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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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Why you should insulate your home for the winter!

27 Nov

Did you know that insulating your home is one of the most useful things you can do to start saving money on your energy bills? As well as lowering your carbon footprint!

It’s a well known theory  that heat travels from hot to cold, so when we heat our homes, heat will escape from any uninsulated area to the cooler temperature outside.

We can all reduce the transfer of heat through insulation. Insulation is the material or technique used to reduce the rate at which heat is transferred. Here are so examples of basic insulation:

  • By putting a tea cosy on a teapot, you minimise the heat loss from the tea inside
  • Birds fluff up their feathers in the winter to trap air in between to help insulate them from the cold
  • Sheep grow thick wool to keep them warm on the hillside – the wool traps pockets of air, which is why we use it to make warm winter clothing for ourselves and to insulate our homes
  • Your thermos flasks, fridges and ovens all use insulation very effectively to conserve heat or prevent heat penetration to keep our food and drinks hot or cold

It may come as a surprise that your homes can become hot or cold in the exact same way!

There are many performance facts flying around, especially over how much you can save by installing proper insulation in your wall cavities or loft (around £120 and £150 a year respectively) but here are a few more uncommon ‘did you know facts’regarding insulation.

  • If every house in the UK was fully draught-proofed, the nation would save enough energy to easily heat all the homes in Belfast and Cardiff combined.
  • Up to 25% of heat loss is through the roof, 15% is through the floor, 25% is via doors and windows and a whopping 35% is through uninsulated walls!
  • Solid Wall Insulation can save around £475 a year on householder’s fuel bills year-on-year! It can also reduce a home’s carbon footprint by around 2 tonnes of CO2 a year.
  • Swedish builders put three layers of insulation in lofts, each 100mm thick and separated by a layer of building paper.
  • Around 300mm is the optimum depth for loft insulation; doubling the depth beyond this will not double the energy saving.
  • Insulating under the floorboards on your ground floor will save you around £60 a year, and you can seal the gaps between floors and skirting boards to reduce further draughts too.

You can start making small changes today by using draft excluder’s, closing blinds and curtains to keep your homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter, insulating your home and finally purchasing an energy efficient boiler which will be more effective in the winter months.

For any advice on how you could start saving today, call Eco People on 020 8883 4595 to talk to one of our dedicated team members.

 

The Self-Cleaning Crockery That Could Save Thousands of Gallons of Water Every Year

29 May

When it comes to household chores which do you hate? For me it’s the monotonous cleaning of dishes after cooking a meal. It takes a lot of effort to make them so shiny, not to mention the amount of water used. Well, you might be interested to hear that Swedish design studio Tomorrow Machine have created a real solution to the wasteful and laborious task of washing those dishes! It’s shocking to think that someone who’s washing their dishes by hand with the water flowing can have the same carbon footprint as someone driving several miles in a typical car!

The crockery was created by two designers, Hanna Billqvist and Anna Glansén who used cellulose variant called nanocellulose which is arguably as strong as Kevlar (The material used in bulletproof vests). The material is flexible and lightweight. The dishes are tough enough that they won’t break when you drop them, and they are lighter than traditional ceramic plates. The project was commissioned by the Swedish Foreign Industries Commission. Their goal was to use natural materials in the making of futuristic objects that will not only make our lives easier in the future, but reduce humans’ effect on the planet.

You may have heard of the lotus effect? Well the self-washing crockery is actually designed to mimic leaves of the lotus plant in which any water or dirt beads up and slips off the leaves with significant efficiency. The general concept is to relive the need of using gallons of water to clean up after a meal, instead you simply tip the waste straight into the compost…easy peasy. This will also save on the energy used to heat the water, and on the use of soap.

Tomorrow Machine worked with researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm to develop their self-cleaning dishes. On top of the nanocullulose, the developers added a layer of natural hydrophobic coating. The coating is made from a wax dissolved at a high pressure and temperature that repels water, oil and dirt, says Hanna Billqvist.

“It is real but a very new technology that is still being developed, so it’s not ready for the industry yet,” Billqvist said. The design team also added that a product like this will save on resources throughout its life span when you consider water needed for washing dishes and the chemicals to clean them.

Personally, I cannot make up my mind on this product idea. For some people washing dishes is a cleaning ritual to satisfy our hygienic instincts. I for one love the smell of cleaning products and the thought of a fresh clean tidy kitchen. So would I allow my dishes to do the job themselves? I don’t know. The engaging aspect for me is the idea of saving energy resulting in lower energy bills. It will be interesting to see how they market the product when it’s launched.

We’d love to hear your feedback on this idea…would you buy this product? Or is washing up liquid your friend? Just imagine how prune free your hands would be!

Insulation through the centuries

13 Feb

In the UK 40% of homes do not have loft or cavity wall insulation which is a crying shame when you consider that if every house in the UK was fully draught-proofed, the country would save enough energy to easily heat all the homes in Belfast and Cardiff combined. Generally, the term insulation refers to a substance that slows or impedes the transfer of heat or sound which helps keep our homes warm.

It might come as a surprise but insulation has been used for centuries to either keep heat in or cold out dependent on the season. This helped people maintain a comfortable living environment. Let’s step back in time and discuss the different forms of insulation used by different nations.

The first people to insulate were the ancient Egyptians. They created very thick bricks made from mud which helped keep their homes cool. The bricks would block the desert rays from entering the property – a huge comfort if you imagine how hot it must have been. Several nations that also lived in hot climates would construct homes with thick walls. The evidence of this can be found in the ancient Mayan ruins located in Central America. The homes had low ceilings and small windows to ensure heat could not enter the property easily.

Next on the timeline is Ancient Greece. These guys used asbestos and even named the material. Asbestos is flame resistant and quickly become known for its mystical qualities. The people of Ancient Greece used this knowing it could cause “lung sickness” in a user. They also used cavity walling to insulate their buildings. They would leave a gap between two walls which would trap the air and moderate the temperatures within the property. This would help keep the warm air outside in the summer months and in the winter months would help keep the warmth inside their homes.

Following this came the Romans who used cork to insulate hot water pipes so the heat from the pipes would not transfer to the surrounding walls and floors causing them to crack. As mentioned in last week’s blog they also brought the first form of central heating. (Claps).

Next we move onto the Vikings. They were generally famous for sailing huge distances from their home in Scandinavia between AD 800 and 1066 to raid and plunder. You may not know that one of the Viking gods is Thor, the god of thunder (Not the Chris Hemsworth one). Anyway, the Vikings were eco-pioneers – sort of! Most Viking families would live in ‘long houses’ and would have turf roofs to help keep in the heat. They would also insulate their homes with mud chinking, plastering it in the cracks between the logs or hewn boards of the buildings walls.

In the middle ages, people would use fabrics as additional insulation. Scraps of cloth would be tucked into window frames to keep out the desert dusk or the icy European cold. Rugs made from animal furs were used as carpets and thick linen drapes were used as curtains. Decorative tapestries were hung on walls and helped to manage some of the moisture build-up in the stone buildings. The tapestries also helped moderate the draughts that could sometimes cause an added chill.

During the Industrial Revolution, manufactures turned once again to asbestos for their insulation needs. Steam power was driven by coal-burning furnaces and asbestos was the main type of insulation due to its flame-resistant properties. Remarkably, asbestos had been used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as insulation and they had dressed their slaves in it. Even though the Greeks had distinguished that it appeared to cause “lung disease” in those who were exposed to it!

It was only in the mid 1970’s that the health concerns surrounding asbestos were documented which caused industries to find alternative methods of insulation. (Thankfully).

So there you have it…the history of insulation. With energy efficiency at the forefront I wonder what the next couple of centuries will contain. Watch this space…

Top winter tips to send those pesky high energy bills to the north pole!

14 Nov

The days are getting shorter, the temperature is getting colder and I’m counting down the days until Christmas. Perfect. What’s not to love about winter?

Winter is THE season for many people and there are plenty of things to look forward to from cosy nights on the couch, New Year celebrations to Christmas itself!

This being said, the downside of winter is turning up that thermostat to heat your wintry home. This makes winter one of the most expensive seasons of the year when it comes to energy bills.

Our number one tip to keep bills low is to insulate your property. Insulation is a great way to keep your house and family warm. Insulating walls has never been so easy and energy efficient. By insulating your house you can save a considerable amount a year that you would normally spend on energy bills. Not to mention it’s great for the environment. Lovely.

Our next tip is to keep a maintained boiler. A poorly maintained boiler wastes more energy and costs more, and it also runs the risk of leaking carbon monoxide. Either get your boiler serviced before winter or change your old model for a condensing unit, which could shave off around £235 a year.

Speaking of heating systems, have you bled your radiators recently? If your radiators are colder at the top than they are at the bottom, then your radiators have trapped air inside them that’s stopping the heat from circulating properly. It’s time to grab a towel and your special key and bleed that radiator! Bleeding the radiators releases the air, allowing the radiator to run more efficiently and in turn save you pennies.

Our next tip is to check your gutters. As summer draws to a close, the leaves will start falling, and gutters and drainpipes will start to get filled with loose foliage. Once the blockage becomes too much, water will start to back up in the guttering and leak into the roof and down the walls of the house. A further tip for your gutters would be to cut away any surrounding trees as it’s those leaves that will clog your guttering systems!

Be sure to check the edges of your doors and windows for draughts, and you can either seal these gaps with self-adhesive draught strips, or get one of those funny draught excluder’s shaped like a snake or a dog. Who doesn’t love a draft excluding dog?

Here’s some more top energy saving tips for winter:

  • You should also keep doors and windows closed so that heat is retained
  • Wash your clothes at a lower temperature. Every little bit of energy you save can make a huge difference!
  • ‘Switch switches off’
  • Unplug resources when you are done with them
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs (although they’re a little bit more pricey they are certainly worth it)
  • Stock up on hot chocolate. Sitting down on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate in winter is one of the best feelings ever.

You can call the team at Eco People (0208 883 4595) or email office@eco-people.co.uk for a quotation as Eco People specialise in External/Internal wall insulation and so much more.

The cheapest way of heating your home!

31 Jan

When it comes to heating your home are you a switch on and off kind of person? A leave it at low temperature? Or do you only use it when your curtains are frozen to the window? Let’s find out which method works out the cheapest.

In the UK 50% of homeowners believe it’s cheaper to leave the heating system on all day at a low temperature. This discovery is part of an energy saving myth-busting survey appointed by the Energy Saving Trust as part of Big Energy Saving Week. The survey was created to highlight the opinions of the UK public and how there is some confusion between their view and the energy saving action.

The ‘Ipsos MORI survey’ sampled UK citizens aged from 16 to 75 with 2,067 taking part. The findings were interesting when asked if a high thermostat setting heats a home faster which is actually incorrect, 27% of participants thought the statement to be true compared to 54% who knew the statement was false.

From this information we can see that over a quarter of participants would ‘blast’ their heating system to gain a warmer house faster. Taking this to a larger scale, if 27% of all UK homeowners were to do this with inadequately insulated homes the energy loss would be huge resulting in higher fuel poverty around the country.

Two thirds (66%) of participants believe that a greater amount of heat is lost through the roof of their home rather than the walls. This is incorrect as the majority of properties around the UK actually lose more heat through the walls. Here is a table to show heat loss percentages on a typical home:

 

Walls

35%

Roof

25%

Floor

15%

Draughts

15%

Windows

10%

 

Phillip Sellwood, an Energy Saving Trust chief executive said:

“We know it’s important for the UK public to stay warm and cosy in their homes. But for the majority the most cost-effective way to do this is to turn the heating on and off or up and down when required rather than leaving it on all day at a lower temperature. This ensures that heat is not wasted and that your home will be at a comfortable temperature.”

The biggest change homeowners should make is Turn it down. Many homes across the country have their central heating set higher than they need to be. Every degree that you turn it down will make further savings to your heating bill. It is also important to mention the power of insulating your property as the heat lost through many homes is scandalous. Insulating your solid walls could cut your heating costs by up to 40% resulting in reduced fuel bills.

If you would like any further information about the benefits of insulation or a simple chat about how making energy efficient modifications can help, call our team today on  020 8883 4595.

 

 

ECO funding…Whats the deal?

24 Jan

At the moment the government have implemented different funding methods to kick-start energy efficient alterations to homes. Today, I intend to talk you through The Energy Company Obligation which is also known as ECO. This is the most recent obligation placed upon Energy Suppliers to lower carbon emissions in the UK. These obligations require energy suppliers to provide energy grant funding for energy efficiency improvements for eligible households.

Eco is divided into three strands; HHRCO, CSCO and CERO. They have replaced previous obligations namely the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP).

So many abbreviations! I’ll talk you through them…

First, we have HHCRO which stands for The Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation. This scheme offers grants to eligible applicants for measures including; free boilers, free cavity wall insulation and free loft insulation. You are likely to qualify if you are:

• A homeowner

• The tenant of a private-sector landlord

• Households with persons

• In receipt of Child Tax Credit (with a relevant income of less than £15,860)

• In receipt of State Pension Credit

• Aged 60 years or over and in receipt of Working Tax Credit (with a relevant income of less than £15,860)

You can also receive the grant if you are on income related employment and support allowance, income based job seekers allowance, income support or working tax credit with a relevant income of £15,860 or less.

Next on the list if CSCO which stands for The Carbon Saving Community Obligation. In short this targets private and social housing in low-income areas based on their postcode. Under CSCO typical measures available include; solid wall insulation, cavity wall insulation and loft insulation. With fuel poverty (people spending more than 10% of their net monthly income on energy bills) on the rise, this obligation is expected to benefit the social housing sector.

To gain this funding you must occupy the premises at some point during the installation and have the right to occupy the premises within 30 days of the installation completion.

The final obligation is CERO aka the Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation. This basically provides funding for all home owners and privately renting tenants but specifically for Hard-to-Treat cavity wall properties and those in need of solid wall insulation. Solid walled properties are eligible for either internal or external wall insulation. It is expected that providing funding for the more costly energy saving measures will help to meet Government targets to cut carbon levels over the next decade, but to also increase the quality of the housing stock across the UK.

So who qualifies? Like CSCO, you must occupy the premises at some point during the installation and have a right to occupy the premises within 30 days of the installation completion date.

The measures identified as ECO are;

  • Solar Photovoltaic (PV)
  • Solar Thermal
  • Internal solid wall insulation
  • External solid wall insulation
  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Air source heat pumps
  • Decentralised energy systems

If you would like any further information regarding ECO or any other energy efficient measures give the Eco People team a call. We provide advice and guidance on ECO to its clients and stakeholders and effectively manage and tailor funding services. We have in place a strong team of fully trained ECO project staff. Whether you are a private individual or a housing provider – we can help you! Check us out at www.eco-people.co.uk or give us a call on 020 8883 4595.

 

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