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Winters Coming: Time To Update Your Boiler?

31 Aug

With winter around the corner, its not surprising homeowners start to worry about their increasing energy bills. Now when it comes to your energy bills, heating accounts for about 60 percent of what you spend annually. About 16 percent of that goes on distribution charge, basically the cost of the gas pipes that get the energy into your home. What about the other percentage? An efficient boiler makes a big difference!

Modern boilers are more efficient for several reasons, but their main advantage is that they are mostly condensing boilers. In a conventional heating system (gas boilers for example) most of the combustion products (heated gases) pass through the boiler’s heat exchange surface, passing the generated energy to the heat distribution system – underfloor heating, radiators. Afterwards, the combustion gases are released into the atmosphere through the boiler’s flue. Therefore, a certain amount of heat is lost, because together with the gases, a considerable amount of steam that forms during the burning process (due to the water contained in the natural gas in its initial state) is being pushed out. The released steam carries an untapped amount of evaporation energy that conventional boilers are unable to make use of, and something that a condensing boiler is capable of converting into additional heat.

Installing an efficient condensing boiler can save you significant amounts of money, but also improve your carbon footprint. Here are some other examples:

Reduce your electricity bills: Because condensing boilers are so energy efficient, they need to burn much less fuel to extract the same amount of energy to supply to your home. This means considerably lower fuel bills, which is a relief in today’s unstable fuel market with prices rising all the time.

Cut your carbon footprint: Condensing boilers have much lower CO2 emissions than other boilers available, and because of this are much more environmentally friendly. Every year a condensing boiler could save up to 1.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide that would otherwise escape into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Save space: Condensing combi boilers don’t need a hot water tank, saving you space. Next to a clunky older boiler type, a condensing boiler is sleek and will often fit into convenient spaces the size of an average kitchen cupboard.

Simple controls: Condensing combi boilers don’t need timers for hot water as they produce hot water when you turn the tap on. Also heating controls have changed so much over the last decade and as a result it is now as easy to control heating your home than ever before. With these changes comes longer life boilers and savings from heating your home smarter and more efficiently.

Faster heating: Upgrading your heating system and heating controls will not only reduce your energy bills but will also help heat your home faster.

In conclusion a new boiler can save 1.5 tons of CO2 each year. Not sure exactly how much that is? It the equivalent of the emissions given off on a return flight from London to San Francisco; a flight covering 5,351 miles!

Sometimes, wanting to be greener and reduce your carbon footprint and energy bills can seem daunting when you have to find the total cost of installing some measures, that’s why Eco People has become FCA approved so we can offer you a variety of finance options when we provide you with a quote. Call us on 020 8883 4595 for more information or visit us at www.eco-people.co.uk

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The history of Central Heating

6 Feb

The history of heating…you’d think it would be a quick story wouldn’t you? Well its more in depth than you’d think!

We must begin with the cavemen…they lived in caves, existed alongside ferocious beasts and discovered fire. It kept them warm and helped stop parts of their bodies dropping off from frostbite. Before the Romans invaded the UK, heating our homes was pretty much having an open fire in the centre of the room much like the cavemen did. Although this method of heating was not ideal, it worked!

In AD43 the Romans arrived on our shores bringing us to our knees in a matter of minutes. They brought with them grape vines, sewer systems, architecture and road building which as you can imagine back then was greatly appreciated. Within their array of many useful skills, they brought with them the early forms of central heating hooray.

The Romans did not build Rome in a day but certainly deserve a lot of credit for their development of their under floor heating system. They worked by heating a void, typically a false floor or hollow wall, which then heated the space above or next to it. They called this ‘Hypocaust’ which comes from the Latin Hypocaustum which basically means ‘burning underneath’. The hypocaust was an elaborate system of underground channels which were fed with air heated in a furnace. It was far more efficient than an open fire, as the furnace only needed firing once or twice a day

The void would be heated by fires or steam. With this new-found heat people would be more inclined to bathe (who wants to take a cold bath after all) so more people were cleaner and warmer, a win-win situation. Sadly, the Romans decided they had enough of us Brits and decided to scoot on to greener pastures. Once they left around AD410 nothing really happened to be honest, their buildings and systems were left to ruin and unfortunately we went backwards.

1400 long years passed. (At this point I feel the need for a good old cup of tea, it would be rude not to.)

And we’re back…to recap cavemen invented fire (Ooh warmness), Romans invaded bringing us many useful things, Romans left, British got lazy. I do however need to mention the invention of the Chimney by the Tudors in 1534AD. The invention transformed the way families heated their homes as they efficiently carried smoke out of the room. It also helped heat more floors within the home.

Sadly in the 1400 years of nothing (apart from the Tudors), we totally forgot about the idea of central heating. That was until an inventor called William Strutt designed a new mill building in Derby which contained a hot air furnace, hooray. This happened in the 1800’s and changed our lives forever!

He basically designed a large stove which heated air brought in from the outside via an enormous underground passage. The lovely heated air was then distributed throughout the building via ducts. In 1807 he met Charles Sylvester who was also an inventor. By working together they designed Derby’s royal infirmary which had many advanced features such as air refreshing toilets and wait for it….a heating system!

Now it’s 1857 the era of the Victorians and the year Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa as new capital of Canada (bet you didn’t know that). Also in this year a Russian businessman called Franz San Galli laid the foundation of the modern heating system. By implementing large columns made of steel with waterways inside, this allowed for hot water to pass through and heat the air, which resulted in a heated the room. Early hot water radiators were first used to heat corridors. Steam moved through a system of pipes without the need for pumps, although this sometimes meant that heat was wasted on areas where it was not necessarily wanted.

Despite the development of radiators, the rich still enjoyed the aesthetic of an open fire, especially if they could afford servants to keep it fuelled and cleaned. Most families could not afford central heating.

Back to the 20th Century and central heating has rapidly evolved with better designs and generally more efficient techniques. The size of the radiators was reduced which meant less water was required to heat homes. To keep heat in and costs down, insulation methods such as double-glazing became increasingly popular within British homes.

In the 1970’s central heating became the must-have accessory. Boilers were fitted with timers and thermostats, meaning heating could be set to turn on and off at certain times.

Today heating methods have been developed which make the most of the possibilities of the digital age. The latest innovation is the Smart Meter, which lets you understand and control your energy use quickly and wirelessly.

Although technologies advanced and we can do things the cavemen never thought possible. It still wouldn’t be possible without the journey. Just think we still use the cavemen’s original idea of burning wood!

 

The Energy Efficient Future of Housing

29 Jan

Houses come in different shapes and sizes and it’s hard to imagine what the future will hold when it comes to housing developments. Energy efficiency is really taking hold in the United Kingdom and home owners are adapting their homes for the future. Although, we will never know what the future will hold for housing, it doesn’t mean we can’t imagine.

The Industrial Revolution witnessed a huge growth in the size of British cities. In 1695, the population of Britain was estimated to be 5.5 million. By 1801, the year of the first census, it was 9.3 million and by 1841, 15.9 million. This represents a 60% growth rate in just 40 years. Manchester, as an example, experienced a six-times increase in its population between 1771 and 1831. Bradford grew by 50% every ten years between 1811 and 1851 and by 1851 only 50% of the population of Bradford was actually born there. These cities needed cheap homes as the Industrial Revolution continued to grow. Therefore it was important that houses were adapted to this style of living catering for the larger numbers.

 

The building material used was the cheapest a builder could find. Cheap slate from Wales was commonly used. The finished homes were damp as none were built with damp courses and those who could only afford cellar dwellings lived in the worst possible conditions as damp and moisture would seep to the lowest part of the house.

At the end of World War II we were ushered in the industrial age of housing. It is then when we first confronted our energy deficiencies. With energy from fossil fuels becoming less popular, the highlighted demand for clean air and water, climate stability and more comfortable living things have started to change.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s when most homes in the UK started to get a central heating system fitted. It might surprise you, but central heating was actually invented long, long ago during Roman times. The Romans invented a rudimentary form of central heating which helped to keep their villas warm, with a concept and format not a million miles away from the central heating systems we have today.  After the end of Roman rule in Britain in the year 410, we seemed to forget about central heating until the nineteenth century. In the intervening fifteen hundred years, most people relied on fires to provide warmth in the home…or perhaps we just got used to the cold!

But enough of the past…what can we expect for the future? With the green premise growing in popularity across the globe, more and more people are turning to shipping container structures for green alternatives. There are copious benefits to the so-called shipping container architecture model. A few of these advantages include: strength, durability, availability, and cost. But there are also a lot of downsides to building with shipping containers. For instance, the coatings used to make the containers durable for ocean transport also happen to contain a number of harmful chemicals, such as chromate, phosphorous, and lead-based paints.

 

Could we see a boom in green roofs throughout UK cities? A green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. They offer many advantages to the public and private sectors ranging from waste diversion to energy efficiency. Green roofs offer great aesthetic improvement for local communities. Urban greening has long been promoted as an easy and effective strategy for beautifying the built environment and increasing investment opportunity.

Green roofs have been around for centuries in different corners of the world. We have seen an increase in green roof interest due to growing concerns surrounding climate change, carbon footprints and sustainability. It is not only roof’s that can be covered; walls can also have a green makeover.

Could we see sky scrapers cleaning up the pollution and smog within our cities? A building called ‘Project Blue’ was designed to reduce pollution in urban zones in China following record breaking levels of smog. The plan was to design a building that would help reduce the high levels of particulate pollution that’s becoming a big problem within Chinese cities. The system is complex, but fundamentally their building would brush carbon monoxide from the air and turn it into methane. This methane could then be used to generate electricity or power methane fuel cells in cars.

What do you think will happen in the upcoming years? We will be parking our electric cars on our rooftops to allow more space for the growing population? Will we have the first breathing houses? Will we all create our own energy using solar? Could we bring something forgotten back to life just like we did with the Romans central heating? The answer is we haven’t a clue…but it’s cool to speculate.

 

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