ARTICLE John Walker
First of all insulation has to be a priority as your house will have been built without it. It will make your house more comfortable and insure against future energy price rises.
If you have reticulated gas you are lucky a central heating system is recommended using a gas boiler and radiators. It’s cost-effective to install and run. If you heat your hot water from the same boiler it makes this option even more cost-effective. The next most popular option for central heating is a diesel boiler with radiators, which comes at a low capital cost and average running costs.
Radiators are easy to retrofit, particularly if you can get under the floor easily, and there are some really good looking ones out there. Warm water underfloor heating can also be retrofitted, either underneath or on top of the existing floor. The latter means that you will have to cut the bottom off doors and lay a new floor covering throughout, which is more expensive than radiators. You will need to ensure that enough heat is produced for a house that is likely to lose more heat than a new one.
The benefit of going with the underfloor is partly aesthetic, if you don’t want radiators on the wall, and partly because you can run underfloor heating very efficiently from an air to water or even ground source heat pump. You can also run radiators from heat pumps, but as they work at lower temperatures than boilers, the radiators need to be bigger which for an older, higher heat loss house may be an issue. A boiler/radiator system may be more suitable as it will supply tons of heat around the whole house with a typical output of 20 to 35 kilowatts.
Or, if you want to go green you could go for a wood pellet boiler or log gasification boiler. However, they tend to require more user input in feeding fuel and cleaning, and their overall viability depends on local clean air regulations and the price of fuel.
With any heating system, automated controls mean the house will be warm when you get up and when you come home from work.
This expert advice featured on page 38 of Issue 004 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine . New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.
You might be interested in reading: Heating your home with central heating.
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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.