Replacing your existing regular boiler with a new equivalent system should result in large savings to your energy bills (dependant on the age of the model you are replacing). This is not only a result of the condensing element of the regular boiler, but also the technical advances that have led to increased fuel efficiency, meaning more of the fuel is converted to useful heat in the boiler.
What is a heat only boiler?
Regular heat only boilers are the simplest types of boiler and in the past have been installed in the majority of homes in the UK. They create the hot water required for both your central heating system and the hot water that comes out of your taps.
A heat only boiler requires a hot water tank
A regular heat only boiler will always require a hot water tank and then may also require a cold-water header tank in the loft depending on whether you are operating a vented or unvented hot water cylinder system.
Unvented hot water systems (also known as a sealed system) operate under mains pressure, and take advantage of a bubble of air in the cylinder or a separate expansion vessel to allow expansion of the hot water. For this reason no cold water header tank is necessary.
Vented hot water systems also require a cold water tank. Conversely in a vented hot water system the hot water uses the vent pipe for expansion (which connects the hot water tank and the cold water header tank), therefore it requires a cold water tank in the roof.
Heat only boilers with solar thermal
Like system boilers, regular heat only boilers are also compatible with solar thermal solutions; therefore if you have this type of boiler already and want to reduce your heating bills, installing a solar thermal solution will do this. By creating hot water using the sun, you can also take advantage of the RHI scheme that launches in Spring 2015, which will pay you for the hot water you create.
Condensing heat only boilers
As with the other types of boiler, any open vent boiler bought today will be a condensing open vent boiler, and will capture the latent heat in the exhaust fumes of the boiler with a heat exchanger, so less fuel is used to produce the same amount of heat.
Oil heat only boiler system
Heat only oil boilers are floor mounted due to weight.
Gas heat only boiler system
Gas heat only boilers can be wall mounted.
Advantages of heat only boilers
Since regular heat only boilers are the most basic type of boiler, they have better reliability and are much cheaper to install.
The other major benefit of having a hot water tank in your heating system is that you can pull hot water from multiple sources at the same time without any loss of pressure, since you have a large store of readily created hot water.
In addition most hot water tanks have electric immersion heaters associated with them so you can still get hot water even if your indirect hot water source (i.e. the hot water from the regular boiler) stops entering the hot water tank. This is obviously a benefit over combi boilers that if broken will not be able to create any hot water at all.
Please refer to the hot water tank section for more information on the two types of hot water cylinder systems available.
Limitations of heat only boilers
On the flipside, since you are always are required to install a hot water tank and may also need to install a cold water tank (depending on the hot water cylinder type) when you install a regular boiler, they take up far more space than a combi boiler, so this needs to be considered before you make the investment decision.
Another issue with having a hot water tank cylinder is that as soon as you use all the hot water, then the boiler (indirect heating system) or immersion heater (direct heating system) will need to be switched on to replenish the water.
The final issue is that since you are storing hot water, there will obviously be heat lost from the hot water cylinder. Conversely combi boilers create hot water on demand so there are no heat loss issues with these.
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