• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • Mike Haasl
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • John F Dean
  • Rob Lineberger
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Ash Jackson
  • Jordan Holland

Alternative heating system for Victorian property?

 
Posts: 28
Location: South coast of England
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Hello,

I live in the UK and will be buying a ground floor garden flat soon. Based on the flats I've viewed so far, I will probably end up with a solid wall Victorian property - which will probably have a gas combi boiler for water/heat when I buy it.

Would be interested to hear some initial thoughts on whether it's likely to be beneficial in cash and/or energy-use terms for me to consider alternative systems for water and/or space heating?  Possibly a ground heat pump or a wood burning system? I read a bit recently about masonry stoves being very efficient, but I'm new to permaculture and there seem to be so many different options to choose from. I also read that it's often not worth changing any type of heating system until it comes to the end of its life (due to the embodied energy used to make the device), even if it's not very efficient.

It seems clear that I'll need to do lots of work on insulation, with hopefully some passive solar elements incorporated into the alterations that I make to the building (but I need to do lots more research first because I only have a basic grasp of all this so far).
 
pollinator
Posts: 3588
Location: Toronto, Ontario
503
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi trees rabbit urban wofati cooking bee homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Welcome, Gavin. You've come to the right place.

In addition to masonry heaters, you might want to check out Rocket Mass Heaters (RMHs for short), of which there is quite a lot of information on this site.

But in general, yes, using what you already have until such time as its useful life ends is most cost-effective, and most respectful of the unit's embodied energy costs. The only other factor that way is the cost of fuel, both financial and environmental.

Were it possible to build a small RMH, you might find yourself heating with twigs and branches gathered from the ground and using your existing system only for base heat and hot water. This, I think, would be a good way to slowly transition towards a better heating solution without ripping out perfectly functional infrastructure, and saving money on fuel at the same time.

But let us know what you decide, and good luck.

-CK
 
gardener
Posts: 3867
Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
1107
cat pig rocket stoves
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Gavin;  Welcome to Permies!
Chris was spot on with his reply!  
Leave the existing system in place and if possible add a small brick batch box in the room you spend your time in.

There is a post here in the rmh forum.  I will try to locate it and post a link later.
A lady in England built a small brick bell batch box rmh. A, 4 or 5 inch burner. It sat in front the hearth of the original fireplace and was vented up the original chimney.
She was burning branches and twigs, and was quite happy with how warm her sitting room was.

I am going to add your post to the RMH forum, so other rocket scientists can help me find that post.
 
thomas rubino
gardener
Posts: 3867
Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
1107
cat pig rocket stoves
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here you go Gavin;   Check this out https://permies.com/t/43809/Masonry-stove-diy-build-feasible
 
pollinator
Posts: 1416
Location: Denmark 57N
403
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Remember to check on the clean air regulations in the area you are looking at buying, AND the new regulations the government keep proposing which will effectively ban all wood burning equipment that doesn't meet clean air regs. You will also not be able to have any form of wood heater unless you already have a chimney Or everyone above you gives permission to have an external chimney (which must be vented above the ridgeline)

Also if you don't have regulations that stump you and you do have a chimney. remember that many Victorian buildings have wooden floors and a crawl space, which cannot take the weight of a RMH. you may or may not be allowed to modify anything down there depending on your leasehold/freehold.

Ground heat pumps might be an option if there is access to the garden for heavy machinery and if the garden is large enough/not constricted by services. (and you have full rights to it) You can most certainly put an Air/air pump in which has an added bonus of being able to work as air con as well.
 
thomas rubino
gardener
Posts: 3867
Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
1107
cat pig rocket stoves
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Yes, As Skandi brought up. If your new home has no existing chimney then that could be an issue.
A brick bell RMH, especially a small one would have no weight issues at all.
With buying a new home, I suspect that anything like heavy equip in the backyard might have to wait a few years...
 
G Prentice
Posts: 28
Location: South coast of England
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Thanks, all. I will digest the info' and have a look at the link that you sent me to the other thread.

From the properties I've viewed so far, access to the garden except through the flat seems unlikely - so anything which can't be taken through the flat will be a no-go, probably (large equipment/machinery etc.).

It sounds like an existing chimney will be useful, so if a property doesn't have one, there'll need to be something else about the place which compensates in one way or another. Getting permission to fit a new chimney is unlikely/uncertain - and I wouldn't buy a property in the hope of getting such permission.

 
pollinator
Posts: 427
Location: North central Ontario
55
kids dog books chicken earthworks cooking solar wood heat woodworking homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Gavin Prentice wrote:
Hello,

I live in the UK and will be buying a ground floor garden flat soon. Based on the flats I've viewed so far, I will probably end up with a solid wall Victorian property - which will probably have a gas combi boiler for water/heat when I buy it.

Would be interested to hear some initial thoughts on whether it's likely to be beneficial in cash and/or energy-use terms for me to consider alternative systems for water and/or space heating?  Possibly a ground heat pump or a wood burning system? I read a bit recently about masonry stoves being very efficient, but I'm new to permaculture and there seem to be so many different options to choose from. I also read that it's often not worth changing any type of heating system until it comes to the end of its life (due to the embodied energy used to make the device), even if it's not very efficient.

It seems clear that I'll need to do lots of work on insulation, with hopefully some passive solar elements incorporated into the alterations that I make to the building (but I need to do lots more research first because I only have a basic grasp of all this so far).

if the existing system is at end of life with your climate I would look at air to air heat pumps or geothermal depending on what runs your electrical grid. If it's a natural gas ele tropical grid anyways stick to a natural gas heater if there is a lot of wind and low carbon power; heat pump. Wood heat is a great source of heat if you have the wood. If not it can be part of the problem...
Cheers,   David
gift
 
Rocket Mass Heater podcast gob
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic