Pump it up

Today’s post is very different to usual, but will probably have that hint of a rant you’ve come to know and love.

Today, I’m talking about heating systems – I know, a real hot topic.

On the farm, we thought the time had come to upgrade the heating the system. It’s currently powered by a wood boiler, which works but is very time intensive and not the best smelling.

Working in the energy space, I’d heard a lot about heat pumps – not just for their heating use but as an option for extra flexibility on the grid – which is pretty cool. Being off the gas grid, we only really have oil boilers or heat pumps as an option.

Naturally, I wanted to look to a solution that had an eye on the future so was drawn towards the heat pump option. I didn’t know a huge amount about heat pumps so decided to look into them a little more. It’s a young industry, and certainly, one that could do with a little of a PR touch! I’m not entirely sure how a heat pump works, but most websites talk about it being like a fridge in reverse. This would be great if I’d ever looked into how a fridge works.

The thing to understand about heat pumps is that they provide constant, low heat. Around 55 degrees celsius. Our current system has a thermostat of 60-70 degrees, but given the boiler is a tad old and the system not efficient I don’t really know if that’s what the radiator temperature is. This makes it hard to know if we’ll actually be warm enough. Our current system is on 24/7 in winter and we light hearth fires in the sitting room to provide the extra heat we need.

This concern about being cold didn’t stop me from looking into it further. Ultimately, the best way to know these things is to get an expert out for them to tell you if you’re onto a winner or not. We had a man out, whose first comment was that we would need new radiators. Modern ones can be doubles or triples which increases the surface area allowing more heat to travel through, which ultimately gives the room more heat. And here we reach the next obstacle – radiators – more on that to come. There’s two types of heat pump – air or ground. We looked at both as have the space for ground. This has a bigger initial cost due to groundworks, but double the financial incentive from the Government so it could be worth it. This expert then checks we have the right sort of outside conditions for a ground source heat pump and checks where our system makes water hot. A change to a heat pump would also see this generate our hot water – I think the main driver for this is for the Renewable Heat Incentive from the Government, as this isn’t a priority for us.

But anyway, back to radiators. Knowing we’d need to get new radiators, we called out a plumber to give us a quote. He was stumped in the dining room and said he’s trying to work it out if it is a one-pipe or two-pipe system. This matters because all modern systems – oil boilers or heat pumps – need a two-pipe system. We only have one. Some commercial boilers can run on a single pipe, but they’re a lot less efficient and more expensive to buy. So now, we’re left knowing the whole pipework needs reworking. Being an old house, with an old system, we’re also going to use this as an opportunity to put more rooms onto the central system.

We’re yet to get the quote for the re-piping of the house and a heat loss survey to know if a heat pump system would be viable, but at this point, it feels everywhere we turn we find another cost! I’ll keep you posted on how this heat journey progresses.

One thought on “Pump it up

  1. Pingback: It’s getting hot in here – Catherine's Corner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s