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How do I handle the ash from my biomass boiler?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 27 February 2017 at 2:05 pm

How do I handle the ash from my biomass boiler?

In this video SuperHomer Mark Brown reveals the suprisingly small amount of ash produced by his wood pellet boiler after burning through around  4.5 tonnes of wood pellets each year. Mark lives in a five bedroom house in South Buckinghamshire with wife Liya and their children. The house was …

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Why zone your heating?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 24 February 2017 at 10:40 am

Why zone your heating?

Central heating systems are great for keeping the house warm during the cold winter months. Even in the spring and summer they can frequently come in handy. But it does cost a lot of energy to heat your home. As much as 60% of domestic energy consumption is used for space heating [1]. So how can …

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How do I get the best burn from my wood burning stove?

Posted by Stewart Mcilroy on 21 February 2017 at 9:55 am

How do I get the best burn from my wood burning stove?

To get the best burn from you wood burning stove, it's vital to use your stove's secondary air supply correctly... You might be thinking that now you have got your wood burner installed, you can happily burn as much wood as you like safe in the knowledge that you have done your bit fo…

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What is the best way to insulate a loft conversion?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 20 February 2017 at 12:15 pm

What is the best way to insulate a loft conversion?

A loft conversion can be a great way to increase your family’s living space without moving house. However, not all lofts are viable. You’ll need at least 2 metres clear head height and enough floor space to make a useable room. During a loft conversion you will need to add intern…

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What made new LEDs so much better?

Posted by Arthur Smith on 17 February 2017 at 12:05 pm

What made new LEDs so much better?

LED lighting has really come on over the last 5 years and deserves a 10/10 for improvement. So, what exactly what changed? Developments in light-emitting diode (LED) lighting technology have been spectacular over the last five years. The efficiency of LEDs has dramatically improved, the pric…

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Free electric vehicle smart chargers offered as part of regional trial

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 16 February 2017 at 12:31 pm

Free electric vehicle smart chargers offered as part of regional trial

Have you just jumped on the electric vehicle bandwagon? Are you not quite there yet, but interested to get involved? Perhaps you have an electric hybrid vehicle and would like a smart charger at home. A new project is recruiting owners of a range of makes and models of electric vehicles (EVs)…

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Buying your own woodland - what is involved?

Posted by Stewart Mcilroy on 9 February 2017 at 11:30 am

Buying your own woodland - what is involved?

A year ago, my good wife and I summoned up the courage, and finance, to purchase our own woodland - five acres (just over two hectares) of beech woods in the Chilterns. It’s classified as PAWS (Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site) because it’s been continuously wooded since 1650 (know…

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SWITCH your energy supplier if you do not like it!

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 7 February 2017 at 11:50 am

SWITCH your energy supplier if you do not like it!

I could have written a blog here where I spent the majority of my time damning the big six energy suppliers and their price increases, but that wouldn’t be news to you. Some of the major suppliers are sneaking out little increases (EDF), others (npower) are going a bit further. The rise ann…

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Solar PV made my electricity meter run backwards

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 3 February 2017 at 1:50 pm

Solar PV made my electricity meter run backwards

They found me, I don’t know how, but they found me.  Yes, I know, it’s a quote from Back to the Future and of course I do know how they found me. My energy supplier finally worked out that my meter was running backwards because I have a PV system.  I had a 3.01kWp sy…

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Can I service my biomass boiler myself?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 31 January 2017 at 11:10 am

Can I service my biomass boiler myself?

Biomass boilers that burn wood logs, chips or pellets require more attention than gas or oil boilers as build-ups of ash and clinker can stop the boiler working efficiently. Some of these tasks you will need to do yourself, such as regular cleaning and checking. As with servicing your car, be…

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Pay-as-you-save home refurb set for relaunch after sale of Green Deal loan book?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 26 January 2017 at 1:21 pm

Pay-as-you-save home refurb set for relaunch after sale of Green Deal loan book?

I can’t remember how many blogs have a written on Green Deal, but I know it’s an awful lot.  I was heavily involved with it in the early days, working with big organisations who intended to become Green Deal Providers, working with DECC (now BEIS) to help them to analyse how all …

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Will tomorrow's solar panels generate electricity from rain?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 24 January 2017 at 10:15 am

Will tomorrow's solar panels generate electricity from rain?

There are potential sources of energy all around us. Any natural system contains energy and in theory we can tap into that energy to generate electricity or work. Something that we don’t currently harness is rain. Unfortunately rainfall doesn’t generate a sufficient volume of water to…

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How will data collected from smart meters help us?

Posted by Jason Ramsdale on 20 January 2017 at 11:50 am

How will data collected from smart meters help us?

The smart grid revolution is coming, whether you like it or not. With smart meters due in every home by 2020 some of us may be wondering why all this data needed, who will benefit and what risks come with it? We've tried to answer some of these kinds of questions in this blog. What is in …

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Can I install a wood burning stove or biomass boiler if I live in a Smoke Control Area?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 18 January 2017 at 10:30 am

Can I install a wood burning stove or biomass boiler if I live in a Smoke Control Area?

The answer is yes, but only an approved model. This is because many areas of the country have air quality problems which affect human health and, although pollutant emissions from biomass boilers are lower than from coal, if you live in a smoke control area there are restrictions on the type of b…

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As halogen bulbs are phased out will LEDs steal the limelight?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 16 January 2017 at 11:30 am

As halogen bulbs are phased out will LEDs steal the limelight?

As of 1 September 2016 directional halogen bulbs (GU10 spotlights) are being phased out across Europe. Other types of halogens are due to disappear from September 2018. However, many consumers are unaware of the ban and are unsure about LED alternatives. Recent research1 by an online LED ligh…

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Does my biomass boiler have to comply with Building Regulations?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 13 January 2017 at 3:30 pm

Does my biomass boiler have to comply with Building Regulations?

The answer is Yes. Building Regulations apply if you change buildings in certain ways, including installing a biomass boiler. The regulations cover a range of issues, including safety, fire protection, and energy efficiency. How do I get Building Regulations’ approval for my biomass boi…

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A fridge in reverse: the air source heat pump

Posted by Anna Carlini on 11 January 2017 at 12:10 pm

A fridge in reverse: the air source heat pump

What is an air source heat pump? Air source heat pumps allow us to generate hot water or warm air, by making the most of the free heat in the air outside our house. But how exactly do they work? This informative video produced by YouGen member, Nu-Heat, explains the process the air source hea…

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What does embodied energy mean?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 9 January 2017 at 1:30 pm

What does embodied energy mean?

We often worry about how much energy it takes to use an appliance or gadget. We can save a considerable amount of energy by being careful how we use our devices, but domestic energy use is just one part of a much larger problem. What about the energy it takes to make that gadget in the first plac…

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Does filling your fridge make it more efficient?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 6 January 2017 at 5:10 pm

Does filling your fridge make it more efficient?

It has been suggested that a full fridge is more energy efficient than an empty one. Many advice sites actually recommend filling up the excess space in your fridge with bottles of water in order to make it run more efficiently. Unfortunately this is a myth. Let’s examine why this is, and w…

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Workouts to watts: does all the energy we produce in exercise have to go to waste?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 5 January 2017 at 1:05 pm

Workouts to watts: does all the energy we produce in exercise have to go to waste?

It’s 2017 and for many of us the number one New Year’s resolution is to get fit or at least burn off the Christmas excesses. But should all that energy we produce in exercise go to waste? As new gym memberships peak in January YouGen is taking a timely look at the potential for gyms t…

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Hygge, happiness and the real wood fire experience

Posted by Stewart Mcilroy on 4 January 2017 at 12:05 pm

Hygge, happiness and the real wood fire experience

Hygge (pronounced hooga) as you may know is the Danish word for a certain sort of happiness. This is not the happiness from buying new stuff (if, in fact, that actually makes you happy) or the happiness from winning at sport, but a type of contentment happiness where one has a warm glow and is at…

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Do I need planning permission to install a biomass boiler?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 29 December 2016 at 12:05 pm

Do I need planning permission to install a biomass boiler?

In a few cases you will need planning permission to install a biomass boiler. Biomass heating systems do not generally require planning permission as they are deemed ‘permitted developments’, but in some cases the visual impact of the flue or alterations to the building may …

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Changes to Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs from Spring 2017

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 20 December 2016 at 11:20 am

Changes to Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs from Spring 2017

On 14 December the government (BEIS) published its response to the March 2016 consultation on reform of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This includes changes to the tariffs and conditions of the domestic and non-domestic RHI schemes. These will apply, according to the response, from spring 20…

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House inside a greenhouse adds solar gain in winter

Posted by Alex Barrett on 19 December 2016 at 11:15 am

House inside a greenhouse adds solar gain in winter

Many of us use greenhouses to keep our plants warm through the winter. It turns out we could use the same technology to keep warm ourselves. Marie Granmar and Charles Sacilotto live near Stockholm in Sweden. They have built a massive greenhouse that entirely surrounds their home. This keeps the h…

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Domestic biomass RHI tariff to rise by 53% on 1 Apr 2017

Posted by Gordon Glass on 16 December 2016 at 9:30 am

Domestic biomass RHI tariff to rise by 53% on 1 Apr 2017

The domestic biomass RHI tariff will rise to 6.44p/kWh from 1 Apr 2017 – a 53% increase from the tariff of 4.21p/kWh already set for the period Jan-Mar 2017! We expect the new tariff to be available for applications made from 1 April to support the installation of biomass pellet boilers and…

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Changes to Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs from 1 January 2017

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 14 December 2016 at 10:30 am

Changes to Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs from 1 January 2017

On 30 November the government (BEIS) announced reductions to the Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs for certain new domestic and non-domestic installations with applications approved on or after 1 January 2017. The percentage reductions in domestic and non-domestic RHI tariffs are as follows: …

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Should I get my chimney swept before using my wood burner?

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

Should I get my chimney swept before using my wood burner?

Is your chimney clean enough for Santa to avoid getting stuck this year? Nobody wants smoke coming back down into the room, so getting the chimney and flue swept to free them of obstructions is a must if you want a safer, more efficient burn this winter. Whatever fuel you are using, people of…

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Could transparent wood soon bring more light into our homes?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 9 December 2016 at 3:15 pm

Could transparent wood soon bring more light into our homes?

Transparent wood could soon provide a new building material which will allow us to brighten up our homes by making wooden parts of the structure translucent. It could have applications for building design and as a transparent coating for solar cells. Wood remains one of the most commonly used…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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 his 1980s 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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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. Mark's boiler is substantially larger than the usual gas boiler and is installed in the garage. Some boiler models do not take…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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 …

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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…

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