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Weaning yourself off gas - getting it disconnected. Anyone done it?

  • 25-05-2022 12:03am
    Registered Users Posts: 65,198 ✭✭✭✭
    Chauffe, Marcel, chauffe!

    It's been a long term personal goal to move away from fossil fuels and go electric only. Main family car has been an EV for over 5 years. Now the second car is also an EV.

    I've had 40 solar thermal tubes for 6 years. I have increasingly bigger solar PV over the last 5 years, at the moment about 10kW, plan to eventually end up with 15kW - that will have every square meter of roof and surface plastered with panels. Have 10kWh powerwall, to be doubled in the next few weeks

    The house is a semi-d in a Dublin suburb, built in 2000 to poor standards but plenty of insulation upgrades done, main one still to be done is upgrade all windows

    Last winter, a mild winter I know, I heated my house with 2 crypto mining rigs. Nothing else. I will eventually replace these with 2 mini-split air to air systems. I have just switched off my gas boiler (9 year old efficient condensing boiler) as I will heat my water purely with electricity from now on too. I have a gas hob that I will replace with an induction hob. Only thing remaining is the gas fire in the fireplace, which is mostly for ambience (herself likes it) but it's a major waste of energy with heat just disappearing up the chimney

    My gas contract finishes in early July. Contemplating having my gas connection cut off permanently and not renewing my contract. Anyone done this? Thoughts?

    Post edited by Jonathan on



  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 6,521 Mod ✭✭✭✭Irish Steve

    we're not ready to bite that bullet yet, as there's some work to be done to get there, but one thought, given how obscene the supplier standing charges are now, if the gas fire is something that might be a bone of contention, would it be worth considering converting it to run on propane, and using a bottle supply. A lot will depend on how much use it gets, we've still got a coal effect gas fire in one room, and it will run for a long time on a large propane bottle, and has the big advantage of not needing any power source to ignite it, so usable even if nothing else is working.

    Longer term, if the way things are being talked about is a guide, we're all going to have to go away from gas, Ukraine is going to change the landscape for gas sooner than was anticipated, it was always a given that a few years behind oil, gas would become unacceptable for heating, and eventually also for cooking, so maybe moving away will make sense, there for sure will be advantages in only having to pay one lot of standing charges, given the percentage of the bill that they now represent.

    Then again, ,maybe there will be an acceptable gas alternative that's hydrogen based, but there's a long way to go before that becomes a live option, for all sorts of horrible technical reasons, the biggest being managing the changeover.

    I have to confess to being very unhappy about the concept of being totally dependent on single source fuel, I'm old enough to remember 16 hour rolling power cuts in the UK when Maggie crossed swords with the Miners, and once we're totally dependent on elecricity for just about everything, I won't be surprised to see one of the larger unions at ESB provoke a confrontation with the government of the day, and the chances of any of our politicians having the ability to properly manage a dispute of that magnitude is not something I am expecting to see anytine soon, there is some very uncomfortable truth in a little snippet someone said a while back.

    "Those that can, DO. Those that can't become teachers. Those that can't teach, teach teachers, and if they fail at that, they become politicians".

    Shore, if it was easy, everybody would be doin it.😁

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,276 ✭✭✭SD_DRACULA

    Was thinking about this myself but even in winter with the gas used for all showers/hot water and for heating (combi boiler) don't think the bill ever averaged more than 120 per 2 months and right now I don't see how replacing the heating/water with a heat pump will ever makes sense unless we can be self sufficient with PV in winter which is not possible even with 15kwp

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,796 ✭✭✭✭Furze99

    You're heating your house with '2 crypto mining rigs'??????? If I understand correctly, network of PCs running away generating heat??? And you have EVs. And worried about using a bit of gas??

    Where the f**k do you think all the electricity is coming from to power your crypto rigs and EVs? I'm sure the solar panels make a small contribution (at considerable environmental costs in themselves). But a good deal of our electricity is still generated from GAS and coal.

    You'd be far better getting rid of your power devouring crypto rigs and EVs and just walk or cycle, if you want to be Green.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,397 ✭✭✭dathi

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,099 ✭✭✭✭the_amazing_raisin

    Pretty sure the grid is mostly wind at night, the gas plants all shut down because of low demand

    I'd love to see what's behind the considerable environmental costs of the solar panels though? 😜

    "The internet never fails to misremember" - Sebastian Ruiz, aka Frost

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,502 ✭✭✭bullit_dodger

    Wow - that's fairly hostile Furze. Not sure you've thought that through end-to-end though. If I recall unkel has some 20Kwhr in a DIY battery which he charges up at night time in the winter. Typically night time leccie (esp in winter) is powered by renewables from the grid, mostly wind as you would think. Meaning that the leccie that goes into the batteries is fairly "green energy" - not 100% green to be honest, but it's mostly renewable sourced.

    Naturally during the day the energy that goes into the crypto rig will be a mix of whatever solar is captured along with the battery storage. so then if you don't have to turn on the that not a good thing? That your not burning carbon based fuel to heat the house? 95-96% of the energy that goes into a GPU card comes off as heat, so if you are firing 400 watts at a GPU it makes sense to use that heat.

    In summer, we have an abundance of solar.....most of us giving it away for free (or some paltry FIT nonsense when that comes in) So unusual as it sounds, I think you've missed the point there. Added bonus is that the energy he uses generates some crypto currency which helps fund the insulation/solar panels/etc

    Course if he didn't have a huge battery.....that would be a different matter.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,796 ✭✭✭✭Furze99

    The idea that there are no environmental costs from wind or solar or batteries to store and power EVs etc is just nonsense. Plain nonsense. Where do your solar panels & batteries come from? Some far flung country with open cast pits mining lithium and other required minerals. Coal fired Chinese factories churning out your solar panels. Wind farms here with massive carbon construction footprints and environmental destruction to site them.

    There's no free lunch.. use less is to be Green.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,496 ✭✭✭✭machiavellianme

    According to the EirGrid website, at most 75% of demand can be met by asynchronous generation like wind or solar, HVDC interconnection or batteries. (I'm not sure how the batteries are used though, it doesn't say on their website). At least 8 thermal generators are online at all times on the island, with 5 in Ireland, at least 1 of which is gas in Dublin and another is gas in Cork/Wexford. The rest are either gas, oil or coal.

    2021 was an exceptionally poor year for wind with mostly gas generation plus significant coal generation and 2022 is very average so far. Bizarrely Eirgrid and the wind industry haven't published official figures (I wonder why?). This weekend looks like it will be thermal plant only as the wind forecast is abysmal. What do you do if its overcast too?

    I'll be keeping my gas bottles and have turf and wood in the shed for backup.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,502 ✭✭✭bullit_dodger

    While I agree with the sentiment of using less is greener, that's not really the point here. The issue at hand is the point about the environmental impact of crypto mining in the context of how unkel was using it.

    Yes, for sure your correct in saying all that about "where do batteries come from", etc but it's a non-issue. He has a battery for solar, so why not use it to maximise it's efficiency. Same with the panels. The panels will create electricity irrespective of if a person using the generated electricity. it will export what you don't use. The problem here is crypto mining and the negative connotation's that goes along with it in general. And a lot of it I would agree with you in general, but not in this context.

    So if I turn on an electric element and heat the room with electricity - that's ok? But if i turn on a GPU in a mining rig to heat the room, and 98% of the electrical energy that goes into the rig comes out as heat.....that's not ok? That seems an odd way in looking at things? Why the difference in thinking?

    Now if you had the rig on and the window open to keep it cool in the middle of winter and then the heating switched on in another room - sure, then your effectively giving the two fingers to the environment....and I can get in behind that thinking. But if your not burning fossil fuels, seems like a win-win.

  • Registered Users Posts: 65,198 ✭✭✭✭unkel
    Chauffe, Marcel, chauffe!

    @Irish Steve - excellent suggestion about the propane cylinder to power the gas fire as a stepping stone solution, thank you!

    @bullit_dodger - you're hitting the nail on the head. Instead of using gas to heat my home last winter, I used crypto rigs. In summer when this heat is no longer necessary, I trim down substantially on crypto mining and sometimes stop completely. Until recently electricity was already a lot greener in Ireland than gas, but it was substantially more expensive. These days the cost difference is not as great and it helps significantly to generate 10MWh yourself from solar PV and to store night (wind) electricity in a big powerwall. And of course the electricity from the grid is getting greener every year. Hopefully the powers that be realise we have to accelerate the move to renewables as a matter of urgency.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,098 ✭✭✭championc

    Keep an eye on this

    I'm a bit suspicious of our use of gas for generation. It almost looks like there is a minimum usage commercial agreement with gas based generators, as gas usage never drops massively during the day anyway. We need a good blow to prove me wrong

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,470 ✭✭✭KildareP

    Majority of our plants are combined cycle gas turbine and are designed as base load generators. They are not designed to start and stop frequently. There is a lag of 15-30 minutes starting from cold before they can begin producing any sort of grid output, and of several hours before they can reach maximum output and efficiency through use of the recovered heat to drive a secondary steam turbine. Thus it's more predictable for grid stability and, somewhat ironically, more efficient to keep them operating even if there is excess wind output to meet demand.

    ESB are looking to build up to four peak load gas generating plants, these would be designed more towards frequent, rapid stop/starts but are far less efficient overall because any excess heat as a result of generation is exhausted straight out into the atmosphere rather than recovered.

  • Registered Users Posts: 65,198 ✭✭✭✭unkel
    Chauffe, Marcel, chauffe!

    Someone did the sums and a bit over 50% of all night rate electricity in Ireland currently is from wind. And this percentage is increasing. Also the max the grid can take from wind is 75% and this percentage is also increasing by up to about 5 percentage points per years (over the last few years)

    But that's all for another discussion, it's off topic here. I'd like this thread to be about views on stopping your fossil fuel use in your house in general and disconnecting your gas connection in particular.

  • Registered Users Posts: 65,198 ✭✭✭✭unkel
    Chauffe, Marcel, chauffe!

    Yes, it is already prohibited over there to install gas / oil boilers in new houses. Electric only.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,276 ✭✭✭SD_DRACULA

    @unkel I'm following these guys closely

    They said at the end of the year they will have a "battery" which you can charge from grid/PV which will not only provide DHW but also be able to heat the water radiators which are connected to the gas boiler.

    The only question that matters in winter when PV is useless more or less, will charging this heat battery from the grid with night rate, be enough to heat the house during the day. If gas keeps going up in price it's an easy one and to be honest this option might be a way way better route than heat pump with a well insulated house.

    The battery sits around 3-4k so way less compared to heat pump retrofit I would guess.

  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 6,521 Mod ✭✭✭✭Irish Steve

    Oil is already no go on new build here too, and it won't be long before gas is also the same, and gas hobs will be a thing of the past before too much longer as well.

    I won't be parting with bottle gas here for a while, I was considering moving from oil to mains gas, but that idea has been well and truly blown out of the water by the recent events in Ukraine, I can see gas rationing before too long to ensure that power can be generated to keep things like data centres and the grid alive, and I think some of the data centres have gas generators rather than diesel powered systems, so we know who will get first preference if there's any restriction on supply.

    Then there's the issue of having to pay 2 standing charges for using nothing, if that's how it works out, whatever about electric power, and maybe feed in from Solar, I don't know of a way to produce gas from Solar, unless we end up using a hydrogen based fuel to replace gas.

    If that happens, watch this space for people producing hydrogen by electrolysis using Solar power, but it won't be cheap or easy. Being able to use it as an alternative to gas for heating, or running a vehicle, now that might be worth some brain power to arrive at a viable option, but I think I'm too old and set in my ways to be capable of designing safe hardware and systems to achieve that sort of result, and the storage issues would also be a challenge to be dealt with. Flights of fantasy probably, but who knows.

    Shore, if it was easy, everybody would be doin it.😁

  • Registered Users Posts: 65,198 ✭✭✭✭unkel
    Chauffe, Marcel, chauffe!

    @SD_DRACULA - "The battery sits around 3-4k so way less compared to heat pump retrofit I would guess."

    Here's my plan. A mini split with 2.7kW output costs about €500-€600 incl. VAT and shipping. Like a 1 minute google:

    I need 2 of those. How much would it cost to get both installed? Surely less than 2 grand for half a day's work even in rip off Ireland? 😂 There is an SEAI subsidy for an air-to-air heatpump system of €3,500. Anyone here know if this system qualifies? I can't see why not. So it's basically for free. And I won't have to fork out €3k for replacing my condensing gas boiler which is now 9 years old and these don't live that long.

  • Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators Posts: 5,950 Mod ✭✭✭✭graememk

    I'm on a path of "burn less stuff" I'm nowhere near a gas network so cutting out the 1 bottle of butane that our hob uses a year isn't going to make a big difference...

    But we are on Oil/Solid Fuel. One huge advantage of moving to heat from electric (be it resistive, electronic, or heatpump) is that its fuel agnostic.

    As the grid gets cleaner, The heat from the house also gets cleaner!

    If Heat pumps are used, Its better to burn gas in a power plant than pipe it to your house. - (Technology Connections - )

    I have looked at the sunamp heat batteries, but they are quite expensive if you want to do space heating with them. 3-4 k for 12 kWh of heat. For hot water tank replacement, they are really compact and space efficient. A 500L Tank cycled between 70 and 30c is over 20kwh of heat. Currently night rate is cheaper than Oil!

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,276 ✭✭✭SD_DRACULA

    I was looking at this for a while thinking the same: but not sure where to even begin looking for installers that come highly recommended and not of the cowboy variety.

    Or even two of them to cover the upstairs and downstairs, the cool thing being the smart wifi functionality which could be controlled via HA.

    Also are you forgetting that this will probably require some SEAI approved BS installer which will bump up the install price by €3500 as with the solar?

    Post edited by SD_DRACULA on

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,198 ✭✭✭Ubbquittious

    Better off weaning yourself off grid electricity. Piped gas still much cheaper per KW i think

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,874 ✭✭✭garo

    There are some technological limitations as well that prevent current renewable (wind and solar) from providing over 70-80% of power. At least some of the generation in the grid has to be synchronous (i.e. something that rotates a big heavy turbine or some such) in order to provide the grid with inertia that keeps the grid frequency stable. if there was no inertia in the system any increase in the load - think people putting kettles on during the match half-time - would cause the frequency to change so much that it would destroy most equipment in the country.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,198 ✭✭✭Ubbquittious

    Is it very hard to install one of those yourself? Black. Black. Magic?

  • Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators Posts: 5,950 Mod ✭✭✭✭graememk

    The only regulation is the F gas, so if you do all rest of the work, the guys that do Aircon can do it.. regulation speaking ;)

    Some even come pre filled... Ideally you'd want to vacuum the lines out first..

  • Registered Users Posts: 65,198 ✭✭✭✭unkel
    Chauffe, Marcel, chauffe!

    Are you joking? We have needed to wean ourselves off fossil fuels (particularly the ones that we have to import from dodgy regimes) for a very long time, now more urgently than ever. Climate change, wars, emissions (fines / deaths), surely you get all that?

    And it is no longer the case that natural gas is much cheaper than night rate electricity per kWh. Add to that, that burning gas is never 100% efficient and using electricity for heating is at least 100% efficient (100% efficient with a mining rig, 200% efficient with a mini split simple heat pump system, 300-400% efficient with a more sophisticated system)

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,198 ✭✭✭Ubbquittious

    If you burn gas you get 100% of the energy to be had from it provided the combustion is complete.You will never see 400% from a heat pump if you count the heat loss at source of generation. maybe 300 on a very good day. If we had nuke plants here it would be different but we don't.

    The modern incarnation of the electric-only house is a dead end. The grid is phukt if all the people cooking & turning on the heat between 5 and 7 switch to electric. I am sure in years to come there will be more bio gas pumped into the gas network as well. Methane isn't an inherently evil source of energy.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,502 ✭✭✭bullit_dodger

    Not sure I agree with the engineering there. If you burn something, you will always have "some" losses. Even the most efficient gas condenser boilers only run at 90-92% efficient. While it's true you may not see 400% with electricity, I don't think that was the point being made, but rather that it's more than 100%. Doesn't matter if it's 247% or 392%, the main thing is that with heat pumps are typically more efficient for heating than fossil fuels directly. There are ... a ton.... of other problems with heat pumps, but efficient they are.

    Sure, there's an argument to be made about the grid capacity, but rather than paint doom and gloom pictures, do you not think that we have the tools and the skills to upgrade/expand the grid to make it a workable ecosystem? The grid today is radically different from the grid 30 years ago, and light years different from the one 50 years ago. Things adapt, upgrades happen. To start thinking that the folks in Eirgrid are a bunch of morons is....misguided. There are, I'm sure, some smart folks there that know their arse from their elbow.

    I for one appauld at least the thinking of turning off the gas pipe.

  • Registered Users Posts: 65,198 ✭✭✭✭unkel
    Chauffe, Marcel, chauffe!

    At dinner times when people are cooking and turning on the heat, their electric cars will be at home and their stored electricity in their cars can be used for that by the utility companies for a generous compensation. Vehicle to grid. Those vehicles can then be charged up again at night with cheap, renewable zero emissions wind electricity. Not yet possible as existing EVs (nor home charge points) do not have bi-directional AC charging, but newer ones will. And this is not an issue yet and won't be for the next few years anyway, it will take many years before a significant percentage of households use electric heating (and have electric cars). Changes to electricity consumption patterns are slow and predictable. The grid can be adapted to it over time.

    But please, I ask you all again, let's keep this thread to the practicalities of getting a household off the gas. The morals of doing it are clear to me and are for other threads to be discussed anyway. Not here.

  • Registered Users Posts: 808 ✭✭✭cuculainn

    I know I heard before that because wind is so unreliable even when electricity is produced by wind they cannot turn down the fossil fuel power stations cause it costs more to ramp them back up if they do wind them down, than it does to leave them this still the case/

    also its all well and good if you are running the crypto rigs anyway but electric heat is the most inefficient way to heat as it is one kW in one KW out

    And there is a big environmental impact on producing solar panels/ batteries etc.....obviously some of this is offset by the positive impact they have on fossil fuels.

    you would wonder though would you be better off centralizing all the solar panel installations to commercial enterprises and domestic customers buy the electricity as normal rather than putting a few on every house and putting in few batteries

    its the same with wind turbines......500 tons of concrete under each turbine, serious carbon footprint on them

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  • Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators Posts: 5,950 Mod ✭✭✭✭graememk

    While trying to not veer off topic too much here, a few things

    When doing the carbon footprint of gas, people don't seem to want to count the energy needed to find/drill/pipe/refine/clean/transport the fossil fuel but they do for anything renewable (solar/wind/etc).

    Also electric heat is 100% efficient. Can you name anything else -other than heat pumps that are more efficient? Condensing boilers are 90+ but only when running in condensing mode.

    As for solar, it's ideal for micro generation, why take over valuable land where there are roofs everywhere.

    As for weaning off gas/fossil.

    Cooking, I dare say next hob will be induction, I like gas for cooking, with the immediate heat response, and induction can do that too. Bio gas is another option there.

    compressed sawdust logs look promising too, as it's a waste product anyway, and burn fairly clean for people to like a fire.

    Space heating is always the sticking point, but with the mini split systems you also get the bonus of Aircon for the summer.

This discussion has been closed.