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Canny & Cosy – Martin’s Guidance on how to heat your home efficiently.

If you are worried about rising fuel costs and conserving the environment, you need an efficient central heating system in your home. In any case, nowadays, if you are selling or renting your house, you are required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) showing how energy efficient your home is.00-00-0000

Here are my thoughts on how to heat your home efficiently.
Choose an energy efficient boiler – The most efficient are Condensing Boilers. Look out for the Energy Saving Trust Recommended label when you're choosing a new boiler. Boilers older than 20 years don’t’ work as well.
Turn your thermostat down - Even by just one degree Celsius – you’ll use less fuel and you could save up to 10% on your heating bills. Put on extra clothes if you feel chilly.

Get in control - with separate thermostats for heating and hot water and thermostats on the radiator valves themselves, so you can adjust them individually.

Use an electronic timer - to make sure the heating is only on when you need it.

Insulate your loft – You can do this yourself. Make sure your loft insulation is at least 270 mm thick.

Insulate your walls – These days cavity wall insulation is quick and easy to install. You can insulate solid walls too, but this is a bigger and more costly job to do.

Understand your system – if you are having a service or repair on your boiler or having a new one installed, ask the person doing the job to talk you through the controls. Using it properly could reduce costs.

Have your windows double glazed – this can reduce heat loss by 50%. If you can’t stretch to this, put draught proofing strips around them to stop cold air coming in and heat escaping.

Get a jacket – for your hot water tank which is at least 75mm thick. Lagging your pipes can also conserve energy.

Under foot – use under-floor insulation if you have a cellar or space underneath the floors.
Renewable Energy for your home
No longer just for sandal-wearing eco-warriors, renewable energy is a viable option for heating homes. Ways of heating and producing hot water using renewable energy are:
Solar Water Heating – Solar panels aren’t cheap but the financial case for having them makes more sense as fuel prices rise. They rely on sunlight rather than air temperature, so even on cold days, they’ll work. Costs for solar water heating panels for the average house are approx are £4,000 - £6,000 but you could get a government grant. Fuel bills could fall by 40%.
Ground Source Heat Pumps - These use pipes buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground to warm water for radiators or underfloor heating. It can also be used to pre-heat water before it goes into a conventional boiler. They can used throughout the year. 
Air and Water Source Heat pumps - These extract heat from air or water instead of the ground and can be fitted outside a house or in the roof space. Water source heat pumps can be used in homes near to rivers, streams and lakes. 
Biomass Boilers - Biomass boilers work like conventional boilers but use organic fuels from plants or commercial waste.
Switching to a renewable energy system in your home could mean you qualify for The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) - a Government initiative due to kick in for domestic households in summer 2013.  
SUB TOPIC #2 – Government Initiatives
The Warm Front Scheme is over
The Warm Front Scheme which offered grants to help pay for loft, cavity or hot water tank insulation or draft proofing came to an end on 19th January 2013. However, the ‘Energy Company Obligation’ came into force on 1st January 2013 alongside the new government ‘Green Deal’ which starts from 28th January 2013.
Energy Company Obligation
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is an initiative involving the big six energy suppliers and will offer support to the poorest and most vulnerable household and homes that are ‘hard to treat’ such as period properties. The ECO is made up of:
1. Affordable Warmth Obligation
Will provide heating and hot water saving measures, insulation, glazing and microgeneration technologies to low-income and vulnerable households. Its means tested and the eligibility criteria is quite complex so if you’re interested call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234.
2. Carbon Saving Obligation
Will provide funding to insulate solid-walled properties (internal and external wall insulation) and those with ‘hard-to-treat’ cavity walls.
This is not means-tested but can be used in conjunction with the Green Deal. The aim is to provide enough support to make these relatively expensive measures cost-effective.
3. Carbon Saving Communities Obligation
Will provide insulation and glazing measures to people living in the bottom 15% of the UK's most deprived areas. It is expected that this element of ECO will particularly benefit the social housing sector.

The Green Deal
The Green Deal  offers financial help to individuals and businesses wanting to make energy saving improvements to their homes or premises.  The type of improvements covered by the scheme are 
◦                insulation - eg loft or cavity wall insulation
◦                heating and hot water
◦                draught-proofing
◦                double glazing
◦                microgeneration (generating your own energy) eg solar panels 
You’d need to have the property assessed by an authorised ‘Green Deal Assessor’ (look out for the Green Deal Approved Quality Mark) and they will provide you with a report explaining what improvements can be made and give you an estimate of how much you could save on your energy bills. 
You can take the report to one or more Green Deal Providers who can arrange and fund the improvements. If you decide to take up a Green Deal offer you will then sign a Green Deal Plan, which is a contract between you and the Green Deal Provider.
You have to meet the cost of having the improvements made and will pay it back on an instalment plan through your electricity bill. Your electricity supplier will pass your payments on to your Green Deal Provider. The Golden Rule is that the expected savings on energy bills must exceed the costs of carrying out improvement work.
There is also a Green Deal Cashback incentive which will run for a limited time. Under this scheme householders can claim back up to 50% of the money they’ve spent on energy saving improvements under the Green Deal scheme up to £1000. It’s a first come, first serve deal. For more information go to https://gdcashback.decc.gov.uk

If you have a problem or confusion from the property world, Email your questions to askmartin@martinroberts.co.uk. Individual questions may not be answered personally, but could appear in this column
This article is written in good faith. Martin Roberts  cannot guarantee the accuracy of the content and cannot be held responsible for any losses (directly or indirectly) resulting from using the information given.

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