My first (of what will be many) dumb question.

Current plan is to finish the renovations of the house I hope (dont have keys yet) I have bought in Trebes and then to rent it out for 2-3 years prior to retiring there. I therefore dont want to spend a fortune on it - in fact I quite like the term slum landlord but in moderation. It does mean that I need to get the work done more quickly than I would like as I need to finish by Xmas and the supervisor is my son Tim who took 9 years to finish a 3 year degree (yes you are right - I may not have fully thought out this whole process :slight_smile: but what the hey !! -

My real estate agent (Access Immobilier Trebes- Sonia who has been very very good and helpful) tells me that the best (probably means cheapest) heating would be electric units in each room and that these can vary from 30-100 Euro each.

I’m an Australian living near the equator in Africa - what do I know about heating ?

I’s appreciate any advice as I am sitting next to an oil filled electric column heater here now (back in Aus for a few days to sort out passports) that I bought about 15 years ago and wondered if that is a cost effective way of doing it or am I totally out of date. Any suggestions much appreciated. PS its an old house in Trebes butting up against other places so reverse cycle aircon would be out I would think

The other issue that did confuse me on my visits to many properties was the dearth of kitchens - Frankly most of them (including mine) could best be described as varying from primitive to non existent. While the agents all told me that is normal, I have a problem picturing tenants wandering from rental to rental like gypsies with an oven strapped to their backs.

Despite the desire to be a slum landlord, I feel I should at least put some sort of kitchen in - we have a sink and one cupboard under it at present. Given this (and the fact that I dont want to spend a fortune), it feels like flat packs may be the way to go. I’d appreciate any advice in this area - have I got it totally wrong and if not, can you recommend any flat pack manufacturers (I am assuming these would be something like Ikea) and is it possible to hire someone to install it or is that not done.

I did see some catalogues while there and frankly thought the prices werent bad but given my French involves ordering one beer over and over as I dont know how to order two, there may well have been fine print I was missing and the price was for the photo of the kitchen, not the kitchen itself

Thanks in advance


The payback time is important for everyone. for most solar water installations it should be 5-8 years in France.


this is from wikipedia ; "In 2005, Spain became the first country in the world to require the installation of photovoltaic electricity generation in new buildings, and the second (after Israel) to require the installation of solar water heating systems in 2006.[9]" .....Solar water heating systems have become popular in China, where basic models start at around 1,500 yuan (US$190), much cheaper than in Western countries (around 80% cheaper for a given size of collector). It is said that at least 30 million Chinese households now have one, and that the popularity is due to the efficient evacuated tubes which allow the heaters to function even under gray skies and at temperatures well below freezing.[14]

France lags behind by a long way and the UK has an appalling attitude to renewables. It's not due to climate because Germany leads us by miles.

My view is that if you can be bothered to be green with your home renovation, you will get MORE financial benefits than other renovation IMMEDIATELY because the value of your home immediately rises up the RATINGS scale when a french estate agent rates it's energy use(NB this is now MANDATORY at last!).

So you don't need to wait for years for payback because your equity has immediately been increased and your tenants will be happier and prepared to pay more for a greener home.

Even if you have to borrow the money your are simply using the banks resources to invest wisely and you are making sure that all your hard work in renovating a home will be used in a sustainable way. You can pay the loan and the interest off with the savings on the heating bills and keep the change as soon as the system is working.. Isn't that better than investing 100% of it on expensive,outdated nuclear powered electricity?

* When working out the "payback" dont get confused with solar electricity--which is more like 5-15 years than 3-8.

If you're doing the work yourself it's a quicker payback period.

Thats answered all our questions then, think going green is ok if you are in your 20s, i am really looking at a wood burner to run my heating and hot water but with all the companies i have contacted as soon as i say i dont want solar panels they loose interest and I just get vague answers so where is the money made i wonder, is it promoting green options or we can make a lot of money on solar panels

I have similar issues - whilst I want to be green, one of the referred Internet sites seemed (I couldnt really analyse in detail as very dodgy connections here - Internet works on Tuesdays with a W in them, electricity on alternate days)implied a pay back period of 19-20 years

I have been having a similar discussion with a friend of mine who has no central heating at all in his rather large house and during the winter months the house is full of pockets of very cold air, he has two wood burners but will only fire one up at a time, as you move from room to room the temperature drop is dramatic he also has dotted around the house small electric heaters than give out so little heat as to be totally ineffective his theory when asked about installing a heating system or/and solar panels is the cost, he wouldn’t be around long enough to get the benefit if he was 30 years younger then I would be cost effective we have oil heating which I am hoping to move away from also a large wood burning cooker stove in the kitchen which when running at full chat will not only cook our meals i.e. a dinner party for 6 but will warm 90% of the house downstairs plus if the stairs door is left open the landing and bedrooms, last winter which was our first we used 6 stere of wood for the heating and cooking it was a learning curve and I tended to stoke up the stove unnecessarily wasting a lot of heat going to the oven and having to cool it down to be able to cook fitting solar panels for water heating I suppose I should do a costing exercise how much it cost to heat the water using electricity against mainly free solar but how much to fit the panels, I am almost 64 I hope to be around another 20 years at least would it be worth my while or am I looking down the wrong end of the telescope

Thanks a lot - I’ll follow up

I posted an energy and electricity page a while ago here.
so some of the links might help you start.

electricity and energy page

I live in Chauvigny, which is very small and has a medieval city in the centre. There are several solar roofs around quite close to the city, which must be in the French equivalent of a listed buildings catagory. I get the impression planners are much more eco-friendly here, probably due to the extreme weather ergo the higher necessity to face reality!

I would ask…the worst that can happen is they say no. A good argument for a planning proposal is to mention how your project will be investing in future energy development and providing much needed input to rural economies (lots of rural industrial growth in the renewables sector) If it has any tourist relevance you can also give it an eco-tourist label.

I almost forgot the most important thing…have you noticed the energy rating they are giving to all homes now in estate agents? It means you will need an energy usage calculation done when you advertise the house for rent, and it will be rated for efficiency…I think its A to E, green to red, like when you buy an electrical appliance.

So my take on this is that every penny you spend now on insulation and renewables, will give you a euro back in future on higher rentable value revenue and reduced bills.

good luck with the planning and keep us up to date about how you’re getting on.

Thanks for the advice. Despite my desire to be promoted to the level of slum landlord, I actually agree with everything you said and have just installed a solar hot water system at the house in Australia.
Do you have any suggestions of where on the Net I could start looking at cost/availability of solar in France.
Also any idea of restrictions on where you can install these because of appearance. At home, I live on 5 acres and have no neighbours overlooking the house so appearance is not an issue. I have no idea if there are restrictions in a village as old as Trebes (especially opposite a church),designed to preserve the village appearance


The cheapest heating to instal would probably be these heaters, but it certainly will be the most expensive for your tenant and for you when you have retired. If you want to retire in relative luxury without having to worry about either the heating bills or the state of the planet you’ll be willing to future generations, I strongly urge you to look at the range of solar water heating systems around, which are more expensive to instal than simple electric heaters, but will give you a MINIMUM of 50% free hot water for heating AND cleaning/bathing ALL YEAR ROUND and ALL your cleaning/bathing needs in summer. You could then use one or 2 electric heaters or a woodburner (very cheap) or small boiler in winter to supplement the sytem. Perfect if you’re resoring a place. Especially here in France, these systems are very efficient. They’re even worth the effort in the UK and Germany, where they were developed originally, i think. By the way, I’m not in the business, I buy antique woodstoves here and renovate them.

Thank you very much for the advice

Thanks very much for that.

Hi Stephen

We are landlords of flats and we put in kitchens - we use Brico depot for kitchens and worktop - they are durable and relatively cheap and look pretty good too. Just make sure you buy the hydrofuge worktop - the cheaper stuff is useless and bubbles up on contact with water. You can see their range on their website here (we buy the Luna one).


Mr Bricolage often has a sale on work top and you can get 3m hydrofuge 38mm for around 65 euros.

However - if you’re renting for a short time before you go in then why go to the expense of a kitchen (especially if you need to pay someone to fit it and you have time constraints) if you’ll be replacing it in a few years anyway? The french don’t expect a kitchen and some get disappointed if there is not enough space for the items they already have. If there’s a sink with hot and cold water, that’s all you have to supply - I would just repace the sink & unit if it’s nasty and that’ll do.

Regarding heating, we use the panneaux rayonnants (not convectors) which are reasonably priced and really efficient to run. We calculated needing 2kW in a bedroom but only ever needed about 1500W max because they work so well. We buy the Equation/Welcome brand from Leroy merlin and no problems 4 years in…They also come with a fil pilote so you can fit a programmer in the house too if you want.



G’Day Stephen,
At the moment I’m hiding inside by a big fan, with the outside temperature at 38°C and still rising, so it’s a little hard to talk about heating, but I’ll try!

Firstly, you need to be sure that the supply to the house, the consumer unit and the house wiring are adequate for electric heating. You can’t install a dozen 2KW convectors if your supply is 9KW and the wiring is 6A two-pin plugs. So, if you are renovating, think of the need for rewiring - you don’t want to cut wiring channels through newly-plastered and painted walls.

If you have adequate power sockets in each room to be heated then free-standing oil-filled convectors like these are a cheap option. They’re available in a range of powers from say 800W to 2400W.

The French often use panel convectors fixed to the wall and permanently wired, such as these. They’re available in powers of 500 to 2000W and are less likely to be nicked by your slum tenants.You can fit a programmer to one master panel and then run a pilot wire through the heating circuit which switches on the other panels when commanded by the programmer.

In my view the latter option is a more professional approach, if slightly more expensive to install.

On the kitchen front, you can buy pre-equipped, pre-designed kitchens that will enable your slum tenants to heat up their take-away pizzas - here are some from Castorama.

The French are very in to DIY and “Système D” - so you or your son Tim should be able to sort something out.


Hi Stephen
I’d also recommend you join the Long Term Lets group on SFN - and copy and paste your post there. Kate (who hosts the group) is a fountain of wisdom and there are lots of other SFN landlords who’ll be able to advise! Best Cx

Thanks for the quick reply (especially given what time it must be there).
Yes it is Trebes near Carcassonne.
Thanks for the advice about the Languedoc group - I have joined it

Hi Stephen. Are you buying/have bought in Trebes near Carcassonne? If so, one of our members here, Phillip Espley, bought a house he renovated nearby and firstly, may be able to answer some of your questions, and secondly masy know the best places to buy (or those to avoid). We’re about 40 minutes drive away from Trebes and haven’t bought yet, so we have yet to become slum landlords - which would be somewhat ironic - as we are Irish! Anyway, hope you get some answers here. Don’t forget also, if it is indeed Trebes near Carcassonne, to join the Languedoc group here. Take care and good luck. Sheila