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Best Heating option in Shetland?


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We're house has been brally cauld this winter, an da bills are astronomical!


Thinking of changing wir heating system. On da storage heaters at the moment, but they're ancient and needing to be replaced.  


I've been thinking aboot oil, but I hear getting the heaters and pipes in would be costly. Some folk are even talking aboot gas, bu that's the same issue really, although I hear it's cheaper for gas than oil?


A hear a lot of folk have gone for this "air to air" set up, but my worry is the great white refrigeration-type units sitting outside the hoose  - how many shetland winters can they survive without failing?


Any thoughts experiences welcomed!



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Of course if you have the chance to cut peats then they still offer the cheapest solution of all........peats and maybe driftwood.


Storage heaters have got better over the years and if a power cut happens when they are warm you still have heat for a good while. 


Talking of power cuts remember that other heating systems often need electricity to provide ignition for the boiler and to pump hot water to the radiators.


Heat pumps?........I fear I know nothing about them except that they can save money.

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Good stuff - We've applied for insulation help with Heatwise, but there's surely a 6 month backlog. Would like to change our heating solution in the meantime. A lot of folk have mentioned quantum night storage heaters, but they are a few grand a pop and we've got quote a few to replace. Really interested in this Air 2 Air stuff - anybody using it?

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There are three types of internal heater, units to fix high up on a wall, low down units (radiator type), and ceiling mounted unit. We have ceiling units, three in total (dining room, living room and hallway) with nowt in the bedrooms. We have an electric towel rail in the bathroom (left on continually).

Good Points
1. Much cheaper than the oil heating in previous property. Electric cost for a year was about £1400 (£1000 standard rate of 17.55p and £400 off peak at 10.82p) which includes heating, lighting, washing machine etc but not hob / oven cooking which is gas.
2. Installation cost was less than quote for oil or bottled gas heating.
3. Installation was quick (less than two days) and clean.
4. Ceiling units take up no space so positioning furniture is not compromised.
5. Maintenance is minimal, filter cleaning only (and even this is easy with minimal dust).
6. Each unit has it's own timer.

Bad Points
1. The fans can be slightly intrusive when watching a quiet TV programme.
2. In really bad weather some back-up may be needed. We have a gas fire in the living room which was used about 10 times last winter and has yet to be used this winter.
3. A dry form of heating, keep having to top up the dog's water bowl!
4. Has to be reset after a power cut. Easy to do, but annoying if you are out of the house.
5. Even with the fans the heat distribution is not always perfect.




Hope this helps.



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  • 2 months later...

We also have storage heaters here, but the running costs are quite reasonable. (In line with gas prices.)

But then we do also have a well insulated concrete house.

Still working on improving the insulation mind you. :-)

I would hazard a guess that changing your heating system isn't going to save you any money, but improving your insulation situation is most likely to help.

As such some questions:

Do you close your window air vents in the winter ?
(I tend to leave one open at the top of the house to allow airflow, and one open at the bottom, whilst in summer, open them all!)

Do all your doors and windows fit well with no draughts ?

(Our front door needed quite a lot of work to make it fit, as the frame wasn't installed level and we had a huge gap at the top !)
(I'm also working my way around the house filling in and painting all the gaps around the window frames.)

Thick lined curtains help. (I hear almost as good as double glazing.)
(Still got to fit one on the front door.)

Thick carpets and underlay can help. (Recently put carpet tiles down in several rooms such as the kitchen to help there.)
(Got the cooker extractor to work on, fitting a one way valve to stop the wind whistling in!)

As such in the last year of improvements, heating costs have dropped some 25%. (I reckon there is perhaps another 10%+ improvements possible here.)

Outside, if possible wind brakes to stop the heat being taken away from the building, ideally trees/bushes, but stone walls/big stones at bottom of house, earth banks can help too.

Our house also has outside insulation, which is better than inside, as then the thermal mass of the building can act like a giant storage heater itself and help maintain a steady temperature more easily.
(I'd be wary of cavity wall insulation, as that can cause damp issues.)

One could make further improvements such as a heat exchanger for incoming/outgoing air, but whether that would be cost effective or not, I don't know.
(I plan on that for my next home though, as I'd like a air heating system, but that would require duct work, and not necessarily be cheap to run, so would only go for that once I've my own generation solutions in hand, eg. solar/wind.)

If you don't mind me asking, do you keep a log of your electricity consumption ?
(Ideally heating usage marked separate.)

If so, can you share any figures on your usage.

It might be useful to check your Immersion/hot water heater settings, how many hours a day does that come on, and what temperature setting is it at ?

Enough insulation around the cylinder ?

I found with ours it was difficult to find any instructions for the controller and took quite a while to figure out how to set it correctly to only come on 3 hours a day. (2 of which during cheap electricity rates.)

And the temperature setting was a bit too high, so when it was on, it was on and almost boiling away !

Storage heaters might be a bit blocked with dust.

Ours also came with a fan assistance temperature controller on the wall (No one seemed to know what it was!), but I find that isn't really necessary here, so that's turned off.

I usually have our old storage heaters set at 50% heat output on average, turning the biggest heaters up to around 80% when it gets really cold, and off totally in the warmer months.
(We have two large, and 3 small, but generally don't need the 2 small ones on.)

Do you live in a wooden structure ?
(Harder to keep warm, if you could increase the thermal mass in the property, that can help.)

Hopefully some of that is useful to you.

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Further to that, as I notice up here, our meter only gets read once a year, the rest of the time they rely on estimated readings, which are way out of wack !

I see they now allow you to send in your own readings online, which should help to get more accurate bills.

As such you may find you are either paying more than you should, or less, or even trying to catch up if you moved in at the wrong time of the year !

I check the meters (We have three.) over a 24 hour period to find out what my actual usage is, and that helps to gauge what kind of costs to expect.
(And to check if something is running away with the electricity, like the hot water heater..)

We are on the Combined Heat and Power tariff, which I hear is a legacy tariff and isn't excepting new customers, so you can only inherit it if you buy a house with it already existing, and that has the lowest electricity heating costs of any tariff, so if you are tempted to change, be aware of that ! (Eg. you can't go back!)

I hear there are only 2,500 homes in the whole of Scotland with that tariff. (I'm assuming those must be based in Shetland ?)

We also cook with electric too.
(I hear gas is cheaper for that, so you might save some money changing your cooking system to bottled gas.)

When we first moved in, I went around and sellotaped over all the air vents we wasn't using, both inside and out, as we had two kitchen extractor units, and two in the utility room, one of which was just a great big hole in the wall !

Those let in huge draughts !
(Also bunged in some bubble wrap as a temporary measure until I get around to either removing them, or putting better venting solutions that actually keep out the wind when not in use..)

As such, do you have any holes like that yourself causing cold air to rush in and heat out ?

The loft hatch can also be another source of leaks, if its not a good fit, latched in place, and insulated itself.

Oh and holes in the ceiling too, such as around light fittings !

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all


We have just moved to Shetland and have electric storage heaters throughout and the water tank only fills up half a bath. We have been looking at the District Heating scheme. Has anyone had any experience with that? Will look at the Air to Air scheme as an alternative



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  • 1 year later...

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