Tag Archives: Energy efficiency

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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Could Wave Power Satisfy our Energy Needs?

12 Apr

The UK is a great location for wave power and it is often argued that marine energy converters could offer a more consistent source of energy in comparison to alternative clean energy sources. Researchers at the College of Engineering at the Oregon State University have recently established a new analysis that suggests wave power could also prove to be a cheaper alternative to its renewable energy equivalents. The new analysis has suggested that large-scale wave power arrays could balance out supply and demand by not putting a substantial amount of pressure on the grid.

What do we already know about wave energy? An advantage to wave energy is that it will never run out. There will always be waves crashing upon the shores of nations, near the populated coastal regions. The waves flow back from the shore, but they always return. Unlike fossil fuels, creating power from waves creates no harmful by-products such as gas, waste, and pollution. The energy from waves can be taken directly into electricity-producing machinery and used to power generators and power plants nearby. In today’s energy-powered world, we know a source of clean energy is hard to come by.

Waves are hardly interrupted and are almost always in motion. This makes generating electricity from wave energy a reasonable reliable energy source (at least when you compare them to solar and wind). Beneficially, the energy density is typically around 30-40 kW for every meter (2.2 feet) of wave along the shore. As we go further into the ocean 100kW for every meter is not uncommon. A wave farm that is occupying less than a half square mile of an ocean could generate more than 30 MW of power, the equivalent of 20,000 British homes.

Let’s take a look at the other advantages of wave power:

Pro’s

  • Low Operating Costs – Once installed there are few ongoing operating costs or labour costs, unless there is a device breakdown.
  • No material resources are used or changed in the production of wave power, making it a truly renewable power form.
  • Most wave power devices are installed mostly or fully submerged in water. By installing the devices far enough from shore there is minimal “damage of water views” that has been associated with offshore wind turbines.
  • It offers shoreline protection, as capturing the kinetic energy of the tide will lead to less power crashing into the shore, which should help prevent damage to the shoreline.
  • Most wave power devices operate at optimal efficiency levels regardless of the direction of the waves.

Similar to most good things, wave power does come with a number of disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage to getting your energy from the waves is location. Only power plants and towns near the ocean will benefit directly from it. Because of its source, wave energy is not a viable power source for everyone. Landlocked nations and cities far from the sea have to find alternate sources of power, so wave energy is not the clean energy solution for everyone. Other disadvantages include:

Con’s

  • The high cost of device and associated power products could lengthen the payback period and be cost prohibitive based on the characteristics and size of each project.
  • Sea life could be harmed or have habitats disrupted or displaced. The machines disturb the seafloor, changing the habitat of near-shore creatures (like crabs and starfish) and create noise that disturbs the sea life around them.
  • Strong ocean storms and salt water corrosion can damage the devices, which could increase the cost of construction to increase durability and/or cause frequent breakdowns. This especially holds true with the increased complexity of the devices.
  • Aesthetically unpleasing, the overtopping devices could produce a loud, constant noise. This noise is unlikely going to be significantly louder than the waves would make on their own.
  • The performance of wave power drops significantly during rough weather. They must withstand rough weather.

Installers should consider the pros and cons of this energy source and consider who and what they may be disturbing. Who knows what the future holds for wave power!

India Plans To Rent Rooftops In A Bid To Install More Solar Panels

17 Feb

When it comes to solar power, India is in one of the most perfect locations for the technology due to its extraordinary sun coverage and the high levels of unmet demand for electricity. There are very few countries in the world where solar power has a greater potential than India. With a huge landmass and an average of 300 sunny days a year, India theoretically provides five trillion kilowatt-hours of clean and renewable solar power available every year across its length and breadth, enough to electrify the nation dozens of times over. At times throughout the warmest months of the year major cities for example Delhi suffer from regular power outages due to the increasing demand for power.

To capitalise on the opportunity Indian electricity companies are advising potential customers to rent out their rooftops in a bid to host solar panels. Such a push could see a huge expansion for the country’s solar power capabilities.

The main targets are large industrial and commercial energy consumers. Not only do these companies that host the panels end up with a significant discount on their power bill, but the developers also save money on the most expensive aspect of solar development, which is the cost of purchasing large amounts of land to host their renewable energy projects.

Government buildings such as hospitals, schools and office buildings are potential targets for hosting the technology. Other potential landmarks include industrial complexes, commercial buildings and malls are the target for these operators who would set up solar rooftops for free and sell you power at rates that are cheaper than the local utilities.

“Around 240 sq mt of rooftop space is good enough for setting up a rooftop solar power plant that can viably sell power to the building and earn some decent profits,” said Sunil Jain, chief executive of Hero Future Energies. “In fact, some five-six companies including Hero Future Energy have already entered the fray and are on the lookout for large rooftop space in industrial complexes, commercial buildings, malls and gated communities,” he said.

Although a positive plan, a major disadvantage of the idea is that the cost of generating power differs in different places due to difference of the sunlight’s intensity. For example, the sun is the strongest in Rajasthan and the intensity reduces as it moves towards east. Another issue is with the rental model itself as there is no set of standard model agreements, and therefore the power companies don’t yet have a way to make the contracts legally binding. It means that while customers may rent out their roofs for lengthy periods of time, up to 25 years, they might be able to unexpectedly back out of an agreement questioning its reliability.

 

 

 

The Benefits of Solar Panels

29 Jan

It has been argued that solar power will help in reducing the effects of global warming. Many theorists argue that global warming will prove a huge threat to the earth’s ecological system in years to come. Global warming threatens the survival of human society and countless species. Luckily, decades (or even centuries) of research have led to efficient solar panel systems that create electricity without producing global warming pollution. Solar power is now very clearly one of the most important solutions to the global warming crisis.

Solar power is a form of renewable energy, so its use reduces the strain on exhaustible materials like coal and oil – materials which are fast running out. More significantly, solar power doesn’t pollute the earth’s atmosphere with harmful emissions in the same way that coal and oil do. Once fitted, solar panels emit no pollution whatsoever, and only the construction and installation process contribute to the Earth’s carbon footprint. Solar panels are, in fact, the most environmentally friendly of all available renewable technologies.

The Benefits

Solar power provides energy security. First and foremost no one can go and buy the sun or turn sunlight into a monopoly. Combined with the simplicity of solar panels, this also provides the notable solar power advantage of energy security.

Carbon footprint advantages. Research shows over the life of a solar installation it produces on average of 20x less CO2 than coal power – at least! Solar panels are carbon negative after three years. As during this time they produce as much energy as was consumed during their manufacturing and installation.

Solar power creates jobs. As a source of energy, solar power is a job-creating powerhouse. Money invested in solar power creates two to three times more jobs than money invested in coal or natural gas. (see table below for example from 2014).

Earn money for the electricity you generate. The Feed-in tariffs in the United Kingdom were announced in October 2008 and took effect from April 2010. It applies to small-scale generation of electricity, paying a fixed sum for eligible technologies. Feed-in tariffs normally cover all of the energy generated, not just what is fed into the grid. You can also sell the electricity you generate but do not use back to the grid.

Solar power is reliable. The rising and setting of the sun is extremely consistent. All across the world, we know exactly when it will rise and set every day of the year. While clouds may be a bit less predictable, we do also have fairly good seasonal and daily projections for the amount of sunlight that will be received in different locations. All in all, this makes solar power an extremely reliable source of energy.

And finally, one of the biggest advantages to the homeowner…
Cut your electricity bills. Sunlight is free, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation your electricity costs will be reduced.

 

The Use Of Solar Energy Through The Centuries

18 Dec

Did you know that solar energy has been around for centuries but not in the way we know and love today? It has been used in a number of different ways for example during the 7th century B.C people magnified the sun’s rays to create fire!

Let’s rewind to six thousand years ago when Neolithic Chinese villagers had the sole opening of their homes south facing. They did this to catch the rays of the low winter sun to help warm the interior. The overhanging thatched roof kept the high summer sun off the houses throughout the day so those inside would stay cool. Two thousand years later Chinese urban planners would build the main streets of towns to run east to west to allow every house to look to the south to catch the winter sun for supplementary heating. Over the many years Chinese cities followed such planning ideas and still today the Chinese favour a south-facing home.

Allegedly in the 2nd century B.C Archimedes, an Ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer from Sicily used the reflective properties of brass to set Roman ships that were attacking Syracuse on fire. Fast forward a century and we saw the Greeks and Romans using ‘burning mirrors’ to light torches for religious purposes.

The Romans also had large windows covered with either transparent stone or clear glass. This was one of the great breakthroughs in building and solar technology. Transparent materials like mica or glass, the Romans discovered, acts as a solar heat trap, admitting sunlight into the desired space and holding in the heat so it accumulates inside. Sun-right laws were passed which made it a civil offence to block ones access to face the south.

In 1767 a Swiss scientist called Horace-Benedict de Saussure created the very first solar cell. He constructed an insulated box with an opening and three layers of glass. It magnified the suns heat to temperatures in excess of 230 degrees Fahrenheit and could be used in a variety of ways. It was known as a ‘Hot Box’ and became the prototype for solar thermal collectors used to heat water and homes.

The first major milestone in the evolution of solar energy took place in 1839 and it was defined as the photovoltaic effect. A young French scientist by the name of Edmund Bacquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect whilst experimenting in his father’s laboratory with an electrolytic cell made up of two metal electrodes placed in an electrolyte.  After exposing it to light, electricity increased.

Fast forward once again to 1905, Albert Einstein published a paper on the photoelectric effect, which Robert Millikan proved with experimental proof in 1916.  This sparked further research into solar energy, and in 1918, Jan Czochralski developed the Czochralski process to grow single crystal silicon, which would later become critical to the PV industry.

Years later in 1921, 16 years after he submitted this paper, Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for the scientific breakthroughs he had discovered.

It was in 1954 that Daryl Chaplin, Calvin Fuller and Gerald Pearson propelled the industry into what it is today. They developed the silicon PV cell at Bell labs, which was the first solar cell able to convert enough energy to power everyday electrical equipment.

Blink and it’s soon to be the start of 2016, it may have took a long time to come to fruition but we can’t argue the power of the sun. It’s a very exciting time for solar energy as its seeing positive signs of investment and growth. Key for the future of solar is the development of efficient, cost-effective solar panels, which will see the development of exciting new technology. Watch this space!

 

 

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.

 

In France All New Commercial Buildings Must Install Green Roofs or Solar Panels

26 Jun

France has introduced a new building requirement in its commercial zones. It calls for all roofs to be partially covered in either solar panels or plants. This is just a recent green headline to come from France following the Eiffel Tower wind turbines and the tree shaped wind turbines that are being installed in the capital.

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. They offer many advantages to the public and private sectors ranging from waste diversion to energy efficiency.

A further benefit of a green roof is its isolating effect which allows buildings to better retain their heat during the winter months while reflecting and absorbing solar radiation during the summer months, allowing buildings to remain cooler.

They can help reduce the distribution of dust and particle matter through cities to combat the smog issue. They play a huge role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and help adapt urban areas to predicted future climates with warmer summers.

Green roofs also have the ability to reduce sound from outside by up to 40 decibels. They have excellent noise reduction, especially for low frequency sounds.

Originally, French environmental activists had asked for all rooftops to be 100% green. The Socialist government convinced activists to limit the scope of the law to just commercial buildings.

By giving businesses the option to install solar panels rather than green roofs, France could catch up some with its neighbours when it comes to solar energy.

Germany currently has the highest installed capacity of solar and shows no signs of slowing down. Think Progress recently reported that France had only five gigawatts of photovoltaics implemented as of last summer, accounting for only one percent of all energy production.

Since 2009, Toronto Canada has had a similar mandatory green roof law in place, requiring green roofs on new buildings. Preliminary studies suggested that the city could save hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs. France is making an investment in energy independence, efficiency, and stability.

Maybe we should all be looking at green roofs in our cities?

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