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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

PLEASE NOTE: A download link for Volume 1 will be sent to you by email and Volume 2 will be sent to you by post as a book.

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    • CommentAuthorlearner
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2007
    My wife and I are buying a small farmhouse that we would like to extend. DHW and central heating for 5 radiators is currently provided by a solid fuel Rayburn Supreme which I believe is rated the same as the current 355SFW model. Despite the info on their website, I am nonetheless suspicious that the Rayburn may struggle when the number of radiators increases to 9. Additionally, we will not light the cooker in the Summer and an immersion heater will be expensive. Here are 3 options that I am considering:

    1. Add solar heating panels to help provide DHW (especially in Summer). Add solid fuel stove in new lounge. Accept any shortcomings in central heating.

    2. Add solid fuel stove with boiler in lounge to help Rayburn with DHW and heating. Use immersion heater in summer.

    3. Add oil fired boiler to work alongside Rayburn when necessary.

    We are Rayburn virgins so any informed views would really help us to decide on the best solution. There seems to be a huge difference in energy rating depending on whether you use wood or smokeless fuel? Thoughts and alternative ideas gratefully received.

    Depends whether economy or ecology is paramount. I'll address from economics/technology.

    The problem with wood (and we have burned a lot over decades) is that it is in inconsistent in combustion properties; its combustion can only be controlled via regulating the air supply, tends to massively deposit tars in chimneys, requires very careful seasoning, is labour intensive, and has at best about half the calorific value of coal or oil.

    Both coal and wood give relatively poor response to changes in heating load - a bad characteristic, especially for cooking combined with central heating. Note that Agas avoid this by being a massive heat store and restricting water heating to dHW only (no ch)

    Over time the price of all fuels tend to equate, but if you have your own wood supply then this would be a significant factor- assuming you don't own an oil well or coal mine. Otherwise, oil is the cleanest, needs no labour, and gives a fast response.

    There is a respected green man locally who distributes solar panels and is critical of much of the sales hype. I am an engineer myself and I find him technically sound. He is quite catagorical "there is no financial case for solar panels. You install them for ecological reasons, not to save money"

    For many years I ran a small oil boiler in tandem with a wood-fired ch boiler. The trick is to use motorise valves linked to a water thermostat (a cheap one that clips onto the 'flow' pipe is fine), so that the oil boiler cuts-in when the ch water temp drops eg at the early morning switch on or when the fire is out!. This would be a relatively cheap option too, and lessens dependence.

    Off-peak electricity heating your hot water cylinder, or even a thermal store heatinfg tank, may be worth examining. You could also consider one of the heat-pump options - but that is a vast topic in itself.
    • CommentAuthorTerry
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2007
    I would say that a thermal store is the way to go as it is the best way to combine different energy sources and is immune to future changes of energy supply.
    As regards the energy sources, I would agree that there is a strong case for a wood stove if you have the wood and the down sides mentioned can be partially mitigated by getting a well designed modern stove with back boiler.
    Solar is certainly an option for summer and the payback will get better and better as oil etc prices go up.
    Solar and wood burner are a complimentary combination and you could have a boiler or immersion as backup. If you are open to the lifestyle changes needed to use this combination then an immersion backup would be justified I think on the basis that it would only be needed on rare occasions and would be simple to specify as part of the thermal store and would negate the cost of the boiler and tank and fitting etc.
    A good system, as we are finding out, is not particularly cheap, but does immunise you from future energy supply problems and you can get a warm glow from using free energy (albeit with a bit of elbow grease)and being able to avoid the utility companies to a large degree.
    • CommentAuthorJohn11668
    • CommentTimeJun 19th 2007
    Rayburn supreme has a rating of 35000 Bthu/hr.
    355 is mechanically identical, but Rayburn cheat and by opening it up and feeding twice as fast you can achieve 55000 but not according to the BS.
    Most people find it hard to keep the Supreme going on wood and impossible to bank overnight.
    Linking to an oil boiler is successfull and the simplest way is to use a Neutraliser . Forget motorised valves.
    The boiler stat can be set to a lowish level so that it will go off when a set circuit temp is achieved and trip in again when the temperature is Flagging.
    • CommentAuthorroger247
    • CommentTimeOct 9th 2007
    consider a Daikin altherma stand alone air source heat pump for DHW only, very high Cop's and perfect in all seasons. Ask me for more input and a price guide.
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