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Looking for advice with new heating options


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Hi all 

I am hoping to learn from your collected wisdom.


I have recently moved into a large 120 year old house. We plan to be here lonmgterm 30+ years and will slowly refurbish each room etc.


The central heatring / hot waster system is very old and seems to have had bits added / changed but not had a proper overhaul for a long time.


There are 2 boilers in a plant room attached to the house but accessed externally. 1 boiler (15 years old) supplies the radiators on the ground floor and the hot water cylinder on the 2nd floor (via a 1st floor towel rail). Boiler 2 (20+ years old) supplies the radiators on the 1st and 2nd floors... There is a pump for the hot water that runs continouously and is very loud. It takes a long time to get hot water anywhere! There are no wall thermostats. Boiler 1 seems to have an issue with cutting in and out when the system is calling for heat. I have had an engineer round who says it is 'cycling' but not sure why without fuirther investigation. He thinks the cylinder is far too small and should be reolcated to next to the boilers and the circulating pump isn't funcitoning correctly. 


Rather than attempting top repair these issues I am wondering about investing in anm upgrade at this point to hopefully save money in the future.


The house has 6 bedrooms (2 ensuite), 4 bathrooms, 3 downstairs reception rooms and a large 'office' on the top floor. The external walls are solid brick construction. It is mostl;y douible glazed. I am fitting secondary glazing and will add insulation where possible. 


I am looking for recommendations.. Do I go for a new 2 boiler setup but with those boilers working in tandem / larger cylinder etc... a single large boiler... Solar panels and a air / ground source heat pump...


Hoping to make the right choice now so I can decorate the rest of the house knowing I won't have to start lifting floorboards in the future..


I'd love any opinions!


Kind regards


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Welcome.  In first instance go here:


https://energysavingtrust.org.uk you’re likely to get funding to support your project.


very unlikely heat pumps will work well in a big old drafty house though.    Be careful about how you insulate an old house sometimes problems can be caused if insulated incorrectly.    Don’t fall into the trap of thinking heat pumps will save you a fortune in a house that’s hasn’t got excellent insulation.  

I would definitely agree get any central heating changes done first.


I think you’re going have to spend a lot of money one of two ways.    Either by extensive insulation / new windows / new heating system now, or via huge energy bills for next 30 years, so you’ll have a choice to make.


you’ll need to establish exactly where your house is leaking heat most, via surveying and testing, to ascertain the best system or upgrades for you.    if your windows are a particular issue that’s a relatively easy way to make improvements as I’m sure you know.





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My parents did more or less that from 1976, but perhaps with a larger house (5000 sqft) and from a more basic start. It was also listed.


One question is how much money do you have to throw at it? If you plan to stay for 30 years and have or can get say £70-150k, there is a lot to be said for an expensive blitz now.

You really need imo to consider fabric carefully *before* you decorate. If you are starting from solid walls as the only barrier a simple technique such as drylining over 60-100mm celotex will make a hell of a difference. But once you have decorated you will not want to go back and redo it.


I would say an important principle is quality over haste. Each room, once done, is something you will probably live with for your lifetime in that house. Get it right first time.


There is a lot that can be really innovative and cheap with a little thought.


Consider your windows carefully - one thing we did over Georgian windows was secondary glazing by using toughened polished edge sheets made to spec. size, and mirror hinges to hold it on plus sticky foam round the edges. It was left in place in some rooms and removed from April to September in others.


Pay careful attention to floors, and ventilation if you change the insulation / airtightness.





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On 27/11/2023 at 11:06, mbchfcw4 said:

Rather than attempting to repair these issues I am wondering about investing in an upgrade at this point to hopefully save money in the future.


The external walls are solid brick construction. It is mostly double glazed. I am fitting secondary glazing and will add insulation where possible. 

The best way of saving money in cut the heat loss, so the first thing to discuss would be what is and isn't possible when it comes to adding insulation, to ensure you'll  be doing everything you reasonably can (and there is normally a lot that can be done). Then do similar for airtightness.


With those strategies decided you can calculate the future heating requirement and invest in a heat source sized for that future need, which could well be a heat pump. You'll need to supplement with something else until the building reaches that stage (if you install it before then), for example maybe repurposing one of the existing boilers. In the immediate, I'd just spend a few hundred on replacing that annoying pump!


You'll also need to consider how you deliver the heat, long-term. My preference is normally underfloor heating, but that's something that you would need planning into your refurbishment & boiler replacement schedule.


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Heat loss calculations are really needed first, then plan your spend to get bang for buck. Double glazing good, but not always the best way to spend money.


So heat calculation find out where the heat is going first. Plan your improvements. Then you can work out the best way to heat - unlikely you will need two boilers.


Forget UFH unless you are doing extremely good floor insulation. 


Make as many heat pump ready things as you can. These help the boiler run cooler so it condenses more and improves efficiency huge amounts; from 80% to over 100% efficiency. Heat pump cylinder have huge coils so reheat time is short and return to boiler is low. Big radiators also mean low flow temperature. Have the boiler installed so it can give different flow temps for DHW heating and house heating, so priority hot water or X plan - not Y or S plan.

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