Spotlight

Do you know where to put your CO alarm?

Do you know where to put your CO alarm?

So you’ve been down to your local DIY store and splashed out to keep you and your family safe. Your new CO alarm is sat in its packaging, with the fixings ready, waiting to be put up. It’s an audible one, so it’ll wake you up if there is a CO escape at night. It complies with British Standard EN 50291 and carries either a British or European approval mark such as the Kitemark. The battery will last for the lifetime of the alarm – 7 to 10 years depending on make and model – or it will let you know if you have to change the battery. You’ve got one for every fuel burning appliance in your property, and extra ones for your bedrooms, ready to put up. But, where exactly? Well, if you’ve got a portable one, the best thing to do is keep moving that into the rooms that you are using most often. Put it on the kitchen counter if you’re cooking on gas, put it on your bedside cabinet when you go to sleep. Keep it a little higher than your average coffee table if you’re looking to keep it in the living room – dining room table height should do it.   For fixed alarms in rooms with appliances in them, the golden rule is between 1 and 3 meters away from the device. Any closer and you may end up with false readings, any further away and the alarm may not detect efficiently. If you’re having it installed at the same time as your boiler by the boiler installer, he or she should make sure it’s placed correctly for you, but it’s always good to know yourself as well.   If you’ve got a ceiling mounted one, this goes in a room with an appliance in it. It should be at least 300mm away from walls, and 300mm away from light fittings for optimum readings. If there’s a partition wall in the room that you’re installing in, the alarm should be on the same side of the partition as the appliance is.   If you’ve got a wall mounted one, they’re recommended for both the room where the appliance is and also rooms where no appliance is such as a bedroom. If the device is in the room, follow the golden rule, and also mount the alarm at least 150mm from the...

Read More

What’s generating YOUR electricity?

What’s generating YOUR electricity?

We know that energy can’t be created or destroyed, and that in order to provide you with electricity in your home the suppliers must get it from their own wholesale supplier. In general, a lot of fuels are burned, the heat is produced to make steam, which then powers a generator. In the case of wind, the movement itself is the generator. For solar, it’s a converter from the light energy that’s hitting the panels. Nuclear is a complicated system of atoms breaking down, but in the end it produces heat to make steam for generators as well. But in what mix does your supplier get it’s energy? We found out for you! The UK Average Coal Natural Gas Nuclear Renewables Other Fuels 34% 25.6% 21.6% 16.7% 2.1%   The Big Six Coal Natural Gas Nuclear Renewables Other Fuels British Gas 22% 31% 31% 15% 3% e.on 46.7% 27.1% 8.4% 12% 5.8% EDF 26.8% 3.5% 56.1% 13.5% 0.1% npower 31% 50% 2% 16% 2% Scottish Power 48.6% 32.6% 1.1% 16.9% 0.8% SSE 44% 28% 2% 24% 2%   Independents Coal Natural Gas Nuclear Renewables Other Fuels Co-operative 17% 9.8% 3.1% 68% 2.1% Ecotricity 7.2% 4.1% 1.3% 86.5% 0.9% First:Utility 46.8% 27.1% 8.4% 11.9% 5.8% Flow Energy 46.8% 27.1% 8.4% 11.9% 5.8% Good Energy 0% 0% 0% 100% 0% Green Energy 0% 45% 0% 55% 0% Green Star Energy 3% 2% 0% 95% 0% isupplyenergy 46.8% 27.1% 8.4% 11.9% 5.8% LoCO2 Energy 0% 60% 0% 40% 0% Ovo Energy 39.3% 22.7% 7% 26.1% 4.9% Spark Energy 46.8% 27.1% 8.4% 11.9% 5.8% Utilita 47.% 27% 8% 12% 6%   So, if you’re environmentally conscious, it might be worth looking at what your supplier is using for its electricity generation. If you’re opposed to coal-fired plants, there are options for you with little or no electricity coming from coal. If you’re not happy with nuclear, there are suppliers to go with, and suppliers to definitely avoid. To prioritise renewables, the answer is clear. Who’s your supplier? Are you planning on switching? Like us on Facebook Caroline on LinkedIn Tweet   Figures Accurate Summer 2015...

Read More

Gas Work and the Law – Should know what they’re doing

Gas Work and the Law – Should know what they’re doing

You’ve heard the horror stories – these people who don’t hold up to date qualifications and just keep that under wraps so you believe they are fully capable of doing their job. You get a registered engineer, you check their certificate, look at their ID card, phone or text the Gas Safe Register to confirm that they are currently registered and hold the correct qualifications for what you need them for. So, you’re safe. Unfortunately, not necessarily. Gas Safe do their best to get rid of the cowboys, but without reports from customers, they don’t know who is and who isn’t flaunting the rules after they’ve got their registration. The important thing is that you did everything that you could, you’ve given yourself the best chance of having your work done safely. But if you’re certain (or even just suspect) that there’s something wrong, don’t be afraid to report them to Gas Safe – if it turns out that they didn’t do anything wrong, it’s then a positive reflection on them. And if they’re wrong, like this lot, then they get the justice they deserve: November 2014, a case of laziness and greed from an engineer in Somerset during an annual service. He identified repairs that were required, and then left the property to get the approval and the parts that he needed. When the energy supplier sent another engineer around, some of the parts were required but others weren’t, and the suspect engineer had also used a 20p coin to ‘fix’ a viewing glass in the boiler – leaving it Immediately Dangerous. He was fined £1000, plus £353 in costs, and the energy supplier’s engineer couldn’t believe the state the boiler had been left in: there were signs of heat damage inside and outside the boiler before he even started, and his shoddy ‘repair’ could have lead to escape of carbon monoxide into the property. A gas engineer in the Isle of Man faced the law in December last year, after not installing a boiler in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. He cut corners and sealed the new flue to the masonry with expanding foam, leaving his customer at risk of the fumes from the gas boiler getting into his house instead, and was fined £2500, plus costs of £1000. March saw a Staffordshire gas fitter sentenced to 240 hours of unpaid community work after CO poisoning to his...

Read More

ErP – more than just another initialism for you to learn.

ErP – more than just another initialism for you to learn.

ErP is being bandied about now. You might hear your boiler installer or a company giving you a quote telling you your new boiler will be ‘ErP certified’ or have a ‘ErP rating: A’. You may have stumbled across something on a news site about the ErP mandate for the EU, but nobody would blame you if you hadn’t clicked that headline. So what is it? ErP stands for Energy Related Products. Anything that consumes energy now has to conform to standards set by the EU. In real terms for you, it just means that your boiler got a bit more efficient with the addition of a new pump, and you’ll get a sticker similar to the one you’ve probably got on your washing machine, light bulb box, or fridge. That sticker is to be on all Energy Related Products in showrooms, or on web pages advertising products, and is available from the manufacturer on their websites, and is to help you to see what is the most efficient product you can get. We all know that efficiency means less wasted energy and therefore less on your bill to get your house as toasty as you’d like it to be in the coming winter. A new boiler now should conform to ErP standards, come with a sticker or a paper copy of the ErP rating provided by the installer and should save you money on your gas bill. If you’re unsure about what boiler you want, it’s now easy to see at a glance how efficient each individual appliance is – and you can use this to help you make your decision. It also includes the decibel level of the boiler during normal running as well, which might be a particular concern if you want to place the boiler in a bedroom, or you just hate the noise that your old one makes. For your information, Primus Energy have supplied the ErP labels downloaded from the manufacturers on our 4 most popular boilers – the Baxi Platinum, the Vaillant ecoTEC pro, the Worcester Greenstar i and the Ideal Logic. If there’s another boiler you’d like us to get the ErP label for so that you can make your decision easier, leave us a comment and we’ll help to make ErP easier. Baxi Platinum Combi 24 Baxi Platinum Combi 28 Ideal Logic Combi 24 Ideal Logic Combi 30 Vaillant ecoTEC...

Read More

Gas Safety Week 2015: Wednesday 16th #GSW15

Gas Safety Week 2015: Wednesday 16th #GSW15

Gas Safety Week continues today and we’re here to continue to let you know why it is vital that you are Gas Safe. Currently on the Gas Safe Register’s twitter account and the hashtag #GSW15, you can find a lot of good advice and information about gas safety, the law, the recommendations, your rights, and what you can do to help. Many companies are focusing on carbon monoxide safety, and today the Gas Safe Register have been focusing on making sure you get your appliances checked, and your engineer does all of the paperwork that they should be doing. Today I’m going to show you another case that you’ve seen before on our Gas Safety feature, but one that is particularly a big deal given the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. A couple in Skelmersdale called us out to perform an emergency repair on their boiler as it had stopped working in a very cold March. The old boiler was on its last legs and needed to be ripped out and have something new put in anyway, but what was discovered when the old flue was removed to make way for the new one shocked our gas engineer. Yes, cavity wall insulation. CIGA is 100% clear on this – you have to make sure you do not drill anywhere near the space for the flue. There should never be any chance of cavity wall insulation materials coming into contact with your flue or your boiler and getting stuck there. This customer had the insulation blown in by a local company 6 months previously, but they seem to have not done the best of jobs. Given the story recently about the elderly lady that died from cavity wall insulation injected into her flue not being handled correctly by the installing company, you would have thought that this would be at the front of the mind of every single cavity wall insulation installer – if, indeed, it wasn’t before! In the case, announced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the installers told the customers to leave the boiler off, but did not disconnect it, attach any warning notices, formally inform their supervisors or arrange for a Gas Safe Registered engineer to attend the property at a later date – and the customer’s son turned the boiler on thinking that the guys were just being overly cautious, or were worried about...

Read More

Gas Safety Week 2015: Some stories for Tuesday #GSW15

Gas Safety Week 2015: Some stories for Tuesday #GSW15

Gas Safety Week 2015 continues, and we’re still looking at reasons why you should always make sure that you’re gas safe! Given that gas leaks can cause explosions, and carbon monoxide can kill, it really isn’t worth the risk to scrimp on a gas safety check and servicing – whether you’re a homeowner or a tenant. You should be getting your appliances checked once a year to make sure there’s no risk to you or your family, but this doesn’t always happen. Similarly, if you think there is an issue, you need to speak to someone who knows what they’re doing, as the following people found out. H in London was getting worried that she could smell gas. After asking her partner to confirm, they tracked the, albeit fairly faint, smell back to the gas meter. H phoned up her landlady, who told her that it had been happening for ages, and it wasn’t a problem; the meter was supposed to smell of gas. H called the National Grid anyway, they rushed out to her, and told her that her gas meter was not only outdated, but that model had been almost completely removed from all homes in which it had been installed because it kept springing dangerous leaks – and he couldn’t believe H still had one. The meter was replaced, the smell has gone away, and H has started looking for another place to live after her landlady would think to put her in danger like that! If you can smell gas, and it’s not due to your gas cooker where the ring has accidentally blown out or another situation where you can rectify the situation with no personal risk, call the National Grid immediately on 0800 111 999. If you are able to, turn off the gas at the gas meter (unless it is in the cellar and that is where the smell is coming from), do not switch on lights, and do not smoke or light matches or any other naked flames. The National Grid will get someone out to you as soon as possible to fix the situation, and recommend any further necessary action. If that further action isn’t something performed by the National Grid – such as a replacement boiler being required – always make sure that you respect the warnings given to you not to use or reconnect an appliance, and have a...

Read More