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Old 30.12.2010, 22:59
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heating: choosing

We are going to renovate a house. I am looking for tips or suggestions on heating systems. We have yet to choose a type of heater.
(eg. gas, oil, earth, pellets, solar combo etc.)

I am particularly interested in how many hidden costs are associated with the various types (such as maintenance on a sophisticated earth heating system).

One can get a bit of info from the various manufacturers websites, so long as your German is good, but I assume that when it comes to price comparison they will be skewing the stats in their favour.

Any comments greatly appreciated.
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Old 30.12.2010, 23:46
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Re: heating: choosing

I believe you need to talk to a heating engineer first. My choice would be influenced by the abundance
of a certain fuel, and personally I would try and make the house insulation the best possible.

If I had lots of money I would fit a geo thermal system,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhanced_geothermal_system

http://www.springerlink.com/content/x8557jx050162q15/

My neighbour in Murten had one, I think it cost something like Fr 100,000 but of course it brings free energy
forever. According to the article there are hot rocks under Lucerne but at a depth of 5000 meters.

.
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Old 31.12.2010, 00:27
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Re: heating: choosing

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I believe you need to talk to a heating engineer first. My choice would be influenced by the abundance
of a certain fuel, and personally I would try and make the house insulation the best possible.

If I had lots of money I would fit a geo thermal system,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhanced_geothermal_system

http://www.springerlink.com/content/x8557jx050162q15/

My neighbour in Murten had one, I think it cost something like Fr 100,000 but of course it brings free energy
forever. According to the article there are hot rocks under Lucerne but at a depth of 5000 meters.

.
Heat pump using air as the source is good (hot in winter & cold in Summer) & solar panels to power it if they ever get solar panels efficient & powerful enough to compete price wise with what comes out of the hole in the wall.
About "it brings free energy forever" - the working life of the moving parts in the system is about 25 years so you have to budget for regular replacement.
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Old 31.12.2010, 07:07
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Re: heating: choosing

You say you are going to renovate - what type of heating does the house currently have? That may influence your choice.

We have an oil-heated home with underfloor piping, and need to replace the furnace. We looked into other technologies, and discovered that switching to some other types would be cost prohibitive given the exisiting structures.

Another factor would be any local regulations. For instance, our plan to add solar panels was squashed by the Quartier Gestaltungsplan - exterior changes, even something so subtle as solar panels fitted into the roof tiles, are forbidden.

As Ittigens says, your first stop should be a discussion with a heating engineer.

Good luck with your project.

Last edited by meloncollie; 31.12.2010 at 09:35.
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Old 01.01.2011, 22:30
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Re: heating: choosing

thanks for the comments so far.

We have an aged oil heating system. The oil tank room absolutely stinks and the machine is noisy. Perhaps these points are easily remedied with a new machine. But wither the cost of oil?
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Old 01.01.2011, 22:48
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Re: heating: choosing

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thanks for the comments so far.

We have an aged oil heating system. The oil tank room absolutely stinks and the machine is noisy. Perhaps these points are easily remedied with a new machine. But wither the cost of oil?
Modern heat-pumps (geothermal or air-based) need a very good insulation to be of much use. Or better: to keep the energy usage below a reasonable limit.
When was your house built?
In addition, if you decide to enhance the insulation, too (which usually means replacing windows and window-frames, too), you might reach a point where the house is tight as a submarine and needs active ventilation (newer houses come with a system that recycles the heat from the outbound air and thus keeps 90% of the energy in the house).

Heat-pumps require electricity. Your oil-bill will be zero, but you get a huge electricity-bill.
Better watch the counter on a monthly basis and do the math before waking up to a huge four-digit energy consumption bill one day...

The good thing is: electricity can also be produced by solar cells, the efficiency of those will hopefully increase over the next years.
Oil and gas need the right ingredients, a lot of pressure and a couple of 100000 years to be re-created. Nothing to gamble upon ;-)

There is a lot of information on http://minergie.ch/ - but it's mostly German. It might take some time to figure it all out when you don't speak German...

If you speak German, there's http://www.haus-forum.ch to ask all these questions.
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Old 01.01.2011, 22:49
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Re: heating: choosing

No energy source is going to get any cheaper in the short term, so you need to look to other sources and insulation / savings. But I am sure you know that already.

I recently read something about a new type of infra-red (Night time active) solar panel. But knowing how the western world functions, the middlemen will keep all the savings http://www.newscientist.com/article/...ar-panels.html

.
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Old 01.01.2011, 22:51
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Re: heating: choosing

I know of some areas where you can no longer install a new oil furnace and there are incentives in place to convert to newer technologies.

We replaced our heat pump this year. We already had a heat pump that was about 20 years old. Even though it is a tax deduction, it was incredibly expensive to replace even though we already had essentially the same technology and we went with the same manufacturer. It was too complicated otherwise. We called several heating companies and had 4 estimates.

The major difference is we went with a larger boiler (400 lt) which runs off the heat pump rather than just electricity. We have underfloor heating throughout the entire house, which is 240 m2. It will be interesting to see the savings on our utility bill as we were told the old heat pump would have used far more energy than the new one. We'll see.
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Old 01.01.2011, 22:55
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Re: heating: choosing

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thanks for the comments so far.

We have an aged oil heating system. The oil tank room absolutely stinks and the machine is noisy. Perhaps these points are easily remedied with a new machine. But wither the cost of oil?
Ah, this is the question I ask myself...

Our current system is surprisingly cost effective; I use less than 800L per year to heat our home - cost is low, even considering the recent hike in oil prices The only reason I'm replacing the system is that I have to - the furnace doesn't meet new something-or-other standards, the canton says I have to replace it before 2014.

Looking at replacement furnaces for an oil system, I've had quotes in the 20-25,000 range. Switching to another fuel system looks to be more expensive still, much of the cost being driven by the labor involved in ripping out the old stuff. A geo thermal pump, the most expensive option, is not possible given the layout of our property.

But all the new, more efficient oil furnaces, the pellet furnaces, geo-thermal, etc. all have yearly cost projections higher than our current costs. Hmmmmm.

So whatever I put in I likely won't recover in energy savings. And as I hope to move out of here soonish, I really can't see going to the huge investment of switching fuel systems. If I were staying more than another year or two I might consider it on 'green' grounds alone - but as is I cannot justify the upfront costs for our situation. I'll stay with the simplest option, replacing the existing furnace.

My husband is very interested in fuel cell technology - but if I understand correctly, it still is not available here for private homes. Maybe in another 5 years or so... or more. In our next house - if we ever find it.

Good luck with your project.
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Old 01.01.2011, 23:03
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Re: heating: choosing

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Heat-pumps require electricity. Your oil-bill will be zero, but you get a huge electricity-bill.
Define huge. We have a 240 m2 house. Our monthly electricity bill with our old heat pump averaged 183 chf.
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Old 23.01.2011, 14:06
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Re: heating: choosing

We are looking at buying an old house (built in the 50's, approx. 120 sq m) in Canton SZ with a virtually non-existent heating system and poor insulation.

We are still wondering whether it would be more cost effective to demolish and build afresh or renovate...

Could you give me a ball park estimate of the cost of installing a new gaz heating system?

Also, could anyone recommend local companies / contractors to get a detailed survey and quote ?

Many thanks
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Old 24.01.2011, 22:05
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Re: heating: choosing

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We are looking at buying an old house (built in the 50's, approx. 120 sq m) in Canton SZ with a virtually non-existent heating system and poor insulation.

We are still wondering whether it would be more cost effective to demolish and build afresh or renovate...

Could you give me a ball park estimate of the cost of installing a new gaz heating system?
Do you know if or where gas lines currently run?

(FYI, there are no gas lines in our Quartier...)

Whether or not it is cost-effective - or even possible - to convert to gas will depend on how far you have to lay pipe, what you have to dig up, whose land you need to access, and whether you can get permission to do so.

First stop should be the Bauamt - they will tell you if there are existing lines, or not, and what would be required. Research access issues carefully.

Good luck!
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Old 24.01.2011, 22:48
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Re: heating: choosing

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We are looking at buying an old house (built in the 50's, approx. 120 sq m) in Canton SZ with a virtually non-existent heating system and poor insulation.

We are still wondering whether it would be more cost effective to demolish and build afresh or renovate...

Could you give me a ball park estimate of the cost of installing a new gaz heating system?

Also, could anyone recommend local companies / contractors to get a detailed survey and quote ?

Many thanks
It is cheaper to demolish and build new generally. The hidden problem is if there has been a change in zoning since the house was built. This was a problem for our neighbours who wanted to demolish and build new. The new zoning (well new in 1972 anyway and the house was built in the 50s) meant they could not place it in the same place as it had to be set further back from the street and boundaries effectively ruining their great sunny back yard. As far as heating if you do a major renovation go for underfloor heating if you have enough room height, gas is a reasonable option if there is a pipeline very close. Also see if your canton will give you some assistance replacing your oil burner with a solar/gas backup system, we had quotes on solar/gas systems and the suppliers said that subsidies were available but get in early in the year as the funds dry up pretty quick.
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Old 24.01.2011, 22:55
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Re: heating: choosing

Our House was only finished 10 months ago and so far I have been charged 991.00 ChF's on Electricity which powers everting but the heating and water.
Gas is used for our heating. So far Services Industriels has charged us 5008.00 CHF's, of which 808.00 is for Nov & Dec.
Now we are not talking big house, and we have been away for Oct Nov and part of Dec. So far none of the bill's have shown consumption, they are all Lieu de consommation! I have been told that this is normal in a new property and that they will work out our true consumption. When I asked them why i was being asked to pay in lieu of consumption they told if I didn't pay i would have no gas, so i guess I keep on paying for another month or so and see what happens.
is gas a cheaper option????
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Old 25.01.2011, 13:10
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Re: heating: choosing

The comments in this previous thread are probably what you are looking for. Cost of central heating
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Old 25.01.2011, 13:59
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Re: heating: choosing

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Heat-pumps require electricity. Your oil-bill will be zero, but you get a huge electricity-bill.
Not so - see Cost of central heating
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Old 25.01.2011, 14:00
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Re: heating: choosing

The first and most important measure is a passive one: insulation of the heated volume. But as said before, have a discussion with a heating specialist.
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Old 30.01.2011, 18:05
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Re: heating: choosing

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It is cheaper to demolish and build new generally.
Really? In Vaud, just to demolish and remove an old house could cost 100k CHF. Then, build costs for twin or row houses seem to start at about 700-750k CHF, let alone a standalone, individual new house.
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Old 30.01.2011, 18:17
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Re: heating: choosing

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Hmm, having looked into this quite a bit during our renovation planning, I'd say it depends! For a well-insulated, new build with underfloor heating I would agree. However, changing the heating system on an old property with wall radiators and poor insulation is not the same thing. There are companies around who are prepared to do this, without any proper thermal analysis of a property. I know, because I have quotes. However, I also now know the thermal properties of our walls, and to do this without insulating them properly (along with roof and changing windows) would have been a great way of using lots of electricity and spending lots of money to heat the garden. Indeed, some Austrian report concluded that the prospect of lots of people changing their heating systems on old properties to heat pumps is a potential environmental catastrophe.
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Old 30.01.2011, 18:24
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Re: heating: choosing

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is gas a cheaper option????
Compared to oil it costs about the same per kwh in Switzerland (whereas in UK it is substantially cheaper). Advantages compared to oil are takes less space, no smell, no ordering deliveries, a good condensing boiler has slightly higher efficiency, burns cleaner.
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