New Central Heating System

Sorry if this has been covered before, if it has, I cant seem to blinkin, find it.
We own a house in Normandy, that we use for holidays /long stays, it has electric panel heaters and a log burner at the moment. We want to spend more time there in the cooler months, so a more comfortable heating system would be needed. This is my job in England, so with that in mind, I was hoping to do most of the work myself. The questions(finally) are,

  1. What would be the most prudent approach to a fuel source, given that Green is the way forward.
  2. I’m qualified to do gas work in England, but would I be in France.
  3. Should I use, British metric fittings(they are cheaper) or plumb :grinning:for the French sizes

Many thanks, for any input

You British Gas fitting qualifications will not be valid in France. You can use whichever plumbing system you like as many of the sizes are common to both Britain and France and where tubing is different adaptors are readily available.
Personally I would avoid having anything to do with oil fired boilers as they well be phased out before long.

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Thanks David, do you know if the same fate awaits Gas

I don’t but there was a lot about oil fired boilers spin forums a few months ago. I’m not an expert, I heat my house with electricity and a wood burner and it’s very comfy.

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An Englishman who lived nearby had gas central heating, with a tank buried in the garden.
The new French owner has had the lot ripped out and replaced it with a heat exchanger system. You can draw your own conclusions.
The trend here is towards heat exchangers, solar and pellet stoves. My guess is the first two are likely to be the most future proof, to the extent that anything is nowadays.

Thanks Mike, I appreciate that its not straight forward, I just want to do it once, thats all. Ive been involved over here in GSHPs and ASHPs in that most have had them taken out. Shropshire being about 350 miles north of Normandy doesnt help me with a comparison.

Depending upon the size of your house and the amount of insulation, you might want to consider purchasing 2 or 3 portable gas heaters that use bottled butane. They are readily available from around 60-100 euros.

Once the energy situation has become clearer regarding use of ‘town’ gas etc you could the commit to a more sophisticated system. You could then sell the portable heaters fairly easily or keep as a backup.

We are near Avranches, about 12km from the sea and it rarely gets to zero Celcius. Further inland it can get colder.
In any case, it makes sense to have an alternative heating system, because you can lose the electricity for several hours in severe weather. For that reason we have a dual fuel cooker, though we can always heat a pot on the wood stove.
I read David’s post and think his wood/electricity arrangement makes a lot of sense. a wood stove is probably the cheapest form of heating, and electricity is cheaper here than in the UK.
With your expertise, I can understand your interest in installing a high tech system but, especially as you are not going to live here full time, the pay back time might be too long to make it financially worthwhile.
But topping up the insulation could well be worth doing.

Plumb to French sizes and standards - this is a no-brainer really.

Especially avoid 15mm copper tube, you will find little to match in terms of fittings in French DIY stores. That said 1/2" compression fittings bought in the UK will match 14/16mm French copper tube with a change of nut and olive (which are bought separately to the fittings in France).

If you buy copper tube in the UK you will find it is cheaper, but that is because there is less copper in it as the wall thickness is 0.7mm rather than 1.0mm which is used in France. Technically this means it does not meet French normes, though I think it meets EU standards and you would have to be spectacularly unlucky to find a French plumber (should you ever need to get one in to work on your installation) who would notice.

Also - not so much central heating but - watch out for PVC waste water pipe which is notionally the same size but actually isn’t (outer vs inner diameter is specified).

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Not so many arrivals from the UK now, but whem we came 18 years ago, the plumbing sections were full of bewildered Brits with insufficient French. Being able to speak English became a requirement for new employees.

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There are currently some very good government incentives paying a huge portion of installing such systems so it may be very worthwhile to look at that. Presuming that unless you become resident that you wouldn’t be eligible but that is not always the case, I’ve seen some grants etc that work on maisons secondaire as well.


my take on heating is that Gas and Electric (including green electric) has it’s price controlled by large companies and will always increase so it’s to be avoided.
Pellets may go the same way.

We’re using log burners (down south) and last winter was fine without CH. We’re fitting double glazing this summer on the last 7 windows so that should help again.

If we do find that we need CH then I’ll be looking for wood burning with good efficiency rates >90% (wood gasification)
something like,
There are plenty of other manufacturers in Europe selling in France but this is an example and there are some good videos for explaining the priciples.

In France, aren’t the prices are set by the Govt :thinking:

Hi Graham,
I think the limits are set by Govt and the companies go to the limits.

Maybe I should have said ‘are always increasing’.
From my own experience,the increases always seem to rise at a higher %age rate than net income.

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A [possibly] interesting graph/bar chart would be fuel cost v income showing how long it will take for people at various income levels to cease being able to afford the fuel.

From Feb 2018, and attributed to ‘Quelle Energie’,
(It doesn’t show heat pumps which should give out circa 4.8x Kw heat output to the Kw input)

"A recent survey carried out by independent energy consultants Quelle Energie found average household heating costs increased by 4.5% in 2017.

The bill was was highest for those who used oil, whose costs rose by 18% compared to 2016, to reach an average of €2,230.

Electricity and gas consumption costs were stable, with the average electricity heating bill coming in at €1,750, and gas heating costs an average annual cost of €1,475.

The cheapest form of heating was wood, with average heating costs of €769, a decrease of 5% compared to 2016.

However, although oil-based heating appeared the most expensive energy source, this was only the case because most of those who used it occupied a larger property.

If analysed on a square metre basis then those who used electricity had the most expensive running costs, as follows:

  • Electricity - €16.10/m2
  • Oil - €14.90/m2
  • Gas - €12.20/m2
  • Wood - €5.90/m2

The study offers no analysis by geographic area, and neither is the level of insulation considered, but the survey was based on 17,000 respondents living in different types of property throughout the country. Accordingly, although the figures can only be used as a broad indication of running costs, the authors consider it a representative sample.

Apart from running costs those proposing to install new heating in their French property are also likely to be influenced by other factors, such as capital and maintenance costs, which would make electricity a more interesting proposition. There are also the inconveniences and limitations of a wood burner, but which may be made more palatable by the tax credit that is available towards the purchase costs.

Since January 2018 there has been a large increase on the tax imposed on domestic oil (taxe sur le fioul - TICPE), increasing from €118.90 for 1000 litres to €156.20, an increase of €37.30 per m3. It has risen nearly threefold since 2014."

“Information and advice on alternative heating systems and cost-saving can be obtained from the Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de L’Energie – look in the information pages of your telephone book or contact ADEME ( 08 10 06 00 50, – available in English) for details of where to find your nearest Point Info Energie ( PIE ) – and from the CSTB, part of the Ministère du Logement, Direction Générale de l’Urbanisme, de l’Habitat et de la Construction ( – available in English).”

I’ve had a heat pump installed for almost a year and it’s brilliant.
Grants are available in some cases.

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Don’t really have the time for that but yes it could be good.
In simple terms, I’ve worked in companies that have had years when it was necessary for ‘pay-freeze this year’ but I know that fuel costs rose.

We have a large ballon with a number of potential heat sources - solar panels, heat pump, electricity, wood burner, depending on the weather and time of year. It gives us underfloor heating in one area and radiators elsewhere, and domestic hot water of course.

The panels are solar, not photovoltaic. We do need electricity for the pumps to work. We have a generator for extreme circumstances - to date, never used.

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Ohhhh that is what we are working towards! We eventually want to go off grid but little steps!