Monday, November 28, 2011

Wot kind of fule gets excited about a boiler?

Don't answer that....

This sleek beast is our new boiler. It cost the same as our first house did in 1975. Gulp.


Over the course of the last 6 years our fuel bills have risen astronomically - each time the LPG tanker refills our gas tank we have to go and have a lie down to get over the shock of the bill. That bill for gas last year came to nearly 1/3 of the cost of that same house in 1975. Gulp indeed.

We've spent a lot of time mulling over those facts - thermostats have been turned down, log burners lit and vests tucked in in order to save burning gas. We know that the house is insulated to a high spec - (don't like to think what it would be like if it were not) - and we'd like to think that we are not too profligate energy-wise but the bills were getting a bit hard to stomach.

The Glam Ass investigated sustainable alternatives - alternatives which, if we'd had the benefit of a crystal ball, we should have installed when we built 7 years ago. Hindsight is a wonderful thing is it not?

His first proposal was a log burning 'furnace'. This was not top of my list as it looked as if it needed too much stoking and poking and daily attention - the sort of contraption that attracts the male of the species. Don't men like fires? There must be an inner stoker in every bloke. Me, I'd go for something that ran on fairy dust and could be maintained by giving it a passing thought once a year - a sort of girly thing with a cute little pink button or two to press....

I digress.

For expert advice we consulted Llani Solar, renewable heating specialists who had fitted a couple of solar panels for us a few years ago. They are obviously in business to make a living but their remit does seem to be a profound belief in renewables and in providing the best service for their customers. There was no hard sell - no pressure to buy the biggest, the shiniest or the most expensive. Instead there was advice to wait until the right boiler became available and to wait until we could take advantage of any government grants coming on stream. So we waited - with only a bit of a nudge to remind them that we were still keen and committed. Last week their recommended system arrived and with quiet efficiency was installed - the transition from money-burning to wood-burning almost seamless. Well done Llani Solar.

Our new boiler burns pelleted wood - which seems easy enough. One loads the hopper with as many as necessary and those pellets trickle through to burn as the boiler calls for them. We receive a grant of £950 for installing it and a generous annual payback under the Renewable Heat Incentive. We hope to have covered our initial outlay in approximately 4 years. Fuel, in the form of pellets is half the cost of LPG. Sounds pretty good to me.

Time will tell I suppose. We've had a particularly mild November (unlike this time last year) but I imagine cold weather will hit us sooner or later. Excuse me while I go and turn up the thermostat a notch or too. Warmth. Bliss.

15 comments:

Fennie said...

That's a very good idea. We've just had a new gas boiler installed at the cost of an arm an a leg. I've seen a system though in France that burns wood that has been through a chipper (the sort that grinds up and shreds your old Christmas trees). The farmer puts all his trimmings through this and then sells on the chippings that pour into a species of cellar whence they are delivered to the boiler by a subterranean Archimedes screw. So everything is automatic (if you keep the cellar full). A lot cheaper than gas certainly. Good luck with it anyway and hope it beds in well with no problems.

Frances said...

Mountaineer, this post is so interesting to me. I love learning more about what it is actually like to live in gorgeous countryside, beyond the photographs.

Here in NYC, our apartments and offices and other public spaces are often very overheated...a total waste of energy, also causing lots of pass along costs to the ultimate user.

Your new heating system is very intriguing. As the cold winds do begin to blow, please do post some follow ups on how the pellets do their job. How wonderful to actually have a grant in response to this change at your home.

Bravo!

Cro Magnon said...

You're right to have turned down the wood-fired furnace. Two of my neighbours have them and they spend ALL their time cutting down trees.

Preseli Mags said...

I will answer the 'wot kind of fule' question - me! I've been looking at pelleted wood boilers too. Our oil boiler will need replacing within a year or so. It's just been serviced and hopefully will soldier on until/if the HPI grant incentive changes next autumn. In the meantime I'll be fascinated to hear how you get on with yours.

elizabethm said...

Would love to know what you need to have for storage and how frequently you need to buy in new fuel. Sounds great and also like the sound of the company who tells you to wait before you spend!

Pondside said...

Pellets are popular over here. We have electric in-floor heating, supplemented by a wood-burning stove. Some years our electric bill is eye-watering,and I encourage the wearing of fuzzy slippers and warm sweaters. Friends have a wood-burning furnace and spend all their time cutting, splitting, chopping, stacking, feeding the fire. Not for me! Good luck!

Chris Stovell said...

Here's another fule watching with great interest - and worrying abut the liquid gold in our oil tank!

Fred said...

Hindsight - we all have First Class Degrees in it.

This fule will follow with interest as we're considering a similar system.

Nikki-ann said...

Sounds like a good idea!

We've had the engineer out to our boiler twice this week (an oil guzzling thing)... Any more trouble and we may be on the look out for something else.

The Eyechild said...

All sounds like a good excuse to use that paper briquette maker I got Al a while back!

Joke. Looking forward to coming and warming my bum on the aga in a few weeks anyway.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

how do you find your solar panels? Ours are on order for the new year. Good luck with the new boiler.

Zoƫ said...

Shall watch your progress on this with interest, both us and my parents are currently looking at alternatives to oil and gas

rachel said...

This kind of fule is envious.....

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

As I wrap my ageing bones in yet more fleecey garments , I sigh in envy .
Marvellous to be able to get good advice . The whole heating thing is such a mine-field .

Friko said...

We're still on LPG. And we have a new boiler which is run by it. Why didn't you tell me about this sooner?

LPG costs are astronomical. I want to go and live in a two bedroom flat heated by a nice warm cosy blanket.