I am buying a 1960's flat that needs totally refurbishing and I was hoping someone with experience could tell me the most economical way to go, all electric or gas and electric?
I will either take out the old rusty metal tank and cylinder and get a combi boiler installed, new radiators and new gas cooker, have to get the boiler serviced yearly. Obviously still have the electric bill from the lights, TV etc, washing machine, fridge etc.
Or would it be more economical to replace the water tank and water cylinder, get a new electric storage heating system installed and new electric cooker.
The first thing to do is research power suppliers charges and make sure you are on the cheapest tariff you can find.
The second is to note that all new homes built from 2016 will be insulated to virtually Passive House standard almost airtight, this should be your target, to block all the holes that will let your expensive warm air out and cold air in.
On the face of it, Kwh supplied by gas are cheapest.But, the efficiency figures you get regarding a boiler are misleading, being what the manufacturers thinks they should be, they are not independently confirmed or compared. If you buy, buy one with a stainless steel heat exchanger. While you are quoted AAA 90% or higher efficiency, this normally only applies to the boiler while it is heating up, and is measured at output, once at running temperature its efficiency drops off. Then you have all the water in the pipes and the pipes and radiators to heat and the wall behind the radiators to heat before you get any benefit from the hot water. Gas hot water heating is expensive to buy and have installed. OK if you DIY.
There is a lot of bull written about the need for annual servicing, as companies make a great deal of profit from it, boilers are simple things and they don't go wrong very often, save your money and pay when something needs doing. I have had two boilers in my life, the first I fitted myself thirty odd years ago, I cleaned it once and I replaced one thermocouple....that was it. My current one is 21 years old and has never been cleaned or serviced modern gas burns clean.
With electricity the installation costs are very much lower, the running costs are higher but you get maximum benefit from your money. If the heater is placed in the centre of a room all the heat is in the room none is lost in transit or by ventilation.
Whichever way you go make sure you have proper polystyrene or similar closed cell insulation etween the ceiling joists and below the joists. If you have 4 inch joists have 4 inches of polystyrene between the joists and another 3 inches below the joists. If the joists are three inch, have three inches of polystyrene between them and three below. This will half your heating bills.
Do have double glazing and secondary plastic glazing as well, this will equal the insulation value of a typical wall. If you have cavity walls, think about cavity wall insulation, but only after confirming that the outside walls are waterproof....Cavity wall insulation is not recommended for walls near the west coast, in exposed positions or anywhere subject to wind driven rain.
If you have a simple front door and back door, consider adding a porch, or create a porch indoors, this will save a lot of heat escaping when you open the door.
Do have extractor fans fitted in the kitchen and bathroom, if you can choose fans with heat exchangers, timers and humidistat's, these will save you money.
If you live alone or have just one other and you always know where the other person is and what they are doing a combi is OK, if you have a family, stick with your current set up. The traditional boiler with hot water cylinder can supply two, three different taps, showers, baths at the same time, it works with high or low pressure water. A combi may not work at all at times of high demand and is very disconcerting and even unpleasant when you get hit with sudden hot or cold water, when someone turns on a tap or flushes the loo. A thermostat control avoids this. With a combi you have no store of fresh cold water, if you loose your water supply you have nothing. Searching for an open supermarket in the middle of the night to buy water to wash a baby or flush the loo is not good.
Electric storage heaters avoid. They are expensive to run. Radiant, quartz electric are quicker and cheaper to run. Cooking on a hob is best by gas, a circotherm oven is best.
It turns out the flat I was going to buy has a short lease and problems associated with it.
The flat I have had an offer accepted on and arranged a survey on does not have gas in the block which was built on the late 60's. It has electric storage heating so I will have to learn to live with that and cooking on electric too.
Previously I had got my gas and electric supplied by British Gas so I am not sure if I will use them again for my electric or look elsewhere. I am going to be living on the south west coast.
The flat apparently has cavity wall insulation and has had the roof insulated, I assumed with rolls of fibreglass (there are certificates for both) but I could not get into the loft at the time of the viewing so will try to find out from the surveyor.
As you probably know block storage heating is difficult to live with as we can never tell what tomorrows weather will bring and of course it tends to have cooled when we need it most in the evenings. You may care to buy some quartz radiant heaters, these are cheapish to buy and run. Their main point being they are instant and they throw the heat straight at you, there is no waste. Even a small radiant bowl fire aimed at you can heat a small room a low cost.
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