The blog

Roger Hunt is an award winning writer and blogger specialising in sustainability, old houses, housebuilding and traditional and modern building materials. He is the co-author of Old House Handbook and the companion volume Old House Eco Handbook.

Eco-boilers help cut costs

Eco-boilers help cut costs

Capable of cutting costs and energy use, new boilers or appliances can prove a shrewd investment as the Goring Heath Almshouses charity recently discovered. According to a news report, the charity installed a new biomass boiler with the intention of saving as much as £10,000 a year on their heating costs. Currently, the charity supports 17 pensioners in almshouses built during the 1720s. By providing their residents with low-cost housing, the almshouses are a vital part of the community but had previously been heated by seven old-style oil burners – each racking up an annual bill of £25,000.

It is hoped that by swapping from oil to wood pellet as a fuel this annual bill will be slashed. The purchasing of the new environmentally friendly boiler was funded through a £50,000 Lottery grant and £155,000 worth of fundraising and trust contributions. Whilst this may seem a large figure to spend, the UK Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive could give the charity the opportunity to claim back some of this cash. The scheme is designed to encourage businesses and non-profit organisations to use green, renewable energy by offering financial incentives.

Biomass benefits

For those unfamiliar with biomass boilers, these heating systems are wood-fuelled burners which can be used to heat a single room or feed central heating systems and hot water supplies. Due to the scalability of the units, they are just as effective when installed domestically as they are commercially.

In terms of the benefits, these boilers are a low carbon option. Rather than eliminating carbon dioxide emissions altogether, they release carbon at the same rate as the plant would have absorbed CO2 during its lifespan. This means the balance of the carbon cycle is maintained, providing environmental benefits when compared to fossil fuels.

There is plenty to gain financially from these boilers too. Whilst the cost of fuel (wood pellets or logs) varies, it’s almost always cheaper than other options. Incentives such as the Renewable Heat Premium Payment and Renewable Heat Incentive offer money-back for those deemed eligible and the average home could save £580 a year when swapping from electric heating.

Domestic scale biomass

For those interested in adopting eco-friendly appliances and heating systems for their home, biomass burners are definitely a great option. As with any replacement boilers it is vital that you have the unit fitted by a qualified professional and this means searching for local installers in your area.

It’s important to remember that the exact savings you make will be determined by the size of your home and the type of boiler or heating system you’re replacing. If installing pellet central heating, the average saving for a typical three-bedroom semi-detached property (which has been insulated) amounts to£720 a year where the previous fuel source was LPG. For the same property upgrading from gas or coal systems, annual savings equate to £90 and £270 respectively.

The author: This article has been written by Kate Anderson of Boilerguide.co.uk, a journalist who has a passion for educating consumers regarding the significant savings that can be achieved financially, as well as vastly reducing a home’s carbon output simply by replacing an old inefficient boiler with a new A-rated boiler.

guest post in association with boilerguide.co.uk

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SPAB Working Party

For the last 25 years conservation experts and volunteer heritage enthusiasts have come together to join the annual Working Party run by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). I went along to join them and created a video about the Working Party at Sullington Manor Farm near Storrington, West Sussex. They were working…

Listed building allure

Listed building allure

Every year, many of the estimated 450,000 listed buildings in the UK change hands on the property market. In England and Wales these properties are designated Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II having being deemed to be of historical, cultural or architectural interest. All buildings built before 1700

Environmental Pocketbook

Environmental Pocketbook

If you’re going to invest in just one book on sustainable, low carbon building I’d strongly suggest that you make it The Environmental Design Pocketbook. Now in its second edition, this useful volume by Sofie Pelsmakers should be essential reading for architects, designers, developers, planners, students, clients and anyone else involved in the construction and operation of buildings….

Fire in old buildings

Fire in old buildings

The devastating fire at the Grade I listed, 18th century National Trust mansion at Clandon Park, Surrey, once again highlights the need to do everything we can to protect old buildings. Whatever the size of the building, there are simple measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of fire, ensure early warning of a…

Adapting old buildings

Adapting old buildings

The need for fresh air and light in buildings is something I’m often talking and writing about because it’s central to creating a good home, but the theme is nothing new. I was reminded of this when I recently visited the King Edward VII Estate, near Midhurst, West Sussex. Here, the former sanatorium is being…

Building lime knowledge

Building lime knowledge

Lime, in the form of mortars, renders, plasters and paints, is a key component of old buildings and essential to their repair – or at least it should be. Today lime-based materials are also emerging into the mainstream and being used within low carbon construction systems, employed in everything from homes to superstores. All this…

Drain problems

Drain problems

A blocked drain is not a pleasant thing to wake up to. What’s worse is the realisation that it’s something that can generally be avoided by doing what I’m always talking about: maintenance. The drainage system is easily forgotten because much of it is hidden away underground but, as with any element of a building, it…

Building remembrance

Building remembrance

Visiting Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the poppy installation at the Tower of London, reminded me that the built environment frequently plays an important part in both remembrance and memory. Each of the 888,246 ceramic poppies that flood the moat of the Tower depicts a death in the British forces in the First…

Materials testing

Materials testing

New techniques and materials aimed at producing low carbon solutions mean this is an exciting time to be involved with new build and retrofit. There are dangers though, in the rush to innovate there may be failures along the way so it’s vital that there’s scrupulously testing and monitoring at all stages. This is why…

Hidden London

Hidden London

Impending development often means there is a chance to step back in time because archaeological investigation may be undertaken as part of the work. This is especially true in London where layers of history have been laid down by successive generations as the city has evolved. Visiting Barratt London’s Landmark Place site close to the…

SPAB Working Party

For the last 25 years conservation experts and volunteer heritage enthusiasts have come together to join the annual Working Party run by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). I went along to join them and created a video about the Working Party at Sullington Manor Farm near Storrington, West Sussex. They were working…

Listed building allure

Listed building allure

Every year, many of the estimated 450,000 listed buildings in the UK change hands on the property market. In England and Wales these properties are designated Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II having being deemed to be of historical, cultural or architectural interest. All buildings built before 1700 Tweet

Environmental Pocketbook

Environmental Pocketbook

If you’re going to invest in just one book on sustainable, low carbon building I’d strongly suggest that you make it The Environmental Design Pocketbook. Now in its second edition, this useful volume by Sofie Pelsmakers should be essential reading for architects, designers, developers, planners, students, clients and anyone else involved in the construction and operation of buildings….

Fire in old buildings

Fire in old buildings

The devastating fire at the Grade I listed, 18th century National Trust mansion at Clandon Park, Surrey, once again highlights the need to do everything we can to protect old buildings. Whatever the size of the building, there are simple measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of fire, ensure early warning of a…

Adapting old buildings

Adapting old buildings

The need for fresh air and light in buildings is something I’m often talking and writing about because it’s central to creating a good home, but the theme is nothing new. I was reminded of this when I recently visited the King Edward VII Estate, near Midhurst, West Sussex. Here, the former sanatorium is being…

Building lime knowledge

Building lime knowledge

Lime, in the form of mortars, renders, plasters and paints, is a key component of old buildings and essential to their repair – or at least it should be. Today lime-based materials are also emerging into the mainstream and being used within low carbon construction systems, employed in everything from homes to superstores. All this…

Drain problems

Drain problems

A blocked drain is not a pleasant thing to wake up to. What’s worse is the realisation that it’s something that can generally be avoided by doing what I’m always talking about: maintenance. The drainage system is easily forgotten because much of it is hidden away underground but, as with any element of a building, it…

Building remembrance

Building remembrance

Visiting Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the poppy installation at the Tower of London, reminded me that the built environment frequently plays an important part in both remembrance and memory. Each of the 888,246 ceramic poppies that flood the moat of the Tower depicts a death in the British forces in the First…

Renovation tale – Part 1

Renovation tale – Part 1

This is the tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… On the table is the surveyor’s report; yellow Post-it notes stick from its pages in such profusion that they no longer have any relevance. Phrases like “needs attention”, “must be thoroughly overhauled” and “a fair amount of dampness” are highlighted by marker… Continue Reading