How easy -and affordable is it to go fossil free in 2013? We have set ourselves the challenge to turn an old stone house into a home without relying on fossil fuels.
Pellet boiler to be sited in a boiler room
The house is in an area of Italy where we can grow much of our own food and have a large area of woodland for fuel. A retirement home!
We've used local lime,clay and sand to rebuild and plaster and I'm now mixing up clay paints to use instead of emulsion which are based on ff products.Now we have reached to stage where the heating system need to go in -or at least the pipes do as these will all be inside the walls.
I've spent hours online (probably using up plenty of ffs) and have decided on a combination of solar thermal roof panel/s, thermal store and modern automated pellet boiler/stove.The thermal store is the most complicated part of the equation as there are not well understood by lots of plumbers.Basically they are a super insulated tank with heat exchangers inside (coils) or outside.Water in the tank remains constant and has an anti scale product added at the time you fill up the system.multiple heat exchangers allow for different heat sources ie from a solar, boiler and wood stove.
It lets you light your stove/boiler for 3/4 hours in the evening then store the heat until the next day when it can be pumped around your radiators.If you have solar panels you can use the heat exchanger to produce your hot water in the summer without the boiler.In the winter the solar heat exchanger will help the store to reach higer temps so your boiler has less work to do.
These are the good points! Bad points are:
Space needed -Thermal Stores are expensive (from £1,000) and it makes sense to go for the largest size you can.For a small cottage that's going to be difficult.If you do use a woodburner with a boiler there may be problems having the store on the same level (you'd need a pump instead of using gravity)
Lack of knowledge - many plumbers will not have had any experience of fitting a thermal store.
Expense - Thermal Stores are more expensive than dhw cylinders.
If you want to find out more about Thermal Stores Gledhill are a UK manufacturer and as well as online info you can also phone them.