Most practical energy source for renovated home?

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Captain Caveman
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Most practical energy source for renovated home?

Post: #126482 Captain Caveman
Thu Oct 02, 2008 9:22 am

Now I really need some help!
We're renovating a large old farmhouse in Wales to live in for the next 20+ years. Currently its pretty cold and runs mainly on a very old oil burning system - there is no mains gas in our town. We are merging the house with the old cow barn next door too and hope to have underfloor heating in the new part, but it looks like a lot of hassle and cost to try and get underfloor into the rest of the house.

Because of this we wanted to install a wood pellet burner but now find out that to install the full system will cost £16,000! A modern oil burner is more like £2000 so it'll take many years to amek back the money. We wil lbe insulating the whole house and roof too to make it more efficient but now we have a dilemma as it will cost way more than we thought!

The other options we have considered:
Ground source - will use lots of electricity as large house and really needs underfloor heating to be effective which is more cost/hassle

Cheaper wood pellet - comes in at £5000 but only has 1 year guarantee and has to be loaded manually weekly for pellets

Modern oil burning - but with the option of changing to pellet burning in future when costs of boilers have come down and pellet industry more established

Other factors include current oil/electricity rises and grants available. If we went for oil, we'd combine it with solar water heating to reduce running costs/ carbon footprint

Does anyone know of a residential energy consultant who can advice on this stuff?

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Clara
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Re: Most practical energy source for renovated home?

Post: #126492 Clara
Thu Oct 02, 2008 10:09 am

Do you have any land? Wood? That would be my preferred option.
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Re: Most practical energy source for renovated home?

Post: #126534 Annpan
Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:54 pm

I am with Clara. Wood burning stoves are the way to go - cheap/ free fuel forever. You can link 2 or 3 stoves onto a thermal store that can run central heating for the rest of your house and solar water would go in there too.

Apart from that clever orientation of windows, use of e-glass, use of passive solar heating (basically storing the heat from the sunlight that comes in your windows.) and super duper insulation, you'll be laughing. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Re: Most practical energy source for renovated home?

Post: #126539 contadino
Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:32 pm

Personally, I'd opt for woodburner and solar combo. I'd steer clear of pellets because of the fragile supply chain.

Have you considered mCHP? Ceres Power (http://www.cerespower.com/) have announced a micro system, running on gas, that'll heat your home (including water) and produce a bit of leccy. I'm not sure whether it's on the open market yet - sorry if it's not.

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Re: Most practical energy source for renovated home?

Post: #128982 xone
Thu Oct 23, 2008 5:22 pm

Captain Caveman wrote:Now I really need some help!
We're renovating a large old farmhouse in Wales to live in for the next 20+ years. Currently its pretty cold and runs mainly on a very old oil burning system - there is no mains gas in our town. We are merging the house with the old cow barn next door too and hope to have underfloor heating in the new part, but it looks like a lot of hassle and cost to try and get underfloor into the rest of the house.

Because of this we wanted to install a wood pellet burner but now find out that to install the full system will cost £16,000! A modern oil burner is more like £2000 so it'll take many years to amek back the money. We wil lbe insulating the whole house and roof too to make it more efficient but now we have a dilemma as it will cost way more than we thought!

The other options we have considered:
Ground source - will use lots of electricity as large house and really needs underfloor heating to be effective which is more cost/hassle

Cheaper wood pellet - comes in at £5000 but only has 1 year guarantee and has to be loaded manually weekly for pellets

Modern oil burning - but with the option of changing to pellet burning in future when costs of boilers have come down and pellet industry more established

Other factors include current oil/electricity rises and grants available. If we went for oil, we'd combine it with solar water heating to reduce running costs/ carbon footprint

Does anyone know of a residential energy consultant who can advice on this stuff?


You could use solar, and a thermal store and if you're in the right location a turbine as well. Solar heats the thermal store, you can run your heating loop through it and it would help towards your heating costs and you can also run your hot water loop through it and help reduce the cost of that as well. It's the next best thing to a GSHP and is quite a lot cheaper and a lot less hassel. The only thing you'd need to worry about is what boiler/wood burner you use.

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Re: Most practical energy source for renovated home?

Post: #129112 DominicJ
Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:02 pm

I dont really see the need for a pellet burner in your set up.

Your doing some (Lots of) building work anyway, so fitting a large thermal store shouldnt be a problem. So, its not like your going to need to heat water every hour so, feeding the log fire once a day should be more than sufficient, with solar heating as well you probably wouldnt need to use it at all in summer.
If you dont want a fire in the living space, which is fine, it is a fire risk after all, no reason you couldnt have it in its own utility room surrounded by a firebreak.
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Re: Most practical energy source for renovated home?

Post: #131541 JakeR
Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:33 pm

This most likely won't be suitable for a retrofit, but I'm a big fan of masonry heaters. These have much more thermal mass than a wood stove and a convoluted exhaust path that both allows for complete combustion and transfer of heat to the thermal. In use, you have one or two short, hot fires a day and then heat radiates fot the rest of the day.

The downside is the expense and the fact that they need a strong foundation and ideally should be located in the center of the home.

You can see pictures of masonry heater here:

http://www.alternativeenergyprimer.com/ ... tures.html

You'll notice that the size varies and some use stove pipe to complete the chimney.

If it suits your circumstances, great. If not, I vote for a wood burning stove.

enjoy your home

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Re: Most practical energy source for renovated home?

Post: #132751 swiftnick
Wed Nov 26, 2008 11:46 pm

Whatever you do go for as much insulation as possible. This way you will reduce the size of the system and fuel inputs for any system you choose.

My house is modern I have cavity wall and about 450mm in the loft.

If you go for wood stoves I would also consider something like air source heat pumps as a back up - also useful if on a timer and you are away during the winter. To heat a house with wood you are going to need a lot of wood - perhaps several tonnes per annum. As such carefully consider the choice of stove - higher effiency equals less wood needed.

If you go for a stove I would also consider a decent sloar water heating system as its not that practical to run a stove in the summer.

I have 2x20 vacuum tubes supplying about 3200kwh annually
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Re: Most practical energy source for renovated home?

Post: #132812 mybarnconversion
Thu Nov 27, 2008 10:40 pm

Consider multi fuel stoves, not just wood - a decent 12Kw boiler stove comes in around 2k - especially in South Wales a local source of coal (if you can find one) will pep up a usually wood only regime in the depths of Winter

Also look into thermal solar hot water - it can be expensive, but it's worth getting some numbers and seeing how they fit into your budget / setup

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Re: Most practical energy source for renovated home?

Post: #136529 bigkev
Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:24 am

Hello Captain caveman
have you ver considered building your own solar water heater It can be build using basic junk bits and will provide some hot water Building your own combined heat and power unit is not hard either but you must get a qualified lecky man to sort it out and insure you do not electrocute yourself
Are you in the country because you can use cow poo and even your own to make methane which will run your chp unit giving yu a sustainable lecky system

One other very insteresting scenerio is the thermal chimney where hot air heatied by glass bricks blit like a chimney is taken into a heat exchanger in the attic and blown into the building in times off need in summer by reversing the fan the heat is drawn throught the exchanger and vented into the air
Ground source heat pumps are expensive unless you generate your own lecky
Solar panels hooked to a large battery pack with an inverter also give good return
however the poo is free and you can built a small anaerobid digester on a pallet
Is there any way off contacting you as i have all this information
Chow for now bigkev


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