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To increase or lower the temperature of a home, one must bring calories or move them, and in both cases, consume energy. Moreover, the average comfort level of the inhabitants of a country is closely correlated with per capita energy consumption. The liberalization of the energy market (electricity and gas included) within the European Union has made it even more important to compare all the parameters before choosing energy to ensure the thermal comfort of a home. It is in the field of heating that the energy choice is the most sensitive.

Tariff cost and constraints of implementation of energy

• The "tariff" cost of energy, although very important, must be weighted by other considerations. The assessment of each parameter varies according to regions, comfort habits, type of accommodation, supply of energy suppliers and the advantages granted to certain equipment (local and regional bonuses, zero interest loans, credit taxes).

• The importance of the operation to achieve is often the main criterion of selection. Because, if one can hesitate to change energy for an extension of housing, the question deserves to be reconsidered for a complete renovation project and especially for the construction of a new individual housing.

• The type of housing occupancy, even more than its surface, is fundamental for the calculation of thermal needs:
- number of people and average length of stay of each occupant;
- special needs of some regular residents (young children, elderly or disabled).

• The type of housing intervenes to a small extent for an individual dwelling. It is however essential in building with a collective heating system. The individualisation of the heating costs by measuring devices allowing to estimate the heating consumption of each dwelling (since 31/03/2017) must result in better understanding the consumption of each dwelling.
In the case where each dwelling is equipped with an individual heating, constraints can limit the choice:
- compliance with a regulation which prohibits certain sources of energy because of security problems related to their storage (butane, liquid fuel, etc.);
- physical constraints preventing or hindering the installation of certain types of equipment (housing without chimney, for example).

Situation and location of housing are often decisive, because they condition several unavoidable parameters:
- the climatic environment provides the basis for the calculations to be carried out to achieve an efficient installation, and weighs in particular on the insulation budget;
- the availability of certain sources of energy is not the same everywhere, especially for natural gas and wood;
- theisolation of a dwelling induces a risk of supply disruption of certain energy sources due to bad weather conditions (often when it is needed most!).

• The budget available for the works also often contributes to restricting the scope of choice. It is also to reduce or eliminate a barrier to opting for a globally advantageous solution in terms of the efficient use of energy that some relatively expensive systems (heat pumps in particular) but very effective benefit from aids., including tax (tax credits).

Comparison of energy sources

Renewable energy sources are in green. (source: IEA - International Energy Agency).

Renewable energy sources are in green. (source: IEA - International Energy Agency)

To compare the energy potential of materials, we use the "tep" (ton of oil equivalent), while the energy released by the physical unit of the energy product is expressed in Joule (here, its multiple: the Gigajoule = 1 million Joules).

Technology / Energy Associations

The professional structures and suppliers of each energy source realize and finance important research to upgrade their product through technological advances that improve energy efficiency and quality of comfort.

electricity offers unparalleled benefits when not used for heating by Joule effect (convectors, in particular), but to move heat by means of a heat pump. It also retains important assets when combined with other energy (solar, wood, or even gas or oil). It can be profitable in a very well insulated house or for occasional heating needs (second home, for example).
In case of impossibility of storage (oil in particular) or connection to a network (natural gas) and difficult access for deliveries, it is a remedy for central heating boilers running on electricity.

The gas has seen its energy performance significantly improved through condensing appliances and low temperature heating systems.

Logs wood has once again become an interesting and competitive energy resource thanks to the development of high-performance devices (more than 70% efficiency). The installation of closed hearths or inserts in the chimneys has considerably increased this energy. The qualitative standardization of firewood contributes to the energy quality of logs.

• Wood pellets (or pellet) is a new, energy efficient, easy to transport and (relatively) storeable energy. However, it requires the acquisition of sophisticated appliances (stove, insert, boiler), subject to a power supply certainly not greedy, but putting the equipment at the mercy of accidental power outages.

What are the energies for warming up?: energy

Location of the tank

• Propane is an interesting solution for a detached house out of reach of a connection to the natural gas network. For a long time, the establishment of a large outdoor cistern, unsightly and occupying an important place, has rejected many potential users. The development of a burial tank remove this motive to remove propane.
The installation of the tank must comply with safety standards and, in any case, be carried out by a company mandated by the propane supplier.
These rules do not prevent, however, to install it in a garden of 29 m2 only. In general, the company with which the user contracts for the supply of its energy proposes to carry out all the installation of the installation up to the boiler, with all the essential guarantees.

What are the energies for warming up?: warming

• Fuel oil, threatened in the aftermath of the oil crises of the 1970s, is again a competitive energy because of a part of the significant decline in the price of crude oil in 2015 and therefore its tariffs, but also because of technological developments and the appearance, as for gas, high performance condensing boilers. The decrease of the sulfur content in this fuel, but also the addition of vegetable oil methyl ester (VOME), today allows to speak of ecologically acceptable "green oil".
Vats are a safe means of storage. The fuel tanks air (or open air) are now plastic: polyethylene single envelope with retention tank (less than 1500 liters) or high density polyethylene double envelope (more than 1500 liters). From now on, metallic aerial tanks are generally reserved for large volume installations (buildings or industries).
A buried tank of 2,000 to 6,000 liters must have a double wall of steel or polyester laminate. In a flood zone, it must be anchored on a concrete slab.

If you decide to change energy and abandon the fuel, you can not leave the tank emptywhether it is buried or placed in a room, because of the risk of explosion and pollution, or collapse if it is buried. You must have it disassembled by a professional. If it's impossible, the decree of February 26, 1974 requires you to drain and fill it with inert materials (sand or lean concrete).

(photos / visuals: © DIY-Prod, except special mention)

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