Govt’s Grants ‘Not Big Enough Incentive’

The government’s plans to offer grants for low-carbon heat pumps to reduce the number of households using gas boilers do not go far enough, experts have warned.

Last month, the Heat and Buildings Strategy revealed people will be offered a £5,000 government grant to install low-carbon heating systems to replace their old boilers.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme, worth £450 million, is being introduced as part of a policy to decarbonise heat and buildings, with funding of £3.9 billion being put towards this.

It hopes these grants, which can be applied for from April 2022, will encourage people to install more energy-efficient heating systems, which will be better for the environment and save them money on their household bills.

If enough people take up these grants, this will help the UK reach its target for all heating systems using low-carbon, or new technologies, to replace new boilers by 2035.

Speaking about the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our new grants will help homeowners make the switch sooner, without costing them extra, so that going green is the better choice when their boiler needs an upgrade.”

However, some believe the government’s grants are not enough of an incentive to make a huge difference.

For a start, the grants will only fund 90,000 pumps over the next three years, despite there being 25 million homes in the UK with gas boilers, BBC News reports.

In addition to this, these pumps typically cost between £6,000 and £18,000. Therefore, a £5,000 deduction has been classed as “insufficient” to make them comparable in price to gas boilers, particularly for those with large properties.

There is also the cost of insulation and other home improvements that need to be accounted for to help people benefit from the change to heat pumps the most.

Dr David Glew, head of energy efficiency and policy at the Leeds Sustainability Institute at Leeds Beckett University, told the news provider: “Gas is actually relatively cheap to heat your home with.”

“Needing to insulate your house might cost you tens of thousands of pounds and you’re only going to be saving several hundreds of pounds, so the economics of that doesn’t really add up,” he went on to say.

A better alternative could be electric boilers, according to The Conversation. As all the electrical energy is turned into heat, they are far more efficient. What’s more, they do not create an extra noise and do not take up much space, unlike air-sourced heat pumps.

They are cheaper to install, do not typically require major construction work, and the cost of running an electric boiler is likely to fall in the future as renewable energy becomes cheaper.

The article concluded: “With electricity provided from renewable and low-carbon sources, a combination of heat pumps and electric boilers for domestic heating and hot water production will cover our energy needs in a sustainable and climate-friendly manner.”

 

If you are looking for a new more energy-efficient boiler in North London, why not give us a call today?

What Are Heat Pumps?

Our reliance on fossil fuels has been a major contributing factor to climate change, and it has become very important to find green alternatives for heating our households, especially with the installation of new gas central heating boilers to be prohibited by 2035.

To this end, the government has set out plans to offer £5,000 grants to help 90,000 UK households to install home heat pumps and other low-carbon heating solutions over the next three years, as part of its plan to cut the UK’s reliance on fossil fuel heating, reports the Mirror.

It is estimated that as gas boilers are phased out, heat pump installations could reach 600,000 a year in the 2030s. But what is a heat pump?

In the simplest of terms, a heat pump works like a reverse fridge. It extracts warmth from the air outside, the ground, or a nearby water source, then concentrates the heat and transferring it indoors. They look like a standard air conditioning unit.

As for why we need heat pumps, around 85 per cent of UK homes use gas boilers for heating, making it one of the most polluting sectors of the UK economy.

The fossil fuels we use for heating, hot water, and cooking account for more than a fifth of the country’s CO2 emissions, which means finding low-carbon alternatives are crucial for achieving the UK’s climate targets.

However, heat pumps cost far more than traditional gas boilers, starting at £6,000 for an air source pump, and at least £10,000 for a ground source pump. It is expected that these prices will significantly fall in the coming years as more are installed.

In the meantime, the government’s grant scheme should help bridge the difference.

 

If you’re looking for local plumbers in north London, get in touch today.

Why Gas Crisis Is More Reason To Go Solar

Householders all over London will have been dismayed by the recent surge in energy prices, caused by the rising wholesale cost of gas that has pushed some suppliers out of business and forced others to raise prices as far as the energy cap will allow.

All this will leave some upset or angry at the bottom line on their bills, but many will also wonder just what they can do about it.

More solar panel installation in London could be one way forward, enabling people to generate some of their own electricity and not have to rely on suppliers at the mercy of the various factors influencing the energy market. After all, burning gas is one of the ways electricity is generated, so this is not immune to the cost pressures.

A good reason for using more solar power is that the gas crisis may not go away anytime soon. It is certainly true that in the short term the surge in demand for gas has been driven by the opening up of western economies as vaccination programmes ease the pandemic. But this alone is not a full explanation, as gas demand was higher before the crisis.

The main issue is supply. Across Europe, gas supplies are down because half of it comes from Russia and the amount coming through the pipelines continues to decline. This impacts on wholesale prices, although the UK sources some gas from the North Sea and Norway.

Britain was self-sufficient in gas until about 20 years ago, but now relies on the Langeled Pipeline from Norway and the BBL Pipeline from the Netherlands to boost supply.

Another issue is gas storage. Other European countries have up to five times as much capacity as Britain, with UK levels being branded “pathetic” by Sir Jim Radcliffe, the head of chemicals giant Ineos. He has warned of possible factory shutdowns and blackouts over winter.

A few years ago the government planned to increase gas supplies from shale, but the controversy over the fracking methods used to extract it has led to this being abandoned.

With solar being so green and gas supplies being so uncertain, now may be the best time yet to get some rooftop panels installed.

How Efficient Is Your Boiler?

On average, about 60% of UK domestic energy bills are spent on heating. With steep rises in the price of gas and the prospect of a long winter ahead, it makes sense to check up on the performance of your boiler. Older boilers will always be less efficient than more modern ones, but it’s still worth making sure it’s in good working order.

Have the boiler serviced

Boilers should be serviced every 12 months to check they are set up for maximum efficiency. As a rule, the hot water thermostat should be set at between 55°C and 60°C, and turned up during cold weather if necessary. If the boiler doesn’t have modern heating controls and thermostats, ask if they can be installed. 

If you live in rented accommodation, remember that it is the responsibility of the landlord to have an annual safety check carried out on the boiler.

Maintain the pipework and cylinders

Making sure that the pipework and radiators are kept clean and free of dust and corrosion can also help improve the performance and lifespan of the boiler. If you have an old hot water cylinder, top up the insulation to around 8cm to stop it losing heat. More modern cylinders have industry standard insulation built in.

Install room thermostats

By installing a thermostat which turns the heating off once the room reaches an optimal temperature, you will save a significant amount on your energy bills. Position the thermostat in an area where there is a free flow of air, and it is not artificially influenced by soft furnishings or other items.

Use a programming system

Most modern boilers have programmable settings, to allow you to control what hours the heat is on and off. Some can now even be integrated with smart devices which enable you to control the heating, lighting, and hot water remotely, so they are only on when they are needed. 

Looking for a new boiler quote in North London? Talk to us today.

Telltale Signs You Need A New Boiler

One of the most used and most important appliances in your home is your boiler, but like many of the most important tools in our lives, we only tend to notice it when it goes wrong.

However, with a lot of discussions surrounding hydrogen boilers in the news as of late, as well as winter coming up, there is no better time than now to take a look at your boiler and ensure it is still in good working order.

Most boilers tend to be replaced every 15 years, primarily for efficiency reasons, but there are cases where a fault is so significant or so consistent that repairing the issue is merely throwing good money after bad.

Here are some telltale signs your boiler installation is in trouble and it may be worth investing in a new one.

 

The Boiler Smells Bad

Your boiler should not smell at all, but if it is giving off a bad odour, you need to call a professional right away, as there could be a carbon monoxide leak.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that ordinarily gives off no smell nor taste, but can cause serious illness and death if inhaled in significant quantities.

Generally, this is caused by a leak causing the boiler not to burn properly, particularly if it uses natural gas.

If your boiler has a pilot light that keeps blowing out, burns yellow rather than blue or you notice dark soot stains, these can also be signs of carbon monoxide leaks.

 

Puddles Appear Around Your Boiler

Whilst this seems self-evident, generally, if a leak has become so prominent it has caused puddles to emerge around your home, it is generally a sign that your boiler is beyond repair with internal parts that are starting to disintegrate.

This should be fixed not only because of the damage to your boiler but because of the potential structural damage to your home, which can be considerably expensive to fix.

 

You Hear Banging, Clunking Or Whirring

Boilers aren’t completely silent, but the main noise you should hear from your boiler is a constant hum so low you have to focus on it to truly notice it.

Bangs and other odd noises tend to be a symptom of mechanical damage, although to what extent depends on the noise.

Switch the boiler off and call an engineer.

Energy Firms Continue To Collapse

Energy companies in the UK are continuing to collapse as a result of increasing gas prices, affecting nearly 1.5 million people across the country.

Over the last couple of weeks, several energy providers have had to cease trading, including Green Supplier Limited, Avro Energy, People’s Energy, and Utility Point, among others.

According to Sky News, wholesale gas prices have soared by 455 per cent in the last year, with costs surging by as much as 250 per cent since January 2021.

By Monday September 20th, the cost of gas reached a record high of £183 per therm, while prices are normally around £40 to £60 per therm at this time of the year.

The subsequent collapse of several energy suppliers has led to millions of customers being switched to other providers. This means many could be paying for a more expensive tariff than the one they had originally signed up to.

This is particularly the case as providers cannot currently offer a competitive price, due to the ever-increasing cost of gas.

Customers of Green Supplier Limited have now been moved to Shell Energy; those who had signed up to Avro Energy will be on Octopus Energy tariffs; and British Gas will now handle those who had taken out plans with People’s Energy.

While this is unsettling for bill-payers, Ofgem’s director of retail Neil Lawrence said: “Their energy supply will continue as normal, and customer credit balances will be honoured.”

 

To help reduce your gas bills, consider getting a new boiler in North London that is more energy-efficient.

Warm Home Discount Scheme Set To Open

Despite many of us hanging on for an Indian summer in September, temperatures are cooling off, and the days are noticeably shorter, and it won’t be long until households across the UK are turning up their central heating, which can lead to higher fuel bills over the winter period. 

We are all looking for ways to help reduce our fuel bills, but to help with the mounting costs, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has reminded people that they could be eligible for a £140 discount on their electricity bills for 2021/22 winter season under the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which opens on 18 October.

The £140 is not paid directly to the claimant, but instead is a one-off discount on your electricity bill between October and March 2022. If your energy supplier provides you with both gas and electricity, then you may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead.

Am I eligible?

There are two pathways to qualifying for the Warm Home Discount scheme:

How to apply

Your electricity supplier decides who gets the discount, and the number of discounts available is limited, so be sure to check with your supplier as soon as possible to see if you’re eligible and how to apply, and they will add the discount to your bill by 31 March 2022.

For more information about the Warm Home Discount Scheme for winter 2021/22, visit the GOV.UK website here.

Looking for central heating repairs in North London? Talk to us today.

How To Have A More Energy Efficient Home

Energy efficiency is high on the agenda at the moment, as the world’s climate becomes hotter every year, and the devastating results of global warming can be seen with frightening regularity. Near the top of the action list is improving the efficiency of UK homes, which are currently responsible for 20% of the nation’s carbon emissions.

 

Insulation

A very simple step you can take is to ramp up your levels of insulation. This will stop as much heat escaping, meaning you can turn radiators down, or turn the heating off earlier. Not only will this make your house warmer and drier, but you will also save on energy bills.

Fitting your hot water cylinder with an insulating jacket will preserve heat, save you costs, and reduce emissions. Cavity wall insulation can stop as much as a third of all heat leaking from your home, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Houses built after 1920 but before 1990 may not have any wall insulation, so it pays to have this checked out.

Loft insulation is also essential, to save as much as 25% of your heat from leaking through the roof. The investment will soon pay for itself, and you can carry out the work yourself, unless you have a flat roof. Also consider applying draught-proofing strips around window and door frames, and draught-proofing the chimney.

 

Underfloor heating

The thought of converting to underfloor heating may seem like a very expensive way to save money, but you might be surprised at how affordable it is nowadays. It is also a far more efficient way to heat a home, because underfloor heating systems need much lower temperatures to warm a room to a comfortable level.

Not only that, you will have a lovely toasty warm floor to walk on when you get up on crispy frosty mornings, and your home will feel more spacious without bulky wall radiators!

 

If you need a new boiler quote in North London, get in touch today.

Which Radiators Should You Bleed First?

Bleeding a radiator is one of the simplest DIY tasks you can do, but there is a method to bleeding your radiators to ensure you get the maximum benefit to your central heating.

It is a good time of year to check your central heating is working properly, to ensure you won’t be without it when you need it when the weather gets colder. Bleeding your radiators is a good place to start, and we explain how, as well as which radiator to bleed first.

From time to time, air can get trapped in your central heating system, which means you need to bleed your radiators. The best way to check if you have air trapped is to switch on your central heating to maximum and allow the radiators to heat up to their full temperature.

Check each radiator carefully, and feel if there are any temperature differences across the surface of each radiator. If it feels cool at the top, and warm at the bottom, then it is likely you have air trapped, and it needs bleeding. Remember to check all the radiators and bleed all those that need.

 

The radiator to bleed first

Before you start, ensure that your central heating is switched off, and start with a downstairs radiator that’s the furthest from your boiler. Work methodically, moving to the next closest to the boiler, and repeat the process on the next floor.

 

How to bleed a radiator

All you need is a brass radiator key (or a flathead screwdriver) and a cloth to catch any drips of escaping water. Please ensure your heating system is switched off and had a chance to cool down before starting this job.

Once you’ve bled all your radiators, switch on your central heating and you should find that all of your radiators are heating up evenly and fully. If this is not the case, or if you find you are having to bleed your radiators regularly, it’s probably worth getting in a professional heating engineer to look for any deeper problems.

 

If you’re looking for central heating repairs in North London, talk to us today.

Prime Minister To Postpone Gas Boiler Ban By Five Years

Boris Johnson is considering pushing back the ban on the sales of new gas boilers by five years to 2040, following a backlash over spiralling ‘net-zero’ costs

The Daily Mail reports that Brits are being incentivised to buy eco-friendly heat pumps and hydrogen boilers, and the postponement of the ban on gas boilers will allow the price for the eco-friendly alternatives to come down and for businesses to invest into helping people make the change gradually.

It may mean that working boilers would need to be taken out before 2050, or the UK may risk failing to hit its net-zero targets, which ministers are keen to avoid.

Here are concerns within the government about the cost of the PM’s eco-plans, which could see the Treasury needing to find another £400 billion.

The initial plans were to issue homeowners with ‘green cheques’ worth hundreds of pounds to compensate for making green changes to their homes, but now only the poorest of Brits will get the financial assistance, leaving middle-class families to pay some of the bill.

A full strategy is set to be published in the autumn ahead of Britain hosting the COP26 climate summit with 100 leaders from around the world.

Britain’s 28 million homes contribute more than a third of UK carbon emissions, which must be slashed to zero by 2050.

However, government insiders are concerned that while great leaps have been made in electric vehicle technology to replace petrol and diesel cars, heating strategies and technologies are not advancing as rapidly, as heat pumps are not compatible with some properties, such as flats.

Climate experts and forecasters say the cost of acting now will be far less than letting it run out of control and get even worse in the decades to come.

 

If you’re looking for central heating repairs in North London, get in touch today.