How to choose a heating system for your self-build project

This comprehensive guide covers the key considerations when choosing heating systems for your renovation or self-build.

By Paula Woods | 11 June 2020

Modern technological advances make it easier than ever to stay stylishly cosy and energy efficient. Take these key considerations into account when deciding on your home’s heating mix.

proctor shaw solar power house - grand designs

Image: This new-build house by Proctor & Shaw achieves an extremely low carbon footprint thanks to an all-timber structure and highly efficient envelope, supported by a 3.2kW solar PV array and ground source heat pump

Maintaining your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the colder months is a matter of creating, storing and circulating heat, and whether you’re self-building or renovating, the summer months can be the perfect time to have these systems installed.

Boilers and water tanks

worcester bosch greenstar lifestyle boiler

Image: Greenstar Style boiler, Worcester Bosch

When weighing up product, installation and running costs, a mains gas boiler remains the cheapest fossil-fuel option for central heating. Your property’s size, its level of insulation and the number of bathrooms will influence how powerful it needs to be.

They should, generally, be fitted inside the property, on an exterior wall and vented via a flue. There are strict guidelines surrounding venting, including length and proximity to windows. Make sure you use a qualified Gas Safe installer and check their credentials on the Gas Safe website.

Condensing boilers recycle energy to reuse, so need less to heat water for a bath, shower or to warm your home via underfloor or in-wall heating systems. Well-insulated water tanks operate under mains pressure to supply your taps and shower and, as with condensing boilers, can also work with low-volume wet heating systems.

Energy efficient condensing boilers are compulsory for all new installations. When teamed with a well-insulated water tank they can be supplemented by solar thermal panels or an air source heat pump. Referred to as a system boiler, this arrangement is ideal for bigger homes and those with high demand. A more space efficient combi boiler does not require hot-water storage, as the water is heated on demand, but this precludes it from being used with renewables.

For many, a boiler is the first choice. But with a reduction in the use of fossil fuels an ever-more important consideration, it’s worth thinking about renewable methods and hi-tech control as well as becoming your own energy supplier.