5 Heating Options for Old Houses 27 Apr 2020
Have you considered the heating system in your refurbishment project? To be honest, it’s not the first thing that people imagine when they’re designing their dream home. However, there’s a lot that goes into a heating system, and getting the right one really can make a house a home. This is particularly poignant when heating an old house, where the cold can easily creep in and make for uncomfortable habitation.
In this article, we’ve put together 5 heating options for keeping an old house warm. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but will hopefully inspire some creative solutions in older house refurbishments.
To delve back through history, fire and fireplaces are the very original heating system. There is not much that can rival the cozy atmosphere that a roaring fire creates, particularly when remodelling older houses that were designed with a fireplace in every room. Unfortunately, traditional fireplaces don’t always fulfil heating, efficiency and clean air requirements. As a result, modern additions have to be brought in. These range from electric fires, with ‘faux’ flames, to gas replacements. If wood fired is essential to your requirements, there are energy efficient inserts that can be added into the fireplace. Some of these are sealed metal boxes with glass to show the flames roaring within. They are designed to sit within the fireplace, with outside air fueling the flames but the warm air is circulated within the room. The efficiency of these fireplaces can reach up to 80%.
Gas Fired Boiler and Radiators
This is the most common heating system in place today. A lot of homes have radiators in each room, where the air within gets heated directly by the radiators. As opposed to a heating system where the air is warmed centrally, then transferred to different rooms via air ducts. A boiler will heat the water, which is then moved through a pressurised system to the different radiators throughout the house.
Boilers and hot water radiators have been almost standard in most house-builds since the late 19th century. Most likely, the pipework for this system is already in place in your old house, so you might just need to consider getting a new boiler installed. However, on extremely old or rundown buildings, you will have to consider putting this pipework in yourself.
Rather than a single heating point within the room like a radiator, fire, or heat duct, underfloor heating radiates warmth over a much larger area. This often results in a more radiant heat that provides an encompassing warmth.
Older designs of this heating were prone to leaks, as pipework beneath the floor corroded. These pipes were originally laid and then set within concrete for the finished floor to be fitted on top of that. As the concept has developed over the years, systems have become more reliable. Electric systems, as well as water, are now able to be used and installed over subfloors, making for easier access if repairs ever do need to be made.
Forced Air Heating
Forced air is another system that relies on ductwork and vents to distribute air throughout the building and is the preferred method in the US. Outside of North America, this is a system that you might be more accustomed to seeing in offices and commercial properties.
Heated air is moved through the system and into rooms to keep a constant internal temperature. That temperature is controlled by a thermostat, when the room reaches the target warmth, the thermostat then shuts off the heating system. There are a few different types of forced air heating: gas furnace, electric furnace, heat pump, and hydronic coil. Pair these with a fan, blower or air handler to move the heat along the duct system.
There is also an added benefit of being able to link this system with air conditioning units, which is particularly useful in warmer climates. The benefit of using this system is that tubing is most of the time placed into the ceiling which requires fewer changes to framing and walls. Essentially the tubing can be manoeuvred around areas that are difficult to make changes to. However, this does mean a slight loss of inefficient heat transfer.
As we move through the 21st century, there it is becoming increasingly important to make environmentally friendly decisions. When deciding on the heating system for your house, you should also consider renewable heating options as a means of lowering the building’s carbon footprint.
Biomass heating systems are one option, where you burn organic material, although these are usually used to support another type of heating system. Another option is a solar water heating system, where the sun is used to heat up the water used within your house. Again this is usually alongside a boiler for cloudy days. Depending on your location a ground source heat pump could also be a viable option, letting natural heat underground warm a pipe system that is channelled into your home.
Finding the right heating system for your old house can be a difficult task. You have to find one that keeps you warm throughout the year, without costing too much. Importantly, if at all possible, it should also add to the character and charm of your building in some way. Finding the right combination here is vital to creating a home you can live in for years to come.