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Household heating: any major advances in the past 15 years?

Discussion in 'off topic' started by Coda II, Apr 5, 2021.

  1. Coda II

    Coda II getting there slowly

    Probably closer to 20 years ago I replaced (or had them replaced) storage heaters, immersion heater & electric shower with a gas combi boiler and radiators (and no water tank at all). Due to not being on mains gas and not having space for a static tank the gas is delivered in cylinders by Calor which need changing appr. monthly in the winter and much less often in the summer. The system works but it does mean remembering to check gas levels and order as necessary.
    With the gradual move away from fossil fuels I am now starting to wonder what the most straightforward like for like electric system would be if/when the gas boiler needs replacing.
    As it is an older property, damp is an ongoing though not serious issue so I have looked at whole house dehumidifier/heating systems but these generally require a loft space, which we also don’t have.
    So, are there new solutions to household heating and hot water that I should be looking at? Anything on the heat pump side is probably a nonstarter due to space issues.
  2. gingermrkettle

    gingermrkettle Deep vein trombonist

    Heat pump is probably a non starter currently due to the level of insulation required as well.

    Might be worth looking at a Sunamp storage device, particularly if you can get solar panels on your roof.
    Coda II likes this.
  3. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    It all depends on what you are asking - better efficiency, cheaper...................

    Gas central heating - it is such a huge contributor to the UK emissions that "plans" are already well advanced to substitute whatever can be without modification of boilers etc., with hydrogen, and that is something like 20%. (Rememeber the change from town to natural gas? That meant all mains gas devices needed new burners!! All supplied free.)

    It does present quite some major technical challenges, but I would be totally unsurprised if hydrogen did not become the piped mains gas fuel within 20-30 years. It may sound daft, but they know that the smell added to methane (natural gas) works with hydrogen - far from as trivial a thing as you'd immediately think.
  4. Coda II

    Coda II getting there slowly

    I guess installation cost is going to be near the top of the list. And lower bills are always welcome. LPG has gone from being a byproduct (and therefore cheap) to a commodity (much less cheap) and a chunk of the price I pay is due to the fact that it is packaged and delivered rather than piped. If I’m not on mains gas I’d have to assume piped hydrogen isn’t happening any time soon!
  5. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader From the Dark Side

    Town gas made from the distillation of coal was around 50% Hydrogen and about a third was methane and a little carbon monoxide and ethane. The change to natural gas as was said above a change of gas jet. I don't think the reverse process would be any more difficult.


  6. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    LPG heating has been a horrific price since before I had a place with it - that was around 1985-90. Just like oil, if you have your own tank, it can be significantly cheaper if you buy Jun-July-August.

    Whether you'd get hydrogen, mains or tank, and at what price, will be a political decision in the main (forgive pun).
  7. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    Not at all - I remember the change very well and very, very, very few installations were more than a literal or very close to drop-in replacement.
  8. AndyU

    AndyU pfm Member

    If underfloor heating is even remotely possible I would consider it. I’ve had for eight years, can’t believe how good it is. Even warmth everywhere, no convection, heat is at your feet which is where you need it, no loss of wall space or constraints on where to put furniture and the boiler rums at 28C so it’s not exactly working hard. Cheap to run.
  9. Sue Pertwee-Tyr

    Sue Pertwee-Tyr Well, I can dream, can’t I?

    Hadn’t realised the proportion of Hydrogen in town gas was so high. I understand embrittlement of metallic fittings is a problem with H2, and the small atomic size makes leakage a bigger issue, but I presume these issues were already dealt with in the days before natural gas?
    TheDecameron likes this.
  10. Seeker_UK

    Seeker_UK I had amnesia once or twice...

    AIUI, 20% hydrogen can be introduced into the UK gas network with little or no mods.
  11. MikeMA

    MikeMA pfm Member

    I know hydrogen is talked about as a replacement for natural gas, but where is it coming from? Electrolysis of water? I imagine it being hugely expensive to produce, plus it's dangerous stuff, could go off like a (hydrogen) bomb.

    I'd be looking at something electrical if I wanted a replacement for gas or oil,
  12. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    Not one chance in 1235384534849 - burners would not work. 20% substitution for hydrogen would - you have mixed up what the 20% refers to.

    Hydrogen is a very common piped industrial gas, so it is well understood, but embrittlement is the usual problem.
  13. Seeker_UK

    Seeker_UK I had amnesia once or twice...

    Yes I have - pse see amended post.
    Vinny likes this.
  14. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    If it could go off like a hydrogen bomb, there would be no worries over global warming - literally. Sorry - total nonsense.
    In terms of explosion hazard, it is no different to any combustible gas - natural, town, propane, whatever.

    Yes - electrolysis, there is no other logical source. Stick a solar or wind farm next to a large body of water, job done.
    PsB likes this.
  15. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    This has been covered here before, but underfloor heating is a bit of a nightmare and everything online suggests that it is expensive.
  16. MikeMA

    MikeMA pfm Member

    For the avoidance of doubt, and just to put your mind at rest, the hydrogen bomb bit was an attempt at a joke.

    However the bit about hydrogen being dangerous stuff wasn't a joke. It's all very well pumping it around in a closely controlled industrial environment but I do wounder about pumping it at high pressure through a leaky old public utility gas network under our street and into our house. I wouldn't mind betting it never happens. Electricity, however produced, is just so much easier to transmit.
  17. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    The only differenece is the diffusion rate for hydrogen - being H2, it has a very low, molecular weight, and hence diffuses faster than heavier gases - only helium diffuses faster - hence the use of helium leak detectors used on vacuum systems.
  18. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader From the Dark Side

    It isn't if used correctly. For example it has been demonstrated that in a car crash which causes a fire hydrogen fuel is safer than petrol/diesel. The liquid fuel ignites and speads flames that cause neighbouring vehicles to also ignite. Whereas with Hydrogen the flame shoots straight up into the sky thus avoiding nearby vehicles.

    London has been running a few Hydrogen fuel cell buses for around 16 years now. Thats an every day service in a very busy traffic area. Heard any bad news at all?

    I'd guess that if Hydrogen were to be piped domestically it'd be mixed with something else to lower its calorific value. I really believe that Hydrogen is the future as it is inexhaustible and in theory a none pollutant.


  19. gintonic

    gintonic 50 shades of grey pussy cats

    few fires for Boris's H busses. some elsewhere as well.
  20. mikemusic

    mikemusic pfm Member

    Start with draught proofing and insulation.
    Wall cladding a coming thing too if no cavity to insulate
    Underfloor heating has to be a good move but rather a lot of work unless you start from scratch

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