Heating Solutions and Advice

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Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Geotherm on Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:49 pm

One of the most important questions, that seem to appear on most forums in Italy, are the type of winter heating, costs, for different living styles. As we are coming up to that time of year, then this is a dedicated thread for questions and answers.

For new readers, then perhaps we can help and advise on solutions. Sagraiasolar, knows so much about woodburners, heat stores, and more, My knowledge is in heat pumps. I am sure there are many more who can also contribute to the thread and hope that they do in the near future.

I do hope that we do not confuse Ghiro and Flip too much, so their wine consumption will stay low Exclamation Exclamation Exclamation

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:25 pm

This has been done to death on other forums, but indeed is something I think essential to be done again here as I know I found the same culprits here on another forum who give the best advice by far...
I know little or nothing about the subject apart from what I learnt from those people and the little experience we've gained in the brief time we have been here. Someone here just touched on the area I think gets lost in the technical side of things. This is the effort and ability to run a system. Wood is hard work and the sansa we have requires the lifting of 30kg sacks to a hopper 4-5' off the ground. Ok there are ways around this by doing a bit at a time etc... but it's not as easy as flicking a switch or setting the timer now and then.... However an often missed alternative view is the fact the above effort keeps you very fit. Seriously, if you are already fit enough to do it, it will keep you fit! Yes, you also need to plan long term as you may not always be healthy enough to cut (excuse the pun) it... Wood burner for us is our new TV.... Oh forgot re previous post, we do have a microwave, we never use it, but the kids visit and "have to" have one... Think this PC on all day and night uses more electric...  Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by ghiro on Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:02 pm

Geotherm wrote:I do hope that we do not confuse Ghiro and Flip too much, so their wine consumption will stay low Exclamation Exclamation Exclamation
A quick answer before the Brunello di Montalcino kicks in! Smile

When we started restoring Casa Ghiro 7 years ago we were 'energy virgins'!  The costs of heating didn't enter our heads.  So a large gas boiler, a GPL bombolone and multiple large radiators were installed.  Shortly after moving in we realised that heating the house that way was costing us a €zillion every day! Sad Sad

Luckily we own a lot of woodland around the house and we have a tame superman Romanian who can transform a large dead tree into firewood, and stack it, in less time than it takes to go to the ATM to pay him!

So currently:

  • We wear lots of clothing when it's cold
  • We huddle around wood fires
  • We only use the central heating in extreme emergencies
  • We have a portable electric oil-filled radiator just to keep our infant grandchild warm at night
  • We believe that significant red wine consumption protects against hypothermia!


Last edited by ghiro on Sun Sep 29, 2013 10:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Geotherm on Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:16 pm

Know how you feel Steve, as it is always a very difficult area to get your head round, especially in Italy. Saying that though, I am helping people in the UK with heat pump problems, but that is a non related subject.
Sagraiasolar, can help with the advice on the heating solutions I earlier suggested and I hope others contribute as well. My field is purely geothermal, as we do not do oil, lpg etc.

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Gala Placidia on Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:39 pm

I think that one of the most important matters related to efficient heating is to have proper insulation. You may invest in the best and most appropriate heating system in the world; however, if the home lacks good insulation, you are wasting all that heat. Any experts on this field?
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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Geotherm on Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:56 pm

Do not think you will get any expert advice, without a thermal analysis of the property. This is a problem that we find, as many architects, geometres etc do not have the software, to give a full analysis. Obviously insulation is the key factor.
If I remember rightly, the program is circa Euro 1000.00. We will only give a estimated pump size on the size of the property, without this info, but only confirm on the thermal analysis, as we do not want to under or oversize. Undersize can be by 10%. Oversize is not advised.

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I really don't like that mouse...

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:57 pm

ghiro wrote:
Geotherm wrote:I do hope that we do not confuse Ghiro and Flip too much, so their wine consumption will stay low Exclamation Exclamation Exclamation
A quick answer before the Brunello di Montalcino kicks in! :)When we started restoring Casa Ghiro 7 years ago we were 'energy virgins'!  The costs of heating didn't enter our heads.  So a large gas boiler, a GPL bombolone and multiple large radiators were installed.  Shortly after moving in we realised that heating the house that way was costing us a €zillion every day! Sad Sad

Luckily we own a lot of woodland around the house and we have a tame superman Romanian who can transform a large dead tree into firewood, and stack it, in less time than it takes to go to the ATM to pay him!

So currently:

  • We wear lots of clothing when it's cold
  • We huddle around wood fires
  • We only use the central heating in extreme emergencies
  • We have an portable electric oil-filled radiator just to keep our infant grandchild warm at night
  • We believe that significant red wine consumption protects against hypothermia!
... as one has just eaten through my sansa bags..!!!  But love the post... but red wine is old hat...

We don't like the whole house super hot (main room 24c, hardly ever below, does have the wood burner in it), many do..... This is very important as many people have different views on what is comfortable heating for the house and if anything like us, this will change
a) as you get older and
b) if you come to Italy from a colder country

I would agree insulation is of prime importance (especially to us eco guys), but at the end of the day you just want to be warm and it may take a lot of time and effort to improve the insulation...However don't ignore it if you have the opportunity to do something about it... 

Since getting "Rose" (don't ask) the wood burner, we have never been cold in the house here... Ok we may have to run (yes we still can) from the bathroom to the living room... But once the wood is cut down, sawn up and stacked - where else would we get our exercise in the winter - clean answers only please....

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Panner on Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:04 am

Geotherm wrote:Do not think you will get any expert advice, without a thermal analysis of the property. This is a problem that we find, as many architects, geometres etc do not have the software, to give a full analysis. Obviously insulation is the key factor.If I remember rightly, the program is circa Euro 1000.00. We will only give a estimated pump size on the size of the property, without this info, but only confirm on the thermal analysis, as we do not want to under or oversize. Undersize can be by 10%. Oversize is not advised.

By thermal analysis I presume you mean the calculations of heat loss at target internal and external temperatures based on the size and type of materials (walls/windows/roof etc) and their respective thermal conductivity to give the heat input, and therefore pump size, required. If so it is possible to work out an approximate figure using some of the basic formula/programs on the net. Biggest problem, after getting the measurements, is finding or estimating the thermal conductivity of the materials. Obviously not as good as the sophisticated software costing Euro 1000 but can be sufficient to work with in doing an initial estimate of pump size.

I understand why you should not oversize a GSHP but my understanding is that with an ASHP it is better to slightly oversize rather than undersize as the inverter technology automatically reduces the load (power drawn) according to demand whereas the GSHP (like the older pre inverter ASHPs) simply cycles on or off. With the ASHP this avoids running flat out constantly and having insufficient heat (unless there is another heat source to supplement it.

I quite agree that without a thermal analysis of a building any estimate of the pump size is more of a guesstimate and needs to be verified by doing the calculations and any advice/comments made regarding heating types/costs in in specific circumstances can only be general in nature and cannot be taken as expert advice.

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Flip on Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:06 am

Hick.....wash all dish about den.....
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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Geotherm on Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:32 am

Hi Panner.

With regard to the thermal analysis, there is a law here that it has to be registered in the commune. On our questionnaire, that we send out, we always ask if this has been obtained, to correctly size the unit. See below:



D)  Do you know the thermal loads (in watt) at design conditions for your building (according italian law 10/91 and 192/2005)?
d1) NO (in this case we will do an estimate; we suggest you obtain an analysis of the thermal loads from a technical engineer or from our company)
               
d2) □ YES. In this case, Please read your report and tell us : Watt (Watt Heating load from the building to the outside at local design conditions. (attention: they are not the same as the  boiler capacity): Thermal loads Watts ____W + thermal loads for ventilation____W = Total thermal loads=____W
Please if available send us climate data that are stated in your report about your location.

With the tax deduction of up to 65%, currently available up to the end of this year, ( do not know if it will be extended ), then a thermal engineer has to also certify that the energy saving of the heat pump is at least 20% more than the previous system for a retrofit.

The inverter technology has got a lot better and does work as you say, as it is balanced better. Always wonder what will come along next!!

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Panner on Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:57 am

Thanks Geotherm

I now understand what you meant 

Do you know what a typical Thermal Analysis costs?

Do not know if you have seen it but there is a statement regarding incentives issued on 18 Sept "LE AGEVOLAZIONI FISCALI PER IL RISPARMIO ENERGETICO" (re Decree-Law No. 63/2013 and Circular 29/E of 18 Sept 2013) . My italian is very limited but seems to indicate it will be 36% from 1 Jan 2014 in place of the current 55%/65% incentives but not clear to me it covers retrofitting heat pumps after that date.


If you do not have a copy let me know and I will email it to you.

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Geotherm on Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:09 am

The thermal analysis is usually around Euro3 per m2 of the property, as it is quite a detailed document.

Thanks for the new decree info, as I had not seen that, and looking at it, it does seem that the incentive is being reduced. What you can also take into account though is that it still seems to include replacing windows and increasing insulation.

The site that I normally use to keep up to date is this one, but had not looked at it for a while!!
http://www.acs.enea.it/index.html

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Panner on Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:23 am

Thanks Geotherm

Have added that site to my favorites

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:42 pm

Looking for advice/information. Will an air source heat pump help with a property where condensation is a problem?

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Vicino on Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:54 am

Steve,

There are experts on this Forum who will no doubt advise, we started out with an open fire and gas fire central heating, due to the fact that we were all 'sorted' we eventually moved to two stufas, which have worked very well. We would, looking back, have much preferred a heat pump type system, but hey ho !

I do recall that our geometra at the said that we should keep the rooms ventilated, which we do to a point, without doubt ventilation is a key to limit damp/condensation.

We are looking to put a few more air vents around our property, but concerned that when the winds start blowing (and they blow !!), we will need to close them off !

la bella vita italiana !!

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Gala Placidia on Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:38 am

Condensation can be effectively controlled through proper heating and cross ventilation.
The type of heating source has to be chosen according to the particular characteristics of the home, length of stay in it, availability and quite a few other factors.
The other important element, as it has been pointed out, is ventilation; however, to be effective, it must be CROSS VENTILATION. 
If you combine the two, you have an effective solution.
Cross ventilation does not mean having all doors and windows permanently open. Strategically located vents will be more effective.
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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:20 am

My OH was a damp-proofing contractor in the UK and used to do surveys for banks for mortgages etc. He says ventilation is key but another big factor especially to consider for renovations is the modern impermeable materials used. Paints that don't breathe for example, fully-tiled bathrooms with no extractors, cement renders, uninsulated tiled floors etc.
At the end of the day condensation is caused by warm damp air hitting a cold surface so minimise the cold surfaces by a good choice of materials and insulation.
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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:22 am

Thanks V and Gala. My request for "advice", should have probably said "information". I did rush with the question a little and should have also added a bit more background i.e. in UK, bungalow, only a minor problem in 2 North facing walls, with preservation oak wood outside....

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:11 am

Thinking about Gala's response I should have also added, as I always do, I've read upon many a web site about condensation (hence I now know it is just that), air flow, amount of moisture in the air. I'm now the owner of a cheap moisture meter and not so cheap dehumidifier ... The latter has reduced the % moisture to below 60% most of the time, but is far too noisy to have on over night. Hence the question as a view to a much more expensive solution. Of course I will try others (cheaper) before that...

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Geotherm on Fri Jan 24, 2014 12:45 pm

Steve.
Where is the main centre of the damp that is coming through? Is it on windows, as that is the usual area that is first noticed and bathroom and Kitchen?
Are the windows double glazed and how are you heating the house? on a on/off situation or constant?
Some ventilation, may be the key, if not already there, but there may be other factors in the equation.

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:33 pm

Geotherm wrote:Steve.Where is the main centre of the damp that is coming through? Is it on windows, as that is the usual area that is first noticed and bathroom and Kitchen?Are the windows double glazed and how are you heating the house? on a on/off situation or constant?Some ventilation, may be the key, if not already there, but there may be other factors in the equation.

Geo the main centre of the damp is where the outside (North) wall meets the ceiling. It varies between a 1-3cm line. There is also a little around the window walls in both rooms. The heating is a gas and is on 08:00 until 23:00 @ 20c. It is double glazed and very well insulated walls and loft (but not under floor), very recent and very good. The only slight concern I have is that there is a gap at the eaves of at least 60cm where there is no insulation. I know you need a gap between the insulation and roof for the air flow in there, but this seems  a large area (where the problem is below) that is not insulated. I agree ventilation is key, hence we open the windows 10-15 minutes daily with the heating on, it does bring the moisture level down from 62% to 50 ish, but that's money out of the window. The dehumidifier also helps, but no where near as much as the window opening. There does seem to be a lot about extractors on the market for pulling out moisture, heating the air coming in, which is another option down the line. The reason I asked my question is because the person before us that had the place put in a patio door in one of the rooms and I'm guessing the nice big rad under the original window was replaced with a small, but double rad, which I suspect is part of the problem. However the other room is as was and also has the problem (just not quite as bad). It's not a major problem, but obviously one we would like to solve...   Smile  Smile  Smile

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Geotherm on Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:13 pm

Steve.

It may be that one of the problems is the heating going off from 23.00 to 08.00. I would use a setback to maybe 17C on the thermostat for overnight, as a first test for a week maybe, to see if that helps to resolve or reduce the issue.

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:28 pm

Thanks Geo, will give it a try, but we hate having the heating on overnight... There is an overnight setting on the heating, but we have it at about 12c... Another possibility of course is the fact we are not here most of the year, but tend to come back Nov/Dec and add heat to a cold house. Although relatives do use the house now and then it's only a week here and there...

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by Geotherm on Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:07 pm

Sorry Steve, I thought you were there the whole year as a full time resident. That changes the situation more, as you are heating the building up from a internal temperature of 12C to 20C, so you have far more risk of condensation.
You may need to set the heating to say 15C, as 10/12C is basically a frost level setting.

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Re: Heating Solutions and Advice

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:37 pm

Geotherm wrote:Sorry Steve, I thought you were there the whole year as a full time resident. That changes the situation more, as you are heating the building up from a internal temperature of 12C to 20C, so you have far more risk of condensation.You may need to set the heating to say 15C, as 10/12C is basically a frost level setting.

No Geo we spend most of the time in Italy and really will likely only come back to the UK for Crimbo for 3-4 week, although we do come back now and then on other occasions (guess funerals at our age...) for 1-3 weeks... The boiler has a "don't let me freeze" feature where it looks after itself and switches on at 9c, so we set the overnight to 9.5c.... I know - mean.. Went to 11c a few weeks ago, but will now reset to 15c!

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