We all know about dog years but what's old in term of boilers and when should they be replaced?
As a rule of thumb, boilers older than 15 years are definitely on a downward slope. There's a few good reasons to replace boilers older than 15 years. Firstly, as boilers age, wear and tear will reduce their efficiency. According to SEI (Sustainable Energy Ireland) , the efficiency of a 15 year boiler will probably be just 70% or less by now.
Secondly, you need to take into account the technology improvements over the last 10 years. Even when it was brand spanking new, your 15 year boiler probably only achieved 80% efficiency. However, over the last 10 years, there have been major increases in boiler technology, so the boilers can now achieve efficiencies over 90%.
Thirdly, maintenance costs rise for older boilers too. The risk of breakdown is higher too - not a pleasant prospect when temperatures reach -10C like they did at times during the Winter 2010.
What type of fuel savings could I make with a new boiler?
Replacing a 15 year boiler with a new high efficiency condensing boiler could represent a fuel saving of more than 25%. So if you annual oil fill typically cost €1,000, you're looking at a saving of €250 per year.
What's a condensing boiler and how does it work?
Condensing boilers are highly efficient boilers. They use less fuel and have lower running costs than other boilers. Higher efficiency levels are made possible by extracting heat contained in the combustion gases, which would otherwise have been lost to the atmosphere. Since March 31st 2008 when installing a replacement oil or gas boiler it is now a requirement for SEI grants that the boiler be condensing, where practical.
Who should I get to install or service my boiler?
Get an experienced installer - check that they have public liability insurance and it's a good idea to check their references too. For gas fired boilers, all work must be carried out by a Registered Gas Installer. See www.rgii.ie to confirm that your plumber is licensed. There is no equivalent regulation for oil fired boilers, however many installers are members of OFTEC (Oil Firing Technical Association Ireland), see www.oftec.org.
How else can boiler efficiency be improved?
The other area in your house where there's scope for big improvements is your boiler controls. In fact, SEI considers this to be so important that you must upgrade your controls to a specified level in order to be eligible for a grant when you replace your old boiler. And of course, even if you're not going to replace your boiler or controls, make sure you get your boiler serviced regularly. It'll reduce fuel costs and detect safety issues or reliability problems early - so you don't get caught out on a cold Winter's night.
I know there are SEI grants for upgrades, how much are they?
There are two types of SEI grants. For a heating controls update, the grant is €500 under the SEI scheme. If you upgrade to a high efficiency condensing boiler with heating controls upgrade, the amount of the grant is €700 Grant approval must be in place before any purchase of materials or commencement of measures undertaken and grants are paid after the measures are completed and the contractor has been paid by the homeowner.