What type of heating system?

Not sure where to put this question, so perhaps General Discussion?
A hypothetical question, or two really.
If you were renovating a town house this year or next year and had to put in a heating system, what system would you put in? In this scenario it’s a town house, you don’t have private woodland etc.
First scenario: It’s a 100sq.m. 2-bedroomed house with an open plans kitchen/diner/living (if that makes any difference).
Second scenario: It’s 190sq.m 4-bedroomed house as above.
I mention two scenarios in case the size of the house would mean that a different heating system would be more appropriate.
Your thoughts will be much appreciated.

First of all Mike, how well insulated are these potential houses, heat loss has a huge affect on what may or may not work well.

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Sub soil propane gas tank, gas CH, with a electricity generator as back up it will never let you down

Spend plenty on fully insulating to as high a spec as you can.

The most future proof & green heating option would be a wet underfloor system running from a heat pump. I say that as the heat pump technology can be upgraded in the future as they get better.

Avoid anything that involves fossil fuels but maybe consider a small wood burner as backup, but not as the primary heat source.


Exactly what I would say Badger.

Surely (apart from the emissions issue) fitting a new fossil fuel system nowadays is high financial risk ?


I “third” Badger and Geoff Cox. Internal /external insulation is no 1 for me.


Whatever you choose, have a backup heat source which doesn’t need external electricity.


Insulation insulation insulation
When I renovated our current home heee in rural France from the outside it is still an 1830 farm house with new windows and doors in the existing openings (double glazed) and the inside bosts many original features but…
I took the structure back to a shell and created a fully insulated box. Underfloor loft and every orifice is insulated. Heating and hot water is from a wood stove and with my UK head on there are radiators in every room.
We have now lived in the house 10 years and never used upstairs radiators as the heat from the ground floor comes upstairs and cannot escape.
Through the heating season say October to April plus or minus a week or so each end our heat abd hot water costs around 500 euros in firewood.
The house is cool in the summer months as the insulation repels the summer heat.
Whatever heat source you choose a suoer insulated house will keep costs to a minimum.


Definitely got to do something about the very poor insulation of what is more or less a plywood shack masquerading as a house. But financial resources very skimpy.

I see ads for insulating a house for €1. I think there’s someone on SF who has done this. If not €1, then subsidy of some degree.

Any advice?

Where is/are the house/s?

You might like aircon in the summer.

Then, consider insulating well and install split level air conditioner and if a sunny region with a south facing roof, solar water heating. Also PV panels (although I believe these days the return is not that great: check) if you can stretch the budget.


How expensive is gas these days? I gave up on ours as it was costing a fortune (10 years ago) and went for an air sourced heat pump which doesn’t give the same results. How much longer will they continue to deliver gas?

Thanks everyone for your replies.

I based my ‘hypthetical’ questions on two adjacent houses I saw for sale privately in the Indre-et-Loire department (37).

They are in a terrace so only have front (west-facing) and rear (east facing) external walls. The rear of both houses has a small concrete yard and a high boundary wall so are quite shaded at the rear. The walls appear to be about 500mm thick and are plastered inside and out and, as they are probably about 100 years old, I assume are probably solid stone-built walls.

Judging from the comments, I assume a heat-pump with wet underfloor heating on the ground floor and perhaps radiator in the upstairs rooms would be the solution of choice, with a small wood burner as back-up?

In a well-insulated house (see below) would you consider an electric radiator-type heating system? The reason I ask is that I’ve read it is (a) the most common heating system in new French houses, and (b) I assume the installation costs would be cheaper than any other system?

I didn’t mention it but, yes, insulation would be upgraded (I’ll start another thread about that).

Thanks all. Mike.

the bottled stuff, natural or ground tanks?
This reference might be helpful.

I’m not sure if the €1 insulation scheme is still operating, but it was always dependant on your income being below a certain threshold.

Now you add the important detail - cost of installation and accessibility!

Digging up a floor of a town house and laying it all back down is going to be difficult and expensive depending on size of town and width of road!

Are electric radiators the most popular form of heating? I am surprised. I do know that the most efficient are heat pumps of which the only one you can have is air sourced. Said to be one of the most efficient types of heating and maybe the easiest/cheapes to install, especially in an open plan house…

Your call!

Yes, & the infrastructure (wiring costs) are minimal if carried out during a renovation or new build, but there are some caveats…

  1. You still need to be prepared to spend on decent electric radiators & control thereof. Do NOT be tempted by cheap “grille pain” convectors.

  2. Electric underfloor is less arduous to lay than a wet underfloor system, & better than electric radiators.

  3. However, any electric heater is less efficient than whatever form of heat pump, where you get 3, 4, or more times the energy/heat out than you put in.

What, if any heating do you have in there at the moment Mike?

So it’s creating energy from nothing ?
Sorry, but I think the above statement rather contravenes some basic laws of physics.

Using dark magic and alien tech :alien:( or maybe just harvesting energy from another source - just a thought :wink:)

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I have no technical knowledge on heating or even much knowledge on relative costs but having lived in a house with underfloor heating as the main source of heat never again! It’s as bad as storage heaters in that it’s either too hot or too cold. As background heat then maybe