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Need new central heating - not sure what to do!

(9 Posts)
ibbydibby Mon 22-Sep-08 08:19:22

Hello, this is the first time I have posted on Mumsnet so hope I am posting in the right place, doing it correctly etc etc.

We moved from outer London to the depths of Norfolk in April this year. We currently have oil-fired central heating. However the boiler is dodgy and does not meet current requirements, ditto the tank, and we have discovered that many of the radiator pipes have been incorrectly cemented into the floor. SO it seems like a good idea to replace the entire central heating system. Our house is south facing, with quite an expanse of roof on which solar panels could be located....

We think we should be doing something "green" with our heating but not sure what. The central heating engineer who we have had round is recommending converting to LPG gas, with benefits of getting rid of hot water tank, and oil tank. He did not think that solar panels would be of much benefit to us, but I am not sure if he was saying that because he thought it would make it too big a job for him to take on, or if he thought it would be too expensive for us....I realise that we should consult other plumbers too and am looking into this - but no-one seems to know who to recommend other than the plumber who has already been round.

So, posting here to see if anyone has any suggestions as to where to go for advice? I seem to be going round and round in circles, not knowing where to start with all this. Does anyone know anything about LPG - is this a good way to go? (Have to say at this point that there is no mains gas around here) Would it be a good idea to go with LPG plus solar panels now? Or go with LPG with the option of solar panels later?

Thanks for any advice/pointers that anyone can offer!

Eddas Mon 22-Sep-08 08:25:14

My DH(husband) works in a plumbing merchants. I'd recommend you go to your local one and ask them for advice. They'll also be able to recommend plumbers to quote for you. You should be able to look up in the Yellow Pages where they are. HTHsmile

snorkle Mon 22-Sep-08 09:19:01

If you want to go for solar panels in the future you will need a hot water tank. If it's something you want to do later you should plan it in now. You will need another form of heating as well, since the solar panels will only heat your water (and not even all of that all the time usually). I don't think there are any remotely cost effective solar central heating solutions currently available, and it doesn't seem like a brilliant idea since when you need most heat is when there is least sun about.

sophy Mon 22-Sep-08 16:51:31

You could have a look at the energy saving trust website for an overview of the main options

Arja Mon 22-Sep-08 21:34:20

We have solar for our hot water and we live in the East of Scotland. We turn our gas off in April-Oct and pretty much get enough hot water from the sun. Today we got over 50oC. Even on days where it is not wall to wall sunshine the water can be 40oC which is more than adequate. Our gas bills over the summer months are cheap, one year (a while ago now before the price hikes) we got a bill for £7 for the quarter. This year it was £30 for the quarter, we use gas to cook with.
We are getting a multi-fuel burner with back boiler to heat our house/water for the winter.

Lizum Mon 22-Sep-08 23:17:23

As you have an oil boiler and the plumber recommended LPG then I assume you have no connection to natural gas. Therefore, it may be worth considering either a wood-fuel boiler with back burner or a heat pump. You can get grants from the low carbon buildings programme and I think there is also a list of registered installers so you know who to get quotes from. It will also be worth looking at solar panels as well, but if you don't go for them now, make sure you can retrofit in the future. You'll probably save money and cut down your carbon emissions.

Of course, you should insulate as much as possible and draught proof as well, then you may be able to install a smaller system.

ibbydibby Tue 23-Sep-08 13:45:57

Thanks for all your suggestions.

I think one of problems is time - we need to do something fairly fast, due to leaky radiator and dodgy oil-fired boiler. So it is tempting to go with what the plumber is suggesting, ie LPG system (no we don't have access to natural gas)

BUT have just spent this morning reading through various MN threads which mention LPG and am v worried. am trying to reassure myself that with new boiler and sufficient insulation it will not be financially crippling. And the environmentally friendly part of me thinks we should be able to do something better. The cost is another issue - we would need to replace our water tank if we had solar panels, as well as pay for installation and buying panels themselves - that's on top of central heating. There is a company who install ground thermal systems fairly locally and think I will have to start talking to them as well.

Sorry for rambling, am going round in circles with all this. I just wish I could get someone to come round to my house and advise on the best form of heating for my house, include renewable if appropriate. I would even pay for such a consultation. I contacted the energy saving trust (thanks for this link, Sophy) but they do not have anyone who can do this.

Will carry on investigating...!

igivein Tue 23-Sep-08 14:12:11

We're in similar situation, only house not suitable for solar/geo thermal etc. Energy Saving Trust recommended biomass boiler, but was no good for us for various reasons.Did you know you can now get energy efficient electric central heating boilers that run on economy 10 tariff, are small and operate silently? They were suggested by a builder who lives in our village, he has one in his house and says they're brilliant. I think this is what we're going to go for.

littlefrog Thu 25-Sep-08 16:32:50

Friends have a wood fired accumulator tank boiler thing which they love - backup immersion in extremis.

DH REALLY regrets not putting in solar HW, and whilst I'm glad we didn't (seriously impractical for lots of reasons) I wish it had been possible. I'd really advise not rushing into this decision - it's one you'll live with for as long as you have the house, it's worth making well.

Ground source heat pumps are clearly fantastic, especially if you live away from mains gas. Not a quick/easy option, but still a good one.

I agree - what's needed is a 'someone' who can come round and say: here's a menu, here's what I advise and why: go and make up your mind!

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