Eon Heat Pumps – Eon is pushing it’s marketing but is the UK ready?

Are heat pumps the way forward for the mass market?

With a noticeable increase in marketing for air and ground source heat pumps from several energy providers in the UK, it is worth discussing whether this could be the right solution to make your home more energy efficient and reduce your impact on the environment. However, first it is worth explaining how this system works before discussing the benefits and points to consider.

Air vs. Ground source heat pumps

Both types of heat pump extract heat from the surrounding environment and deliver this heat into the home. Ground source heat pumps use a loop of pipes, filled with fluid and anti-freeze, under the ground to extract heat from the ground. Whilst the temperature above ground may be below zero, the temperature under the surface is relatively constant throughout the year and as a result, can keep a consistent temperature in your home. If space is limited, a borehole can be drilled to give the maximum surface area for the piping to extract heat from the ground.

Air source heat pumps extract heat from the air and can find heat from the air even when it is minus 15 degrees outside! They work a bit like a fridge, but in reverse. Heat from the air is absorbed at low temperature into a fluid. This fluid then passes through a compressor where its temperature is increased and transfers its higher temperature heat to the heating and hot water circuits of the house.

Heat pumps can keep your home at a constant temperature throughout the year, using a renewable and efficient energy source. You may need to keep radiators on for longer as heat pumps do not heat radiators to the high temperatures a gas boiler might, but because the temperature is constant you would keep your home at a comfortable temperature. You can find more out about at the link: heat pumps 

The benefits of a heat pump 

There are several benefits of moving to heat pumps:

  1.       No need for fuel delivery e.g. coal, oil or a gas supply (if you are in the 13% off grid)
  2.       There are government subsidies available under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)[RM1]
  3.       A reduction in carbon emissions
  4.       Radiators and hot water can be heated, the same as any other boiler
  5.       Minimal maintenance required once installed.
  6.       Lower fuel bills for many people, depending on the existing heating source and efficiency of insulation.

Things to consider

As with any heat source, there are things which must be considered before deciding if a heat pump is right for you:

  1.       Heat pumps need a source of electricity, so you will still have an electricity bill (unless you have solar panels already installed)
  2.       Ground source heat pumps will involve a lot of excavation in your garden to lay the piping initially, but once set up there is very little you need to do.
  3.       Air source heat pumps work best in an open area where there is a good supply of air; even better in a sunny spot in the garden!
  4.       What is the fuel and heating system being replaced? If you have an A-rated condensing boiler you will see minimal (if any) savings in your fuel bills. Heat pumps give the best savings when replacing old, inefficient boilers.
  5.       Do you have enough space? Heat pumps will generally require more space than a modern combi boiler and may involve
  6.       The cost of heat pumps can be high for the initial install. Ground source cost between £10000-£18000 and air source cost £6000-£8000. However, as mentioned previously, there are government subsidies available which need to be applied for separately.

Are heat pumps suitable for the mass market?

In summary, it all depends! Heat pumps are not suitable for small or modern buildings as you will not see the savings in fuel bills and the carbon impact would be minimal due to the electricity required to keep the pump working. Flats will not usually have the outside space for ground source and are unlikely to have enough air flow to make an air source pump effective. The same will be true of most terraced houses as there will be restrictions on space, however this would depend on the size and layout.

air source heat pump

Houses, especially detached and semi-detached, will have the ground space to make a ground source much more viable and the surrounding volume of air for an air source pump to be effective. However, the impact would depend on the level of insulation and what fuel type is being replaced. For the best results, there should be a good level of insulation already installed and of course other energy and carbon reducing measures in place. A heat pump is an excellent investment to reduce bills and your carbon footprint, but only if you are already in the process of improving other aspects of the home. On its own, a heat pump is unlikely to make a huge difference to bills or carbon emissions in the average home. If coupled with solar panels and good quality insulation, heat pumps are an excellent addition to a home striving to be carbon neutral.

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Combi boiler or conventional?

An in-depth look at combi boilers vs traditional or conventional boilers

Combi boilers are utilised to supply the household with both heat and hot water. These special types of boilers have been gaining popularity over the years in many homes because they are efficient and take up little space. Usually small and compact, these boilers can be placed in discreet areas on the kitchen or bathroom wall. Combi boilers are energy-saving because they do not store water, and they heat only the amount that is needed for tasks such as cooking and bathing.

In some cases, these boilers can be very easy to install. This because there is no need to install a cylinder & complicated controls, such as Y plans & S plans.

Unlike the conventional boiler systems which require complex installation, combi boiler systems are more convenient to install. There is no need for a tank dedicated to hot water since water is heated directly and produced almost instantly. One only has to link the combi boiler directly to the main water source and there will be an endless supply of hot water.

best combi boiler

Advantages of Combi Boilers

  1. Compact & space saving One of the many features of combination boilers is that they are small and compact. Because of this, they take up little space, and you will not have to worry about a cupboard or flood space area being taken up by bulkier boilers, additional pipework, and water tanks. Water storage, though, may be a better option when your house has more than one bathroom.
  2. Can be easier to install depending on current setup.
  3. Pressurised – All of your radiators will be under pressure, meaning better flow & higher efficiency.
  4. Everything in one place, generally simple to repair & maintain if you choose a credible brand.
  5. Can be more efficient than their cylinder counter-part syle system.
  6. Never run out of water! As there’s no store water, you never need to worry about running out.

 

Bear in mind, house size, flow rate & demand impact.

The make of the combi boilers can vary from one another. More powerful units, like the Vaillant 938 or Worcester Highflow can deliver around 20 liters per minute at a 35-degree rise. Other combi boilers, for example, a (24KW) Vaillant boiler 824. Will deliver around 11 liters per minutes at a 35-degree rise. When I say rise, I mean water temp is coming in at X (say 10 degrees)  means a 24KW boiler can heat this at 11 liters per minute to (add 35 degrees) to 45 degrees. However, if you run the tap faster this will drop, eg running a shower at 15 liters per minute might only give you 30 degrees. Therefore a small boiler is not recommended for busy large households and for very busy households, a combi boiler may not work well at all.

Combi boilers can definitely save money and energy for the household and even the commercial establishments. It may even surprise you that you can eventually save money enough to buy yourself a combi boiler unit. You can check out a good number of retail outlets and online stores when you want to buy a combi boiler unit.

Disadvantages of Combi Boilers

  1. Busy households, with appliances on & multiple outlets running, will cause this type of boiler to struggle. You can counter this with a store water style combi eg the Vaillant 938 or Highflow mentioned above. You must have the correct pressure coming in!
  2. No back up, stored systems generally have an immersion back up, to keep you going if the boiler goes off. with a combi, if it goes down, everything goes down!
  3. The flow of hot water is generally affected by the weather outside the house. This means that there is less flow when the weather is cold. This happens because the time it takes for water to be heated increases, owing to the cold temperature outside the house.

Combi boiler negatives

Installation Cost of Combi Boilers

Combi boilers are popular such that over 50% of the total number of new boilers installed in the households all over the UK is the combi type. There must be a very good explanation for this. Combi boilers are efficient, energy-saving, easy to install, compact, and take up little space. These attractive features have made combi boilers more popular than the traditional types of boilers.

Often install costs are cheaper due to the lack of complicated controls, airing cupboards and water storage cylinders. That cost in materials and labour to install is generally 30-40% more.

Boiler Maintenance 

A Combi boiler should be properly and regularly maintained so that it will last you a long time and you’re kept safe from poisonous gasses. For this, you should see to it that the central heating services that you hire are Gas safe registered. Servicing nowadays is more of an MOT checklist, looking for faults more than the old days, cleaning a boiler out, it’s also generally mandatory to keep a boiler covered under warranty.

We’ll be writing a servicing guide soon.

Conclusion

So, you probably came to this post with an older system looking to see the pro’s and cons. The answer is, (I have 17 years experience in heating as of writing this). If you live in a house smaller than 4 bedroom and people aren’t desperate to shower all at the same time AND you have good mains pressure coming in. 

UPGRADE TO A COMBINATION BOILER SYSTEM!  Over & out. 

 

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Should you upgrade to a Smart Digital Thermostat?

Dusting off the old dial on your wall & upgrading to something that is closer to resembling a gizmo in star trek rather than a thermostat! 

In the wake of growing awareness about energy conservation, a Smart Thermostat is a welcome innovation. It plays a major role in energy conservation, while looking chic and tasteful!  The thermostat has received a glorious make-over. The smart thermostat is well designed and stylish.

A Smart Thermostat enables you to control the temperature of your house at the click of a button from your phone or a tablet. You can also programme it as per your schedule. The internet connectivity enables the thermostat to get information about the weather and heat up the home accordingly. Some of these thermostats can gauge how long it will take to heat up a room. Many thermostats have motion-detectors that notice the presence of people in the house. In the absence of people, the thermostat automatically lowers its heating. All this can be done via a simple app installed on the phone!

Another interesting feature in these Smart Thermostat is its ability to ‘Learn’. It learns about your room and surroundings to decide the perfect temperature for your room. Hence, instead of programming the gadget to turn on at a particular time or temperature, it is possible to just tell the thermostat exactly what time you need the room to be warm. Eventually, it also learns of your preferences along with habits and heats up your home without you having to remind it.

Efficient and optimum use of energy is of vital importance today. This can even save a considerable amount of money. With the smart thermostats, it is now possible to track, measure and record regular energy usage. Such insights can provide us with numbers about how much energy we really consume and how heavily it costs us. The reading provided by the thermostat also help in figuring out areas where money can be saved. Lower energy wasted leads to lower energy bills.

10 years ago, central heating for a home via a simple phone would be unimaginable. Thermostats would be kept switched on even when people weren’t in the house. The consumption of energy in such times is undoubtedly high. With the introduction of this game-changing technology, the amount of energy saving is bound to increase. The bigger picture is a healthier earth.

Smart thermostats

The new smart thermostats claim that their use can ensure energy saving. But it is important to understand that without monitoring the energy usage and implementing energy saving methods, it is impossible to save energy. It is exactly like a diet plan. No matter how many diets are prescribed to you, only the one which you follow can give you results accordingly.

The market is now introduced to various smart thermostats. Each one comes with its own set of features and specialties. Right from the design to the interface, everything about these thermostats is smartly developed. The debut of these new thermostats in the market is reason enough to upgrade your thermostat too!

Nest Smart Thermostat 

Nest is a thermostat owned by Google. It looks very attractive and is extremely easy to use. Every day, you turn the heat down before leaving for work and turn it up after coming back. Eventually, it will pick up your pattern and start doing it on its own.

The thermostat has a built-in motion detector to understand if there is no one at home. When the house is empty, it lowers the temperature to a safe but affordable level. Due to this feature, you don’t have to reprogramme it even when you are away traveling. It allows you to schedule the timing for heating water as well. Apart from the programmed time, the thermostat turns down the water heating.

Nest’s Wi-fi feature allows you to send commands as well as provides the details of weather conditions sourced from the internet to help adjust the temperature appropriately. The app provides complete details about energy usage. It provides reports on the amount of energy used and saved. A little leaf image is displayed when the energy is used efficiently. Over the time, it becomes difficult to earn the leaf, prompting you to save more energy.

 

Nest Thermostat

Hive, from British Gas

Hive is an innovation by British Gas. It looks humble and subtle, but in reality, it is modern and ultra high tech with web connectivity and app-access, and super easy to use interface. A hub is plugged into your broadband router which allows you to communicate with the thermostat. It allows you to set schedules for hot water and temperature heating from the app. Feedback and report are also provided to monitor the usage and saving of energyBritish Gas claims that using Hive can save upto 130 pounds a year. This is purely due to the energy saved by the customer. Recently, Hive also launched an array of new compatible products which include motion sensors, window and door sensors, and smart plugs. It is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant too.

Tado

Tado is a self-sufficient thermostat which can gauge the outside temperature and accordingly heat up the home. It has motion detectors by which it understands when the house is empty and it lowers the heat. The use of geofencing is one of the most admired features in Tado. It lowers the use of heat when you leave for work. Once you start for your home, it receives notification about your movement via GPS on your phone. The thermostat then raises the temperature in the house. Tado claims that the use of their thermostat can save up to 31% energy. It is compatible with Siri and Alexa.

Tado thermostat

There you have it! For more interesting posts, check out our homepage: ecoforhome.com 

Going green at home?

In this post we look at what constitutes a green home 

 

Eco-friendly. Energy-efficient. Sustainable. Responsible. Comfortable. Healthy. Economical. Smart. Fun.

Green Building is a whole-systems approach through design and building techniques to minimize environmental impact and reduce the energy consumption of buildings while contributing to the health of its occupants.”
—  City of Scottsdale Green Building Program

Ready to make the move to a green, eco-friendly, sustainable, energy-efficient home? It makes complete sense: Green homes are built using sustainable practices that conserve not only energy, water and other natural resources, but also preserve our environment, strengthen our local economy and promote a better quality of life for those who live there.

Benefits of a Green Home

  • Peace of mind – knowing you are contributing to global sustainability rather than global warming
  • Healthier for the occupants, the planet and future generations
  • Highly desirable from a resale value as demand — and energy costs — grow
  • Economical because it saves energy, water and other resources – and money
  • Eco-friendly and environmentally responsible thanks to use of resource-efficient and low-impact materials
  • Durable, comfortable and low maintenance
  • Cheaper to run!
     

Green Home Features

  • Built with local or regional materials such as adobe, block, brick, straw bale or advanced energy-efficient materials (i.e. Integra block or autoclaved aerated concrete)
  • Proper orientation, shaded areas and passive solar
  • Protected, shaded outdoor spaces to reduce the extreme temperature range between the exterior and interior of the house
  • Powered or supported by non-polluting sustainable energy sources including solar hot water, photo voltaics or wind
  • Super-tight building envelopes with upgraded insulation and high-performance windows and doors
  • Xeriscape (low water use) landscaping plus rainwater collection and storage systems
  • Energy Star-rated or better appliances
  • HVAC systems: Minimum 13 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating or better air conditioners utilizing efficient ductwork with adequate returns and filtration plus ceiling fans in all major rooms
  • Air source heat pump
  • Insulated properly
  • Healthy, comfortable indoor air quality and room environments
  • Sustainable interior materials (flooring like bamboo, concrete or cork and low VOC paint)
  • Water-efficient toilets, low-flow showerheads, graywater recovery systems, hot water recirculation system and other innovations

 

How to plant a tree

Trees reduce CO2 fact. You should know this….

How to plant a tree

  1. Choose at least a 5-to-6-foot tree grown to nursery standards.
  2. Select a site with enough room for roots and branches to reach full size. Avoid overhead and underground utilities.
  3. Dig a planting area as deep as the root ball and 3 to 5 times its diameter. Add fertilizer or other soil amendments.
  4. Set the root ball in the middle, even with ground level, but do not pack down the soil.
  5. Water generously.
  6. Stake the tree to flex with the wind. Mulch to within 6 inches of the tree trunk.
  7. Water regularly to keep the soil from drying out.

Did you know that…

  • Planting three trees around your house can block incoming sunlight by as much as 70 percent and reduce air-conditioning cost by 10 to 50 percent.
  • Awnings, overhangs, and shutters mounted on the south, east and west sides of your house will save you $100 to $150 each year thereafter in cooling costs.
  • Tree-filled neighborhoods can be up to 9 degrees cooler than unshaded streets.

Trees, Please

Have you ever noticed how much cooler it is in a grove of trees, or even how much more comfortable you feel just hearing the sound of the wind rustling in the leaves? Besides the aesthetic pleasure they give, trees can improve our quality of life in other ways as well.

Because they use carbon dioxide as they grow, trees can offset and even reduce CO2 emissions. If you plant three trees on the southeast and southwest sides of your home, you can cut your air conditioning bills as well as clean up the air and cool the globe. According to American Forests, the nation’s oldest citizens’ conservation organization, there are at least 100 million spots around our homes and in our towns and cities suitable for trees. When trees shade houses, buildings and pavement from the sun, they help cool down the “heat islands” that build up around pavement and other dark surfaces. “Nature’s air conditioners” also help clean up he air, by filtering airborne particles with their leaves and branches.

Trees and the forests they create play a critical role in maintaining the health of our environment. Their root systems prevent erosion and thereby protect water quality. Their leaves filter the air and, through the shade, they cast, reduce global warming. The natural community that develops around forests also helps protect the planet by providing a safe and nurturing environment for all kinds of fish and wildlife.

Unfortunately, forests in this country and around the world are being squeezed by increasing demands for wood and paper. For example, between 50 and 100 acres of tropical rainforest — an area the size of ten city blocks — are destroyed every minute. At that rate, there will be no intact tropical forest left within one hundred years. Forests in North America, particularly the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest, are also under stress.

Many offices and individuals have already begun to address deforestation issues at home and abroad by recycling paper and by buying recycled paper products. Here are a few other actions you might consider to minimize your need for wood:

  • Hire eco-conscious carpenters or contractors.
    A growing number of construction suppliers are using wood salvaged from other construction projects, particularly in applications that will be hidden from view when the construction is complete. Other contractors are opting for lumber that is “sustainably” harvested from forests, so that the trees are removed from the forest selectively, without destroying the entire forest ecosystem.
  • Consider alternative building materials.
    Agricultural by-products such as wheat straw, coconut palm and bamboo have become viable materials for home and office construction.
  • Try paper alternatives.
    Some consumers and companies are turning to kenaf, a paper-like product derived from the fast-growing hibiscus cannabis plant. The plant produces 3-5 tons more fiber per acre than comparable trees that are harvested for paper production, and require 15-25% less energy during the production process.
  • Use computer technology for correspondence.
    Instead of printing out memos or letters on stationary, use electronic mail to get your messages across.
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