Skip to main content

YouGen Blog

1 2 3 4 5 6 28 next »

Viewing all blog entries

What does a biomass boiler annual service involve?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 7 December 2016 at 12:30 pm

What does a biomass boiler annual service involve?

Biomass boilers that burn wood logs, chips or pellets, require more attention than gas or oil boilers when it comes to filling, cleaning and fuel delivery. They should also be cleaned and serviced regularly as build-ups of ash and clinker can stop the boiler working efficiently. Some of these tas…

Read More | No comments

Kite sails: Can we return to wind powered shipping?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 6 December 2016 at 11:40 am

Kite sails: Can we return to wind powered shipping?

At one time all shipping was powered by renewable wind energy, but sailing ships didn’t survive long into the era of coal and diesel. Now sailing, in a modified form, could be seeing a return in commercial shipping. The modern shipping industry is a large contributor to greenhouse gas e…

Read More | No comments

Help - what do I do if I am a GB Energy customer?

Posted by NEF Gabby on 2 December 2016 at 5:15 pm

Help - what do I do if I am a GB Energy customer?

If you are (or were) one of the 160,000 customers of GB Energy, which went bust just over a week ago, you will be pleased to hear that Ofgem has now approved Co-operative Energy to take on all GB Energy's customers.  What does this mean for me? your gas and electricity supply…

Read More | No comments

Earth sheltered houses: Past, present and future

Posted by Alex Barrett on 1 December 2016 at 12:40 pm

Earth sheltered houses: Past, present and future

We have a long history of living in earth sheltered houses. Some of the earliest human dwellings made use of caves, and throughout human history there have been occasions where building your house into a hillside proved far more effective than leaving it exposed. The ground is a good insulati…

Read More | No comments

Calling installers - biomass boiler push. Are you with us?

Posted by Gordon Glass on 28 November 2016 at 11:30 am

Calling installers - biomass boiler push. Are you with us?

You are a biomass installer on the MCS register, but how will you fair in our 10 second quiz on your specialist subject. Stopwatch at the ready... When you type ‘Biomass Boiler’ into Google: Q1. Who ranks Top 3?* Q2. How many views do you need to rank Top 3? Q3. What does…

Read More | No comments

Self-driving cars could save energy

Posted by Alex Barrett on 23 November 2016 at 11:30 am

Self-driving cars could save energy

In 2014 transport accounted for 38% of the UK’s final energy consumption [1]. The majority of this was due to the use of road vehicles, both for private transport and for business. Cars account for a considerable fraction of the greenhouse gasses we emit. As roads get more congested the…

Read More | No comments

Was switching my energy supplier worth it?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 21 November 2016 at 11:05 am

Was switching my energy supplier worth it?

OK, so I switched a little while ago and I wanted to tell you how painless it has all been. The new supplier, Bulb, wrote to me almost immediately to welcome me to their new community. They introduced me to their website where I will be able to post meter readings to keep track of my usage (w…

Read More | No comments

Biomass boiler installation: what's involved?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 16 November 2016 at 10:30 am

Biomass boiler installation: what's involved?

In 2009 SuperHomer Mark Brown had a biomass boiler installed to heat his1980s five bedroom detached family home. In this video he gives us an overview of the installation process. We also fast forward to 2014 to see how it looks five years later. At the time of installation it took Mark …

Read More | No comments

Heat Pumps: Air source or ground source?

Posted by Aderanti Kudehinbu on 15 November 2016 at 10:30 am

Heat Pumps: Air source or ground source?

Heat pumps are devices that use a small amount of energy to move heat from one place to another. During cold weather they extract heat from outside sources and pump it indoors. This process can be reversed during summer in order to act as an air conditioning system. The heat pump circulates a…

Read More | 6 comments

How will degree days help you measure energy savings from heating and insulation improvements?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 14 November 2016 at 11:01 am

How will degree days help you measure energy savings from heating and insulation improvements?

Suppose you are retrofitting your house, improving its insulation or installing a more energy efficient heating system. You will want to know how much energy you are saving, but with heating costs this can be tricky to figure out. This is where "degree days" can help. Temperature, a…

Read More | No comments

Can we generate 100% of our energy from renewables?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 11 November 2016 at 11:46 am

Can we generate 100% of our energy from renewables?

In early May of 2016 Portugal covered all of its electricity demand for four days using only renewable sources, energy prices in Germany briefly turned negative, as renewables met almost all of the demand for a day, and the UK didn't use any coal fired power stations at all during several low…

Read More | 1 comment

How does a full log box keep you and your wood stove happy?

Posted by Stewart Mcilroy on 9 November 2016 at 11:15 am

How does a full log box keep you and your wood stove happy?

Good preparation is important if you want to heat your home efficiently with a wood stove. What you want is ‘maximisation of heat out’ and ‘minimisation of effort in’. The practical and psychological benefits of advance preparation are clear to me. Practical benef…

Read More | 1 comment

Should you open windows in winter?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 7 November 2016 at 11:15 am

Should you open windows in winter?

When it comes to energy saving the less heat your house loses the better. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by draught proofing. By stopping warm air from leaking out of your house you prevent heat loss and so reduce the amount of energy you have to use for heating. This suggests that fo…

Read More | 1 comment

What are the basics of a modern biomass boiler?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 4 November 2016 at 5:05 pm

What are the basics of a modern biomass boiler?

In this video SuperHomer Mark Brown introduces us to the wood pellet boiler he chose to get installed in his 1980s five bedroom detached family home in 2009. The boiler is substantially larger than the usual gas boiler and is installed in the garage. Mark shows us the various options for…

Read More | No comments

I switched energy supplier and saved

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 3 November 2016 at 10:05 am

I switched energy supplier and saved

The first thing I had to do was work out how much energy I had used last year. That wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be as, rather helpfully, my current energy provider does give me an annual statement and puts on each month’s bill a note of my previous year’s energy us…

Read More | 4 comments

Petition rallies support for onshore wind energy

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 28 October 2016 at 10:31 am

Petition rallies support for onshore wind energy

Thousands of people across the UK have signed a petition in support of clean energy – will you join them? 10:10 are asking members of the public to sign a petition to let Philip Hammond know that they object to policies that favour fossil fuels over clean energy. The charity says th…

Read More | No comments

Energy vampires are real and exist in your home!

Posted by Jason Ramsdale on 28 October 2016 at 9:50 am

Energy vampires are real and exist in your home!

Vampire draw, phantom loads and no-load power are all terms used to refer to the phenomenon of electricity being consumed by appliances that are “switched off” or in "stand-by mode". These appliances can run up your electricity bill and can easily add up to a hundred po…

Read More | No comments

How should I season and store wood for my stove?

Posted by Anna Carlini on 26 October 2016 at 12:05 pm

How should I season and store wood for my stove?

What are the aims of wood storage and why it is so important? I spoke to Stewart McIlroy, SuperHomer and wood stove owner about his advice for wood storage. Stewart says that the main aim of storing wood is to ‘season’ it. Newly chopped wood contains a high percentage of water whi…

Read More | 3 comments

It is energy switching time again

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 24 October 2016 at 2:20 pm

It is energy switching time again

As we approach winter, and most of you will already have turned your heating on, I wonder how many of you are thinking about switching.  Why would you want to have your most costly months on that stupidly high tariff you are paying because you haven’t bothered to shop around? In the su…

Read More | 2 comments

Does plastic have to come from oil?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 21 October 2016 at 10:30 am

Does plastic have to come from oil?

Plastic is all around us. Over the course of the 20th century it has become one of the most commonly used materials for all manner of goods and appliances. It is estimated that 288 million tons of plastic were produced in 2012 [1]. But plastic is made from oil, the same non-renewable crude oil re…

Read More | No comments

Heat pump tumble dryers: Eco-friendly or not?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 20 October 2016 at 9:45 am

Heat pump tumble dryers: Eco-friendly or not?

It is no secret that tumble dryers are not especially environmentally friendly. They use quite a lot of energy and are certainly less energy efficient than hanging your washing out to dry. Several types of dryer claim to be more environmentally friendly. In particular heat pump tumble dryers …

Read More | No comments

Will energy scavenging be the next big thing? Let's stomp!

Posted by Alex Barrett on 18 October 2016 at 1:05 pm

Will energy scavenging be the next big thing? Let's stomp!

The field of “energy scavenging” or “harvesting” is all about capturing the small amounts of energy that are constantly going to waste [1, 2]. Most tasks produce excess heat, light, vibrations and movement, which mostly goes to waste. A variety of innovative technologies h…

Read More | No comments

Draught proofing - how much could you save?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 14 October 2016 at 1:40 pm

Draught proofing - how much could you save?

Leaky buildings cost a lot of energy. Draughts allow hot air to escape from even the best insulated houses, and can be uncomfortable for those inside. Historic England report that older buildings lose 15-20% of their heat through draughts [1]. Fortunately this can be solved by draught proofing, w…

Read More | No comments

Are sunpipes the solution to dark rooms and stairwells?

Posted by Anna Carlini on 11 October 2016 at 10:30 am

Are sunpipes the solution to dark rooms and stairwells?

Sunpipes are cylindrical tubes which channel natural sunlight from a transparent dome on the roof to bring it to areas that wouldn’t otherwise get natural light. Many of us have dark stairwells and rooms that get little sunlight in our homes. Sunpipes (sometimes called solarpipes) are a low…

Read More | 2 comments

How easy is it to get a new electricity meter installed?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 7 October 2016 at 4:40 pm

How easy is it to get a new electricity meter installed?

That was another saga. Firstly the letter they sent to say that my meter may be faulty gave the contact details of a third party that they had commissioned to do their meter installs. I emailed and asked for some more info. How long would the install take? Did I really need to be at home, as the …

Read More | 3 comments

Is the future of wind energy as high as a kite?

Posted by Jason Ramsdale on 4 October 2016 at 12:05 pm

Is the future of wind energy as high as a kite?

Wind energy is often criticised for being unreliable. However, there is almost always wind blowing in the UK - it's just a little higher up than we currently reach. High above the friction with the ground, high altitude winds are stronger and much more stable than those close to gro…

Read More | No comments

How far can motion sensors save energy used for lighting?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 30 September 2016 at 12:45 pm

How far can motion sensors save energy used for lighting?

It is well known that switching off unused lights can save a large amount of energy. Around three percent of home energy usage comes from lighting [1]. While energy use can thus be reduced by switching to energy efficient light bulbs, there is no substitute for ensuring that lights are switc…

Read More | 3 comments

Why is energy storage difficult?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 27 September 2016 at 12:25 pm

Why is energy storage difficult?

Our ability to generate renewable energy is increasing all of the time. It provides a great, green supplement to conventional power generation technologies. However if renewables are to one day stand on their own then there is an important issue that needs to be considered; Energy Storage. So…

Read More | No comments

Are electric cars the future?

Posted by NEF Gabby on 23 September 2016 at 12:06 pm

Are electric cars the future?

The electric car debate has been a long and contested road, with questions still remaining unanswered about the ability Electric Vehicles (EVs) have to reshape society and replace our gas guzzling needs. Aerospace engineer and Motorsport fan Lukas Willcocks has test driven a number of electric ve…

Read More | 5 comments

How a car fanatic transformed his 1960s home for greater efficiency

Posted by NEF Gabby on 22 September 2016 at 2:05 pm

How a car fanatic transformed his 1960s home for greater efficiency

You might think that the worlds of fast cars and home refurbishment are miles apart, but aerospace engineer and motorsports fan Lukas Willcocks sees a focus on high performance in common. Getting more ‘miles per gallon’ out of your home Like in the automotive industry, energy …

Read More | No comments

Can we manufacture renewables without fossil fuels?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 20 September 2016 at 10:05 am

Can we manufacture renewables without fossil fuels?

In order to capture energy from renewable sources we need the right technology. But solar panels and wind turbines are very energy intensive to manufacture. Unfortunately the energy that is used to make renewable systems usually comes from fossil fuels. So can we produce enough renewable electric…

Read More | No comments

Why can I not get both RHI and FiTs?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 16 September 2016 at 5:05 pm

Why can I not get both RHI and FiTs?

Question: Our new custom built house will have a new air source heat pump & solar thermal. Assuming we use an accredited supplier etc we think we may be eligible for Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme payments for these. However according to the Ofgem Domestic RHI Reference document (page …

Read More | 2 comments

Heating in self-build and privately commissioned new homes is eligible for renewable heat incentive

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 15 September 2016 at 3:45 pm

Heating in self-build and privately commissioned new homes is eligible for renewable heat incentive

We all know that the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is designed to encourage the retrofit of renewable heat (RH) technologies into existing properties. However, there is a clever little exception which will help more RH technologies to be installed and it relates to new build. Generally new b…

Read More | No comments

There is magic to the fabric: going all out with insulation

Posted by NEF Gabby on 13 September 2016 at 9:55 am

There is magic to the fabric: going all out with insulation

As summer fades into the distant past we all know that the cold months of the year will soon be upon us, but turning up the heating isn’t the only action you can take to keep warm at home this winter. In a recent interview with SuperHome owner Ian Mawditt, he told us how he took a fabric-fi…

Read More | No comments

How can smart controls help you get more out of a SuperHome?

Posted by NEF Gabby on 9 September 2016 at 2:50 pm

How can smart controls help you get more out of a SuperHome?

As technology forms an increasingly central part of our lives, more of us are considering how we can use it to exercise more control of our homes. Chris and Lucy Ronketti are already ahead of the game, and thinking ‘smart controls’ in their SuperHome. Smart heating control Chri…

Read More | No comments

How creative can you get with rainwater harvesting?

Posted by Aderanti Kudehinbu on 7 September 2016 at 9:40 am

How creative can you get with rainwater harvesting?

Rainwater harvesting doesn’t have to start and end with installing a water butt at the end of a drainpipe so you can water your garden. We interviewed Adrian Pickering to find out more about the creative ways he is collecting and reusing rainwater in his home and how you can get started on …

Read More | 2 comments

Are solar tiles a worthwhile investment?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 6 September 2016 at 12:45 pm

Are solar tiles a worthwhile investment?

Roof mounted solar panels are an increasingly common site on buildings across the UK. Most of these systems are attached to the roof by means of a frame. However many people would prefer that solar panels were integrated seamlessly into their house’s design.  The solution is the roof i…

Read More | 2 comments

What works when planning a major refurbishment project?

Posted by Idalia Dawidowska on 30 August 2016 at 11:30 am

What works when planning a major refurbishment project?

My partner and I bought our three bed end of terrace Edwardian house in Chorlton cum Hardy, Manchester, in February 2014. The house had a reasonable Energy Performance rating of 58 (band C) but was in need of a major refurbishment. At this point we weren’t thinking much about energy efficie…

Read More | No comments

What can you do to make an old cold home a cosy home?

Posted by NEF Gordon on 24 August 2016 at 1:45 pm

What can you do to make an old cold home a cosy home?

AgeUK estimate every winter in England and Wales 25,000 older people living in poorly heated homes succumb to the cold. The onslaught of cold conditions can often take many by surprise and can leave us feeling poorly prepared and suffering as a result. Leicester homeowner, Zina Zelter, believes t…

Read More | 3 comments

Is boarding a loft with LoftZone the easier option?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 23 August 2016 at 9:45 am

Is boarding a loft with LoftZone the easier option?

Loft insulation is a vital component of any energy efficient house, but installing the recommended 270mm of loft insulation can cut into storage space. One way to get around this is to add extra joists, or to use a dedicated system like LoftZone, so you can board above the recommended depth of in…

Read More | 1 comment

10 tips for cooking with a solar cooker

Posted by Aderanti Kudehinbu on 22 August 2016 at 12:30 pm

10 tips for cooking with a solar cooker

If you are looking to make changes in order to live a more sustainable lifestyle, harnessing the power of the sun for cooking is a fun idea. Zoë Williams has experimented with a range of solar cookers and techniques. We approached her for some of her top tips. Solar cooking uses heat fro…

Read More | No comments

New solar PV accreditation scheme from BRE

Posted by Sandra Hayes on 18 August 2016 at 1:55 pm

New solar PV accreditation scheme from BRE

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) launched their new voluntary Solar PV Certification Scheme at their Solar Summit on the 19th July 2016. Although applicable to all solar projects, its target is solar rooftop installations over 50kW (approx. 350m2) which is above the threshold for install…

Read More | No comments

Will battery storage affect my feed-in tariff payments?

Posted by Sandra Hayes on 16 August 2016 at 3:45 pm

Will battery storage affect my feed-in tariff payments?

Q. Will battery storage affect my FiT payments? A. A recent question from a YouGen reader about the impact of battery storage on Feed-in Tariff (FiT) payments for solar PV got me thinking. My initial reaction was that FiT payments wouldn’t be affected by storage as FiT payments are made…

Read More | 7 comments

Changes on the way for Domestic Energy Assessments?

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 11 August 2016 at 2:05 pm

Changes on the way for Domestic Energy Assessments?

I am a co-director of the Green Deal Advisor Association (GDAA), originally established to explore opportunities for domestic energy assessors (DEAs) within the previous government’s Green Deal scheme. Recently, GDAA’s auditing work for Ofgem has confirmed something that we probably a…

Read More | No comments

Electric radiators: A good replacement for old storage heaters?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 10 August 2016 at 12:05 pm

Electric radiators: A good replacement for old storage heaters?

Storage heaters are becoming increasingly uncommon. The high price of electricity compared to gas means that electric heating is often considered to be a bad option. However modern electric radiators have a number of advantages over their predecessors. We talked to Ian McGregor of Electrorad to f…

Read More | 1 comment

Are tumble dryers energy guzzlers?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 8 August 2016 at 4:56 pm

Are tumble dryers energy guzzlers?

We all know that drying outside is the cheapest and most energy efficiency means of getting our clothes dry. Even if it's pretty cold outside you can still feel some benefit from this as the wind aids evaporation. Even in really cold weather I will put clothes outside for a while before bring…

Read More | 2 comments

Can rainwater be used directly for drinking?

Posted by Jason Ramsdale on 3 August 2016 at 9:01 am

Can rainwater be used directly for drinking?

Rainwater isn't as clean as you might think. As it falls it can pick up particulates, pollutants and even bacteria from the air. Not to mention that particulates from pollution are likely to settle on your roof and be picked up by rainwater as you collect it. However, the water collected…

Read More | No comments

Could home refurbishment be the key to a comfortable retirement?

Posted by Richard Vale on 29 July 2016 at 2:50 pm

Could home refurbishment be the key to a comfortable retirement?

As a generation of baby boomers look towards retirement, new thoughts and concerns begin to fill their minds. One consideration that should not be missed is the need to keep warm, healthy and comfortable at home. Keeping out the cold, or rather, keeping in the heat, has been at the forefront …

Read More | No comments

How long do solar PV panels last?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 26 July 2016 at 5:05 pm

How long do solar PV panels last?

It can take years for a solar photovoltaic (Solar PV) array to “pay back” its installation cost, so you want the panels to last as long as possible. So just how long do solar panels last? And how does their efficiency decrease across their lifetime? The aging of solar cells can be…

Read More | 2 comments

June 2016 the hottest on record - climate change calls for action

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 22 July 2016 at 2:08 pm

June 2016 the hottest on record - climate change calls for action

The Climate is changing and we need to do something about it. There have been horror stories all over the media this week about raising global temperatures, with records falling like dominos. January  2016 – hottest on record February  2016 – hottest on rec…

Read More | 1 comment

1 2 3 4 5 6 28 next »