We are in the region of Friuli, in the north-east of Italy. This area has one of the dampest and rainiest winters of the Italian peninsula.
Elisabetta and Bruno bought a large house about 20 years old, around 150 square metres on the upper floor and a large basement with garage. For the whole the winter, they had hot water for the radiators and every application in the house. And they did it by using only one pellet product: Duo, a 24 kW hydro stove that is perfect for this kind of place, with rather high ceilings and insulation that could be better. To increase the amount of available water and the operating time, the stove has been combined with a 800-litre puffer tank, i.e. a storage system that keeps warm both the domestic water and the water used for the system.
Elisabetta, where did the idea of buying a hydro stove come from?
A friend of mine has been using one for years and is very happy with it, even if it was only used for heating and not for hot water. We spoke with the plumber who installed it and we explained that we were interested in an entirely pellet-based heating system. The door and window frames in our new house need some work, but there was no reason to put in new ones, as they weren't in such a bad state. But the heating system needed to be completely redone, and we were also considering some other work we wanted to do. It was a great opportunity to save money, become independent and be eco-friendly. The hydro stove became the centrepiece of this new system, which is entirely designed around it.
Where did you install the stove?
We choose a special place for it, right at the entrance to the living room. For the flue, we used the old flue in the kitchen, with the connection concealed by plasterboard. Very discreet. To avoid reaching tropical temperatures in a small room with a stove, we took down the wall at the entrance and extended the living room. I have to say, it is really cosy now, plus the flame of the stove completes the room and keeps us company.
Tell us about how you usually use your Duo.
Everyone's out during the day, so we set the stove to turn on around 4pm, before we come home. We keep it on for about 4 hours, which is perfect to heat the 160 square metres on the upper floor (living area, sleeping area, bathrooms) and it warms up the bottom floor too. We manage to keep the temperature around 23°C in the living area and 20°C in the sleeping area.
When it gets very cold, we can turn the fan on to really heat up the living room (editor's note: this is the “hydro-air” technology). I can choose whether to give all the heat to the system water, or to send a few kilowatts to the room fans. We usually set the fan to minimum, as this is generally enough. The great thing is that the stove does not just heat up, but also dries wonderfully. And in a damp and rainy area like this one, that is pretty important.
Do you find it difficult to set?
No. Absolutely not. We have set two programs. One for work days, when the stove turns on only in the afternoon. And the other one for when we're at home and we need the stove on the whole day.
Have you calculated how much you can save?
The way we use the stove, we get through about one and a half bags of pellets a day (20-25 kg). We stocked up well at the beginning of the season and spent about 700 euro. Because we think we can get through the entire winter with this amount, we believe we'll spend about the same as last year, when we were heating a tiny 80 square metre flat. So, with the same budget, we're heating a house that is twice the size and we've also got hot water. We can definitely say that this investment is going to pay itself back in no time at all.
You also chose to install a puffer tank. Why?
The puffer tank is used to increase the available amount of hot water and to keep it hot for longer. If, for instance, you feel like taking a long hot shower, the stove alone wouldn't be able to heat up all the water required. Let's say that if you want to combine hot water with heating, a storage system is almost mandatory. In the case of heating alone, a puffer tank would not be necessary, but it helps in any case, because it also keeps the water used for the system warm.
Do you have solar panels as well?
Yes, we decided to install them, too. Even on a miserable day, the solar panels help the stove heat up the water. On sunnier days, the water temperature is already 40° when it reaches the puffer tank. This summer, the photovoltaic system will be also fully operational and will enable us to run all our electrical appliances on solar energy. Our final objective is to be fully independent, both in terms of heating and electrical consumption. We made a series of investments in this sense and we are looking forward to finally being able to "declare" ourselves independent
But do you have a traditional gas boiler?
We have one installed in case of emergency, but it has been off all winter!
4 "SMART" TIPS FROM ELISABETTA AND BRUNO :
Take your time in choosing your hydro stove, as there are various aspects to consider: spring or summer are the best seasons to install it without having to rush and have it ready for winter.
Contact an installer or a plumber who already has some experience with hydro stoves: they will definitely be able to give you advice based on your needs.
Combine the hydro stove with a storage system (puffer tank): it will help you keep the water hot for a longer period of time, both for the heating system and all the applications in the house.
At the beginning of winter, stock up well in good quality pellets: it will cost you less in terms of maintenance.