What is the alternative to mains gas?

26 February 2019
by Janine Sheeran

We're converting three derelict barns in a field (within a listed curtilage) without any mains gas. It's 180m to the nearest supply.

I have just received a quote from SGN of £71,250.00 to connect. We've looked at all other options - ground and air source heat pumps etc, but really can't get a concise picture as to which will be the best solution.

Can anyone please give an idea as to what may be the best option re: alternative energy sources?

All advice much appreciated.

Janine Sheeran

4 Answers

  1. Do a good job on the insulation and your space heating demand will be very low.

    Three barns sounds like it would be good for a shared heating scheme.

    The lowest carbon solution would be biomass, and multiple domestic would attract the non-domestic RHI which is a better subsidy (each building would be individually heat metered).

    Failing that go for a heat pump with the domestic RHI on each. Air source heat pumps are much cheaper to install but bit less efficient to run than a ground source heat pump.

    Don’t forget to install a solar water heater – low tech, made in UK, does about 50% of your hot water needs. Relatively cheap if effectively building from new.

    Nigel Griffiths, Build It expert.

  2. Janine Sheeran says:

    Many thanks Nigel.

  3. Janine Sheeran says:

    We’ve now had a quote of £19,000 to get gas to the 3 buildings if we excavate ourselves, which we are happy to do… but can’t work out if this is the best option!

    The main barn will be 4 bed and two of the barns will be holiday lets – 3 bed and 2 bed – but we want them to ideally be independent should we want to sell either or both at any point.

    Perhaps an impossible question but wondered if ground or air source pumps will actually be more cost effective than gas? We will also have some solar panels but will be limited due to the listed curtilage status.

    All help much appreciated

  4. Chris says:

    Hi Janine,

    There’s so many factors at play here that it’s difficult to give a hard-and-fast answer.

    In terms of whether to go for heat pumps or gas, you need to get a fuller picture of the costs. So you need to get quotes in from your own groundworks crew to dig the required trenches for the three buildings; as well as quotes from a couple of heat pump suppliers. That way you’ll be able to assess which might work best for you.

    A lot will also depend on how insulated and airtight the finished buildings will be, and what emitters you’ll be using (heat pumps work best in energy efficient homes, ideally combined with underfloor heating).

    The best thing you can do is bring in specialist companies to look at your plans, visit the site and give you quotes for all th e works involved.

    A good place to start would be the Heating & Ventilation section of Build It’s online directory.

    Best of luck!

    Chris (editor, Build It)

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