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    The Energy Related Products Directive coming in September 2015

    Thu 18th Dec 2014 - 2:43am Energy and Heating The Energy Related Products Directive coming in September 2015

    Benjamin

    Benjamin Clarke

    In September 2015, the Energy Related Products Directive will be brought into force across Europe. In many ways, this directive will actually bring the standards of hot water and heating systems in Europe up to the standards of those already practised in the UK.

    The ErP Directive is a framework that will set minimum requirements for certain energy consuming products in the domestic and light commercial sectors. The purpose of it is to establish a standard for emissions and ensuring products adhere to the requirements, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gases and improving the products energy efficiency.

    According to the Government, to be considered for inclusion in the Directive, products must “Have a volume of sales that exceeds 200,000 units per year throughout the internal European market (this is an accumulative total and not one calculated on an individual producer basis). Have a significant environmental impact within the internal market and present significant potential for improvement in environmental impact without incurring excessive costs.”

    A new labelling system will be introduced to show how efficient a product is. In addition to the already-existing A-Class rating for the most energy efficient products, A+, A++ and A+++ ratings will also be introduced in the hope of giving consumers a better idea about how energy efficient products are. The theory is that a public better educated on this matter will lead to improved energy efficiency in homes around the UK.

    However, there have been some issues raised about the potential effectiveness of the new directive and whether it will have much of an impact, despite the good intentions behind it.

    One issue highlighted is in the way people buy heating and hot water appliances, like boilers. With white goods like a refrigerator, which are currently labeled with information on how energy efficient they are, consumers will usually go to a retailer or store, compare the efficiency of one refrigerator with another and more often than not, select the refrigerator that is more efficient. However, when choosing a new boiler, people do not generally go around showrooms comparing different brands of boilers and looking at the different features and levels of efficiency. In many instances, people select new boilers in an emergency situation (e.g. in winter when their existing boiler has broken down) and will look to their plumber or heating engineer for advice on what to install. In this case, they wouldn’t be thinking about the labeling system and wouldn’t even see the labels on the boiler until it arrives at their home to be installed.

    Another potential issue with the labeling system is when there is more than just the boiler being replaced within a heating system. A boiler may well have a helpful label on it showing it’s energy efficiency, but things become more complicated if a smart thermostat and a cylinder are also installed, as well as whether or not these new components are being fitted to a system that includes thermostatic radiator valves or a solar powered dimension. The energy efficiency labelling system will no longer apply to each individual product, but rather how these products perform when they are operating together in a system.

    The kind of complications described above bring into question how much impact the new directives can actually have, however as the new labelling system is being introduced, it should be encouraged. Some customers will be more interested than others regarding how energy efficient their system is, but installers should be ready to explain the system should the customer enquire.

    At present there is a little uncertainty about how exactly the labelling requirements will be put into practise, but manufacturers and government bodies are taking it seriously and looking at various ways this can be done. By the time the new requirements are introduced in September 2015, a system through which they can be actioned should have been agreed upon, making life easier for heating engineers and consumers and also improving the quality of energy efficiency in Britain’s housing stock.

    Article by Benjamin Clarke

    Survey shows broken boilers are a big worry for homeowners

    Tue 16th Dec 2014 - 4:29am Energy and Heating Survey shows broken boilers are a big worry for homeowners

    Benjamin

    Benjamin Clarke

    The financial services comparison website, GoCompare.com, recently released results of a survey they carried out on almost 2,000 householders and they showed some interesting figures.

    25% of those surveyed were ‘worried’ about their boiler breaking down, with many having financial concerns about how they would pay for repairs.

    In the event of a £300 repair bill, 27% of people have a fund specifically put aside to cover such issues, 23% held actual boiler cover and 10% said they would need to use their credit card.

    Some other interesting figures on the survey discussing boiler issues were:

    42% had experienced some sort of boiler trouble in the last 3 years. Of these 42%, 22% needed their system completely replacing, 19% required emergency repairs and 54% needed minor repairs.

    The average cost of the above repairs was £469, with 12% actually having a bill over £1,000.

    56% of those that took part in the survey had not had their boilers serviced in the last 12 months.
    9% hadn’t had their boiler serviced in the last 2 years.
    11% had never had their boiler serviced.

    However, many people were unaware that the cost of a boiler breaking down may be covered by home buildings insurance. Household misfortunes are often covered under home emergency insurance, which can include things like home security issues, draining and plumbing issues and boilers breaking down. Up to to a maximum limit, the insurance will usually cover call out fees and labour and material costs for temporary or permanent repairs.

    GoCompare.com also reviewed over 300 home building insurance policies and found 20% of policies provide home emergency cover as a standard part of the policy, while a further 51% provided emergency cover as an upgrade with an additional fee. Of the 71% of policies that did offer emergency cover either as standard or as an upgrade, 98% covered the main central heating system and 72% covered hot water failure.

    As we’ve previously highlighted, it’s incredibly important to have your boiler serviced annually to ensure they run efficiently and effectively. Often people don’t even think about their boiler until it goes wrong, but as it’s one of the most expensive things in the home to repair or replace, homeowners can get a nasty shock when the bill comes through.

    What can also be surprising to many is that many home emergency insurance policies will not cover any issues that have been caused by lack of servicing and neglect, making it even more important to have your boiler and central heating system in general serviced once per year.

    Article by Benjamin Clarke

    Renewable heating looks set to increase from 2015

    Thu 11th Dec 2014 - 4:30am Energy and Heating Renewable heating looks set to increase from 2015

    Benjamin

    Benjamin Clarke

    Recent changes to the Renewable Heat Incentive (a government scheme giving financial incentives to encourage people to install renewable heating technologies) have meant that landlords and tenants may soon reap the rewards of renewable heating, helping them to have warmer homes and lower heating bills.

    In an announcement made on 10th November 2014, the government said they were ‘removing the requirement for a Green Deal Assessment for social landlords.’ The current situation means that landlords are not allowed to apply for the RHI without a Green Deal Assessment, whereby an assessor will come and inspect the property and recommend improvements that will help with energy efficiency and consumption. However, these changes, expected to come into force in Spring 2015, mean that landlords do not have to have a Green Deal Assessment to apply for the RHI, provided they have an Energy Performance Certificate that is less than 2 years old.

    The result will mean less bureaucracy for social landlords to deal with and lower costs involved when applying for the Renewable Heat Incentive. Because social landlords often provide accommodation for some of the most underprivileged and vulnerable members of society, the hope is that the changes will make the Renewable Heat Incentive more accessible, helping to provide warmer homes with heating bills that are less expensive, particularly in areas that are off the gas grid.

    Recent statistical research has show that around 2.28 million households in the UK are considered to be in fuel poverty and 365,000 of these are accommodated in social housing. Many of these homes are centrally heated by oil-fired heating and many often have to pay for the costs upfront, which make the problem of fuel poverty worse.

    In properties that have been accredited under the RHI, tenants have generally been very positive about the renewable air source heat pump heating systems (ASHPs) that have been installed in their homes. The upfront cost of oil can be up to 370GBP for a minimum order of 500 litres, which is a large amount of money for many families, so the switchover to an air source heat pump system has transformed their lives. Electricity is still required to power the ASHPs but a budget for electricity costs is much more manageable, meaning homes can be heating comfortably at a much more affordable price. Hopefully, with these new changes, this will be an increasinly common story...

    Article by Benjamin Clarke

    How keeping your central heating system healthy can save you money

    Tue 9th Dec 2014 - 3:28am DIY Troubleshooting How keeping your central heating system healthy can save you money

    Benjamin

    Benjamin Clarke

    One of the contradictions of homeownership and winter is that all of us are very concerned about the rising cost of heating bills, yet we often ignore something incredibly important that can save us money and ensure that we stay warm...namely, maintenance of our heating systems.

    As it stands, homeowners are not legally required to have their boilers serviced every year, however it’s safe to assume that it is actually as important as an MOT on a car. It’s also common sense. If we don’t have our boilers serviced on an annual basis then we are almost certainly limiting the longevity of this vital piece of equipment. Without regular maintenance, components can corrode, wear out and eventually cause the boiler to breakdown, usually resulting in a large bill if the whole boiler ends up having to be replaced. The long-term heating and financial benefits far outweigh the expense incurred for boiler maintenance.

    An important point to mention is many warranties that come with new boilers are invalidated if an annual service is not performed. This is an issue that has given many homeowners a nasty shock when something has gone wrong and they find they have to foot the bill themselves. A recent survey of 2000 UK homeowners showed that 38% had not had their boilers serviced in the run up to this winter and 42% didn’t know whether or not the warranty on their boiler would become invalidated without an annual service.

    The same survey showed that many people did not think it was necessary to have their boiler serviced because it is under 5 years old. However, even new boilers still need to be serviced to maintain maximum efficiency and this is particularly the case if a new boiler has been installed onto a system that has not been thoroughly cleaned prior to installation.

    An increasingly popular method of cleaning central systems is through the use of magnetic filtration devices. The theory behind these filters is that they are able to catch ferrous metals (like iron or steel) that often corrode and break off inside your system, causing a sludge. The device magnetically ‘filters’ out this sludge, keeping your system running smoothly and efficiently.

    However, an important note about magnetic filters is that they will not be able to filter out non-ferrous metals that corrode, such as aluminium, copper or zinc, so proceed with caution. An additional point to make is that a magnetic filter should not be used as a substitute for adding a good quality inhibitor to your system. Maintaining a good concentration of inhibitor levels is absolutely vital to helping to prevent corrosion and stopping a build-up of sludge in your system.

    A good programme of central heating maintenance would look similar to the following:

    1. CLEAN - Add a good quality chemical cleaner to your system
    2. FLUSH - Remove any sludge and debris trapped in your system with a thorough flush
    3. MAINTAIN - Annually have your boiler serviced, even if it is under 5 years old.
    4. PROTECT - Top up your system with a good chemical inhibitor and do this on an annual basis. It is this inhibitor that will help stop pieces of metal flaking off inside the system and causing sludge.

    Employing the methods described above will keep you on top of your system maintenance, helping to prolong the life of the boiler and radiators, maximising efficiency and saving your money on heating bills and repair work caused by neglect.

    Article by Benjamin Clarke

    The Benefits of Choosing a Vertical Radiator

    Thu 4th Dec 2014 - 4:07am Home Interiors The Benefits of Choosing a Vertical Radiator

    Benjamin

    Benjamin Clarke

    Radiators are now available in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. Whether you want one tall, wide, low, narrow, functional or stylish, all different types are available in abundance. It may take a little time for you to decide exactly what type of rad you need for each room, but paying care and attention at this stage can reap large rewards in terms of energy efficiency in the longer term.

    Oftentimes, you’ll find that the classic panel radiator is still the most suitable for your heating needs. Research has shown that the panel rad is very versatile and incredibly well-suited to be used with all kinds of heat sources, including conventional boilers and renewable energy units.

    Advancements in technology have meant that panel rads now come in a range of styles, making it easier for you to find an energy efficient panel rad that also fits in with your interior design ideas. These days, in addition to plain or grooved flat panel radiators, more and more designer panel rads are being made available, which include squared and rounded stylings. Having the ability to match your rad with the decor, it has made homeowners much more interested in choosing their own radiator, rather than the traditional practise of letting the plumber or heating engineer pick the rad from a limited range of styles.

    One radiator style that is becoming increasingly popular amongst homeowners, interior designers and architects is the vertical radiator. The main reason for the increased installation of tall and slim models, is because it is often more convenient in areas of limited wall space to make use of vertical areas. Being able to have a vertical rad giving out as much heat as a traditional horizontal rad has revolutionised the way in which radiators are built into interior design plans.

    The vertical option is also being seen more and more in period properties, where the heavy and horizontal cast-iron rads were once king. The invention of the modern column radiator has provided an option which is much lighter than their cast-iron counterparts, making them easier to transport and install. Vertical column rads are now commonplace but crucially, they also retain that sense of period style traditionally found only with the cast iron radiators.

    Improving the use of living space is a key component of modern living, as we all look to maximise the space we have with increasingly novel and imaginative space-saving ideas. One way of doing this is to push furniture up against the walls to give the impression of more space in the centre of the room. The main issue with doing this using horizontal radiators is that you can’t place sofas or bookcases across certain walls for fear of blocking the radiator and the risk of your furniture absorbing all the heat, rather than it being emitted into the room. Vertical rads can make use of space that we previously considered inaccessible to get around these issues.

    Large windows have also traditionally proved to limit where we can put radiators. However, now it’s possible to place vertical radiators in the space either side of the window. Alternatively, the advent of long but low panel radiators has improved the aesthetics of installing a rad under a window, rather than squeezing in a conventional panel rad in that area with the aim of it being functional rather than stylish. Floor standing rads are being used more and more, particularly in modern apartment buildings where many walls are completely glazed, with nowhere to fix a traditional rad to the wall.

    Knowing you can get radiators in a wide range of styles, you should give some real thought into what the function of each radiator will be in the different rooms of your home. In the rooms that are used the most, you radiator will be needed regularly to warm the room and the people that are in it, so you’ll want to ensure that the radiator you choose has enough heat output for the room it will be installed in. In bathrooms, ensuites, cloakrooms or kitchens, the radiator might only need to heat a smaller space, but you may also want the rad to have the flexibility to dry and warm towels too.

    The ladder-style heated towel rail has traditional been the go-to choice for this purpose, but with the wider array of vertical rads available, it’s now possible to have a minimalist vertical radiator that incorporates the ability to dry towels. Often it’s the case that a heated towel rail will not provide enough heat output to heat the whole room, so installing a full-blown radiator that can also warm towels is a very attractive option.

    In kitchens particularly, with so much space taken up by cabinets, breakfast tables, storage and back doors, homeowners are often very restricted with where they can put a suitable radiator. Installing vertical radiators, again, makes thin and tall areas of wall space, that previously could not have been considered for a radiator, very appealing and functional.

    Radiator manufacturers are very aware of the needs of modern homeowners in the 21st Century, which is why so many high-quality vertical radiators are now available to purchase. At TradeRadiators.com, we offer a fantastic range of top quality vertical radiators manufactured to the highest standards, each coming with comprehensive guarantees and free delivery.

    We urge you to breakout of your radiator comfort zone and realise that there are so many more options available to you than you may have previously considered. The choice is yours….

    View Vertical Radiators at TradeRadiators.com »»

    Article by Benjamin Clarke