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What has changed that homes built in the past have been classified as cold and damp? Is the myth true that passive heating and central heating are too expensive?


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Are Passive and Central Heating the Future?

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Busy lifestyles vs. cold and damp homes


Nowadays everybody has a busy schedule like kids go to school, parents work in more than one job and grandparents, as they say— retirees have no time at all. Why then would somebody heat during the day an empty house?


Well, not heating an empty house but keeping the temperature above a certain level make sense if you want to live in a dry and healthy home. Usually houses cool down to outdoor temperatures and occupants tend to heat with maximum heating power for limited time. That is costly.

The overlooked problem is that warm air (and humidity from showering, cooking, etc) cool off on walls, ceilings, windows causing condensation. That moisture never dries up behind closed curtains, as the cycle runs every day. Consequences -  the house soaks the water like a sponge. If you cannot break up that cycle, your home is inefficient for heating and a breading ground for diseases.


Not only dampness is a problem, such house also costs more to heat than a dryer one. That is why ventilation for removing moisture is another aspect to be discussed further. With this in mind—yes, moderate heating to keep room temperatures on a certain level (we keep 15 degree Celsius) saves money and makes sense if your home is insulated.


If you want to convert your home into a warm and healthy one, here are some considerations based on our own experiences. Before speaking to anybody regarding heating, do some homework like figuring out the room size you want to heat, level of air tightness and insulation, and your preferred heat source.  Your lifestyle will tell you whether the warmth from a cosy gas fire is right for you or a remote controlled heating system.


As an example we heat our bathroom (21 degrees, timer controlled) and bedrooms (15 degrees) by using under-floor heating. Bathroom has heated tiles, bedrooms have heated carpets. The only hard thing to do is leaving a warm house when the weather is miserable. 




The myth of central heating is too expensive

















Expensive to run actually means low heating comfort or high costs. Efficient heating meant to reduce considerably running costs by off-setting the installation costs over the usable life span.


My experience is when running heaters on higher temperature and smaller surface for heat exchange burns actually more energy. That is what happens in households forcing heaters such as a heat-pump to run with too high setting in an uneconomical mode.


As already mentioned, not all sorts of heat sources work for everyone and radiant and/or convection heat have their own specific. The costs of any given house size for a central heating systems based on solid fuel, gas or electricity will differ. That is the reason why planning is so important before any installation. Sales people won’t tell you upfront, but ask for  comparable  figures and how much you would need to get the desired results.



Example: Our main source is electricity for  under-floor heating installed with a separate power meter. A separate power meter is a must to monitor and control the costs as power companies offer economy tariffs to choose from.


Comparing our heating costs with our neighbour’s, who runs a heat-pump on a single power meter for the same size of house, we not only pay a lower price for heating but also our consumption is much lower and that with more comfort. The beauty of floor-heating is, it runs temperature controlled winter and summer year around. You can forget about it and live in a warm house. If the days become warmer, simply it switches off.




Passive heating by design and efficient heating


As illustrated here passive heating has the future e.g. for harvesting sun energy. A clever design with glass to catch sunlight and concrete to store energy for the night must not be expensive in comparison with traditional homes


The efficiency of heating does not so much depend on the heater—no, it is the performance of the entire house in terms of heat retention (insulation), ventilation (air-flow and humidity) and heat distribution (central or stand-alone heater).  Most studies about heat characteristics show figures about the output of heat. That doesn’t tell you anything about the performance in your home.


I would like to encourage you to think about how to use radiant and/or convection heat to your benefits.  For example if you can save on electricity consumption by controlling your heating system remotely—go for it. If you can obtain fire wood for free (builder’s off-cuts, drift wood, etc) - a wood-burner might be you first choice.


Think of the warming effects of beaming gas or wood fires. It feels warm even in a house with poor heat retention. In contrast note the cooling effect of moving air (draughts) created by fan based heaters, which need to run on higher temperature settings. Also running heating in a economy mode to keep the temperature or prevent chilling down saves money.


Homework before making enquiries


· Do measurements—size of rooms and current heat consumption

· Ask yourself— what type of heating would you love most?

· Heating by room or central heating — available space for installation

· Know the council’s regulations—what permissions do you need at what costs?

· Obtain different quotes - ask for the estimated running costs






Older houses have poor heat retention, are not air tight and don’t perform when installing low Watt wall panel heaters, solar heaters, or heating solution that did not exist when they were built. Do a heat audit and go for a robust heating solution.


Newer houses (built in the 80s and 90s)  have often heating adverse designs such as large single glazed windows and large open spaces. Find a balance between resolving heat loss (insulation and double glazing) and heating.


As rule of thumb gas offers greater efficiency and lower costs, but if convenience and modern heating/cooling features are important then electric heating systems are on the top. Do your homework, good luck.



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Home Owner's Blog

Klauster Blogs lead to a real person, IT professional, investor, landlord and business owner with interests in technologies, properties and trading.



His passion, making experiences available and helping people like you, comes from extensive travelling and the principles of life—how to avoid pitfalls in unfamiliar territory when investing or forming relationships.


The philosophy to treat life, partnerships and hobbies as an investment has helped people in his circle. Life is a dream with a deadline, happiness comes from making the right choices and having realistic expectations.


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