I had been pondering how to heat my house in the future, even before last spring and summer my boiler started breaking down repeatedly. It is just a bog standard gas boiler; that thing has no future. But what to replace it with? If money, time, and inconvenience don't matter, then a heat pump would be ideal, but the problem is that I don't really want to half-demolish the house in order to install a heat pump. Apart from the fact that I don't think I could at this moment afford it! But then what?
The good thing about my side gig is that it forces me to dive deeper into questions like this. If I want to tell other people what they can do about climate change, then I need to know it myself as well! So it focused the mind. So what else is there?
I want solar panels on my roof sooner or later, but heating your house with solar panels doesn't sound like the most logical thing to do. You take light and turn it into heat. Not as efficient as using heat directly for using the house! And there is such a thing as thermo-solar heating. You basically just have black tubes on the roof or thereabouts, and the sun directly warms your water. All sources I found, though, suggested that that is not enough to heat your house. It will be enough for your hot water demands, but what are these, anyway? I've been having cold showers for the best part of a year now, so my hot water demands are only for dishes. And how often do I do the dishes? Twice a week?
What about hydrogen boiler? If you burn hydrogen, you do not emit greenhouse gases. And the idea is good, but there are two issues with this; firstly: how is the hydrogen produced? If that causes emissions then you have not actually made an improvement. And there is not enough sustainably produced hydrogen around to heat the country's houses. And the other thing is that hydrogen is not yet supplied in the gas net, and you can't buy a hydrogen boiler yet. The best you can do is buy a boiler that can take a 20% hydrogen fuel mix, and hope that that will become useful in the near future. And keep your fingers crossed for how that hydrogen will be generated.
I came across another possibility, though: infrared heating. Infrared heating works well in draughty places. This does mean you can use them without first having to clad your house in a thick layer of cork or other insulating material. And if you have solar panels on the roof, and a big fat battery somewhere, then you could use the sun to heat your house. When the sun shines you probably don't need much heating, but you can store the energy, and switch the heaters on when you need them. I think the idea is good for a one-person household, especially one with a cat; the thing is that not all my rooms need to be warm. I only be in one place at the same time and only that place needs to be warm. And infrared heaters work rather quickly. You can just only heat the place where you are. And I tend to keep all my doors open so the cat can freely roam around the house; that does mean that if I heat one room, that heat will escape and start heating the rest of the house. And I might not be in that rest of the house. But with infrared heating, the heat is more likely to stay put. So I could keep all doors open and still only heat the part of the house I need!
Getting solar panels, and a battery, and infrared panels is altogether quite an expense, but I can do it in bits. I suppose the first thing needs to be the solar panels. Then I might be skint for a bit. The next thing will be the battery. And then the last thing will be the infrared heaters. I can just start with one to see how I like it! Suppose I don't like it, then I am still generating sustainable energy, so nothing is lost. And if I do like it I just keep adding more infrared heaters until the whole house is heated by them. It doesn't really matter there would be a redundant boiler gathering dust in a corner! And some radiators on the walls.
And then in the long run a heat pump could still be installed, but that is something I will think about when the time is right to do so.
I suppose the time might have come to find some local installers of solar panels, and get a bit of an idea of what can be done. I have more or less south facing roof, so I think the location is fine. That part of the roof is not very accessible; below it is the roof of the neighbour's house, rather than just the ground. If you want to put scaffolding up you have to come from the side. That can't be ideal! But I suppose that solar panel fitters have seen and done it all, and are not fazed by a bit of an awkward roof. And the neighbour already has them, and he has a very comparable roof, so the type of roof shouldn't be the problem either. I suppose it would be a question of finding out how big, and what supplier and installer. And if I can find a setup that is satisfactory and feasible, and I make it happen, then I would have taken an important step in the right direction!
|My not-very-accessible but south-facing roof|