I would be really grateful to hear of people's experiences and advice with regard to heating a house the most effective way in France. We have bought a house in Haute Vienne to retire to shortly - it is in good working order and with few major alterations needed. However it will, next winter, when we are permanently resident, need some major work done on it to keep us warm! It has previously only been a second home/summer residence. First step, we realise, is to insulate the loft, as this has not been done. The house has two wood burners but burning these day in day out would not seem a good way to go and background heat for bedrooms/kitchen etc is needed. We are not sure of the best way forward and what system to purchase. Any recommendations would be appreciated, obviously bearing in mind that running costs is a factor. I understand Economy 7 as such does not work the way it does in UK; we have been advised to use "Air to Air" heating and also advised that "des chauffages à fluides calorifiques" would be a good way forward - the actual meaning/translation of which I am not sure!

Any advice or tales of previous experiences (good or otherwise) would be really very much appreciated.

Hi Jennifer, i'm just down the road from you in St Junien where we have mains gas which is great but rather pricey like most other forms of heating nowadays. It gets quite nippy in the west Haute Vienne but even colder the further east you are. What kind of property do you have ? If you have a stone property and your walls are not insulated will mean a more challenging job to keep the place warm. ? The roof insulation is a must of course. I live on one level and this winter my gas central heating bills have dropped quite dramatically thanks to a new woodburner which just about heats throughout the accommodation. I should have installed the woodburner years ago ! Double glazing is great also of course and a good way to reduce heat loss so such an investment, if you don't aleady have it would be a worthwhile investment. Basically, anything you do to improve insulation will reduce heating bills which is as true in France as it is anywhere else.

Will keep an eye on this topic as we are in the same position having recently purchased in the dordogne and still trying to decide the best way to go with the heating.

I agree about the solar, it works well on more than just summer days.

Simon, that's a bit of broad statement without more facts and figures. Solar can work in the middle of very cold weather providing there is some brightness. They use it for hot water in Antarctica.


A friend of mine has a 3000ltr Avkertherm (sp) hot water storage system and it seldom requires any electrical top up.

Owning two old french rubbish wood burners is no match for a good high efficiency one like Burley stoves or Waltherm Zebru.

You can forgo the fan heaters if fans are fitted to the radiators as they would warm the room faster being large than 2kw in most cases.

Insulation is the key though.

Many thanks for the helpful suggestions - it has given us a definite plan to work on. Thank you!

I would advise you to insulate the property to a high degree of efficincy.

as previously said you need several different forms of heating. I would go for the following.

log burner with a back boiler and a good size radiator in every room plus a hot water tank for general use with a uk type immersion heater. then to back that up I would have two french water boilers one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom, on top of that I would use electric underfloor heating downstairs. then to top it all off I would purchase oil filled radiators to be installed in your bedroom and living room. finally use a couple small fan heaters to quickly heat up the air when it is cold.

all the above is no good unless you have your house insulated, but remember an old house needs air flow to allow the damp that rises up through the floor and walls to escape otherwise you will soon have mould growing in rooms.

stay away from solar heating as it is only efficient in the summer and then for heating up your hot water and is not cost effective.

I would definitely advise having more than one system.

You do not want to be without heating when you lose your electricity in the winter or after a storm.

Insulation in the walls and double glazing make a huge difference.

Solar panels for heating the water are a good idea, but beware of some of the schemes at present going around for photovoltaic panels.

You can claim tax reductions on certain energy-saving schemes, but they have to be undertaken by a registered installer.