One of them gives off more pollution than a diesel lorry running all day.
Scary to think of it like that.
So, if you want a wood burner or open fire, be aware and use 'clean' fuel.

I like fires, but even I can see the realities of being sensible and pro-active about pollution.
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,251
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
The most energy efficient ( and environmentally friendly) way to heat a house is to insulate properly then use air to air heat pumps.

Woodburners are a fantastic backup. If you buy one, make sure you can cook on it, or have a pan small enough to fit inside it.
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,287
1,492
S. Lanarkshire
The most energy efficient ( and environmentally friendly) way to heat a house is to insulate properly then use air to air heat pumps.

Woodburners are a fantastic backup. If you buy one, make sure you can cook on it, or have a pan small enough to fit inside it.

10 times the price of a gas boiler, (needs much larger radiators here too) more expensive to service and nowhere near as effective unless your modern built home is built with stringent insulation, which itself causes humidity and mould problems in our cool damp climate which needs more electricity to power the dehumidifier/air conditioner.

https://www.renewableenergyhub.co.uk/main/heat-pumps-information/the-disadvantages-of-air-source-heat-pumps/

Good things, just not either affordable or feasible for the majority of folks.
 

TLM

Settler
Nov 16, 2019
524
167
66
Vantaa, Finland
I read that, a few comments:

"Air source heat pumps can be a fantastic way to generate electricity and heat for your home."
A heat does not generate electricity or heat, it moves heat from one place to another at a diffrent temp.

"This is to prevent the heat pump from freezing in the winter weather by using anti-freeze."
I have never seen an air-to-air heatpump that needs antifreeze, I don't know what they are speaking about.

A basic a-to-a pump does not have a radiator, the indoor unit looks like an airconditioner and has a blower.

It does not affect the indoor moisture in any other way than being an apparent heat source.
 
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Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,287
1,492
S. Lanarkshire
If it's a blower that needs power and that's probably from electricity.

The affect on the indoor moisture is the very very good insulation necessary to make the system work properly.
Insulation without ventilation and moisture removal (breathing, cooking, washing, etc., all produce moisture) which is always an issue in our cool, but not freezing, and always damp climate, creates the perfect environment for mould growth. 67 % humidity is the magic number.
That's why there was a huge debate about putting insulation into the cavity walls of houses. To do so cut down on heat loss, but it ramped up the damp inside.

M
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,251
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Well, the direct cost is high ( around 10 000 UKP?) but if you are replacing an old system it will save you lots of money long term.
Servicing - We have been advised (by the installer) NOT to service it, but only to fix it if it breaks down. 7 years now - no servicing , no repairs. It runs 24/7/ 12
The only thing we did 'extra' was to make a tiny roof over it, designed so most of the sky water ( rain, show, hail) does not hit it.

I imagine the value of the house benefits from a good system?

Does UK have schemes that contribute to the cost?

Placement of the indoor unit is crucial. The warm air needs to be able to diffuse all around the house. Warm air rises, cold air sinks. So it has to be placed downstairs, in a room where the door to the room where stairs are is removed or always open.

I have experimented a bit with the settings, temperatures, flow and so on.
Takes a bit of this to achieve the inside climate you like best.

One further negative we discovered is that if you like to sleep with your bedroom door closed, you need an additional heat source.
We chose a floor standing electric element, placed under the window ( for best airflow).
 

GuestD

Need to contact Admin...
Feb 10, 2019
1,445
685
I would think that the BI would be a perfect place for air to air heat pump for heating, for warm water one needs a two stage pump because of the temp requirement.
I was speaking to someone recently who has this, (replaced by their local council housing association) and so far it has been good. I keep on getting emails telling me about grants etc. Interesting times ahead.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,220
804
63
Florida
Perhaps climate change is the solution in and of itself. Namely reducing or even eliminating any need to “heat” the house.
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
2,730
1,941
Mid Wales
I have just replaced my 26 year old wood burner with a modern high efficiency one. It's supposed to produce 90% less particulate output than the old one. I only burn seasoned ash or oak and it certainly appears to be a lot more efficient.

The only problem is the flame is so perfect (nice flickering curling flames across the whole width), that I may as well have put in a fake stove with a video based flame effect :)

I wouldn't be without a fire of some sort though!
 

TLM

Settler
Nov 16, 2019
524
167
66
Vantaa, Finland
I have been running an a-to-a heatpump for 5 years now, no servicing of any kind so far. If the outside temp goes below -20C I turn it off for a short while because of the low efficiency. I can remote control it with my phone. It warms, cools, demoisturizes or just circulates, for about eur 2000. For warm water I have a wood heater. I have a secondary heat distribution by air from a wood central heating. When I let the water out of the piping the house can be let to get cold without damage (tested for 20 years).
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
2,730
1,941
Mid Wales
If thats what you are worried about then dont bother with heating.

I have no heating and I am just fine.
You make a good point. Too many people turn the thermostat up instead of putting on a fleece or even a thermal layer (my wife's the worst culprit :))
 

TLM

Settler
Nov 16, 2019
524
167
66
Vantaa, Finland
Freezing is one of the things one has to care about in a normal house. Living here without heating is possible but not really easy. -35C for two weeks is something that takes some planning, can do it without any fire, some makes it easier.

Not fun without fire. Depending on conditions some simple things tend to get difficult, like getting water. Or drying your clothes if you make the mistake of getting them wet.