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Future Proofing a newish home.

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Green & Ethical MoneySaving
19 replies 3.8K views


  • silverwhistlesilverwhistle Forumite
    3.1K posts
    Seventh Anniversary 1,000 Posts
    I'd particularly agree with Pile-o-stone's first paragraph. All my hot water for 8 months of the year comes from my diverter, with a contribution outside that period too. It's difficult to tell how much saved on my gas as I also have a wood burner, but my total annual gas consumption is <1100 kwh. If I ever needed to replace my immersion tank I'd get a larger one.

    Go as big as you can on PV is a good general rule as there are fixed costs whatever the size and panels are relatively cheap. If you still have a car in ten years time the odds are dramatically changing on it being electric.

    Your water bill is high. Mine is <£390 a year but I am a single occupant with visitors regularly. When alone I use the mellow yellow technique.. I too use a bucket, more often in the summer though, straight to the garden. A water butt or two might help if you have a garden to water or need lovely soft water for washing the car!
  • pile-o-stonepile-o-stone Forumite
    396 posts
    tori.k wrote: »
    I've never had mains gas before so not used to the lag in hot water previous houses were electric immersion or oil boilers with a tank so instant hot water.

    That'll be more to do with the length of your hot water pipe runs than the water heating source. To mitigate the issue you could lag all of your pipes from the boiler to the tank and then from the tank to the sinks/bath/showers. Another option is to have a DHW loop where water is pumped from the tank in a continuous loop to the taps and back, but this would use more electricity and waste more heat and is only really useful in hotels where guests don't to wait for water to arrive (and are paying a premium for the luxury of instant hot water).
    5.18 kWp PV systems (3.68 E/W & 1.5 E).
    Solar iBoost+ to two immersion heaters on 300L thermal store.
    Vegan household with 100% composted food waste
    Mini orchard planted and vegetable allotment created.
  • zeupaterzeupater Forumite
    5.1K posts
    Tenth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    tori.k wrote: »
    We purchased a 15 year old semi- detached house last year, this will most likely end up the last home for DH&I.
    The house is well insulated but ready for a bit of refurbishment, a few of the double glazing units have blown on the south facing side, Baxi gas combi boiler now works fine but could be more efficient ( takes a while for the hot water to come through) the house has water efficient toilets ( probably too efficient)

    We have done the small jobs fitted LED light bulbs and a water saving shower head.
    Now planning the big jobs Kitchen and bathroom refit and new double glazing.
    while we are both working full time seemed smart to see if we can reduce our home energy/water use and costs as much as possible to make our possible retirement a little easier.
    All the websites I find is about making older houses more efficient I do fully understand we wouldn't make anywhere near the savings an older house would expect, but would it financially long term be a benefit coming off mains gas having a solar and ASHP set up or are we better off just upgrading to something like a viessmann boiler.
    Any ideas on making newer houses better.
    Many thanks :)

    Before your head starts spinning with all of the ideas/advice flooding in, can you supply an idea of the house size (sqm floorspace), roof orientation/angle/area/size & shade issues ...

    I would agree with (some of!) the remarks regarding PV vs thermal, however the combination of recent changes regarding FiT and your particular property may have a significant influence on the decision you will take ....

    Regarding the boiler, if it's working then don't place too much focus on it yet as it may impact on some future decisions, also, if the current DG windows aren't really old & shabby just replacing the necessary panels will release plenty of time & money towards improvements with far better returns, both in terms of comfort & returns ...

    "We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit. " ...... Aristotle
  • edited 4 June 2019 at 6:33PM
    tori.ktori.k Forumite
    3.6K posts
    edited 4 June 2019 at 6:33PM
    House is 90m2 small timber framed insulated with durox and block and render exterior, True south/ North facing aspect, roof I have the plans to hand but can't figure the pitch out ( so will have to wait to DH is home) no shade on south side due to gradient live on the side of a valley.
    Windows are a vanity as currently small tilt and turn windows designed to look like four smaller individual glass panes ( cant remember the style name) we don't get a lot of natural light on the north ( front ) side of the house so wish to change out to plain glass.
    3mX3m glass conservatory on rear good solar gain even in winter.

    Roof is 40d horizontal
  • HexaneHexane Forumite
    209 posts
    100 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    With a south facing roof, you are well set up for solar PV. (East and West facing roofs have advantages in providing power earlier in the mornings and longer into the evenings, but South facing will always produce more total kWh per panel over the course of a year). The absence of shading is good too. I'm not sure if 40 degrees is good or bad so will leave that to the experts - my installation had two different roof slope angles and the installer seemed more concerned about having plenty of roof space to get plenty of panels on, than the exact slope.

    I believe the government are still dragging their feet over who pays what for surplus power generated by newly installed solar PV systems, so you should feel justified in taking things slowly too if necessary. I think some energy companies are already offering to pay for export though, with the right smart meter.

    I have a solar diverter to an immersion heater in a hot water tank and am pleased with it, but in your situation it may not necessarily be the best choice. First of all, if you don't already have a hot water tank then you would need one fitted. In a smaller house this takes up space (unless it's in the loft which I don't know how practical that is), it may affect what hot water pressure you get, and the international plumber illuminati are still busy telling people that hot water tanks are "old hat" and combi boilers are the only way forward. (You can also get devices to help heat your hot water from solar even with a combi boiler, but not sure if I would recommend that).

    A number of people in this forum have invested in air source heat pumps, not to replace their domestic heating and hot water (which is how one gets a government grant) but to supplement for heating and cooling only. There's a separate thread in the forum about their experiences; I do think someone had their ASHP in a conservatory such that it could blow warm (or cold) air from the conservatory back into the rest of the house as well, although I'm not sure how well that would work with a fully glass conservatory.

    The usual advice to avoid overly-salesy solar power installers, is to get quotes from at least three different suppliers (preferably smallish local ones?) and assess what they are offering. Two of the companies I asked for quotes, told me that it was "impossible" to have a solar PV system larger than 4kW, which rather impacted their chances as I already knew very well what was possible.
    7.25 kWp PV system (4.1kW WSW & 3.15kW ENE), Solis inverter, myenergi eddi & harvi for energy diversion to immersion heater. myenergi hub for Virtual Power Plant demand-side response trial.
  • tori.ktori.k Forumite
    3.6K posts
    Sadly unless they sort some sort of SEG payments out, Solar is a no go as we have no way of recouping any out the layout with our current lifestyle, with being out all day and not big enough electric users.
    DH entertained me with the math it would take 33 years to currently recoup the outlay for thermal panels. seems until we are nearer retirement age there is not much point in the investment.
    But all is not lost we will upgrade to a A rated boiler as part of the kitchen refit. upgrade the draftprofing around the doors and replace the windows.
    And look again at solar when its time to replace the roof as a EV car is on the cards for the future but I will run my car into the ground first.
    Many thanks to everyone
  • pinnkspinnks Forumite
    823 posts
    Fifth Anniversary 500 Posts Photogenic Rampant Recycler
    You might also want to look closely at your main white goods. We went from 3 large and hungry fridge-freezers guzzling about £150 per year to a large larder fridge (A+++ in old language) drinking a mere £10 per year and larder freezer (A++) costing about £20 per year and a normal under-counter freezer in the garage (A+++) costing about £15, so about £45 per year. Similarly, energy efficient dishwasher (A++), extractor (A+), oven (B) and microwave/grill (A).

    We weren't going to replace any of these but when we considered that the newest of our old machines was 6 years old and the oldest nearly 30 years old, and when we saw the prices the kitchen firm wanted for them on top of the quote without appliances, the decision was easy.

    We also reduced the lighting in the kitchen from just under 500W of good old halogen, to a meagre 35W of LED.
    Wiltshire - 5.25kWp
    3.5kWp: 14 x Phono Solar 250 Onyx, Sunny Boy 4000TL, WSW 40 degrees, June 2013
    1.75kWp: 7 x Phono Solar 250 Onyx, Sunny Boy 1600TL, SSE 45 degrees, March 2014
  • mattbangmattbang Forumite
    15 posts
    tori.k wrote: »
    Think I have to find solar for dummies or someone in RL who can dumb it down for me I just didn't want to call a firm in thats just looking for a sell, im so confused over so many options.

    Boiler is fine its just an inefficient baxi combi 105, im told its normal. I've never had mains gas before so not used to the lag in hot water previous houses were electric immersion or oil boilers with a tank so instant hot water.
    water is high as its South West Water we use just under the national average for a 4 person household but I feel morally we should be using less as we are out of the house a lot.

    I was in the renewable game for about 7 years. Don’t bother with the solar thermal go with solar Pv. And if you do have a water cylinder add an I boost type device to heat water when surplus generated electric is being exported. Even now the tariff is dead it’s still a no brainer and just adjust your lifestyle slightly. Put washer etc on when it’s sunny and not at night. These little things make a huge difference in the long run. You can add smart plugs to the appliances to turn on when at work. Any questions fire away and I’ll try to help. Be warned though there are still a lot of sharks in the game so do your research first .
  • pinnkspinnks Forumite
    823 posts
    Fifth Anniversary 500 Posts Photogenic Rampant Recycler
    I agree. We have the immerSUN diverter but not sure how available they are. For future-proofing I think I would consider the Eddi from simply because it talks with their Zappi EV charger so you can max out on diverted PV to charge your EV (in the future) and heat water etc.

    We turn our gas off in April and turn it back on in October which has reduced our gas bills by about £80 per year on average. We obviously get a small additional gas saving over the other months but probably only £10 to £20 in total. So my investment in the immerSUN (£350) has already repaid itself handsomely and it now powers the UFH heating in the kitchen and some oil-filled radiators in the living room as well as heating the water in the shoulder months to avoid the need to turn on the central heating quite so early.

    If you do go PV then you'll soon learn which devices use what amounts of power and adjust your lifestyle as already described. My electricity use has dropped from a whopping 7,700kWh in 2009 to around 3,500kWh now through better energy management and investment in energy efficient devices. For instance we have reduced the max power consumption of our lighting from 30kW to 3kW by going LED.

    My import from the grid is about 1,600kWh meaning I self-consume about 1,900kWh PV. This is despite adding the UFH and radiators mentioned above.

    We have reduced our water consumption from 150m3 when the kids were still at home (a little below average for 4 persons) to a mere 45m3 now - low consumption toilets, water efficient washing machine and dishwasher and so on. Also just being more water-aware, so not letting taps run when cleaning teeth and things like that. Our consumption is now about 60% less than the average for 2 person households, less than the average for a single person household.

    So there is a lot you can do without spending any money - and even more if you invest a little more when changing or renewing things around your home...

    Others will no doubt add their experiences to the mix...:beer:
    Wiltshire - 5.25kWp
    3.5kWp: 14 x Phono Solar 250 Onyx, Sunny Boy 4000TL, WSW 40 degrees, June 2013
    1.75kWp: 7 x Phono Solar 250 Onyx, Sunny Boy 1600TL, SSE 45 degrees, March 2014
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