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Installing ground source heating or oil heating as part of a renovation project. Which to go for?

(9 Posts)
Bonnefoi Mon 15-Aug-11 19:06:47

We need some guidance about ground source heating systems versus oil systems. We are looking at a house which has a very dated electric only heating system, and hot water via immersion only, etc. The house has heaters in the ceiling, apparently. We believe this will be very costly and ineffective compared to other choices, so a new heating system seems necessary.

DH isn?t keen, to be honest, with all of the associated cost, mess, pulling the house apart to fit in pipes and radiators, etc. It is putting him off that particular house. I think it?s worth getting info on cost and timescales and seeing if that can be figured into the offer price, because everything else about the house is great and it has lots of potential but with a little bit (okay, a lot) of work needing done. grin

Also, DH wants to cost up for oil heating (not on mains gas supply), but I think we should be looking into heat source exchange system. I know, from only a very basic understanding, that it is supposed to be a greener and cheaper to run option, but don?t know much about the specifics after that. DH thinks that the installation cost will outweigh any cost savings and that it can?t be that cheap given that it still needs electricity to complete the system. Neither of us think LPG is a good option since it seems more expensive than oil month to month.

I?m hoping that ground source would be cheaper to run, better for the environment and perhaps a positive selling point if/when we move again.

Does anyone have any opinions/experience of installing either heating system as part of a renovation project? Particularly interested to know about the cost and hassle factor(s).

Thanks smile

GrendelsMum Mon 15-Aug-11 21:01:08

I'd cost up both. We have oil heating, but we would have installed ground source heating if it wasn't a listed building. (Ground source heating needs underfloor heating rather than radiators, and we can't put in underfloor heating.) TBH, it is a hassle to fit these things, but then if there's a lot of work that needs doing, there's a point at which more work makes little difference as its all got to be torn to bits anyway.

I hear that there are large grants currently available to install 'green' varieties of heating, including GCHPs. My in-laws built a new house and installed a GCHP, but they haven't had the first winter in it yet, so I don't know how effective it will be. Certainly last winter the builders were joking about how good it was.

One thing to remember with oil is that you have to regularly buy more oil, and you usually have to pay for your 1000 litres or so at once, rather than spreading it out over a few months. It's just a little extra hassle which you have to put up with.

Indith Mon 15-Aug-11 21:14:44

I don't have experience of fitting systems/renovation projects but I live off mains gas and I wouldn't go for oil. The prices are so high and very volatile. I know nothing about ground source other than waht eth lovely Kevin says on Grand Designs.

We have solid fuel which I know isn't for everyone but is actually very easy to maintain and very effective. We have an immersion heater for water for the summer months. The price of coal is pretty stable and it works out cheap to run, we've been here 2 years and it is certainly our warmest house ever as for the same money we used to spend on carefully timed and limited gas cental heating we have the fire on pretty mcuh 24/7 during the winter. It is also nice that you can spread the cost, either getting a bag or 2 of coal a week or filling your bunker once a month. Of course if you have teh space to store it you can be all nice and eco friendly and run on wood (less good if you work and are out most of the day as wood fires need feeding more often, coal you just fill up and ignore for 24 hours). A lot of people have lpg, I suppose proces will only ever go up but I think they are more stable than oil, you are less likely to find that your next refill is going to be twice as much as your previous one just because it is the middle of winter so the companies decided to fleece everyone.

Quite a few people have a stove (coal or wood) and lpg heating, tbh if I had the money that is probably what I would go for rather than being entirely solid fuel. The stove itself (just a normal stove, not connected to water or heating) warms the downstairs nicely so you just use the lpg for water/cooking and for a bit of heating if it is particularly cold or to heat the bedrooms if you need to.

Bramshott Mon 15-Aug-11 21:32:09

Like Grendelsmum, I've head that there are grants for ground source heat pumps now. Some neighbours had one fitted last year, and I think they've been happy with it - we have no gas here, so we're all on alternatives.

daimbardiva Tue 16-Aug-11 13:50:59

It is also worth remembering that Ground Source still requires some input of electricity to keep the pump going - something like 1:4 in terms of input to units. And not every property can have it, due to land available, space etc.

It is also not a cheap option to install, so your husband may be right...however there are grants/incentives available (depending on where you are in the country) so it's worth looking into. Contact the Energy Savings Trust as a first point of contact.

We have recently installed a super-efficient oil boiler along with solar panels, and a big stand alone woodburning stove, after a lot of soul-searching. I was really set on some sort of renewable total solution - ground source wasn't an option due to the capital cost, and we weren't happy about the electricity requirement. I was relaly keen on putting in a woodburning system to do all our heat and hot water, but this just didn't work logistically or cost-wise even with grants etc. We did however get a grant and loan for our solar, so even if you decide on oil, worth looking into this. I know loads of people with solar for water heating and they are all delighted with it.

I am disappointed with having put in oil, and nervous about price rises, but am viewing it as an adaptable system - technologies/prices move all the time and if in a few years it makes sense for us to fit a woodburning system then it will be simple to do so.

partystress Tue 16-Aug-11 13:56:41

As I understand it, ground source really only makes sense for new builds because the kind of underfloor you need means you have to dig away a foot of so of floor, or have very low ceilings. Plus as mentioned above, cost of electricity is considerable, especially if house is open plan. Neighbours of hours put it in, negotiated some amazingly bargainacious tariff but still found house never really warm and leccy bill still high. They have switched to wood pellets now - boiler is huge and you need a lot of storage, but seems to work for them.

DaisySteiner Tue 16-Aug-11 14:10:22

I'm not sure a ground source heat pump would be enough on its own would it? Friends of ours spent a considerable amount of money getting it put into their completely renovated home, but they still need oil for the middle of winter when it's really cold.

DaisySteiner Tue 16-Aug-11 14:11:28

BTW, we have oil heating and I know people talk about it as being horrendously expensive, but having had gas previously, we didn't notice a huge difference to be honest.

Bonnefoi Tue 16-Aug-11 18:01:51

Thanks, I think it looks like we need to price up both systems or a combination of both.

We'd already planned on a wood burner but I wonder if (while considering oil) a range would be a good idea, too. Decisions, decisions. grin

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