I have a shameless self promotion first thought! I’m in the home-stretch of the Great Energy Race, and I need your help and votes to win a £10k renewable energy prize for my local primary school – Blackhall Primary. Surprisingly, I’m the only contestant in Scotland and the only one donating it to a good cause. Please, please take a minute to vote here! Tell a friend and share the link too!!! Thanks!!!
- Choose your boiler efficiency carefully
Operational costs for your boiler will probably total more than the capital cost, so it makes sense to include even small efficiency differences in your choice of a boiler. And always chose a boiler that is only as big as you will need most days. You can look-up boiler efficiencies to compare makes and models as UK gov standards website or a more user friendly website here.
- Solar Heating
Can you afford and logistically install a solar powered heating system at your home? It will cost you quite a bit more than a regular old boiler install (for example my plumber installed a new efficient combi-boiler in my flat this week for about £3k, but the solar option in my 3-story flat would have cost ~£9k – still cheaper than a new car!). You could have free hot water on sunny days, so a good investment if you can install it. A good and experienced plumber will tell you the requirements. If you are in southern Scotland, you can call up Green Plumbers – They are great!
- Wood Burning Heating
Can you use a wood burning stove to contribute to your heating and hot water system? My plumber just installed a bespoke three-way wood and solar with a combi back-up system at a client’s home, so again it can be done with an experienced professional. I do have some issues with wood-burning stoves for those of us who don’t live on our own wooded properties with kindling and fuel abound, but as long as you aren’t importing your wood or chopping down trees to burn, then I am all for wood-burning stoves.
- Passive Flue Gas Heat Recovery
Is your boiler compatible with one of these recovery devises? They take the “waste” heat that would have otherwise been vented out of your home, and recycle that for use with your boiler, increasing it’s efficiency and saving you money. Not all boiler manufacturing companies will validate their warranties with these though. My new Worcester-Bosh has a 10-year warranty, but they would not have upheld it if I installed a heat recovery unit on it. In retrospect, I should have asked my plumber to install an efficient Baxi or Alpha boiler instead which can use these add-ons nicely. But you live and you learn eh? Perhaps if we all badger our boiler manufacturers, they’ll make their engineering design teams think about flue gas heat recovery for all their models, as every little bit of heat should be used to reduce our overall energy consumption!
- Ground or Air Source Heat Pumps
While I pine for solar panels, I REALLY pine for a ground source heat pump. I think that’s because I secretly long to live somewhere warm enough for me to think about needing air conditioning! Ground source heat pumps will require digging up a bit of your garden to install, but they use the natural temperature differences between the ground and your home to heat and cool it. It boggles my mind that these aren’t standard issue for any large building in the US, where it gets really cold and hot! All schools, malls, office buildings etc should install these underneath their parking lots and landscaped areas! Air source heat pumps are smaller and more or less the size of an air conditioning unit. They too use temperature differences in the air and your home to heat it. It sounds a bit non-intuitive to a non-engineer, but they can provide heat in -15C temperatures. They’re not as efficient as ground source pumps, but they are smaller and cheaper to install.