The Art and Science of Choosing a Home Heating System

The Art and Science of Choosing a Home Heating System
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Home heating and cooling systems have changed a lot over the years, yet one method has endured, albeit evolved to offer several options, and that is a boiler.

The next question is which to install as there are many more styles today. So, what to buy for your home? A gas boiler, or oil or liquid propane gas boiler? It’s not an easy decision as each has its good points as a home heating solution.

A bonus now is that newer boilers have less impact on the environment, according to the Green Journal.

It is important to understand that most UK homes actually have a gas heating system that also has a gas boiler. Yet, if you are one of the estimated 4 million homes that are not connected to the gas network, you can research other solutions.

The capacity for boilers is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU’s). This measurement is used as a requirement to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one-degree Fahrenheit: “All buildings have a unique BTU specification which is based on its location and the climate, the number of windows and doors in the home, and the quality and amount of insulation in the walls and ceilings,” according to the National Energy Foundation.

What types of boilers would you buy?

It’s a wise option to have a boiler more than 10-year-old examined for efficiency. Most older boilers simply do not offer the ultimate performance new models deliver. Not only will a new one be more efficient, you will save money as well as move into the Green environment.

To start the process, let’s begin with several different types of boilers and where each is the option for a particular home.


· Combi (combination) boiler: The combi boiler is getting very popular. If you are looking for a domestic model such as the Worcester boiler, a British produced brand, has merged with the Bosch group, it’s worth checking out. The combination gas boiler offers many advantages, in particular, they provide heat for your radiators and domestic hot water on demand. While the upfront cost for a combi may be a bit more than a conventional boiler, the monthly savings for the efficiency quickly levels out. Another advantage of the combi boiler as a green alternative in that it has a smaller profile as it does not have a hot water tank as an alternative.

· A heat-only (or conventional) boiler offers a storage hot water drum cylinder and also a feed tank for cold water. These are often located in an upstairs loft.

· A system boiler or a heat-only boiler does not necessarily demand extra space that you might need for a cold-water storage tank as an alternative.

Older boilers were often way oversized for most needs. This caused a major problem in terms of efficiency and especially very high heating bills.

The right amount of heat for your home

How to determine the right size for your home? You want to gage the heating and hot water capabilities of the boiler and the measurements to see if it will fit. A lot depends on how many bathrooms are in the home as well as occupants. At this point it is important to work with the engineer doing the installation:

· The quoted standard rule-of-thumb for BTU’s required is about 50 BTU per square foot of interior space in a cold climate;

· 35 BTU per square foot in a mild environment; and 20 BTU per square foot in a hot climate.

· To figure out how to calculate your needs, try a formula such as if there is a 2000-Sq home located in a mild climate. In this circumstance, you should install a boiler that can deliver about 70,000 BTUs. Use this BTU calculator to determine what size is appropriate for your home.

Going Green

Choosing a boiler that offers “Green” advantages can take many styles. Some can come in the style as a combi, a gas condensing boiler, a micro-CHP, wood pellet, or even a log burning style. A lot will depend on whether you are remodeling your home, building a new home or simply need a new boiler and want to upgrade.

Green Boiler Efficiency

If you are doing research on how to choose the most green boiler, it’s important to note that since October 2010, only boilers that are 88 percent or more efficient can be considered as Seasonal Efficiency of Domestic Boilers in the UK, (SEDBUK). Current and obsolete boilers can be found in BRE’s Product Characteristics Database.

According to an article by Leo Hickman in the Guardian, Hickman advised that a “gas-fired combi boiler accounts for two-thirds of your home's carbon emissions,” so it is important that it run at “maximum efficiency.” Only by doing so does the boiler deliver energy saving results.

“A” rated green boilers

In order to find the best boiler for your home, use a rating system that measures the rates. According to The GreenAge, a UK energy advice portal, “A” is the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly and G-rated boilers the least. This means that for every £1 you spend heating your home, around 30p is wasted.

Modern boilers are also condensing boilers, and reclaim heat from the hot gases that escape in the flue as well as being more efficient.

A few calculations and a conversation with experts should help make the decision to buy a new, more energy efficient boiler, more simple than expected.

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