New homes to be left off the gas grid

#61
I'll have a bit of rant about this whole off-gas thing if I may.

My main gaff is Gas combi. Comfortable, heat on demand, hot water on demand, low maintenance, etc. Not much money per month.

My place in Aviemore is off-gas (whole area is) and is electric only, because it's a holiday let and I can't be having any of this unreliable renewable pish. The house is cosy as required, hot water as required as long as the immerser has hot water in it. I pay around £3500pa for electricity (though I'm slowly beating this down through passive measures).

My neighbour in Aviemore relies on his log burner to heat the living room, kitchen and hall, and wraps up in the bedrooms, with a small Dimplex electric in each if needs must. He turns his immerser on at two points during the day and is careful with his water usage. His house is borderline comfortable until you go to the very cold bedrooms. He is in fuel poverty as he can't afford to heat his full house.

My friend in Aviemore is on a shared bio-mass boiler, with a family of five. She is in fuel poverty as she can't afford to heat her whole house and the biomass often has issues with it, as well as pellet shortages.

Another person I know in Aviemore runs on oil but has been left shy when refills haven't arrived on time during bad weather. He's not in fuel poverty, but his heating system has failed in the past due to lack of fuel.

I've looked at all the renewables available and had a survey conducted by the government backed home energy body (name temporarily escapes me) and they recommended air source heat pump, which can need a fair whack of electricity to run and isn't always efficient or able to heat a home fully.

Ground source heat pumps are now being reported as unreliable due to the heat in the ground not replenishing as fast as the system takes it out.

Solar is flakey at best and won't be able to provide for the demand during winter.

Wind isn't an option due to planning and again, reliability.

Battery storage isn't an option due to the ROI which I worked out at about 44 years.

So this idea of banning new builds from gas is ******* ludicrous. Especially in urban areas where you may not have the space nor infrastructure to support renewables.

It's another knee-jerk reaction to a bigger problem - rather than hitting home owners trying to heat their homes, focus instead on the bigger fish such as the tens of thousands of haulage trucks rattling around the country, the aircraft whizzing overhead, the huge tankers bringing in Chinese tat that ends up in landfill, the recycling plants that are just burning the waste, etc, etc.

There needs to be a complete culture change if we want to make an impact on emissions in this country - we're coming in to the decade of consumption and waste now that online shopping is pretty much at full fruition and as long as people decide they want to buy a £3 piece of plastic tat from around the other side of the world that'll end up in a landfill here, we've got much bigger problems than how people heat their homes.

In my opinion.

Fuel Prices


Why not think about propane ?

Most combi boilers only need the jets altering from NG.

Even using cylinders, rather than bulk storage will give a good saving.

The Intergas boilers I mentioned are the best....... there's 3 installers of them fairly close by.
 
#62
I'll have a bit of rant about this whole off-gas thing if I may.

My main gaff is Gas combi. Comfortable, heat on demand, hot water on demand, low maintenance, etc. Not much money per month.

My place in Aviemore is off-gas (whole area is) and is electric only, because it's a holiday let and I can't be having any of this unreliable renewable pish. The house is cosy as required, hot water as required as long as the immerser has hot water in it. I pay around £3500pa for electricity (though I'm slowly beating this down through passive measures).

My neighbour in Aviemore relies on his log burner to heat the living room, kitchen and hall, and wraps up in the bedrooms, with a small Dimplex electric in each if needs must. He turns his immerser on at two points during the day and is careful with his water usage. His house is borderline comfortable until you go to the very cold bedrooms. He is in fuel poverty as he can't afford to heat his full house.

My friend in Aviemore is on a shared bio-mass boiler, with a family of five. She is in fuel poverty as she can't afford to heat her whole house and the biomass often has issues with it, as well as pellet shortages.

Another person I know in Aviemore runs on oil but has been left shy when refills haven't arrived on time during bad weather. He's not in fuel poverty, but his heating system has failed in the past due to lack of fuel.

I've looked at all the renewables available and had a survey conducted by the government backed home energy body (name temporarily escapes me) and they recommended air source heat pump, which can need a fair whack of electricity to run and isn't always efficient or able to heat a home fully.

Ground source heat pumps are now being reported as unreliable due to the heat in the ground not replenishing as fast as the system takes it out.

Solar is flakey at best and won't be able to provide for the demand during winter.

Wind isn't an option due to planning and again, reliability.

Battery storage isn't an option due to the ROI which I worked out at about 44 years.

So this idea of banning new builds from gas is ******* ludicrous. Especially in urban areas where you may not have the space nor infrastructure to support renewables.

It's another knee-jerk reaction to a bigger problem - rather than hitting home owners trying to heat their homes, focus instead on the bigger fish such as the tens of thousands of haulage trucks rattling around the country, the aircraft whizzing overhead, the huge tankers bringing in Chinese tat that ends up in landfill, the recycling plants that are just burning the waste, etc, etc.

There needs to be a complete culture change if we want to make an impact on emissions in this country - we're coming in to the decade of consumption and waste now that online shopping is pretty much at full fruition and as long as people decide they want to buy a £3 piece of plastic tat from around the other side of the world that'll end up in a landfill here, we've got much bigger problems than how people heat their homes.

In my opinion.
My old man has invested in an above ground heat pump. It basically works like an air conditioner in reverse.

Pay back is about 5 years. You need huge radiators.

Big house, radiators never feel like they’re on but house is always warm and toasty
 
#63
2. Dwelling insulation: Insulate, then insulate some more. I saw an experimental house in Oxford that was so well insulated it was heated with just the heat from its light bulbs, hot water pipes and sun light coming in through the windows.
Was that this one:-
http://solarityarchitecture.co.uk/design/solar-active/oxford-OXFORD ECOHOUSE - SOLARITY ARCHITECTURE
I remember chatting to Dr Roaf- the owner- a few years ago, she was saying the house had to pass some sort of pressure test. I think to guage its draughtproofness for which a certain target had to be met. The test was so stringent that I believe they couldn’t have a letterbox in the front door.
I’m not sure that the capability exists to build large numbers of similarly precision-built houses “off the shelf” for an affordable price. Bearing in mind recent stories where housebuilders were struggling with something as basic as getting the mortar right.
 
#64
The irony of course is the UK is sitting on enough gas to power us for a few hundred years.
Britain's biggest private company and shale leader has today announced the successful results of recent tests in the Bowland shale. Working in conjunction with partners iGas, INEOS found very high concentrations of gas, comparable (and in some of the tests higher) than the average levels in the Barnett shale in Texas, where hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created and billions of dollars of investment secured.

The tests were carried out at Tinker Lane in Nottinghamshire and found an average level of 60.7 standard cubic feet (scf) per tonne of gas - the average for the Barnett shale is 39 scf per tonne.
The Barnett shale is in the US and was the biggest producing gas basin. If the above is commercially viable and gas can be recovered at 20% yield then there's enough gas there to power all UK gas needs for 30 years.

Unfortunately people keep voting for eco-loons who pass legislation that makes us all poorer, kills pensioners on low incomes all to make no difference whatsoever.
 
#65
As others have pointed out, the easiest gains are made through insulation and draft proofing. My sister and her husband recently built a house in Sutherland using SIPS panels. It is completely sealed, not even the windows open, and all the ventilation is done through a heat recovery system. There is no gas anywhere near where they are (frankly, even telephone lines are scarce, and they don't work well) and heating is all electric, however, their electricity bills are very low as the whole system (insulation, draft proofing, heat recovery) is very efficient.
Which makes me think that if the Government are serious about banning gas-grid connections, then they are presumably planning a new generation of building regs to go with them? This is almost certainly going to have consequences for new house prices.
A lot of houses in the States are made with SiPs. Although quite expensive over here, they are very quick to erect and a lot cheaper in the USA. The biggest problem is their life. IIRC houses only have to be built to last 25 years in the USA as opposed to 100 years over here. A god example of this is when there is a natural disaster in American towns. Only the public buildings are left standing because they have been made out of brick, everything else has been flattened.
 
#66
The irony of course is the UK is sitting on enough gas to power us for a few hundred years. The Barnett shale is in the US and was the biggest producing gas basin. If the above is commercially viable and gas can be recovered at 20% yield then there's enough gas there to power all UK gas needs for 30 years.

Unfortunately people keep voting for eco-loons who pass legislation that makes us all poorer, kills pensioners on low incomes all to make no difference whatsoever.
I'm looking at building a new house over the next couple of years, no mains gas supply so having to go for LPG. Less chance of theft than oil and we can use it for cooking and tumble dryer.
 
#67
A lot of houses in the States are made with SiPs. Although quite expensive over here, they are very quick to erect and a lot cheaper in the USA. The biggest problem is their life. IIRC houses only have to be built to last 25 years in the USA as opposed to 100 years over here. A god example of this is when there is a natural disaster in American towns. Only the public buildings are left standing because they have been made out of brick, everything else has been flattened.
In a lot of places in the US, people buy a house and in fact buy the plot. They then level and build something new.

100 years here? I though 40 years was the typical design life.
 
#68
I'll have a bit of rant about this whole off-gas thing if I may.

[rant, rant, rant.......................]

There needs to be a complete culture change if we want to make an impact on emissions in this country - we're coming in to the decade of consumption and waste now that online shopping is pretty much at full fruition and as long as people decide they want to buy a £3 piece of plastic tat from around the other side of the world that'll end up in a landfill here, we've got much bigger problems than how people heat their homes.

In my opinion.
Online shopping is convenient, however what makes me pause for thought is:

1. All the dedicated @mazon vans scuttling around now delivering single bags of paper clips, or a single biro refill, and

2. All the tree's being chopped down so that they can can put a biro refill into a BFO carboard box to then throw at your front door.
 
#69
Was that this one:-
http://solarityarchitecture.co.uk/design/solar-active/oxford-OXFORD ECOHOUSE - SOLARITY ARCHITECTURE
I remember chatting to Dr Roaf- the owner- a few years ago, she was saying the house had to pass some sort of pressure test. I think to guage its draughtproofness for which a certain target had to be met. The test was so stringent that I believe they couldn’t have a letterbox in the front door.
I’m not sure that the capability exists to build large numbers of similarly precision-built houses “off the shelf” for an affordable price. Bearing in mind recent stories where housebuilders were struggling with something as basic as getting the mortar right.
It's been in force since 2006,it's Part L of the Building Regulations – The Conservation of Fuel and Power in England and Wales – has required mandatory air leakage testing of new buildings including homes.
These regulations were further revised in 2010.
 
#70
Let’s hope this Government quango can speed up global warming as it seems to think that the future heating and cooking requirements for properties will be able to rely on lectrickery for cooking and networks of hot water for heating. Hot water that would be the waste heat by-product of all that heavy industry the UK is famous for… <rolls eyes>.

Rural properties will be connected to heat pumps and that should be sufficient. Powered by warmth from the sea or burning gas from waste… or methane from those dairy farms… or something….

Is this driven by the belief that Putin is going to be turning off the gas tap at some stage? Fuel efficiency I can understand and there’s a need to insulate new housing stock to the maximum possible standard (new homes round our way seem to be getting thrown up with little regard for it) but to rely on electric when some of our power plants are coming to end of life and the nuclear replacements are being shelved is idiotic.

We can’t all be putting solar panels on the roof or filling our gardens with them. There’s even the purge being mentioned on woodburners to heat the home.

How long before it’s an offence to burn toast or crack open a can of fizzy CO2-heavy pop?

How do people get to join these Climate Change Committees? I do hope that the next time they move home they’ll be buying somewhere without gas.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47306766
Why not invest in super insulated housing. Got a Belgian friend who had moved into a class A Belgian flat.

His yearly outgoings for all his power, water was 1500 Euro.

Mind he has since moved out as both he and his wife found it hard to sleep as the house was so well insulated that they "felt" they could not breath.
 
#71
Why not invest in super insulated housing. Got a Belgian friend who had moved into a class A Belgian flat.

His yearly outgoings for all his power, water was 1500 Euro.

Mind he has since moved out as both he and his wife found it hard to sleep as the house was so well insulated that they "felt" they could not breath.

The lack of fresh air coming in scares me...... the amount of chemicals we use, air fresheners, deoderants, cleaning products, plus the chemicals leaching out of the insulation, paint etc. from the construction, this filthy stew can't be healthy.
 
#72
The lack of fresh air coming in scares me...... the amount of chemicals we use, air fresheners, deoderants, cleaning products, plus the chemicals leaching out of the insulation, paint etc. from the construction, this filthy stew can't be healthy.
I thought the same thing when I had a house in a Radon area have the test for the gas with no concerns resulting. But that was with draughty old sash windows and zero insulation. On a windy day you could feel the breeze indoors! I don’t know whether the test takes such factors into account but I did wonder if subsequent “improvements” might mean that any Radon present would be trapped rather than disperse out of the gaps?
 
#74
A lot of houses in the States are made with SiPs. Although quite expensive over here, they are very quick to erect and a lot cheaper in the USA. The biggest problem is their life. IIRC houses only have to be built to last 25 years in the USA as opposed to 100 years over here. A god example of this is when there is a natural disaster in American towns. Only the public buildings are left standing because they have been made out of brick, everything else has been flattened.
SiP's are nice, I like them for roof's, not so much wall's but, thats a personal point of view. However, whilst they are made in quantity here, and I was going to go on a roofing course for them, I have never actually seen a house built using them other than in the promotional literature/videos, or on the telly.

The Mrs did the realtor qualification over here for a bit of mental exercise and to understand the technicalities of the business - she is not allowed to work as a realtor as she works for lenders. Whilst doing the course one of the factors she was taught to consider when valuing houses was house life, as you say most house only last 25'ish years before major work's need doing. The lifecycle dovetails nicely with why old public brick built buildings are left standing after a hurricane, or tornado.

I did the sparky course at college in Pennsylvania and half the air conditioning course at college down here in Texarrse. Not because I wanted to work at either, just to learn how to do it for myself. Anyway, both these courses had me learning the relevant construction codes for design, installation and maintenance aswell as chatting with the lecturers from the other trades in the construction department. Since the mid 80's the construction codes have plummeted in the application of quality here, and that was after an already gradual decline from around the mid 70's. With anything to do with electrics and plumbing you cannot really skimp too much before things become dangerous. However, with the general construction of things like footings and timberframe wall's you can skimp a little as long as it stays standing and looks good when it is sold.

General construction: The place I lived up in Pennsylvania once I started some work and had the plasterboard off walls and ceilings was a nightmare. When it was built they must have had one of these on site saw mill's like this



Most of the wood used in the construction still had bark on it. And, where it had obviously been cut wet the wood had warped whilst drying out once it had been turned into a house shaped object. Fcuking useless. I had to replace entire wall sections to get up straight flat walls so that I could tile the new bathrooms properly.

Thankfully they still use plasterboard, unlike some construction I saw in the UK where they were using what looked like 50mm - 75mm thick pressed straw and wood waste, with no studs - try hanging a bathroom wasbasin off that.

Foundations and footings: Most footings I have seen in the US vary from 12 inches to 22 inches in depth with the floor slab being anything from 3 inches to 6 inches thick. Unlike the UK they do not put down hardcore so there is no supporting base under the floor slab - they ordinarily put down a couple of inches of sand. I have also never seen a whacker on a US building site to compress the dirt before the concrete is poured, yes dirt! In many places I have seen where the ground has been leveled somewhat then concrete poured directly onto the dirt of the ground. I have been around many house here where there are cracks evident in the flooring and walling which in the UK would have the county engineer having a diddly fit, here it is considered normal.

Brick built structures: Try finding a septic bricky. For every 100 carpenters there is probably one bricky. I asked about the lack of brickies in Pennsylvania, there are loads of older brick built properties and not very many newer ones. The bloke in the construction school told me it was becasue back in the day there had been loads of Italian and German immigrants who were brickies and they had over the years gone off to the big construction site in the sky without training anyone. Not that they did not want to train kids, its just that the kids did not want to get their hands dirty doing bricky work - carpentry is cleaner and easier.

This is why there are old brick built structures which last through a hurricane , or tornado and new timber built homes which get turned into matchwood. Florida is the same, look at the old buildings and they are all solid brick and block whereas the newer ones tend to be timber framed, block outer leaf structures - same here in Texarrse. We have a mate in Florida who has a weekend house right on the beach north of Daytona, it is nigh on a hundred years old, Spanish style, built out of concrete and brick - he can sit in there drinking a cuppa whilst the rest of Florida is in evacuation mode.

Driveways: You will never find hardcore under a driveway, or road for that matter, driveways if you are lucky will be 4 inches of concrete poured directly onto leveled dirt. Cracking starts and concrete sections move out of level after a few years. My neighbour paid $15K to have his driveway and garage area re-concreted - everything ripped out and new stuff poured down - straight back onto dirt again.

In short American construction is shite because in the 80's the big construction companies lobbied to have the construction codes changed so that they could save money. The upshot is that the homeowner gets to buy a money pit that needs constant attention from around the age of 3 to 5 years old.
 
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#75
My old man has invested in an above ground heat pump. It basically works like an air conditioner in reverse.

Pay back is about 5 years. You need huge radiators.

Big house, radiators never feel like they’re on but house is always warm and toasty
Mine worked as an air conditioner in the summer and in the winter it was in reverse mode working as a heat pump. Like most American heating systems it was warm air rather than radiator - even when it was serious minus numbers outdoors it was still sucking enough latent heat out of the air to provide warmth in the house.
 
#76
Fuel Prices


Why not think about propane ?

Most combi boilers only need the jets altering from NG.

Even using cylinders, rather than bulk storage will give a good saving.

The Intergas boilers I mentioned are the best....... there's 3 installers of them fairly close by.
Vist the west coast or any really rural area you'll find calor gas used as a standby if the electricity fails, which can occur if trees fall over in high winds.
Unless you live in lilliesleaf which is those quantum radiators…..the lady of the house seldom wore lumpy jumpers, she preferred silk and cashmere(it is the borders after all).
 
#77
I saw these loft cover things up in Pennsylvania and initially thought they were a bunch of marketing tat. Then when speaking to one of the lecturers when I was at sparky school I found out that you lose something like 20% to 30% of ceiling heat through a loft cover even the ones with insulation on the back. So the smart people stick one of these extra insulated loft covers up inside the attic.

I made my own out of a 2"/50mm thick sheet of 8' x 4' (1200mm x 2400mm) insulation foam, dead easy. You only need a knife, long straight edge for cutting up against, a tape measure and some suitable glue/sealant. I used some of those bamboo kebab sticks to hold everything in place whilst it set.


Here we go, like this but 50mm not 25mm:


I had about 2 feet of loft insulation up in Pennsylvania too. Watch how they do it in this video laying at 90 degrees to the original insulation. He mentions laying it at 90 degrees to eliminate draughts, more importantly the wood of the rafters on the plasterboard causes cold bridging that will suck heat out of the house.


If you ever play with fibreglass insulation wear a coverall, dust mask, hat and goggles. When you leave the attic have a body disposal bag big black bin bag cut open and flattened at the bottom of the attic ladder and effectively do a NBC suit change strip off at the bottom of the ladder so you do not take the fibreglass dust through he whole house.
 
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#78
SiP's are nice, I like them for roof's, not so much wall's but, thats a personal point of view. However, whilst they are made in quantity here, and I was going to go on a roofing course for them, I have never actually seen a house built using them other than in the promotional literature/videos, or on the telly.

The Mrs did the realtor qualification over here for a bit of mental exercise and to understand the technicalities of the business - she is not allowed to work as a realtor as she works for lenders. Whilst doing the course one of the factors she was taught to consider when valuing houses was house life, as you say most house only last 25'ish years before major work's need doing. The lifecycle dovetails nicely with why old public brick built buildings are left standing after a hurricane, or tornado.

I did the sparky course at college in Pennsylvania and half the air conditioning course at college down here in Texarrse. Not because I wanted to work at either, just to learn how to do it for myself. Anyway, both these courses had me learning the relevant construction codes for design, installation and maintenance aswell as chatting with the lecturers from the other trades in the construction department. Since the mid 80's the construction codes have plummeted in the application of quality here, and that was after an already gradual decline from around the mid 70's. With anything to do with electrics and plumbing you cannot really skimp too much before things become dangerous. However, with the general construction of things like footings and timberframe wall's you can skimp a little as long as it stays standing and looks good when it is sold.

General construction: The place I lived up in Pennsylvania once I started some work and had the plasterboard off walls and ceilings was a nightmare. When it was built they must have had one of these on site saw mill's like this



Most of the wood used in the construction still had bark on it. And, where it had obviously been cut wet the wood had warped whilst drying out once it had been turned into a house shaped object. Fcuking useless. I had to replace entire wall sections to get up straight flat walls so that I could tile the new bathrooms properly.

Thankfully they still use plasterboard, unlike some construction I saw in the UK where they were using what looked like 50mm - 75mm thick pressed straw and wood waste, with no studs - try hanging a bathroom wasbasin off that.

Foundations and footings: Most footings I have seen in the US vary from 12 inches to 22 inches in depth with the floor slab being anything from 3 inches to 6 inches thick. Unlike the UK they do not put down hardcore so there is no supporting base under the floor slab - they ordinarily put down a couple of inches of sand. I have also never seen a whacker on a US building site to compress the dirt before the concrete is poured, yes dirt! In many places I have seen where the ground has been leveled somewhat then concrete poured directly onto the dirt of the ground. I have been around many house here where there are cracks evident in the flooring and walling which in the UK would have the county engineer having a diddly fit, here it is considered normal.

Brick built structures: Try finding a septic bricky. For every 100 carpenters there is probably one bricky. I asked about the lack of brickies in Pennsylvania, there are loads of older brick built properties and not very many newer ones. The bloke in the construction school told me it was becasue back in the day there had been loads of Italian and German immigrants who were brickies and they had over the years gone off to the big construction site in the sky without training anyone. Not that they did not want to train kids, its just that the kids did not want to get their hands dirty doing bricky work - carpentry is cleaner and easier.

This is why there are old brick built structures which last through a hurricane , or tornado and new timber built homes which get turned into matchwood. Florida is the same, look at the old buildings and they are all solid brick and block whereas the newer ones tend to be timber framed, block out structures - same here in Texarrse. We have a mate in Florida who has a weekend house right on the beach north of Daytona, it is nigh on a hundred years old, Spanish style built out of concrete and brick - he can sit in there drinking a cuppa whilst the rest of Florida is in evacuation mode.

Driveways: You will never find hardcore under a driveway, or road for that matter, driveways if you are lucky will be 4 inches of concrete poured directly onto leveled dirt. Cracking starts and concrete sections move out of level after a few years. My neighbour paid $15K to have his driveway and garage area re-concreted - everything ripped out and new stuff poured down - straight back onto dirt again.

In short American construction is shite because in the 80's the big construction companies lobbied to have the construction codes changed so that they could save money. The upshot is that the homeowner gets to buy a money pit that needs constant attention from around the age of 3 to 5 years old.
Your write up does confirm the vast difference in construction practices between Canada and the US. Houses here are built to last the long haul as are roads and driveways. People wouldn't accept a 4" slab for a driveway,let alone one poured directly on dirt with no reinforcement.
 
#79
Was that this one:-
http://solarityarchitecture.co.uk/design/solar-active/oxford-OXFORD ECOHOUSE - SOLARITY ARCHITECTURE
I remember chatting to Dr Roaf- the owner- a few years ago, she was saying the house had to pass some sort of pressure test. I think to guage its draughtproofness for which a certain target had to be met. The test was so stringent that I believe they couldn’t have a letterbox in the front door.
I’m not sure that the capability exists to build large numbers of similarly precision-built houses “off the shelf” for an affordable price. Bearing in mind recent stories where housebuilders were struggling with something as basic as getting the mortar right.
That looks like the badger. It was back in the mid to late 90's.

Letterboxes in the front door are a no no, you might just as well leave a window half open 24/7 through the year. Mortice locks in doors are just as bad allowing a constant draught to blow through, piece of tape over them on the inside as a minimum.

Swedish home design is the thing to look at, they have been dealing with cold weather living for years. Plenty of stuff out there on the interweb.
 

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