As information on how to install central heating is available from the suppliers of various fuels, each competing against the other to get your business, we will confine the present section to discussing heating in general, giving the relative merits of the four methods: solid fuel, oil, gas and electricity.
Not that this is easy, because what is best for one household is not necessarily so for another. A lot of things have to be considered: size of house, its age and construction, whether all over or partial heating is required, whether the occupants are in all day or only in the evenings, whether the family includes teenagers wanting bedroom-studies or very young children requiring a copious supply of hot water for laundry work as well as atmospheric warmth. There is no universal best buy. Each householder will have to think things out over a period of months, learning from the experience of friends in similar positions and occupying similar types of homes before reaching a decision as to what would be the cheapest and most efficient for his particular requirements. He might then deem it wise to check his findings with a qualified heating engineer.
Some form of central heating is now regarded more as a necessity than a luxury — coming fourth in domestic requirements and yielding only to car, television set and washing machine. Although it seems hardly necessary to extol its virtues, we will run over the advantages so completing the picture.
In addition to comfort, these are:
(i) Economy. Central heating could save a third in fuel costs for a comparative heat output from individual fires.
(ii) No smoke or fumes in the rooms served by the heating.
(iii) Because of (ii) decorations will last three times as long and less cleaning will be required.
(iv) Greater safety than with open fires, individual oil stoves, gas fires or portable electric appliances.
(v) Reduction in draughts.
(vi) Better health for the occupants of the house because cold patches will be eliminated and temperatures will be fairly even from one room to another.
(vii) Because cold patches can be eliminated, every inch of a room can be utilized. Double glazing will also help here.
(viii) Less condensation because walls will stay constantly warm. It takes a relatively cold surface for air to shrink in volume sufficiently to deposit its normal moisture.
Ranges of Heating
It is a simple matter to turn down the heating but impossible to turn it up if the system is already working to capacity. Make sure, therefore, that whatever system you install is adequate for yourfull requirements. Start by working out the cubic measurements of your house.
While we are about it, here are rough estimates of the daily amount of hot water that a family of three will need:
Bath: 90 litres (20 gallons) each person, to which 45 litres (10 gallons) of cold water will no doubt be added.
Washing hands and face: 7 to 10 litres (1+ to 2 gallons) for each person each time.
Washing dishes: 23 litres (5 gallons).
If each person takes one bath a day, and washes his hands three times and the dishes are washed four times, this will amount to nearly 150 litres (30 gallons) a person. So a
cylinder holding about 160 litres (35 gallons) will be required to heat from cold three times a day.
Kinds of central heating
Here are four kinds of central heating:
- Full Central Heating. Warms every room throughout the house without additional heating. It should maintain a temperature in the living-room of between 18° and 21°C (65° to 70°F), hall and landing 16° to 18°C (60° to 65°F), bathroom and bedroom 14° to 18°C (55° to 65°F).
- Background Central Heating. Achieves an all-over temperature lower than that of full heating, say 10° to 15°C (50° to 60°F), to be supplemented as required by individual appliances.
- Partial Central Heating. Confined to one part of the house, maybe the ground floor only or hall, landing and bathroom.
- Selective Central Heating. Although this may cover the whole house, only certain parts can be heated at any one time. That is to say, if you have radiators in five rooms, only two or three can be turned on at once, as required.
There are package deals in heating for those with a limited amount of money to spend. They need close collaboration with the supplier to ensure that the square footage of radiators is not stretched too far.
Wet and Dry Heating Systems
Broadly speaking, systems are either wet or dry. New ideas are continuously being exploited, however, which may not come within these precise categories.
Wet systems employ water heated by solid fuel, oil or gas, and require a draught to carry waste products outside the house by means of a flue. In the old type, hot water is circulated through radiators by gravity, relying upon the principle of water expanding as it heats up, becoming lighter than the cold water above, and displacing it. In the modern type, water is circulated through narrow pipes (known as the small bore system) by means of a pump.
Advantages of the wet system
(i) Easy to install.
(ii) As this is the most common form of heating there will be no difficulty in finding a competent installer should you not want to do it yourself.
(iii) Will also supply domestic hot water.
Dry systems are those in which air is warmed and passed into rooms through ducts. Such installations hardly come within the do it yourself field because of the complex work involved in ducting connections. If you wish to have a go, however, manufacturers will often provide working layouts.
Advantages of the dry system
(i) A room is heated quickly.
(ii) Some systems provide cool air in the summer and the more expensive incorporate air-conditioning — which means that the room remains clean without dusting.
(iii) The grilles are inconspicuous and make decoration of the room easier.