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What is triple glazing?

As we approach the summer months insulating the home for next winter, alongside other home improvements, comes to mind for homeowners. The beast from the east caused many issues across the country and certainly tested everyone’s insulation and boiler! As a result, many double glazing and home improvement companies are extolling the virtues of triple glazing, offering special deals and encouraging the average homeowner to upgrade their double glazing. We hope to provide a guide to triple glazing to help you make an informed decision about its viability for your home.

triple glazing

What is triple glazing?

As the name suggests, triple glazed windows are made up of glass which includes up to three different layers. Some triple glazed windows include a double layered glass with a thin film positioned in the middle of these layers. This is a low emissive film. Triple glazed windows have been popular since they provide better insulation.

Triple glazed windows are perfect in areas which experience extreme weather conditions. In Scandinavian countries, for example, it is now mandatory to install triple glazing in all new homes. Experts have determined that for tripled glazed windows to really do magic, Krypton must be used instead of argon as the filler gas. The frame must be insulated as well to ensure the highest level of energy efficiency.

 How much do triple glazed windows cost?

The average cost of installing triple glazing for a 2-bedroom home is around £2,500, depending upon the frame materials. To install triple glazing in a 4-bedroom house with 15 windows you can expect to pay around £6,500 – 8,000, depending on frames and profiles.

Also Read: UPVC French doors – a buyers guide

Triple glazed sealed units are 50% heavier than double glazing which means that hardware, such as hinges need to be more robust, and a responsible company will use more labor, thus increasing the cost even more. Extra panes, heavier frames, and a trickier fitting process mean the cost of triple glazing can be up to 40 percent more than double glazing but is unlikely to translate to 40 percent bigger savings on your energy bills, subject to the design of your home and materials used.

Why should I consider it?

That really depends on whether you want to have an ultra-quiet home and energy-efficient windows. If you are expecting the windows to pay for themselves in the short term, you are bound to be disappointed because the saving accumulates over a matter of years. However, if you are thinking of replacing your windows then the cost of triple glazing is comparable with the cost of double glazed units

Some of the reasons people in the UK are opting for triple glazing include:

  • Improved Heat Insulation – Triple glazed windows consist of three different glass panes which contain insulating air pockets in the middle section. Since gas is one of the most effective insulators, an extra air pocket can reduce the amount of heat leaking through. This makes triple glazed windows highly effective and can save energy.
  • Noise Reduction – Windows also allow noise to enter your home, as we are all aware. This is because most windows are made up of very thin glass membranes. Due to the presence of air pockets and extra layers of glass in triple glazed windows, the amount of noise leaking into your home can be significantly reduced.

 

  • Draft – As your windows get older, they begin to develop small leaks on their edges. This can easily generate drafts. When you’re using triple glazed windows, this won’t be a problem in your home. Since these windows are properly sealed and consist of an additional layer, they don’t generate drafts.
  • Condensation – Due to the difference between external and internal temperatures, condensation may be formed on windows. Since triple glazed windows have three panels with additional air pockets, heat does not seep through at a fast pace. Therefore, the temperature difference is significantly reduced, leaving your windows clear and dry.

Is there really a positive environmental impact compared to double glazing?

From an environmental point of view, triple glazing, which uses 50% more glass than double glazing, needs 90% more embodied energy in production. Whilst you may see a reduction in energy bills (on average 10% compared to double glazing) and your home is warmer, the cost of manufacture is likely to outweigh the

Another point to consider is that glazing of any kind is only as good as the materials used and the quality of the fitting. Poorly fitted triple glazing, which has not been sealed correctly, can be as redundant as single glazing and outperformed by top quality double glazing. Glazing is required to perform as part of wider energy-saving measures. There’s little point investing in the most hi-tech glazing technology if your walls and roof are without proper insulation. If you are hoping that triple glazing will improve your carbon footprint and energy efficiency on its own I’m afraid you will be disappointed!

Other things to consider

Essentially it is a personal choice whether a triple is better than double glazing in the UK. Most home improvement companies will now offer triple glazing and explain why you ‘need’ it in your home. However, the National Federation of Glazers have noted that triple glazing is no more effective than double glazing unless insulated frames are also used (http://www.nfoglon.org.uk/Triple%20Glazing%20factsheet.pdf)

But there are a few main points to consider:

    • If you’ve already got good double glazing, triple glazing will not offer huge benefits.
    • Triple glazing doesn’t pay for itself, but neither does double.
    • Triple glazing is usually more expensive.
    • If you want to get rid of cold spots in an otherwise well-heated house, or you have lots of noise outside, triple glazing is an option.

There are other ways of increasing the efficiency of your glazing without adding an extra pane and chances are, many of them will be cheaper, offer a better return on investment and contribute fewer obstacles to fitting. Adding special coatings to the glass to stop heat escaping, filling the cavities between the two glass panes with an inert gas, such as Krypton, instead of air and using spacers to enhance heat retention are more cost-effective ways to improve energy efficiency in the average home.

Everything You Need To Know About Electric Boiler

Just over 13% of the UK homes are referred to as being ‘off-gas grid’ and are not connected to the national gas supply network. There is the option of connecting to the gas grid but depending on the distance involved this can be very costly.

Electric boilers

The electric boiler has always had a mixed reputation. The main criticism of them as a home heating system is that electricity is more expensive, so in terms of running costs they just aren’t winners compared to gas. However, for millions of homes across the UK without access to the gas network, they are a viable heating alternative and bring with them several other benefits.

What is an electric boiler?

An electric boiler uses electricity rather than gas to heat hot water. Just like a gas boiler, it will heat up the water that warms your radiators, and the water you use in the kitchen and bathroom.

Also Read: Boiler Plus – Everything you need to know

They can come in various shapes and sizes, but in all-electric boilers, you’ll see water running through the system to be heated by a heating element – like the way a kettle works. They can be installed in most small to medium sized homes easily, though for larger homes they may not be suitable.

Types of electric boiler

There are a few different types of electric boilers:

A direct electric boiler uses a heating element to heat water on demand much like a gas or oil Combi boiler does. It doesn’t keep a store of hot water.

A storage electric boiler requires a separate hot water tank so you can heat water when electricity is cheaper and store it for use the next day.

An electric Combined Primary Storage Unit, or CPSU, stores lots of hot water so it can meet demand much quicker at higher pressure.

Dry core boilers are like storage heaters as they use cheaper night-time tariffs to heat bricks overnight, but the heat is then released into the water to be used in central heating and hot water, rather than being released directly into the home.

Advantages

  1. Electric boilers don’t release waste gases and so are considered a much ‘greener’ option than burning gas or oil.
  2. For homes that don’t have access to gas, can’t store an oil tank or are restricted e.g. listed buildings, an electric boiler is a great alternative.
  3. Electric boilers are relatively simple in terms of technology, don’t require a flue for waste gases and are compact and light. This makes them much more versatile than gas or oil in terms of where they can be placed in the home.
  4. Installing an electric boiler is simpler than gas or oil and so is quicker and cheaper
  5. They are more energy efficient than gas or oil boilers running at 99% efficiency or higher. Most gas boilers have a maximum efficiency of 95%.
  6. Electric boilers generate almost no noise as there are no moving parts.
  7. During warmer months an electric boiler pump is easily programmed to prevent blockages, which can occur in unused gas boilers.
  8. The upfront cost of an electric boiler can be considerably less than a gas boiler. For example, the average gas Combi boiler will cost anywhere between £800 – £2,500, while electric boilers can be found for less than £500.
  9. Solar panels can be incorporated with some electric boilers to heat your water during the day.

Disadvantages

  1. Unsuitable for high water usage. Electric boilers are much more limited in the amount of water that they can heat at any one time. This means that larger properties, or those with higher levels of hot water usage, may be better suited to a conventional gas boiler system.

 

  1. Cost of electricity. Electricity is more expensive than gas, meaning that the running costs of an electric boiler could be higher. However, if linked with solar systems these costs could be reduced.

 

  1. Doubts about environmental benefits. While electric boilers themselves are environmentally friendly, as they do not produce waste gases, there are concerns that the initial process of generating electricity creates as much pollution as a gas boiler system, therefore negating the environmentally friendly aspects.

 

  1. Susceptibility to power cuts. As they run solely on electricity, electric boilers are susceptible to power cuts. This risk can be reduced with a solar battery or back up heat source such as a wood burner. However, some power cuts can affect remote areas for several days.

Average cost to run

If we compare the average annual cost for a 3-bedroom house, we can estimate that an electric combi boiler would be around £1,200. The average cost to run a similar gas combi boiler is £900. Although it might not be the cheapest heating technology regarding running costs, electric boiler installation costs are much lower than those of gas boilers and they do not need annual maintenance or safety inspections. Depending on the size of the property an electric boiler may be a viable option, especially if linked with a renewable electricity source.

If you are not connected to mains gas then an electric boiler is much cheaper than oil or LPG, both of which cost approximately £1,300 per year in fuel, in addition to the space required for a storage tank.

Here’s What You Need To Know About Biomass

Burning fossil fuels has been the staple for heating homes across the world for millennia. However, increased pressure on homeowners to reduce carbon emissions has seen a shift to renewable sources of energy and an investment in improving energy efficiency. One option for many homes is to install a Biomass heating system. There are several industrial-sized biomass heating systems, alongside biomass electricity generators in many UK cities, but companies are improving and refining the systems for use in the average UK home.

Biomass

 What are Biomass heating systems?

Biomass boilers are very similar to conventional gas boilers that you will be familiar with, providing you with space heating and hot water for the entire home, but instead of using gas (or oil) to produce the heat, they combust sustainably sourced wood. There are three Main Types of Wood Fuel:

  • Wood pellets are the most common type of domestic biomass fuel and can be packed and delivered in bags or bulks. Buying larger quantities at once is often cheaper than otherwise.
  • Wood chips are more expensive when it comes to transportation as they are less dense compared to pellets. In addition, they are only appropriate for homes that have space to store them.
  • Logwood is a source of energy relatively stable in price. Logs and other types of wood fuel are the first choices for those who are conscientious of their impact on the environment.

Every four weeks or so, the biomass boiler will need to be emptied of the ash. This can be put straight onto a compost heap to help fertilize the soil. Biomass boilers are designed to work all year round; however, you may choose to turn them off in the summer and use an alternative heating source, such as solar.

biomass energy source

Why is Biomass a good option?

  1. Affordable heating fuel – Although the price of wood fuel varies considerably, it is often cheaper than other heating options. You can also source your own fuel rather than relying on national suppliers. In more remote areas a well-stocked log pile will keep a biomass heating system running for many years without the need to purchase wood elsewhere.

 

  1. Financial support – Wood fuel boiler systems could benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). These government subsidies will vary for the type of property and expert advice should be sought.

 

  1. A low-carbon option – The carbon dioxide emitted when wood is burned is the same amount that was absorbed over the months and years that the plant was growing. The process is sustainable as long as new plants continue to grow in place of those used for fuel. There are some carbon emissions caused by the cultivation, manufacture, and transportation of the fuel, but if the fuel is sourced locally, these are much lower than the emissions from fossil fuels.

MCS-approved pellet fired, or gasification biomass boilers are comparable with the most efficient conventional gas boilers and, through the Renewable Heat Incentive, they produce a very healthy return (provided the heat demand on your EPC is sufficient). Therefore, provided you have space to house the fuel and the boiler itself and you are happy that you are going to have to ‘feed and clean’ the boiler on a regular basis, then a biomass boiler is certainly worth considering.

Also Read: Going green at home?

Obviously, they are very expensive to buy upfront, so this too is something you must bear in mind. If you have access to cheap finance, then installing a biomass boiler could be a no-brainer!

Costs and potential savings

Biomass boilers start at about £7,000 for a 12kW domestic version, which is sufficient to provide heat and hot water for a 4-bed house. A comparably sized gas boiler will only cost around £2500 to install. A bigger biomass boiler with an auto-feed hopper may cost closer to £12,000.

In terms of the cost of fuel, the average price of wood pellets is around 4.2p/kWh which is very much in line with mains gas, while oil costs a little more at 6p/kWh. However, the price of wood pellets is likely to become more attractive going forward since gas prices have continued to rise in recent years, and this trend looks to continue. Biomass boilers are completely independent of the fluctuating import prices of foreign fuels such as gas and oil.

However, if you are lucky enough to have a free supply of wood, then you can heat your home at zero cost. Maybe it’s time to consider planning your own patch of woodland or buying one which has permission for sustainable felling and clearing. The other option for those in urban areas is wooden pallets; these are often available for free from building yards and depots. However, care needs to be taken with these as some have been treated with chemicals and painted which will then release noxious fumes when burned.

Other things to consider

  • Wood boilers are larger than gas or oil equivalents and you will need space to store the fuel. This area will need to be somewhere that’s handy for deliveries as well as appropriate for feeding the boiler.
  • You will need a flue which meets the regulations for wood-burning appliances. This could be a new insulated stainless-steel flue pipe or an existing chimney, though chimneys normally need lining to make them safe and legal.
  • You may not need planning permission, but you should always check. All new wood heating systems must comply with building regulations, and the best way to ensure this is to use an installer who is a member of a competent person scheme.
  • Biomass boilers and stoves should be kept clean and swept regularly to remove ash. Ash quantities are generally very low (less than one per cent of fuel volume), but you will still need to empty the ash bin of a wood burning stove or boiler. This is likely to be weekly and never more than once a day. A log fire requires ash removal before every use.
  • Biomass boilers are much bigger than conventional boilers, since they will have to have some element of an auto-feed option. In the case of the Baxi Bioflo, it is 1.2m high, while a conventional gas boiler is half the size.
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