How can I future-proof my heating and hot water?
Posted by Paul Hutchens on 17 June 2013 at 10:04 am
Q: I need to upgrade my heating and hot water system. I am on mains gas and will move to an unvented system. I have looked at heat pumps but the size and location of my property does not seem to make this a sensible choice at the moment. I even considered a thermodynamic solar panel system for heating hot water but from what I read this seems to be unproven for use in the UK and does not yet qualify for financial support. My roof space is south facing and filled with solar pv so no space for a conventional solar based system.
The sensible choice seems to be stick with a new efficient gas boiler. I will probably choose to divert my excess solar pv power through to the hot water cylinder via an immersion coil. I will need to install a new hot water cylinder (horizontal orientation due to lack of space in the loft). I would like to try and future proof my choice of hot water cylinder in case new technologies develop in the years ahead. What is the best way to do this? Or should I stick with a standard one coil cylinder as any new technologies that develop may well be able to be incorporated into existing cylinders? Am I missing something obvious or just trying to make things over complicated.
A: It appears that you have looked into this already and come to some reasonable conclusions. However, there are a few further things to consider.
Firstly, it sounds as though you have considered heat pumps – but did you just consider ground source which was rejected due to lack of garden area for the ground loop? If so you may want to consider an air source heat pump but ensure that you have a well-insulated property due to the lower temperatures produced and, as you are on mains gas, the payback may not be very quick.
So maybe an efficient ‘A’ rated gas boiler is the best bet. If there is no space for a solar thermal system, I cannot see this becoming a viable option in the near future. Also, if a heat pump is not going to be cost effective, there is no point installing an additional coil in a horizontal cylinder as this is more difficult and expensive (if it was a conventional upright cylinder it would not add much cost and would be worth doing “just in case”).
As for future technologies, it is difficult to predict! I don’t think you are making it too complicated – just thinking through rationally.
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