From the very start of this Great Energy Race, I knew my boiler was the biggest problem in my efforts to reduce our home energy consumption. While there are an amazing array of little things that I can do and am doing, a big investment was also needed to really make a step-change in my home energy efficiency. Now, I should point out that my flat was rated as a “D” by my friendly B&Q energy assessor, Andrew. Andrew said that given the new-build bias in the EPC scoring and the age and type of flat I live in, I could only ever get up to a “C” rating, even if I had all the flashy solar panels my shared roof could fit. Apparently the average Scottish home is rated as an “E” in terms of energy efficiency, so compared to my fellow Scots, I’m still better than most. The competitive side of me is pretty upset with a D or even C rating. But unless I up-sticks and move, that’s all my wee flat will ever make, so I need to just focus on what I can change and change my behaviour to make up for what my shared stone walls and slate shingles are lacking. Too bad the EPC assessment doesn’t look at one’s food-miles or vegetarian tendencies!!!
So… Starting today my trusty plumber will be installing a new boiler. Our current one is a gas-powered boiler with a gravity-feeding hot water tank. Lord only knows when it was installed, but a boiler certification sticker on it says 2001, and likely the boiler was under warranty for at least 2 years prior to that. But I think our current boiler has had a really good, long and useful life. It has started to make some funny sounds, so it’s likely on it’s last legs anyhow – or at least that’s what I’m telling myself!
Now, being a proponent of looking at whole product life-cycles, I’m not generally a fan of replacing things that aren’t broken beyond repair a la the much maligned US “cash for clunkers” program. My husband’s mobile phone is a good example of this in practise – it keeps taking lickings and keeps on ticking so we won’t replace it with some flashy new intelligent one! Plus, new boilers and their efficiency ratings have been under attack lately as over-inflating the energy and monetary gains. All of which should make one strongly consider replacing items that aren’t actually broken beyond repair or use.
Anyhow, back to our boiler! Since it wasn’t a dead of winter emergency boiler replacement emergency, I have had the luxury of time to think about the best options. And since I have the best plumber in all of Edinburgh (Green Plumbers) who also routinely installs solar hot water systems, my first thought was of finally getting my dream of renewable heating! But sometimes dreams do not come true. After consultations with my plumber and quotes for various options. We will not be going down the solar route at this point in time. If we lived in our own detached or semi-detached house it would have been a no-brainer. But given a host of issues, cost including, we’re “just” getting a new super efficient Worcester-Bosch Greenstar condensing combi boiler. My only complaint with the Greenstar boiler is that Worcester-Bosch refused to give me a warranty if I installed a passive flue gas heat recovery system. Apparently they feel their boilers are so good, they don’t need a few percentage points of extra efficiency. But as this week’s IPCC report show us, we all need to be doing as much as possible to reduce our energy consumption, so yes, even a few percentage points of efficiency are needed!
I know, boo hoo hoo! However, I am still excited to go from a D-rated boiler with an annual efficiency rating of 78.8% to an A-rated boiler with an annual efficiency rating of 90.1%. Eleven or twelve percent greater efficiency will be very nice to have! It’ll take a few days to have it fully installed, but I will still keep my flat at jumper-wearing temperatures throughout the winter after this race. Photos will be updated on this page once the new boiler is in place. I can’t wait!!!