Monday, 29 March 2010

Boiler scrappage scheme comes to an end

The government’s £400 boiler scrappage scheme is now run out of funds, but energy companies are now offering discounts.

The boiler scrappage scheme for England is now closed.

A total of 125,000 households have now applied for the £400 discounts on the price of a new boiler, after the £50m scheme was launched in January.
The scheme’s been a great success

Energy minister Lord Hunt said: “The scheme’s been a great success and is already helping people cut down on their fuel bills. An ‘A-rated’ energy efficient boiler can help save around £200 a year off fuel bills and reduce emissions.

"The scheme has also provided a much needed boost to England’s plumbers and boiler manufacturers, helping to sustain work for the 130,000 installers and up to 25 UK-based boiler manufacturers throughout the economic recovery.”

However, households can still receive discounts for old boilers from energy firms.

full article

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Considering renewables?

If you've done the basic things to stop wasting energy at home, such as installing loft and wall insulation and energy efficient lighting and appliances, then you might want to consider installing your own renewable energy technologies.

Working out which technology is most suitable for your home is a good way to start. The Energy Saving Trust has an online questionnaire to help make that decision here.

Wind turbines

Wind turbines are the iconic renewable energy technology. At home, small turbines are only suitable in certain parts of the country, if they have clear sightlines away from other buildings or trees and where there is a wind speed of no less than 5 m/s. Be aware that, in some areas, erecting a turbine will also need planning permission. You can see if your home is suitable for wind power at the Energy Saving Trust website.

Solar power

Despite a distinct lack of sunshine in many parts of the country, the UK is quite well suited to solar power. As contrary to popular belief solar photovoltaic (PV) cells don't need direct sunlight to work, so you can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day.

Solar PV panels convert sunlight directly into electricity. In addition to Solar PV there are also solar water heating systems that use the sun's heat to warm up water, which can then be used directly. Both are best placed on south-facing roofs but other orientations can also work, though less efficiently. You can find out here if your home is suitable for solar power.

Solar systems are no doubt useful for cutting your energy use – but they can be expensive. A full set of PV panels can cost upwards of £10,000 and solar thermal systems around £4,300.

Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) will be introduced to Great Britain on 1 April 2010. The scheme requires energy suppliers to make regular payments to householders and communities who generate their own electricity from renewable or low carbon sources such as solar electricity (PV) panels or wind turbines.

The scheme guarantees a minimum payment for all electricity generated by the system, as well as a separate payment for the electricity exported to the grid. These payments are in addition to the bill savings made by using the electricity generated on-site.

From April this year, every unit of electricity generated at home could earn up to 41.3p for a PV system – which could mean around £800 per year for a typical-sized solar electricity installation. Find out more about Feed-in Tariffs here.

Other technologies, such as wind, hydroelectricity and micro combined heat and power, will also benefit from the scheme, though with smaller payments than solar PV.

Air and ground source heat pumps

A ground source heat pump uses pipes buried underground (usually in a back garden) to extract heat from the ground and warm water for radiators in a home. A typical system costs around £12,000, with running costs of around £650 per year where the heat pump provides all heating and hot water. They can save around 540kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) and £160 a year if they replace an oil-fired central heating system, or more if replacing coal or electric heating.

Air source heat pumps extract heat from external air in the same way that a fridge extracts heat from its inside and these systems can operate with outside temperatures as low as -15C. They are cheaper than ground source heat pumps to install, – £5,000 to £9,000 – but are not always as efficient with running costs for heating and hot water at around £790 per year. The Energy Saving Trust says that the system could save up to 5,000 kg of CO2 and £700 per year if it replaced an electric heating system.

Wood fuelled heating

A stove burning logs or pellets could heat up a single room or, for full home use, a wood fuelled boiler can replace your current boiler/heating system. Because the boiler uses wood, it will only release the CO2 that was absorbed as the tree was growing in the first place. If the wood has been sourced responsibly and new plants are grown to replace the ones chopped down to make the fuel, wood fuelled systems are essentially carbon neutral.

A standalone stove costs around £3,000, while a typical automatically-fed boiler would set you back around £9,000. But wood fuel systems can save up to 9,600 kg of CO2 per year if they replace a coal-fired system.


Finally, there is small-scale hydroelectricity. These use running water to turn a turbine that generates electricity. The faster the water flows and the more water there is, the more electricity can be produced. Clearly only suitable for people with a stream nearby, the advantage of this technology is that it is also eligible for the government's feed-in tariff. You can find out if your home is suitable at the .


There are grants available for heat generating technologies such as wood fuelled boilers, air and ground source heat pumps and solar water heating from the Low Carbon Buildings Programme, which you can find out about by using the Energy Saving Trust handy online guide. Bear in mind that, to qualify for any of this, you need to have already made the basic steps to make your home more energy efficient, such as insulation and draught-proofing.

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Fuel rebate for those over 70

A quarter of a million people over 70 will get an £80 discount off their electricity bill this summer.

To qualify they have to be on a very low income - getting the pension credit 'guarantee credit'.

The rebate will be paid by the six top energy suppliers including British Gas and Eon as well as their subsidiaries.

No claim is needed as the Department for Work and Pensions will tell the energy companies who is eligible for the rebate.

The people who qualify will have a birth date of 26 March 1940 or earlier. They will also have to get the guarantee credit of the means tested benefit pension credit and not get the savings credit element.

That means their income in 2010/11 - apart from pension credit - is no more than £98.40 a week (single) or £132.60 (couple).

A couple will qualify if either meets the age qualification.

People who pay their bill through a prepayment card will also get the £80 paid by cheque or voucher posted to their address.

full article

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Replace your old boiler with energy-efficient Daikin Altherma heat pumps

The boiler scrappage scheme introduced by the Government has the potential to transform the future of central heating. But rather than simply replacing one old boiler for another newer model, home owners should seize this opportunity to move away from traditional fossil fuels towards a more efficient renewable energy alternative.

It’s the perfect chance to grab the biggest cash subsidy in the market today with up to £1,300 of funding available from the Government plus a £500 Top-up Fund from Daikin UK. So don’t get left out of the renewables revolution!

Daikin Altherma heat pumps offer triple the efficiency of even the most efficient boilers in the market and produce 2/3rds of all the heat for warming our homes and hot water absolutely free from the air. Fact not fiction. Yet so far, heat pumps barely get a foot note in the ‘What’s it all about’ section of the boiler scrappage scheme website. The chances are, you’ve not even heard of them yet.

But the Daikin Altherma heat pump range offers a much more future-proof and low carbon alternative to any old (or new) boiler. And one that not only qualifies for the Boiler Scrappage Scheme £400 voucher, but also qualifies for up to £900 grant from the Government’s Low Carbon Building’s Programme and also attracts a further £500 discount available exclusively from Daikin UK: the biggest top up funding currently available in the market today.

The reality is that Daikin Altherma heat pumps are the heating and hot water solution of the future because: It provides all your hot water and home heating needs - even when the weather is down to -20°C You don’t need to rip out your central heating system or change your radiators; just replace your boiler with a heat pump It could save you up to £670 per year in fuel costs, compared with running a G-rated boiler, or up to £270 per year compared with running an A-rated boiler.

To see how these figures add up, take for example a typical Victorian three-bedroom house (120sqm), which has a total heating demand of 27,000kWhr per year. When running on a G-rated gas boiler (typically 65% efficient) the fuel costs for heating this household are on average £1,500 pounds per year. A more energy efficient A-rated condensing boiler (typically 91% efficient) will bring fuel costs down to £1,100 per year.

However, with a Daikin Altherma HT system, which delivers seasonal efficiency of more than 300%, the running costs go right down to £830 per year. That is £670 saving: a 45% lower running cost than a G-rated boiler and 24% lower than an A-rated boiler. The same major savings are calculated when the Daikin Altherma HT system is compared with G and A-rated boilers, based on a typical dual fuel tariff. And that’s without factoring potential rise in energy prices through the lifetime of your heating system.

What’s more, the entire Daikin Altherma product range available from Daikin UK is accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) so you can access all the grants available towards the cost of your installation when fitted by an MCS accredited installer. Check Daikin Altherma’s website to find an MCS certified installer near you.

full article

Daikin Altherma Heating Only Air Source Heat-Pump Boiler System installation kit

Npower boiler scrappage scheme to run indefinitely

Energy giant Npower has pledged to continue offering its £400 boiler scrappage discount after the government’s scheme ends.

Consumers who want to replace their old G-rated boiler for a new energy efficient one will still be able to get a £400 discount from Npower, once the government’s boiler scheme ends.

Currently, Npower - along with British Gas - promises to match the government’s £400 grant, which means eligible households can combine the scrappage schemes to get an £800 discount on an A-rated boiler installation from Npower when they trade in their old G-rated one.

Government vouchers running out fast

The government’s boiler scrappage scheme was launched in January 2010 and has seen an impressive take-up. Last month, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) reported that of the 125,000 boiler scrappage vouchers available, Decc had already issued more than 54,000 scrappage vouchers .

Npower retail chief executive Kevin Miles said: ‘The scrappage scheme has proven to be extremely popular and if take-up continues at the same rate, we expect the government’s scheme to close in April.

Shop around for the best boiler deal

Which? home editor Liz Edwards warned: ‘While it’s good news that Npower will continue this discount, don’t assume that the company offering the biggest discount will necessarily be offering the best boiler installation deal.

‘When we took a snapshot of boiler installation costs in 2009, we compared British Gas quotes against several independent central heating engineers and found British Gas charged up to twice as much as the lowest priced independent boiler engineer for the same job.

‘If you’re considering replacing your boiler, make sure you shop around and get several quotes before committing.’

full article

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Guide to greening your home

Greening your home can save you energy and money as well as making it healthier and lowering its carbon footprint


Insulation and glazing

Around half of the heat loss in a typical home is through the walls and loft so it's worth checking whether yours are insulated. Adopting the following measures can significantly reduce your energy bills:

* Cavity wall insulation
* Solid wall insulation
* Floor insulation
* Loft Insulation
* Draught proofing around doors and window frames
* Hot water tank and pipe insulation
* Double glazing for windows

For more details including cost, payback and savings see the Energy Saving Trust's guide to home insulation and glazing.

For information about where to start and what materials to use click here.

Find out about the grants and offers available to help you to make energy saving improvements to your home here.

Heating and hot water

Fitting an A-rated high efficiency condensing boiler with the correct heating controls can make a big difference to your heating bills over time. The current lifespan of a boiler is around 15 years. If your home has a G-rated or worse boiler you can register for the boiler scrappage scheme and receive a £400 cashback voucher towards the cost of upgrading to an A-rated boiler.

If you have a programmer or timer, set it so that the heating only comes on when needed. Just turning your thermostat down by 1C could save you around £55 a year.

Home appliances, home entertainment and electronics

How efficient are your home appliances? Energy Tariff Ltd
has an energy calculator website for domestic appliances, allowing you to choose the most efficient products and tariffs.

Looking to buy a new fridge, dishwasher or TV? Compare and buy products here that can help you stop wasting energy and money at home.

Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics guide ranks the 18 biggest manufacturers of computers, mobile phones, TVs and games consoles according to their policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change.

Energy labels

The EU energy label rates products from A (the most efficient) to G (the least efficient). For refrigeration the label goes up to A++.

Alternatively look for the Energy Saving Recommended label, a quick and easy way to identify the most energy efficient products. It includes products in categories where there isn't a statutory EU energy label such as glazing, televisions and boilers.

Green electricity

Most energy suppliers offer 'green' electricity tariffs that seek to support renewable energy. Look carefully at what suppliers are offering - few actually produce more renewable energy that they are required to be the legally-enforced Renewables Obligation. This comparison site is a good place to start.

Smart Meters

Knowing how much energy (and money) you are using at any given time is easier with a Smart Meter. Over the next 11 years every household in Britain will receive Smart Meters, one for gas and one for electricity. You'll be able to track your energy usage over set periods of time, from a day, up to a full year.

Laura Sevier
full article

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Boilers that generate electricity

Domestic gas boilers that can simultaneously generate electricity and heat will be unveiled in the UK today, providing a lower-carbon option to power homes.

The so-called micro-combined heat and power (micro CHP) units look like ordinary wall-hung gas boilers, but as well as generating heat for radiators and water, they produce electricity as a byproduct.

Traditional boilers are highly efficient at generating heat within the home, with more than 90% of the energy in the fuel converted into useful heat. But conventional electricity generation is highly inefficient, with as little as 35% of the energy in the fuel burned in the power plant becoming electricity in the home. Most of the rest is wasted as heat in the power station, with a smaller amount lost in transmission across the national grid.

But the new micro CHP devices create enough electricity for a one-bar electric fire as a byproduct of heat generation. This reduces wastage, with 92% of the total energy in the gas converted into heat or electricity. The new CHP boiler will be able to produce around 1,800–2,400 Kwh of electricity a year, more than half of the typical gas-heated home's total demand, because the electricity is generated "on site" without the need for transmission which wastes power.

Larger micro CHP devices have been sporadically available in the UK for a number of years, but the Ecogen by Baxi – which will be launched today at London's Ecobuild show and will go on sale at the start of April through British Gas – is the first to be comparable in size to a conventional boiler. The units will cost around twice as much as a large regular boiler – likely around £5,000.

Unlike solar panels and wind turbines, the Ecogen does create carbon dioxide, since it burns natural gas. But by producing electricity alongside the heat, the device can reduce the carbon footprint of a typical three-bedroom home by around one tonne a year (or significantly more if replacing an inefficient 10-year-old boiler), according to the manufacturer.

full article

Sunday, 7 March 2010

First Utility sparks energy price war

First Utility, the independent energy company, has cut its prices to make it the cheapest energy supplier in the UK.

Its iSaveV3 dual fuel tariff now costs £889 per year for a typical energy user - £10 cheaper than British Gas’ WebSaver6 and more than £20 cheaper than the average of the best online deals from other energy suppliers.

To qualify for the First Utility tariff, consumers must operate their account online and pay by monthly direct debit. For those unable or reluctant to go online and use direct debits, First Utility also operates the cheapest Standard energy tariff on the market, with a price tag of £1,074 for a typical energy user.

Its latest initiative comes amid growing consumer concern at the huge profits being racked up by the big six energy companies. Mark Daeche, chief executive of First Utility, said: “We’re aiming to send out a clear message that there is a real alternative to the big six incumbent energy companies.”

full article

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Five ways you can hit back at the greedy energy giants

1: Switch supplier

This should be straightforward and can be done over the phone or online - yet 12 million households have never bothered.

The internet has made searching for a cheaper deal easier. Our sister website,, can help you to make average annual savings of £263. Where a household has never switched before, the savings should be far higher.

'Allow about six weeks for the transfer to complete,' says Mark Todd, managing director at, which powers This is Money's switching facility.

2: Consider newcomers

New smaller firms, such as OVO and First Utility, are grabbing market share from the big six - British Gas, EDF, Eon, npower, Scottish and Southern and ScottishPower.

First Utility has undercut many of the big players. It is also innovative, offering customers in the Midlands smart-meter technology since last September. Smart meters attach to existing gas and electricity meters to give an exact reading of usage, which is transmitted back to First Utility.

3: Seek a dual-fuel deal

If your gas and electricity is supplied by different companies, you can probably save by moving to a dual-fuel package. All companies offer dual-fuel as a standard tariff as opposed to an online-only deal.

4: Go online and pay by direct debit

The biggest savings are to be made by people prepared to take a dual-fuel online deal and pay by direct debit. According to, a household paying its bill quarterly on receipt of a bill will save on average between £200 and £300 a year by switching to an online direct debit tariff. British Gas has the cheapest online deal for households with average energy consumption, while ScottishPower and EDF are among the best for high users. Npower is competitive for homes with low energy use.

There have been problems with direct debit payments being set too high and companies holding on to customers' overpaid cash.

5: Consider a fixed rate

Almost all energy companies offer fixed-rate tariffs, which can suit those households that are worried about rising costs and need to budget. Yet Todd says that if energy prices are set to fall it may be worth waiting.

Help for the vulnerable

Pensioners and households on low incomes may be eligible for help with their energy bills.

Energy companies are required by law to provide 'social tariffs' to help their most vulnerable customers. These tariffs must be at least equal to the provider's cheapest deal. There are also State-funded grants and money available from energy providers to help lower-income households make energy-saving improvements to their homes.

One of the best known is Warm Front, which provides grants of up to £3,500 to eligible households in England. Similar schemes operate in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Money is available for loft insulation, draught-proofing and cavity wall insulation. To find out more, go to or call 0800 316 2805.

The Government's boiler scrappage scheme still has funds available. Households with a G-rated boiler (the oldest and least efficient) can get £400 towards the cost of a new, more efficient model and its installation. For more on this and other energy savings ideas, visit

full article

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Tesla gets ready as electric cars go mainstream

The single-model display at the Geneva motor show by electric motoring pioneer Tesla is swamped this year by a seemingly endless string of rival sportscar companies launching electric vehicles of their own.

Whereas in the past the Tesla Roadster stood out as a breath of fresh air, and although it remains the only fully functional and street-legal electric car with others being trial models, it will soon be up against petrol-electric hybrids from Fisker and Lotus, Ferrari and Porsche.

"The world has been waiting for Porsche to show this," insists Porsche's chief executive Michael Macht as Porsche unveiled its plug-in petrol-electric hybrid at a Volkswagen Group event ahead of the motor show.
"Electric cars will be important for our customers; our models will have to be socially acceptable."

But whereas analysts fret about the threat, Tesla views the rivals' arrivals as good news.

Global Insight automotive analyst Aaron Bragman takes the view that Tesla is in danger of losing its "competitive advantage of being novel and unique".

By contrast, Cristiano Carlutti, head of Tesla's sales and operations in Europe, believes more electric cars from established brands will instead result in growth in the overall market for electric cars.

"Whoever does electrics is our friend," he says. "The fact that large firms enter the electric car market is an advantage for everyone.
full article