There is, IMHO, an over emphasis by SEI and other environmental agencies on achieving a reduction of the carbon footprint through the promotion of biomass, geo-thermal and other new systems.
Not that I disagree in any way with the fact that this HAS to be done. However, being realistic, most of the heating systems in use are either Oil-fired or Solid Fuel, and most people are not going to spend €7000+ any time soon, and put up with the hassle and disruption of installing completely new and somewhat unproven systems.
With oil trading currently down at $61 a barrel, the price of household central heating oil should now be trading again at 2005 prices and that means approximately €590 per 1000 litres.
So why am I talking about oil prices again do you ask? Well, my thinking was sparked off by contemplating what is the best value for money for existing heating systems in this world-wide recession we find ourselves stuck in.
I have already dealt with an idea that could save 50% or more on fuel for open fires in my posts on "Fireplace Doors".
If oil stays low in price, and if you happen to have a condensing oil boiler, you will be getting excellent value for money, perhaps the best value considering capital outlay and fuel cost.
I recently was invited to visit the Firebird boiler plant in Ballymakeera Co Cork. Firebird is a very successful boilermaker and currently makes a range of oil-fired boilers and a range of high efficiency back-boilers for open fires. The company supplies the UK, France etc. and has a major profile in the boiler market. Firebird employ 185 people and have a very full order book.
Firebird's back boiler is one of the most efficient designs on the market. I own one myself. What I like about it, apart from the high efficiency, is the ease of cleaning.
The place is a beautiful part of southern Ireland, the premises are unassuming and the staff are friendly and relaxed.
I was met by Jim O’Riordan, the Research and Development guy at Firebird, who gave me a tour of the facility. I was quite amazed and very impressed to discover such a highly sophisticated robotic manufacturing facility housed in rather unimpressive sheds.
The R&D department has some new and very exciting designs in the pipeline which, until they are ready for production, they would prefer not to make public. I was shown some of these designs and I am impressed. I will honour their wishes and not comment further. Let me just say these guys are not sitting on their hands, and I have asked to have my name on the list of customers for one of the upcoming developments.
Condensing Oil Boilers
Firebird makes one of the most efficient “condensing” oil boilers on the market. These boilers have a number of unique features. The layout of the flue ways being one.
Firebird has a downward flow in their boiler. The boiler uses stainless steel extensively. It uses a unique design heat-exchanger unit welded by robots!!. The factory robotic welding unit for the stainless steel condenser units is really a “star wars” looking set-up.
The latest Firebird condenser boiler can produce an efficiency of very close to 100% in ideal lab conditions. In an ideally installed and tuned domestic situation, the figure could be expected to go to the mid nineties. This sort of efficiency is a great saving on fuel costs and if you had an elderly boiler it would pay you to install a modern condenser as you could save up to 20%. Two, max three years and you have the cost of the boiler back in fuel savings.