As the nights draw in and the days get cooler, it’s important to prepare your home for winter. A few tweaks to your abode could save you money, so it’s worth taking action – sooner rather than later.
Here are five penny-pinching tips:
Invest in radiator reflector panels
According to the Energy Saving Trust, radiator reflector panels can reduce your heating bills and your energy consumption. They’re usually made from foil and are used to reflect the heat from your radiator back into the room – instead of letting heat out through an external wall. They can be bought online or at a reputable home store and are fixed behind each radiator.
Arrange wall insulation
Did you know that heat will always try to escape from a warm area to a cold area? This natural process can leave your house cold in winter – particularly if you have cavity walls – so it’s wise to arrange wall insulation. Insulating materials will be blown into the gaps from outside your house and could save you over a hundred pounds a year. Sure, you’ll have to pay a registered installer to do the job, but materials that comply with British standards have a 25-year guarantee.
Organise a boiler service
With winter rapidly approaching, it’s a good idea to arrange an annual boiler service before it gets chilly. A Gas Safe Register approved engineer will make sure everything’s working efficiently and will help you stay warm during the cold spell. If your boiler is old, you might also want to consider upgrading to an A-rated model, as this could cut your energy bills and your carbon dioxide emissions.
Draught-proof your home
If you have a draughty home, you could be throwing money down the drain – so make some quick repairs. Pop down your local DIY store and spend a few bob on foam strips and draft excluders before positioning them around your windows and doors. This should lock the heat in and will help keep your abode stay nice and toasty. While you’re at it, think about investing in double glazing if you haven’t got it already, as this can prevent draughts.
Check you’re getting the best deal
Once your house is in order, make sure you’re getting the best energy deal available. Simply go online and research what other providers are offering. If you’re being charged too much, try to negotiate a better deal or switch service providers. Even if you did this last year, it’s worth doing it again, as prices and offers continually fluctuate.
The chilly season will be here before you know it, so start making some changes to your abode.
High tech gadgets for the home often implement some simple functionality that makes us say, “Now why didn’t I think of that?” From the most mundane to the complex, there are many ways to upgrade a home to make it more a comfortable abode.
What Switch Goes Where?
There is now a master light switch panel to help clear up the confusion of which switch goes with which light. The light switch plate is flat with a small house layout including rooms and the lights they contain. Pressing the plate on a room will turn those lights on. It’s easy to see what lights will be affected by pressing on different areas of the Floor Plan Light switch. You’ll no longer have to experiment with light switches to get the right lights to turn on.
Don’t Touch That!
Most of us are aware that germs are often transmitted from one person to another through contact with our hands. In spite of many precautions, we still manage to pass on our germs.
The Self-Sterilizing Door handle uses ultraviolet waves (UV) to kill germs on a door handle between uses. The handle itself is translucent. When not being used, the handle triggers a switch that turns on a UV light that shines out through the handle. When someone uses the handle to open a door or cabinet, the trigger is released and the light turns off. As soon as the person releases the handle, the light comes on again. The germs are killed so the next person to use the handle is not at risk of coming into contact with germs from the previous person.
A Simple Way to Start the Day
The alarm goes off in the morning and you hit the snooze button how many times? So, we try various ways to get our alarms to do just what they were designed to do: get us up in the morning.
Tocky is an alarm clock with many features. It has a touch screen. Your favorite MP3s can be loaded into it to play in the morning, or you can record wake up messages yourself. It’s true worth, though, is shown when the alarm rings. When the alarm goes off, this clock jumps off of the table and begins to roll around the floor. To turn off the alarm, you have to catch the clock.
With a little planning, you could make the clock roll under your bed or some other inaccessible place, requiring some morning exercise just to find the clock and turn the alarm off.
Your Media, Your Way
In the old days, we had to be at home in time to watch our favorite shows, or we’d have to wait until summer reruns to catch any we missed. Now, though, between Apple TV, Roku players, Google TVs and DVRs, we can pick what we want to watch when we want it. We can even fast forward through advertisements. Plus, when you have a home network or access to some online file storage, you can play your personal movies and music or even view your family photos all from your smart TV.
It’s All Under Control
The integration of all of our gadgets gives us the most control of our environment. The INSTEON Light Control Kit provides devices to plug all of your lights into to give you a central place from which to turn lights and dimmers on and off. It also comes with an interface that you can use from your computer and an app that works on your cell phone. Now if you’re on the road and wonder if you turned that garage light off you can easily check. You could even turn some lights on while you’re away for that “lived in” look to deter burglars.
Our homes are built to certain specifications. Over time, we discover the need for little extras to help us. Every year, inventors find new ways to use technology to make our homes the perfect place to live.
A lot of people think installing a new boiler is a long and difficult process, which will involve weeks of disruption. This is just a short article to cover what happens when you install a new boiler!
First of all, it is illegal for anyone except those who are CORGI registered installers to put new boiler on the wall so please don’t try it yourself.
Firstly, each boiler is different, so the company may have to have a look through the manual. They will then work out exactly where to fit the boiler and how much space is required. The boiler unit itself needs to go on the wall (it contains a storage cylinder for hot water, as well as the controls, feed and expansion tanks and the pump). Space is required around this unit to make sure that there is adequate air circulation space and that in the future it’ll be possible to access the boiler easily for maintenance. When the time comes to actually fit the boiler to the wall, lots of care needs to be taken to make sure it’s properly secured. The water and electrics will need to be switched off.
If new radiators are being installed, pipe routes need to be figured out before the boiler is hung. This normally requires setting up a parallel pipe system – two pipes running next to each other, so that there is a flow line going from the boiler to each radiator, and a second line to return from each radiator to the boiler. Tape will usually be put in place to represent where these pipes will go.
If new radiators have indeed been fitted, then air venting of the system is necessary to make sure that there isn’t air in your radiators or pipes, because this will dramatically decrease their efficiency – air requires far more energy to heat up than water. This just involves bleeding each radiator using a key or by turning the valves depending on the precise make and model.
This whole process can be done by a professional in just 2 days on average, although it will require extended periods without electricity or hot water to your home. However, boilers are an important investment, so it’s a process usually worth putting up with!
If you enjoy having a long soak in a hot bath, or even if you just like coming home to a warm house, you’ll need a boiler to make sure your house doesn’t become an ice cave. Boilers can be quite expensive and so they’re often a grudge purchase, but a little investment in getting a well-built boiler could save you money long term.
The right boiler for the right home
Depending on where you live, you may need a different type of boiler for your home. Most new boilers that you can pick up are condensing boilers, which reuse heat that would otherwise be lost, making your home more energy efficient. If you live in a small house or a flat with limited space, a combi boiler would best suit your needs. Combi boilers give you hot water on demand, meaning that no hot water is stored and so you don’t need to keep a great big tank in an airing cupboard somewhere. Regular, heat-only boilers store a load of hot water in a tank ready for when you need it. If you have a larger house with regular hot water usage (and the space to keep the storage tank) then this might be the option for you.
Out with the old
Since April 2005, it is compulsory for all new boilers (brand new installations and replacements) to be condensing boilers under Part L1 of the Building Regulations. This is due to efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and become a more energy efficient nation. If you’ve got an old-fashioned boiler then swapping up for a condenser could save you up to £300 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. With the average price of a boiler replacement at about £2,300, it will take about eight years for the boiler to have paid for itself. After that, the savings that you make year-on-year means extra cash in your pocket.
I’m not talking about a tea cozy for your boiler. If you’ve ever had to go without heating for a day or two you’ll know how much of an inconvenience it is to have cold showers and live in a blanket until it gets fixed. Make sure that you aren’t paying through the nose to get your boiler fixed if it breaks down and get yourself some boiler cover. Unless you’ve got a tin bath by the fire as a back-up, it’s the sensible option. If you’re lucky you might already be covered as part of your home insurance policy, so it’s worth checking to see if you can save even more money.
If you’ve got an older boiler and you’re looking to save a bit of cash, then spend some time looking for the right boiler for you. A well-built boiler is more energy efficient, meaning less heat is lost and more money is saved for you. Make sure that your house is well insulated though, as you don’t want to waste your energy saving efforts.
This guest post was written free of charge by Jamie Gibbs of confused.com, provider of second home insurance
A good analogy for boilers is your keys… Why is it that when you’re looking for your keys, the last place you look is always where you find them? When you’ve found them, you stop looking!
How does this explain why boilers always breakdown in winter? It won’t breakdown until you turn it on! Once your boiler suddenly starts getting used for an extra 10 hours a day in the winter, the sheer probability that it’ll breakdown rockets upwards. This also means that when your boiler breaks down, it’ll be precisely when you need it!
What actually causes this to happen? In the cold winter months, your boiler is having to work much harder – it’ll be using more energy to get water up to the same temperature than it does when air temperatures are warmer. This can cause a lot more wear generally. However, the most common problem encountered is when the pipe, which takes waste water from the back of the boiler to your drain, freezes. When this pipe freezes, this causes the boiler to stop working, shutting down the whole system and potentially causing permanent damage to the boiler.
Older boilers didn’t typically have this problem – it is an issue commonly associated with combi boilers. Older boilers produce hot gases to heat the water in their system, and hot steam is perpetually lost through the waste pipe – this means that they are less efficient, but this lost warmth can actually be of use because it’ll stop the waste pipe freezing over down to lower temperatures. Condensing boilers are more efficient because these gases are condensed into water and fed back into the system to be used to heat your radiators and so on.
The other issue that can suddenly occur particularly with combi boilers in the winter is due to the water vapour they condense. This vapour is often slightly acidic, and will gradually erode boiler parts over time, and can require internal parts to be replaced.
As with many things, fixing boilers can be horribly expensive. There are a range of companies out there offering insurance – an issue that’ll be discussed in the next article. However, prevention is usually cheaper than cure – getting your boiler serviced regularly will prolong your boiler’s life significantly, and most of all will reduce the likelihood that it’ll break down when you need it most. It may not prevent issues due to pipes freezing over, but it can help with gradual wear due to acidic water vapour.
A lot of people will only consider buying that new boiler when they go to do the washing up or have a bath and they have no hot water. However, replacing an old boiler before it breaks down could be a great investment. The most important thing is to do a bit of research to find out what its current energy efficiency is.
Image Credit: Flickr
We’ll take the example of a new boiler, costing £1,900 with 90% efficiency, a rough but realistic estimate. We’ll also assume that you have gas-powered central heating and spend £650 per year.
|Old Boiler Efficiency
||Gas Bill Saving Annually as Percentage
||Gas Bill Saving Annually
||Time for Boiler to Pay for Itself
As you can see, it varies very dramatically just how much you’ll make out of a new boiler as an investment – the percentage efficiency of your old boiler is really crucial. The other important factor is the estimated annual bill cost of £650, which is probably a little on the low side, and would make all of the payback periods considerably shorter. These returns offered are much higher than virtually any “regular” investment you could make, such as with a savings account. A little bit of research into your boiler can go a long way in helping your bank account…
We’ve sold plenty of solar panels, and now – in the spirit of energy efficiency – we’ve decided to launch a boiler comparison service!
We’ve got loads of cool ideas for what we want to get added to the site, here are a few:
- The most interesting and best boiler blog on the internet, and yes I mean interesting.
- A boiler comparison database – possible to compare different boiler efficiency data.
- A boiler review service – whenever we sell a boiler, we’ll email to collect feedback on how it’s performing.
- Green Deal Guide – the Green Deal looks set to cover boiler installation because it can improve energy efficiency. We plan on covering it as it happens.
- FAQ section – all those common questions that people have about their boiler answered in as much detail as possible
Let us know if you’ve got any further ideas or comments!