Most economical method of electric heating

Discussion in 'Electricians' Talk' started by spiritus, Sep 14, 2022.

  1. rogerk101

    rogerk101 Screwfix Select

    What is the EPC rating for the flat?
    If it's impractical or impossible for you to improve it, then it is what it is, and she needs to consider moving.

    Good luck on finding better, because many landlords are getting out of the rental market precisely because getting their EPC ratings up to rentable levels is impossible, impractical, or just not financially viable.

    I gutted a 1935 semi and invested hugely in insulation, eg. 300mm of insulation in the loft, double glazed windows throughout, etc. ... and the best EPC rating I could manage was C. This'll enable me to keep renting it out for the near future, but if the powers that be ever insist on better than C, I'll simply bail on it and sell it to an owner occupier.
    WeCanDoIt likes this.
  2. vrDrew63

    vrDrew63 Active Member

    Probably the most common reason for retiring a commercial airliner is Pressurization Cycles. Take an airplane up to 30,000+ ft, and then return it to sea level, places a certain amount of strain on the pressure hull. The aluminium panels that make up the pressure hull can go through only so many such cycles before they become brittle and impossible to repair. Metal fatigue is a thing.

    The good news is that most commercial aircraft in service can go through a lot of such cycles. I've heard cited anything from 30,000 to 50,000 or more. But eventually all modern commercial aircraft reach this limit. Short-haul airplanes (which might do five or ten flights per day) tend to reach it much quicker than do long-haul ones. Which might explain why British Airways has a few relatively elderly airplanes still in service.

    But enough about airplanes.

    Every day I read about situations where owners, tenants, landlords, and building trades professionals are confronted with a situation where they need to bring a woefully inefficient structure into some semblance of efficiency. Buildings built at a time when lorry-loads of coal were cheaply tipped into bunkers to be burned in open fireplaces. With exactly zero thought given to the amount of fuel burned, or the emissions that burning produced, was taken into consideration.

    Always look for the bigger solution. And the "bigger solution", when it comes to things like annual heating costs, as well as topics like Global Warming, Climate Change, and the billions of pounds we're sending off to support Russian aggression in Ukraine, probably involves tearing down a whole lot of shoddily-built 1950s-1980s houses and blocks of flats.

    The "bigger solution": Better for the planet. Better for people who live in our houses and flats. And better for the UK's building trades.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2022
  3. chesterw

    chesterw Well-Known Member

    Do you want to rephrase that?
  4. spiritus

    spiritus New Member

    At the time we purchased the flat it was an E with the potential to get it upto a D (**** I know)
  5. The Happy Builder

    The Happy Builder Screwfix Select

    Sell it.
    rogerk101 likes this.
  6. The Happy Builder

    The Happy Builder Screwfix Select

    Your only hope is that our new Prime Minister and her Government ditch the proposed increase of the EPC rating from E to C, otherwise it sounds like your only option is to sell the property as you won’t be able to rent it out.

    If it’s an E now changing the heating to anything other than HHR storage heaters or a heat pump means that you would be renting out the property illegally and the tenant can stop paying the rent.

    Installing HHR storage heaters may possibly raise the EPC rating to D, but I can’t imagine that will get it up to C without other measures.

    You’re probably better off quitting now.
  7. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    It is true unless listed commercially companies often flatten buildings and start again, but the problem is we are already short of housing, so not an option, however go to a mobile home park and it is common. They are often scrapped and replaced.

    But I look at this like this, I can invest my money and get a reasonable return without the hassle of being a landlord, so as a landlord I would want a higher return.

    So 5 - 15% is easy enough investing money, so want 10 - 20% if renting a home, so £200k wants to return £20k per annum, so £1700 per month, and we know that is a pipe dream and will never happen. However the price of the home will also likely rise, so don't really need that much, but all in all it means landlords are one the edge of it being worth while to continue to rent rather than sell up and invest the money else where.

    If the government make it any harder to rent out homes, the supply of homes to rent will simply dry up.
  8. rogerk101

    rogerk101 Screwfix Select

    Very few landlords are looking at just the yield (rental income) in their investment decisions. In fact yields on rentals are nowhere near 10% ... more like 3 to 5%.

    The big attraction of a buy to let is the capital growth, which, if the last few years are anything to go by, are over 10%. Add to that the fact that someone is paying your mortgage for you and it starts becoming really interesting ... until you get a sh1tty tenant or until some idiot in government decides to 'improve' things for tenants, but all that happens is that landlords just raise the rent to cover the costs of the 'improvements'.

    How many landlords just swallow the costs of annual gas safety checks, annual PAT certificates, and a new EICR every 5 years? Very few ... they just pass those cost on to the tenant in rent hikes.

    How many landlords will even be able to get their properties up to a C rating for the EPC? As said above, most will sell up, which just reduces the number of available properties, so the law of supply and demand just drives rents even higher.

    I have friends who have sold their house and have to find a rental while they look for their next house. They cannot find anywhere even half decent in the whole of the South East for less than £1500 a month, and no one is doing contracts of less than 12 months! But at least some people in government can congratulate themselves on a job well done.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2022
  9. The Happy Builder

    The Happy Builder Screwfix Select

    Currently storage batteries are the flavour of the month, people want to time shift their electricity consumption, they want to charge storage batteries using PV during the day and off-peak tariffs over night to have cheaper electricity available at peak times.

    Electrically heated storage heaters actually do the same thing as those batteries, they use cheaper electricity to charge the heaters to make it it available at times when higher tariffs are in place.

    Storage heaters are not obsolete and outdated, they are equipment for modern homes, people are just a bit slow realising this.
    jimbobby likes this.
  10. vrDrew63

    vrDrew63 Active Member

    There are a number of factors limiting the supply of housing in the UK, some of which are somewhat unique, and some of which are - I think - important to maintain.

    The first of which is that much of the UK countryside remains unspoiled. Part of this is "greenbelts" around major cities. Part of it is restriction of planning permission by local councils. Some of it has to do with agricultural policy. But one outcome is that a lot of the UK is extremely beautiful to look at and to walk through. It's a major factor contributing to not just tourism, but the general quality of life for the population. We do not want to permit unrestricted housing development in the countryside.

    But if we don't want to build homes in the countryside, they've got to be built somewhere. And I'd argue that the best "somewhere" to build new houses is on the site of existing, let's say "less desirable" structures. These can be brownfield former industrial sites. Or they can be poorly built or obsolete residential buildings. These old buildings not only give their residents a poor standard of living, but they also are often woefully energy inefficient. They are expensive for their owners and residents to maintain.

    I hope the OP doesn't take offence that I'm suggesting that his flat be knocked down and replaced with something new and efficient. But from a financial perspective, I suspect he would most likely get a better return from such a course than a) trying to make the flat's heating affordable or b) selling the property to some other investor.
    rogerk101 likes this.
  11. Muzungu

    Muzungu Screwfix Select

    Don't quite follow your argument here.

    This is a small landlord that owns a single one bedroom flat in a bigger building. You appear, unless I am misunderstanding you, to be saying that he\she would be better off financially in getting together with the other owners, management company, freeholders and whoever else is involved, getting development finance in place and demolishing the building and rebuilding completely?

    Don't you think that is somewhat fanciful?
    MGW and I-Man like this.
  12. Bob Rathbone

    Bob Rathbone Screwfix Select

    The reality of the current situation with this particular flat is either to fit air source heat pump heating, that will raise the energy efficiency tag, or sell it.
  13. vrDrew63

    vrDrew63 Active Member

    Given the existing regulatory and financial environment for housing development - Yes, it is somewhat fanciful.

    The only organisations that have the resources to do redevelopments like that (ie. demolish and build new) are large homebuilder/development companies. And they aren't really interested in small, low- to medium income properties. They are mainly interested in huge developments, or luxury projects that they can cash out on immediately. But the low- and medium income renter and buyer aren't really their focus.
  14. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    I was given a storage heater to test the bricks we where going to make for them, it was a bit of a failure, idea was use concrete instead of clay to bind the iron ore into a brick, however it was found on heating the brick there was a change of state with the iron ore, which resulted in them on first use releasing a load of water.

    However that is beside the point, I had this modern storage heater to play with, and the problem was however I adjusted the controls, when the heater was being charged it released a load of heat.

    There have been some attempts to house the bricks in some central store, and it did work, but the home was built around the system, it was not added as an after thought, there was also some chemical tested where it used latent heat to store the heat, and also water stores, and latest is battery packs, but there are two major problems, space required and cost. The same applies with heat pumps.

    Over the years we have seen the failed attempts at making the home warmer, from polyurethane ceiling tiles to cladding on the outside of the building, it does seem the new sound and heat resisting plaster board works, but it changes the whole way the building works.

    My parents house had bay windows, back in 1954 these worked well, the steel framed single glazed units did allow the sun to heat the room, but also allowed the heat back out, fitting double glazing resulted in turning the room into a sun trap in the morning, and the heating now needed to respond fast when the sun came out, using a modulating boiler and programmable TRV heads with radiators which did not weigh so much, allowed the heating to adjust much faster.

    So today we are looking at response time, gone is the rolling newspaper and tiring it in knots to light the coal fire. We are looking at plastic film on the windows to stop transfer of heat, and fan assisted heaters to decrease the response time.

    But all this has also resulted in looking at just in time heating, not keeping it warm all day, but only getting room to temperature just in time before it is occupied.

    But I remember our gas fire, we would turn it on, then turn it down, and the room seemed a nice temperature, until you walk out of the room, then walk back in, and the heat hits you, so the main thing is some automated control.

    I have not seen a stand alone storage heater which allows automated control, yet most simple oil filled radiators have it built in. So the big question.

    Will an automated heater which only heats when required and just enough, cost less or more to run than a storage radiator, which uses cheap electric. It is all down to the life style of the flat user.
  15. vrDrew63

    vrDrew63 Active Member

    A few years ago I dutifully helped a friend's children remove the ancient, non-functional storage heaters that cluttered up their cottage. At the time I questioned the utility of these dusty (and electrically dangerous) artefacts.

    OK. Sure. I get it. Domestic electricity is sometimes metered so that it's a bit cheaper in off-peak hours. Save up some warmth when it's a bit cheaper to make, and you'll save some money.

    But to my mind, this was the personification of false economy.

    To begin with, the storage heaters took up a lot of precious floor space. Every room had one of the wretched things, dominating a wall and making a big fraction of the living space unusable. And then there was the fact that electricity, on a kw/hr or BTU basis, was the most expensive way imaginable of heating the home. Short of, I guess, burning £5 notes or Napoleon brandy in the fireplace.

    The thermal elephant in the room was the fact that the entire cottage was dreadfully under-insulated. Rotten single-glazed windows throughout. A couple of which had broken panes. Or the abandoned and mould-encrusted attempt at a second bathroom, a DIY attempt from 30+ years ago that had degenerated into something approaching a hazardous materials dumping ground. "What sort of paint will stop mould from forming?" I was asked. As condensation literally dripped from every fixture and window in the place.

    I remember the tearful phone call from my friend as she huddled beneath a couple of quilts one November night as she did grandmotherly babysitting duty. The log fire she'd laid in the living room had long since burned up the last of the on-hand fuel. And the cylinder that powered the rusty monster of a central-heating boiler had breathed it's last at 8 pm on a Saturday. I remember looking at the weather data for the pretty Wiltshire village her daughter's cottage is in. If I recall it was about 3° C that night. Cool, perhaps. But not the sort of bone-chilling, breath-freezing cold I'd encountered in Minnesota or Montana, in Norway or Finland.

    Storage heaters are an utterly worthless excuse for a half-measure attempt to keep a living space comfortable during the colder months. If "storage heater" is the answer you come up with, then you are asking completely the wrong questions.
    rogerk101 likes this.
  16. The Happy Builder

    The Happy Builder Screwfix Select


    A electric storage heater that costs around a thousand pounds and charges at 3 kW holds 21 kWH of stored heat at the end of the off-peak period.

    Storage batteries that hold 21kWH are going to cost over ten thousand pounds.

    The batteries are more versatile, but purely for space heating you cannot beat the storage heaters when there are no other viable options except direct electric heating.
  17. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    My daughter rented a flat in Shrewsbury, it was a listed building, so double glazing was not an option, the floor was not level, and cows were no longer kept below the flat which would have heated it in medieval times. Since listed there was no restriction on renting the flat even if well below minimum standards.

    She used electric heaters as an when required, in the main oil filled radiators as these had built in thermostats, and stored the heat to a small extent so did not get a large hysteresis in the temperature.

    The building can't be demolished, or modified without English heritage saying OK to any modification, and the county council has to OK any change in use, so if not rented as accommodation, what happens to it?

    But the main point was heating as and when required is far cheaper than heating 24/7 in a poorly insulated building even if the 24/7 option uses cheaper electric if the heating is not required 24/7. Both my daughter and son-in-law worked during the day, so flat only heating in the evening.

    As it stands we have no idea of if heating needed 24/7.
  18. vrDrew63

    vrDrew63 Active Member

    Good question.

    The process whereby Historic England gained effective control over vast swathes of what was previously the private property of tens of thousands of people, and apparently without any form of compensation, is one that is not widely understood.

    But it looks to me as if we have two fundamentally contradictory objectives. A Government policy that, on one hand, declares itself determined to achieve a "Net Zero" carbon economy; running headlong into the same Government's policy that dictates that every cowshed, tenement, brickwork and seminary with the slightest claim to architectural or historical interest be preserved indefinitely.

    Caught in between are millions of landlords, tenants and homeowners. Who must pay to heat and maintain structures that have long outlived their functionally useful lifetimes. And the millions of other people struggling with a shortage of affordable housing.
  19. The Happy Builder

    The Happy Builder Screwfix Select

    Landlords renting out houses and flats that are listed buildings are not exempt from the EPC requirements, they have to do what they can do, which can be a lot of expensive work.
  20. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    Since can't even fit double glazing, that means simply can't rent the property.

    I remember the argument in Chester over fitting a stair lift in a dentists, the local authority said must be fitted, English heritage said no way, so they had to open a second dental surgery with down stairs access on the out skirts of the city. English heritage would not budge.

    Oh dear did it catch fire, what a shame!

    We still have not resolved the problems after the Grenfell tower fire, the theory is easy, tower block is not safe, so re-house everyone until the problem is corrected, but we all know that has not happened as there are not enough flats available. So if from 2017 to 2022 can't sort that, what chance is there to sort the energy rating. Huge mobile home parks so they don't need to comply with building regulations as not buildings?

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