Our old gas boiler has broken what to replace it with?
Our 20 year old gas boiler broke down again we decided it may be an ideal time to replace it as it's broken down once a year for the past three years. This video is a first in a series where I take you through our current setup, my research into new boilers, my learning curve along the way and the final product choice. I'll also cover the installation and review. It may turn out to be more than just a simple boiler replacement as you'll see. Our current central heating and hot water setup is 20 years old as I mentioned.
It was new when the house was built in 2001. It's an Ideal Classic FF260 condensing heat only gas boiler in an open vent system. I've had to learn all about different types of heating and hot water configurations in typical UK homes. It's a whole new set of jargon to learn for example F&E tank is a feed and expansion tank. As always please like, comment and if you've not already done so
please consider subscribing. It's free and it means you get notified when I upload new videos. The old boiler has been fixed and is working again so we're holding off replacing it until the warmer weather. It's currently March 2021 when I'm filming this which means a series of videos I was referring to in the intro won't be filmed in weekly instalments. Rather over a longer period of time. We had been pondering air source heat pumps and electric boilers for a couple of months as a few YouTubers I follow who have them whilst I was not actively looking to purchase I was interested in these technologies. Current events with a faulty boiler have moved that interest into more of an active research topic. I soon find out that in order to research new products in greater detail
I needed to know what we currently have in order to understand if product A would meet our needs and slot into our existing setup. Probably a good time to give you a rundown of our current setup. The boiler you know about, an Ideal Classic FF260 condensing gas boiler putting out a maximum of 17.6kW. We have a conventional copper 140 litre hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard which replaced our original one about five years ago the original one sprung a leak due to corrosion. Our system is an open vent system meaning we have a cold water header tank in the loft. There's just the one tank in the loft. Often there's a small F&E tank feed and expansion tank for the central heating which tops up the radiators if required. We have this valve here which you can add more pressure to the boiler indicated by this dial here. I'm assuming we don't have an F&E tank in the loft then this valve is doing
the same job. So if anybody knows for sure please let me know in the comments below. As you'll soon find out, if you've not already guessed, I'm no plumbing and heating expert! We have a wet radiator system with 17 radiators. 9 downstairs and 8 upstairs which are fed by 10mm microbore pipework, which was common in houses of our era. We have a four bedroom house, one bathroom with a bath and a gravity-fed shower and an ensuite with an electric shower. There's two adults living in the house.
When I started to pulling this video together the gas boiler was broken which actually was repaired on Tuesday the 9th of March by Rob from Ideal boilers. The spark igniter had died which meant a new circuit board. Thankfully Rob had one on the van fitted and tested and working within an hour. Our current gas boiler is actually a very simple device there's no LCD screens or readouts. There's an on/off switch, a temperature setting and that's it. Now we have a working boiler which means we're not in so much of a rush to swap it out.
It's no longer a distress purchase which is obviously a much better place to be. Whilst I was researching information on our current boiler I found out being that it's 20 years old it's not very effective. It's actually laughable how inefficient it is and more on that in a bit. According to Which Magazine the cost of heating your home particularly during colder months makes up about 60% of your energy bill. Before I tell you how inefficient our current boiler is I need to give you some background on the rating system for boiler efficiency. Traditionally in the UK boilers were rated using a lettering system A to G. However, this system was
withdrawn to avoid confusion with the European energy labels which use a similar rating but based on different criteria and principles. SEDBUK which stands for Seasonal Efficiency of Domestic Boilers in the UK. This system classifies and compares boilers on how efficient they are at converting fuel to heat. There are two different types of SEDBUK rating known as SAP scores. 1. SAP Winter Efficiency this is a measure by an independent laboratory and is the measure efficiency energy efficiency of the boiler including space heating and hot water it is calculated to the industry standard called SAP2009. 2 SAP hot water efficiency. The hot water efficiency figure is how effective the boiler is at producing hot water for your taps there tends to be a much bigger difference between boilers on this measure so if you are keen to get the most efficient boiler possible it should be this figure that you hone in on.
So good news. Brilliant a consistent measure of efficiency. Unfortunately it's not all plane sailing. This SEDBUK rating was replaced by ErP (Energy Rated Performance) another European directive introduced in 2015. This stated that all new boilers fitted into existing properties must have an ErP rating of 92%. To muddy the waters, SEDBUK rating is still used for boilers in new build homes under the current building regulations and requires a seasonal efficiency of at least 89.5%. SEDBUK is also used for EPC calculations and more on Energy Performance Certificate calculations in a bit. The good news is that all new gas boilers have a SEDBUK efficiency between 89 - 90%
and an ErP of at least 92%. So all toasty in the heat department. So back to our current boiler. How efficient is it? When new back in 2001 it had a SAP rating of 76.%! That's bad! Add-on 20 years of wear and tear means it certainly won't achieve that figure anymore. Even though it's had a yearly service. Some new gas boilers I've looked at have a SAP rating of 98%. Which means if I just swapped to a new gas boiler it would be as a minimum 27% more efficient. Almost a 30% saving on fuel costs. That's a big saving.
When faced with the need to replace something outside your normal area of knowledge and skill set then you've got a few options. Number 1. call a professional rely on their expertise to guide you to the best choice. Number 2. do your own research research research call in a professional so you have some idea what they're talking about and can ask intelligent questions.
3. do your own research and order what you need. 4. do nothing and hope the problem goes away. I'm a 2 guy, with less emphasis on asking intelligent questions! What I have learned is the the Internet is a wonderful thing for research but it can also be misleading and very generic in its advice. For example, typing 'The best boiler in 2021' into Google is not going to give you the best option for the size of your home, your lifestyle, available budget to replace what you currently have. It's most likely to take you to a range of reviews, or best buy options, for internet based companies who want to sell you their product or service. Or to a whole range of products some of which certainly won't meet your needs no matter how many ratings and top reviews they have.
I'm going to take you through my research to date a little less than two weeks into starting it as my new full-time job! It's fair to say I've not come to any concrete decisions at this point. However, I do have an inkling of which way to go. My research has also grown in breadth, and there's definitely scope creep. It now covers some technologies that I didn't even know existed before I started. For example heat
batteries from Sunamp Ltd who use a phase-changing material to heat hot water on demand. And then there's Teopo stored heat battery technology. There's also huge efficiency improvements on existing hot water cylinders from products like Mixergy hot water tank. 85% of our UK homes have a gas boiler. If your gas boiler breaks down, as it stands today, the cheapest option is to replace it with a new like for like gas boiler. Which is what most people do. However, the science is telling us to stop burning fossil fuels; gas and oil. Which means electricity
is the greener option. Electricity on is on average 3 times the price of gas in the UK. What subsidies go into gas to making this pricing ratio an imbalance I have no idea. If you factor in the green electricity generated from solar, wind farms, hydro it feels that electricity should not be three times the price. However, I don't believe these generation methods are factored into the wholesale and shipping level. Only at consumer level
and at consumer level it generally means you pay a little more for green electricity. In short I'm saying that heating a home by just electricity even if you have solar PV is certainly not the cheapest option. Gas is as we stand today. So my heart is telling me to go down the electric route and stop using gas. My head is saying otherwise. The research I've been doing into greener heating
technology has led me into watching many Passive house build projects on YouTube. The Passivhaus standard is designed for new builds and makes a home incredibly efficient to heat often resulting in no utility bills at all for heating. This results in a house that is very low energy use to keep heated. However, it's not practical to apply the Passive house standard to existing buildings. I then found out about the EnerPhit standard which is specifically designed to retrofit existing housing stock using the passive house methodology but adapted to existing buildings. Depending on the level and components used with a retrofit application
it's possible to reduce the heating and energy demand between 70 and 90% for a deep retrofit. I'll leave links down below to videos and resources are found along the way so be sure to check those out if that's of interest to you. So my thoughts started to turn to how can I make our home more energy efficient, if we did go down the electric route for heating. By making the home more energy efficient we could cut down on the amount we use. As I record this there's no government initiative looking towards making our current housing stock more energy efficient within England. If we are to reach the government's 2050 target of reducing the UK's net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to the 1990 levels which would mean a net zero emitter there needs to be a strong lead from the government.
Making a house more energy efficient must start by looking at the fabric of the building. If we can reduce the amount of energy you need to keep the building warm not only will it be cheaper for the owner in terms of their utility bills but it also cuts emissions. Having carried out some research into the EnerPHit Standard the only sort of sensible option seems to be to go for a deep retrofit, as anything else it's a halfway house at best.
Excuse the pun! So a deep retrofit is a massive cost and will only be achieved by most householders with some kind of government support, us included. Looking online at recent Energy Performance Certificates, or EPCs for houses in our road I've found the following. There are 14 EPCs for houses in our road ranging from a D to a C energy rating.
There are 7 at D and 7 at C. There's 28 houses in our cul-de-sac so it's a good measure to work with as they were all built at the same time. But what does it actually mean? An EPC gives a measure across the range of criteria as you can see here. The EPC also gives you a potential rating for the property if you were to carry out some improvements to its energy performance. Looking at the outcome of the rating for the other properties I know our house will definitely be a C and could even be at the low end of a B rating. How can I be sure? The houses are
all built at the same specifications. The C rated houses have recommended improvements listed as; adding solar PC, adding LED lighting throughout, adding solar water heating. All of which I have. If the other property owners applied these recommendations it would move them to the top of a C rating or just into a B band. Our house will never be an A rated without a deep retrofit. My thoughts at this stage are to improve the house with items that will meet the EnerPHit standard so they're in place if and when there is government support to do the whole house. First step is to complete a deep installation of the loft space. I've done sort of 80% of it to a depth 350mm but need to do the rest. I need to replace our
drafty old front door which has thin wooden panels either side of it which are not well insulated. Just have a look at these infrared photos and temperatures I took. There's a massive variance across these panels around 15% of your heat escapes through a poorly insulated front door. We also have one or two windows where the 20 year old double glazing is leaking and you can feel the drafts. We have a chimney in the front room where the gas fire is which we don't use so this can be
blocked up. My plan is to go around the house chasing down drafts with the infrared camera and dealing with them as I find them. This will produce a list of items that need to be replaced or improved and then look for products that meet the EnerPhit standard. For the front door we have chosen a thermally insulated front door with a u-value of 0.72W/m2K. Oh that's a mouthful. From a company called RK doors based in Truro. This door is rated to passive house standards.
The replacement windows will end up probably being triple glazed rather than double glazed as they are now. Also the type of glass is as important as the frames. There's a balance to be had between solar gain and thermal efficiency from the glass. So depending on the orientation of the windows; sound for north facing. Letting heat through solar gain into the room may be more important with south facing windows, whereas with north facing windows thermal efficiency will probably be more important. Therefore two different types of glass will be required. Those things will reduce our heat loss significantly and improve the house's thermal efficiency. So this is where I am at the time of recording this video. Still work in progress as they say. What are your thoughts? So coming back full circle are still not settled
on a heating source. I've looked at the Viessmann Vitodans 100-w conventional gas boiler which is probably the brand and model I would go for if I went down the boiler route. It's 98% efficient. Air Source Heat Pumps sound like a great idea but I'm worried about them because we have that 10mm microbore pipework that could cause issues with flow rates. Then there's a large upfront
cost to install, and then what happens after the seven-year Renewable Heat Incentive scheme ends. We don't have massive amounts of excess solar production in the winter months which was when we would certainly be using the heat pump more. The RHI, the Renewable Heat Incentive, was due to end for new applications on the 31st of March 2021. This
actually has been extended to the end of March 2022 so some good news there. I've just started reading an ebook titled Heat Pumps for the Home by John Cantor. So I can learn more about them. My concerns as I mentioned are microbore and flow rates let's put those aside. How they perform in lower outside temperatures, how much electricity they use, will it be sufficient to heat the home or will supplementary heating be required in really cold weather. There are plus sides to heat pumps they're very effective if designed to meet the building and householders needs.
They're measured against a coefficient of performance or COP. So for example a COP of 3 means you get 3kW of useful heat delivered to your house for 1kW of electricity. On paper that makes them as cost effective to run as gas, being that gas is a third of the price of electricity. For me the jury is still out on heat pumps. More research needed before investing around £10,000 on an installation. I've also looked at new electric technologies hot water storage systems. Like the one from Mixergy looks like a great option and can work
with any heat source. I've also investigated advanced thermal energy stored storage batteries from a company called Sunamp limited which use phase change material to heat hot water on demand. The more you investigate the more confusing the array of choice.
However, what is clear is the large variance between the price of gas and electricity and that seems to be the sticking point at present. Any thoughts or ideas then please drop them down below in the comments below. Thanks for watching and I'll see you on the next video when will hopefully be a bit further forward take care cheers, bye.