21st Century Heat: Combi boiler delivers space heating and DHW to 1930s residence

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Flipping a home often means buying it, making some aesthetic or functional improvements, and selling it for a higher price. For Mike Spillane, owner of Spillane & Sons Building and Remodeling, it meant totally gutting a 1,500-sq.-ft. building and upgrading it with the latest in efficient design.

Mike Spillane, owner of Spillane & Sons Building and Remodeling, places the cover on the CB Combination (Combi) Boiler from Noritz, which is able to convert 95% of the fuel it consumes into useable heat, saving energy over time.

Spillane purchased the residence in Batavia, Ill., with the intention of doing a complete remodel. Built in 1930, the home had, until recently, been owned by an elderly woman, whose daughter had sold it to Spillane. “Our goal was to build a brand new home within four old walls,” he explains.

Combining Water and Space Heating

One crucial aspect of remodeling the home was deciding on what kind of space and water heating systems to install. The home had previously used a tank-style water heater and a forced-air furnace system. Spillane needed to decide whether to install like for like or try something new.

When it came to the water heating, his decision was simple. “My subcontractors and I have been installing exclusively tankless water heaters for the past 10 years due to their energy efficiency and space savings.” Unlike tank-style water heaters, tankless units operate only on-demand, quickly superheating water for as long as needed. This on-demand operation is far more energy-efficient than the constant cycling of tank-style heaters. “Condensing” tankless units add even greater efficiencies by preheating incoming cold water using a secondary heat exchanger that captures additional heat from the combustion gases before they escape up the flue.

Spillane’s water heating solution ultimately ended up being his space heating solution as well when Noritz donated its new CB Combination (Combi) Boiler to the project. The Combi delivers hot water to both domestic hot water (DHW) and hydronic heating applications and is able to convert 95 percent of the fuel it consumes into useable heat, meaning it has the potential to yield substantial energy savings over time.

J.R. Nasti of Nasti Plumbing Inc. stands beside the newly installed CB Combination (Combi) Boiler from Noritz at the Model Remodel home in Batavia, Ill.

The unit also contains a special flow control valve inside that ensures a consistent temperature for domestic hot water demand, regardless of incoming water temperature. As a result, the user can count on the water always hitting a comfortable setpoint temperature.

“As a general contractor, we had not previously specified a combination unit such as this. But, from prior experience, we trusted the Noritz brand and were optimistic that the product would perform well,” explains Spillane, who decided to install the Combi as part of a hybrid heating system, whereby coils are heated in an air handler to distribute warm air throughout the entire home. The unit also provides all the home’s domestic hot water.

A Great Fit

J.R. Nasti of Nasti Plumbing Inc. installed the Combi in the home with his son, Luke. “The technology behind tankless water heaters is truly impressive,” exclaims Nasti. “They take up a lot less space than a tank-style heater and have a longer lifespan.”

The unit’s space efficiency was especially beneficial for this home, with its particularly narrow basement, which had previously been occupied by the bulky furnace system and tank-style water heater. Nasti was able to install the unit in roughly four hours without any problems.

The installation “was very straightforward,” he says. “I had to learn only how to program it, which didn’t take very long.”

Spillane agrees, citing no problems with the operation: “We, of course, tested the hot water and space heating once everything was finished, and it performed flawlessly.”
In addition to the new domestic hot water and HVAC system, the completely remodeled home now has a new electrical system and has increased to roughly 1,850 square feet after a second bathroom was added. In total, it contains three bedrooms and two and one-half bathrooms.

The home has been sold to a husband and wife who were looking to downsize their living space after raising their children. “The couple who bought the home were especially drawn to its central location in downtown Batavia, the manageable size and the energy-efficient technology it contains, such as the combination boiler and LED lighting,” explains Spillane.

Although it is too soon to gather specifics at this stage, Spillane expects that the couple will enjoy significant energy savings, thanks to the home’s efficient design. “Once they start living in the home for a while, the new homeowners will notice the energy-saving promises of products like the Combi come to fruition,” he predicts. “We are more than confident in this home’s future performance.”

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