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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 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 …

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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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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…

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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…

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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 …

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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 …

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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…

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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 …

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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…

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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…

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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…

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