Electric boilers

Discussion in 'suburban75' started by stavros, Nov 2, 2019.

  1. stavros

    stavros Well-Known Member

    Does anyone have any experience of electric-only boilers? If so please tell me what you think.

    I know that electricity is more expensive than gas. However, I also think I've heard that the government will be moving towards electric as the standard on new-builds, so as to make us as a nation more independent for our fuels. Am I barking up the wrong tree on either of these points?

    I have a small-ish terrace property, currently with gas as the source for central heating, hot water and my oven, although I know the latter is independent of the boiler.
  2. WouldBe

    WouldBe non smoking

    No experience of electric boilers but I can't see it happening. The entire electric grid would need to be updated to cope with the extra power needed. Then there's the problem of how to generate and store the electricity for use over night and in winter.

    A better idea would be to go over to hydrogen. Wasn't there a trial scheme being run in Leeds?
  3. stavros

    stavros Well-Known Member

    I hadn't heard about that. Is it possible on a domestic scale, and do you know if it was a particular supplier trialling it?
  4. farmerbarleymow

    farmerbarleymow Seagull + Chips = Happy Seagull

    I've not lived anywhere with a gas boiler for at least a decade. It doesn't work out too expensive - assuming you live by yourself. Electric bill is about £60 a month, although that will probably rise a bit as the weather gets colder (heating is electric too).

    Safer overall no doubt.
  5. Miss-Shelf

    Miss-Shelf I'll meet you further on up the road

    how does it all work ?
  6. farmerbarleymow

    farmerbarleymow Seagull + Chips = Happy Seagull

    The boiler is just a big kettle basically, but it is well insulated so the water retains heat well.
    Miss-Shelf likes this.
  7. WouldBe

    WouldBe non smoking

    Can't remember. I've got a memory like a sieve. If it works it's just a matter of changing all the gas jets in your house. They did the same back in the early 70's when they switched from town gas to natural gas.
  8. MrCurry

    MrCurry Updated Recipe!

    I don’t know how commonly available they are in the UK, or costs, etc, but might be worth investigating an air source heat pump system

    Air source heat pumps - Wikipedia

    It’s basically an air conditioner which works in reverse, capturing heat from the air outside and boosting the temperature up to deliver heating and (I think) hot water to the house.

    The advantage is efficiency - it uses a lot less electric than a bog standard electric radiator and immersion system. Although capturing heat from outside during winter might seem infeasible, according to that Wikipedia page there are versions which can work in outdoor temps as low as -30C, which is a neat trick.

    Like I said, I’ve never bought one or looked into it, so not sure how available or affordable they are, but something to be aware of.
  9. 2hats


    Also known as 'physics'.
  10. RubyToogood

    RubyToogood can't remember what goes here

    I started looking into all this. A friend has a relative who has a heat pump. I think they do a lot of putting on another jumper.

    Actually it might have been a ground heat pump rather than an air one.

    I am of the put another jumper on school of thought mind you so perhaps it would work for me after all. But ground heat pumps do involve digging up the garden.
    existentialist likes this.
  11. farmerbarleymow

    farmerbarleymow Seagull + Chips = Happy Seagull

    Me too - at this time of year I'll generally always be wearing jumpers, cookies or even coats indoors. Just force of habit from childhood before central heating was invented. Saves money on the bills so sensible too.

    Can't have new fangled ground heat pumps or whatever as I don't have a garden.
  12. lazythursday

    lazythursday Well-Known Member

    Air source / ground source heat pumps are great - but only if you have a really well insulated house. That's the best place to start if you want to green your heating. Also they work best with underfloor heating, otherwise you need massive oversize radiators.

    Gas is definitely gonna be phased out but replacements aren't clear yet, might be hydrogen, might be district heating in some places. Better right now to wait and focus on insulation imo.
    ignatious, BigTom, WouldBe and 2 others like this.
  13. RubyToogood

    RubyToogood can't remember what goes here

    This was roughly the conclusion I came to.
  14. WouldBe

    WouldBe non smoking

    My house is getting there with the insulation. As I have problems with being too hot and passing out I've put a thermostatic mixer valve on the central heating circuit so if I pass out against a radiator I won't get burnt. My radiators are normal sized. :)
  15. stavros

    stavros Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all the tips. I think my gas boiler is reaching the end of its natural life (bought and installed long before I got the house), and there are one or two other things which are odd. For example, I don't appear to have a thermostat, so I have to personally be reactive on the relatively rare occasions I want the central heating on.

    My insulation is as good as I can get it, and being mid-terrace helps.

    Part of my reasoning for investigating is from a green perspective, in that my supplier does 100% renewables for leccy, but a much smaller share for gas.
    Miss-Shelf likes this.
  16. lazythursday

    lazythursday Well-Known Member

    Is it an old Victorian terrace? If so it won't be well insulated unless you do internal or external wall insulation.

    I get what you're saying and I have had similar thoughts but unless you are mega well insulated your costs will increase a lot. You can always get a thermostat, I have just moved into a house where the boiler doesn't have one and am thinking of having a Nest thermostat fitted which learns your needs and supposedly saves quite a bit.
  17. WouldBe

    WouldBe non smoking

    A modern gas boiler with full controls will be a lot more efficient than your existing boiler and will save you money.
  18. lazythursday

    lazythursday Well-Known Member

    It will be but I can understand the reluctance to buy a new gas boiler. It's a dying technology. Gas heating barred from new houses from 2025. But right now it remains the only real option for most people for cost reasons.
  19. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    Seems a long long way from not being available through. Probably long past the life of whatever boiler you buy today.
    alex_ likes this.
  20. WouldBe

    WouldBe non smoking

    True but the new houses will be super insulated which is very difficult to do with existing buildings.
  21. lazythursday

    lazythursday Well-Known Member

    Difficult but has to happen asap to meet carbon reduction targets. See Labour's Green New Deal plans. Basically unless government decides to ignore climate targets massive change to housing stock both insulation and heating is inevitable in next decade. It's just too big a chunk of emissions to leave as it is.
    Miss-Shelf and MrCurry like this.
  22. WouldBe

    WouldBe non smoking

    I'm in the process of insulating my mid terrace house. I've put timber frames on the external walls and infilled with PIR insulation and plasterboard over the top. Wooden floors have been underdrawn and filled with 7" of loft insulation. 7" of loft insulation has been put under the upstairs floors. 14" of loft insulation has been put in the loft.

    This has involved virtually stripping out every room in the house, replastering, new floors, new ceilings, new skirting boards. The only way I've been able to do it is because I've got spare rooms where I can shuffle things round to work on 1 room at a time and it's taken me ages. Most people wouldn't be able to do this and would have to move out while the work was done. While you might be able to do this in social housing I don't see how you can do it in private housing and if you are in private housing who is going to pay for it when it will cost several thousand pounds per house? :eek:
  23. lazythursday

    lazythursday Well-Known Member

    Yep, it's a mammoth task. I don't know how it's going to happen either, though there are some initiatives in (I think) the Netherlands that have piloted whole street retrofits where they basically put a whole new skin on the outside. As for cost I think the Labour GND plans are likely to be free up to a certain low income then interest free loans, and I guess if it's done as a whole street thing it's likely to be in your interest to join in as it will likely be cheaper (and missing out will reduce value of your house).
  24. WouldBe

    WouldBe non smoking

    External insulation may seem a good idea at first sight but it's not. My house (1830's mid terrace) supposedly has solid walls but actually has something like a 1" cavity. When I've stripped plaster off you get howling gales coming through the wall where mortar is missing between bricks. You block 1 hole up and it comes out of another 1. :eek: :mad: So unless you can block off all air bricks and seal the top of the wall right under the eaves (making it hard to get to) then you will have lots of cold spots where there is only the equivalent of 1/2" of plaster between you and the outside. It's far better to insulate the inside of the walls but that takes a lot more work and disruption. :(
  25. lazythursday

    lazythursday Well-Known Member

    I can barely put up a shelf personally but have studied some of these issues recently and it does seem a minefield - but somehow it has to happen, most people have no idea of the scale of disruption to come. I suspect there will end up being a lot of debates about when it is better to demolish than attempt to retrofit too. I have recently moved out of a stone terrace that was really cold and damp and a nightmare to insulate properly - externally would likely not be allowed (currently) by planning because of aesthetics and internally the house was so small already and the ceiling in the attic room so low that it would have a really detrimental effect. Personally I think an awful lot of our Victorian housing stock should be demolished - but then there are arguments about the embedded carbon in building new houses and that it's generally less carbon to retrofit.
    UnderAnOpenSky likes this.
  26. ignatious

    ignatious Well-Known Member

    Have you considered a thermal store? You can set them up for multiple fuel sources (electric, gas, solar, heat pump, biomass, wood burners, etc) depending on what you have available, or are likely to in future, and they provide mains pressure hot water which is always a bonus.

    There are pros and cons of each system but generally speaking you get a better result with external insulation. One of the pros of external systems are that they offer some weather protection for the building, but in any case a basic requirement of both internal and external insulation is that any penetrating (or rising) damp issues are fully dealt with before the install. Brickwork that allows ‘howling gales’ to come through is going to cause serious issues down the line, and adding internal insulation is only going to make them worse.
  27. stavros

    stavros Well-Known Member

    I wasn't aware of them. Is there a reliable guide you can recommend anywhere?
  28. ignatious

    ignatious Well-Known Member

    stavros likes this.
  29. WouldBe

    WouldBe non smoking

    This is a good idea. I've got one that provides hot water and does the central heating. It can be heated either from my wood burner or the gas boiler and (when it was working) from the solar thermal panel.

    You could have one installed to work with your gas boiler and add solar thermal at a later date.

    Weather proofing can be easily provided by either masonry paint or a clear water seal.

    I don't see how external insulation can be better than internal insulation. If you have a cavity of any size that allows air to get to the inner wall then you end up with a very expensive single brick wall that will be useless at insulating. It would be the same as insulating an attic bedroom by putting the insulation over the roof tiles while doing nothing about the eaves spaces and vertical attic walls.
  30. Poi E

    Poi E Well-Known Member

    Don't need venting, either. Or servicing or certification like a gas boiler. Many landlords install for this reason if the tenant is paying the bill. Many are instant with minimal tank sizes to store water.

    Disconnected the hot water feed to the toilet/shower room sink tap and will be installing an instant water heater (£45 off ebay...) as using the hot water from that tap fires up the gas boiler and takes an age to come through despite the boiler being in good repair. Also putting in an electric shower so if the boiler dies we can wash conveniently.

    Was in a SIPS house recently that had no central heating system. Just a mechanical heat recovery and ventilation system and one infra red radiator. Makes bricks and morter seem pointless.

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