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Home heating: what to consider before you buy

Heating is really at the heart of your property's comfort, so make sure that when buying a property you have a reliable and efficient system – or the money for a brand new installation.

When searching for your property check how it is heated. The two main types are Electric and Gas heating. A new Gas combination boiler that supplies hot water to both taps and your central heating will be the best and most efficient option without going into renewable energy sources.

Struggle on with an old heating system or replace?

Find out how old the gas boiler is, whether it has an up to date service certificate and when it was last serviced. An old or poorly functioning gas boiler can cost thousands to replace but doing so may save you money in the long run. So getting a new high efficiency boiler from the likes of Worcester-Bosch and Vaillant could be a worthwhile investment to help cut your bills.

Radiators and pipework – get them working more efficiently

Older boilers might actually be fully functional, but the radiators and pipework might not be working to their maximum efficiency. You can tell if this is the case by turning on the heating and feeling the radiators for any cold spots.

Over time, debris will build up inside radiators, which will cause cold spots to occur on radiators and will prevent them from emitting heat as well as they should be. The way to fix this is to get a Powerflush of your central heating system. This is a deep cleansing of your radiators and pipework, carried out pumping round a chemical solution that’ll break down any sludge or debris that might have built up. It’ll cost around £500.

Having a heating engineer perform a system Powerflush has been proven to considerably improve the efficiency of central heating systems. However, to stop the debris from building up again so quickly, having a Magnaclean installed can be beneficial. This protects your central heating system from sludge build up and should be included with most new boiler installations. If you have to get a new boiler installed for central heating, it’s definitely worth asking your heating engineer for one of these as it should only cost around another £200 and will prolong the life of the system.

Water tanks

Some heating systems might utilise a hot water cylinder. This will either be located in an airing cupboard or a loft in the property. You should check the insulation around the cylinder – does it have insulation wrapped around it? If not, this is something you can purchase and fit yourself relatively cheaply and will help conserve energy as well as save money.

Electric immersion heaters

If your new property has an electric immersion heater then you might need an electrician or professional plumber to inspect it. It’s worth noting that not all plumbers will have the skills needed to work with mains electrics, so it is best to check – or use a firm that checks – that the tradesmen have a current membership to one of the big trade associations. If it’s an older system then there might be the chance of a limescale build up within the tank and pipes, which is a plumbers job to fix.

Guy Andrews, PGS Services Ltd,

1 Comment* Required

  1. R J KirkhamR J Kirkham

    For new dwellings , planning permission is required to site external heating equipment up to 50kW for air source heat pumps. Unlike most existing houses where permitted development applies(subject to certain planning conditions related to the microgeneration certification scheme).
    If it relates to an existing dwelling (and falling within permitted development category) then the siting along flank elevations,is permissable subject to certain conditions. The MCS planning standards impose a upper threshold of 42 dBA outside the nearest neighbouring habitable window( on the basis that the background noise level is 40dBA. Often this equipment operates at 60dBA. It is aimed at minimising any adverse noise impact upon neighbouring residential amenities. The equipment has seasonal use(October through to April) and can be continuous(24 hours a day). For new infill dwelling, developers are narrowing the side passageway without a proper assessment for noise being made. It is wrongly being assumed that any excess noise can be mitigated to comply with ‘national’ Limit Values set for outside areas around the neighbouring house. but this mitigation is greatly exergerated because of the residual noise of low frequency emissions and requirement for large volumes of air to be intaked/exited. It is these low frequency waves that can pass through building walls, doors and windows.These will cause psychoacoustic effects upon people inside the dwelling . Noise and effects from airborne sound waves particularly arise from heat pimp equipment positioned to direct these into neighbouring properties to their detriment. It is worse when directed into part enclosed areas of neighbouring property.
    The assessor and accreditation process can be absent or flawed.

    However with enthusiasm for Climate Change technologies, few Local Planning Authorities have adopted good practise protocols and Local Plan noise policies .to direct address this problem associated with new dwellings. In other words, air source heat pumps are missed off the original planning permission, i.e. not treated as a material planning consideration and secondly, advice that any equipment like these are dealt with at the original site planning stage not being observed. All of these imply that Local Planning Authorities have neither adopted the Microgeneration Certification Scheme for new dwellings nor put in place their own requirement covering the situation when background sound levels are lower .

    If proprietary acoustic enclosures only attentuate A weighting sound, then it means that the low frequency remains( with all the potential problems mentioned above. . It is a particular problem for older people(over 40). There is not enough passageway space to increase the specification for acoustic enclosure to address this. Developers are declining to resite the pump to the front or rear of the new dwelling because judged to impair the development value.

    Indeed , the consequence of the inferior enclosure means the heating performance is reduced resulting in the door panel of the acoustic enclosure is removed , causing noise nuisance.. This action breaches the imposed planning condition Local planning authorities are reluctant to take enforcement action Due process may not have been followed by the authority or no effective noise pollution planning policy in place , the existing one more relating to noise nuisance rather than residential amenity. It should be rather addressed in the way prescribed by the Noise Policy Statement for England to avoid and reduce adverse noise impact above existing background noise levels and this be applied at all times of the day and not rely upon any upper threshold(Limit Value)..

    In areas with quiet background noise, it can mean persistent noise nuisance .

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