This week in the Examiner, Kieran McCarthy of KMC Homes discusses what to consider when installing air to water heating.
The biggest difference between an Air to Water system and your current Oil Fired system is that Air to Water operates at a lower running temperature. To maintain your house at an ambient temperature of say 18-19 degrees you need a very well insulated and quire airtight house to ensure you have a very efficient thermal envelope. This will ensure that the heat that is generated is maintained inside and little is lost through drafts, cold bridging or other thermal inefficiencies.
Another key aspect to understand is that gone now are the days where we come home from work to find the house freezing and we rush to crank up the heating. An air to water system is controlled by thermostats internally and a temperature reader outside. Drops in temperature outside are detected early and the system is primed to work harder to maintain the desired temperature inside (as read through the thermostats). One you get used to the setting of your heating system it should work away with minimum interaction for you. There are in fact smart thermostats on the market now that learn your movements and the times you come and go from the house and adjust the heating operation accordingly, this saves energy in times of low demand.
Another key aspect of Air to Water is that it works best with underfloor heating as the large surface area compensates for the lower running temperature. In addition the depth of concrete allows you access to the benefits of the thermal mass of the concrete. It will take longer to heat but will retain this heat for longer, much like a storage heater.
In your situation this could be achieved by removing the timber joists on your ground floor. It is likely you have a void underneath which would allow you to install a radon membrane, floor insulation, and seal this area off from air leakage. The new concrete floor slab installed on top would of course contain your new underfloor heating.
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