What is the best heating system to upgrade a 100 year old building?
hi there, We are a group of students on an MA Interior Architecture course and this semester we are redesigning the interior of a Scout Hall. Its in the south of Scotland and is approx 100 years old. One this we are getting told ALOT from the users of the building is that it gets very cold! The building has no gas, electrics only and is currently heated with what I think you could call 2 massive industrial hot air blowers, alongside a small number of electric wall heaters. The whole system is known to be inadequate and we would like to be able to suggest something better as part of our design. Is there any advice you could give us, please? We want our proposal to be sustainable which is how I ending up finding your website.
Thanks for your time! Best wishes Rachel
Before helping you choose a heating system, I have a few questions about the building itself. What type of building is this, how big is it, and are the walls made of stone? Are they currently insulated at all or is that part of your redesign plan?
The reasons I ask is as follows – old buildings are often built from stone, and the mortar from a century ago is not as strong or consistent as the types of mortar used in modern times. Insulating old stone buildings can be tricky business, not as much in the climate you are in, but for any others reading along its worth pointing out that it can be dangerous insulating old stone buildings in very cold climates if they have never had any in the past. When insulated on the inside, the stone will then begin to freeze every winter and there is a risk that will crack the mortar. But if I’m not mistaken, the coldest you would usually see is not too much below freezing so its not a great concern in your area. So in your case, insulating would be wise if it isn’t already done, and insulating the exterior of old buildings is the best way if you can. As for heating, if it is a large enough building then you could consider installing a geothermal heating system.
The reason size is important is that these systems are not cheap to install, so y ou pretty much need a big enough building that will benefit from the investment, and give you a return on the investment in a reasonable time frame. Also worth considering is the fuel source. Many countries in Europe are phasing out natural gas heating, and heating with electricity is a more eco-friendly option.
Hopefully that helps a bit, we are glad you found the site and happy it is helpful. Please let us know what you finally decide to go with in your design, and good luck!
Hi Mike, thank you very much for your reply- it's much appreciated. We have our first presentation on Friday and it will be great to have some advice for them. Really interesting what you say about the problems with adding insulation internally.
The building is a Scout Hall, and it is made of stone. It's been altered over the years resulting in the rooms on floor one having no natural light. There are two games halls on the ground floor, a lounge, kitchen and games room in the middle and then more traditional rooms with original fireplaces and gable windows. The upper floors are heating only with electric heaters. the ground floor has these big blowers.
there are also offices, store cupboards, toilets, showers and a garden. It's quite a challlenging building! It is only used once or twice a week but part of the reason for our proposals is to make it a more inviting proposal for other groups in the community to use. Consequently at the moment though,it is only heated when needed. On another matter, we are going to advise that lights are switched to led, and that sensors are added in "spooky" hallways. Currently there are florescent lights everywhere.
I'll definitely keep you up to date with what happens on it! By the way did you see in the news about printing of solar panel tape?incredible!
best wishes and thanks again, I'm off to look at the links you sent here! rachel
Happy to help Rachel, I'm not surprised the issue of freezing with old stone buildings isn't common knowledge there, it's good for you to know in general but its not a big issue in more forgiving climates that don't experience a bone chilling deep freeze. As you read through those links feel free to check back for any clarification. Good luck with the project!