Climate Change: Tales from the front line

Boiler Gone

The space where our old boiler used to be - now replaced with a new efficient model. I can't wait until my bills start to go down...

You might be forgiven for thinking that Climate Scientisists are on the front line of the war against Climate Change. In fact, the front line is much closer to home – in fact it’s in your home – and mine. And the crack troops are not scientists and engineers, but builders and plumbers. Let me tell you about some collateral damage I witnessed during a recent skirmish.

Just before Christmas I was forced to acknowledge that our central heating boiler wasn’t working. The problem was that while showering, the hot water would cut out for a minute and then return. As Christmas approached it became clear that the period of ‘cutting out’ was getting longer, and that sometimes it just wasn’t working at all. My ‘denial’ strategy wasn’t working.

After debating a repair for roughly £500 with uncertain prospects of success, we replaced the boiler with a new ‘condensing’ boiler for the best part of £2,000. It then immediately showed exactly the same symptoms as the previous boiler! However, the new boiler was so clever that instead of limping along as the old one had done, it immediately diagnosed the problem, displayed an error code, and shut down.

It transpired that the problem had not been with the previous boiler at all, but with the gas pressure. The ‘governor’ on top of the gas meter which regulates the gas pressure in the house was faulty. A (free) emergency callout later and the governor was replaced and everything began to work again. Wonderful: and all in time for Christmas.

Except that … now that the shower became reliable again, the children in particular became less reluctant to us it! And so, despite the new, efficient boiler, our gas use has shot up because the water heating is so reliable.

And I mention this because I just want to make the point that updating fossil-fuel-using plant with new ‘efficient’ plant doesn’t necessarily mean that  consumption, or bills, or emissions, will go down. Nothing is simple!

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