Row of cows at farm in Shropshire

Older property advice: a heating upgrade

13/09/21Older property advice: a heating upgrade

There is a great deal of attraction to living in the countryside. From the fresh air and wide open spaces to the tranquillity and peace of living close to nature – it offers many positives opposite city or suburban life. But the age and remoteness of many rural properties can be a challenge when it comes to keeping up with modern technology, environmental developments, and changing legislation. One example of this is the many ways in which you can heat a property and the advancements that have been made over the years.

‘Grate’ news

Old properties, which were constructed long before anyone talked about such issues as ‘environmental impact’ and ‘global warming’, were almost always heated by coal fires, in an open grate or a wood- or coal-fired stove. Back boilers in a fireplace would often heat the water.

Rooms would be draughty, and walls and windows wouldn’t have any aspects of insulation to retain the heat. Glass would be thin single-glazing and walls would be solid brick, without a cavity.

Nowadays new-builds have every type of insulation to prevent heat loss; from cavity walls and lagged pipes to double glazing and loft insulation. Modern buildings also have an array of vents, to allow the fabric of the building to ‘breathe’. In this way very little heat is lost in the cold weather and ventilation is good when the climate is hot.

Feeling the heat

Heating is one of the key areas where older properties can be upgraded. As coal fires were phased out, central heating systems using boilers and radiators in houses became the norm. These could be powered by a coal-fired boiler, but other options became available, such as oil and gas. Coal is all but obsolete as a home power source these days, with oil and gas soon to follow. None of these fuels are seen as being viable or environmentally-friendly any longer.

If your property was in a remote location, a gas main often wasn’t an option, as the gas network didn’t reach every corner of the country, especially in rural areas. Oil-fired central heating requires an external oil tank for fuel storage, which has to be periodically refilled and is expensive.

Looking to the future, better solutions are going to have to be found to power heating systems, as so-called fossil fuels are not the long-term answer. British electricity is being increasingly generated by low-carbon options, such as wind power. There’s are many new ways to heat properties these days, beyond the soon-to-be-phased-out gas and oil boilers, either with self-powered energy or available electricity.

Home comfort

In the future, using modern, economical heating solutions, such as heat pumps or solar power, will become options too. Heat pumps are an interesting concept. They use external air to heat the inside of a property. The mechanism looks like an air conditioning unit on the outside wall of a building and works like a fridge in reverse. It uses electricity to extract energy from the outside air, to provide heating and hot water.

There are also heat pumps that draw energy from the ground or water. As they are drawing their ‘fuel’ from the environment, they are much more environmentally-friendly. They are also suited equally to older and new properties, in urban or rural locations. These new heating systems can be used in conjunction with other improvements you can make to your property. Simply upgrading all aspects of your property’s insulation system – from installing new windows to insulating your loft – will make a huge difference, both to your pocket and your home comfort.  

Regardless of the age of your property, we are RICS registered valuers and highly experienced in a range of property types. If you need a valuation, get in touch to discuss how we can help.

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