heat pump in snow

 

Energy confidence

In December 2022 I was contacted by a household in Coventry who had a heat pump installed in 2010, but it wasn’t performing as well as expected.  The house had a number of insulation measures fitted so they were a bit puzzled as to why it was struggling to heat the home.

I was out of action for a short while in December 2022 as a lorry had ran into us on the motorway (the lorry driver has since admitted responsibility), fortunately our injuries were minor. 

So it was February 2023 before I was able to go see them in Coventry.

By doing a whole-house survey with thermal imaging I was able to advise them that:

  • There were a number of issues with the design of the heat pump, mainly around hot water flow rates and temperatures
  • Some of their insulation and glazing was not performing as expected
  • Their radiators were not ideal for a low temperature heat pump
  • Their heating controls were not as good as the kind of intelligent systems that have emerged in the last decade.  

I was able to recommend a number of low and medium cost measures that could be taken, short of replacing the heat pump.  

They thought about it over the summer and then decided to replace the heat pump, which was coming up to 13 years old, and also because they were thinking of selling the house.

They got a desktop quote from a heat pump installer that had been recommended to them.  They came back to me and we agreed an additional fee for me to do some hand-holding.  

I looked at the desktop quote and was able to advise the householders on:

  • The suitability of the recommended replacement heat pump
  • The heat loss calculation that the installer had carried out
  • The proposal that the installer had made regarding new radiators, heating controls
  • My view on whether the proposed installer had the necessary skills that were needed.

I told the householders that I was happy for them to proceed with getting a full site survey and quote from the installer, and what questions to ask the installer.

I will update this blog when I have heard back from the householders.  Watch this space!

Sadly this is not the only occasion where I have been asked to help a household with an under-performing heat pump.  The good news is that if you get it right then a heat pump is a game-changer for thermal comfort, running costs and greenhouse gas emissions.  Heat pumps do work in the UK climate if you get the design parameters right.

Below you can see videos of two of my clients who are over the moon with their new heat pumps.

First of all, Ben;

Next up, Maggie and Dave (turn your sound up as the sound quality isn’t brilliant, or watch on YouTube and turn the subtitles on).

 

This week has seen good news that the grant available to homeowners and private landlords for replacing a gas boiler with a heat pump has risen to £7,500. 

If you are a householder, landlord or business thinking about major energy saving measures such as a heat pump, insulation, or solar, then please check out my energy saving advice packages.  I’m completely impartial and not tied to any installer or manufacturer.

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charity energy grants

Energy confidence

 

Third Sector magazine has announced that £31 million in dormant assets will be released to charities to fund energy saving measures.

If you are a charity, I can help you decide where to start with making best use of this funding.

I give honest, practical, jargon-free advice to:

  • Charities
  • Social Enterprises
  • Cooperatives

In all building types including:

  • Offices
  • Theatres
  • Libraries
  • Swimming baths
  • Leisure Centres
  • Co-working spaces
  • Educational establishments
  • Churches, mosques, synagogues, mandirs, gurdwaras, Quaker meetings

and many more.

My recent clients include:

  • Jericho Foundation
  • Moseley Community Development Trust
  • Rep Theatre
  • Moseley Road Baths
  • Plus dozens of places of worship.

I can give you energy and environmental advice across all aspects of your operations including:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Renewable energy including solar, heat pumps
  • Water saving
  • Your “scope 3” emissions such as procurement, transport, waste
  • Monitoring your progress so you can prove your impact.

 

Working with me will give you:

  • Clarity on where to begin
  • Confidence that you are taking the right actions for your building
  • Cost-effective use of your money and resources
  • Carbon savings by implementing the right measures and monitoring their effectiveness.

 

Contact me now to discuss how I can help you show your community, your funders and donors that you are ethical and sustainable.

 

 

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https://www.thirdsector.co.uk/charities-31m-release-dormant-assets/finance/article/1815422 

thermal image of heat loss from a church

 

Energy confidence

 

Many places of worship are difficult and expensive to keep warm, especially if they are used only intermittently.  Plus heating the worship space is often the biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions from a church, mosque, mandir, synagogue or gurdwara.

Often I give advice to places of worship who have old heating systems that are based on wet radiators; they are suitable for a home but not for a place of worship with high ceilings, because they don’t get heat where it’s needed.  So the congregation complain of being cold during the winter.  

Sometimes it’s best to consider whether the congregation can move to another space that is easier to heat.  But this isn’t always possible or desirable.

One solution is to heat the person as well as the space.

Some efficient ways of heating the person are:

  • Under-pew heating – this is like a low-temperature electric blanket that goes under fixed pews, and heats the person from below
  • Rechargeable chair cushion heaters, that heat the person where there are individual chairs instead of fixed pews (if you have access to solar panels – either onsite, or offsite, or a solar charger, then you can potentially use solar energy to charge the heaters, as cushion heaters are low-temperature and don’t need much power).  
  • Infra-red heaters.

You should continue to heat the space as well as the person.  If you heat the person, then you need less heat for the space.  If you eliminate space heating altogether, then this can lead to problems with condensation and damp, and cause damage to the building fabric.  It can also cause circulation problems in a wet central heating system if you have short bursts of on/off.

The first video below is a case study from a church that uses rechargeable heaters.

 

 

The second video below is a case study from a church that uses under-pew heating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you need impartial expert energy saving advice for your place of worship, business or home, please contact me.

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Maggie and Dave are hosting our next Birmingham Green Doors event on 4 March 2023.

 

 

 

I have been there before to give them energy advice, but tonight was the first time I have been back since their green home makeover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many features and benefits I could list but what struck me most was that it was evenly and consistently warm and comfortable throughout.

 

There are lots of measurements, thermal images, spreadsheets that could prove the carbon impact of what they’ve done. But you need to feel the comfort with your own five senses. This is an early 20th Century Edwardian terrace. They are notoriously leaky and draughty. If you move from one room to another you notice the difference. But not in Maggie and Dave’s house. On a cold January evening, the whole house is warm as toast.

At Maggie and Dave’s open house event on 4 March you will learn about:

  • How wall insulation has not only reduced heat loss, but improved airtightness, whose role in making a house warm or cold is often overlooked
  • The heat pump installer has done their job properly – they have designed flow rates, flow temperatures, and radiator sizing to ensure a steady background heat; with heating controls that are easy to use
  • How they have dealt with heat loss from the extremities of the house, such as the bay window
  • For those who like figures, you will be able to learn how much energy and carbon has been saved
  • Why you need to add ventilation when insulating a home – and how to do it
  • How Maggie and Dave chose and supervised the right contractors for the job

 

Who should attend?
  • People who are interested in making their home more energy efficient
  • Professionals working in housing and energy who are interested in warm, green homes
  • Community workers who want to help residents save energy
  • Students, teachers and academics interested in decarbonisation.

 

BOOK NOW!  Three time slots available.  Near Erdington train station, bus routes.

 

On Air

 

Unity FM radio were kind enough to invite me on to their Connecting Communities broadcast with Mehmooda Qureshi and Dr Peter Rooke.

This broadcast will be of interest to people who are looking for expert help with energy saving in their home or business, for two reasons:

  1. In this broadcast, I talk about how I go about an energy saving plan for a building – in this case it was a faith building, but I have a similarly strategic approach to any home, business, or community building
  2. A recent client of mine, Hitesh Kukadia, the President of Shree Ram Mandir, is also on the broadcast, in which he talks about his experience of working with me.

Please click on the widget below to listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(In case you’re interested, the title of this blog is a tribute to The Selecter, who were part of the soundtrack to my youth)

 

Heat pumps - FAQs

 

Are you thinking about using a heat pump to heat your home or business?

My Pay-As-You-Feel e-book will help to answer the most frequent questions that I get asked:

  • Is it true that heat pumps use less energy than a gas or oil boiler?
  • Do I need to upgrade my electricity supply?
  • Do I need to upgrade my insulation?
  • Are heat pumps noisy?
  • How long does it take a heat pump to warm up?
  • Should a heat pump be run at a low temperature?
  • Do I need secondary heating?
  • Do I need underfloor heating, or larger radiators?
  • What is the carbon footprint of a heat pump?
  • What is the life expectancy of a heat pump?
  • Can a heat pump provide enough hot water for a bath?
  • Should I have solar electricity or solar thermal with a heat pump?
  • Should I install a heat pump now, or wait?
  • What are the lifetime running costs of a heat pump?
  • What should I look for in a heat pump installer?
  • Will a heat pump work with micro-bore pipes?
  • Should I have a ground source heat pump?
  • How heat pumps work

 

Once your order has been completed you will be taken to a download page, where you will be able to download the ebook.

 

Download now

 

Now available on Kindle!  Click here to download.

I am not a fan of Amazon, as I consider their business practices to be harmful to the environment.  However I want as many people as possible to have access to impartial energy saving advice, therefore I have decided to publish the book on Amazon.  For every £1 that Amazon take in fees, I will invest £1 in cooperatively-owned renewable energy generation.

If you have already received an energy advice package from me, and you have decided you do want a heat pump, then click here to find out how I can help you understand how it will be designed to heat your home or business comfortably, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

cottage

 

The Green Homes Grant (Local Area Delivery Scheme) – also known as LADS – is here.  It provides grant funding for some measures, but how much you get and what for, varies from one local authority to another. In some local authorities it is means tested, in others it isn’t.  Also because of supply chain issues, in some areas it is behind schedule.  If you have energy saving measures through this scheme, then the scheme manager chooses the installer for you.  Unlike the previous Green Homes Grant scheme, it is operated by the local authority and the charity Act On Energy, which I think is a good move.

Act On Energy are managing the customer journey in most of the West Midlands, and you can see what is on offer in each local authority on their website – https://actonenergy.org.uk/local-authority-delivery-scheme-lads/

If you’re not in the West Midlands, then Google “Local authority delivery scheme [your local authority name]

As part of the quality assurance scheme that includes LADS, you should receive independent advice from a Retrofit Coordinator, free of charge, if you qualify for LADS.  Which means you don’t have to pay me for advice!  If however, you would still like to pay me for independent and impartial advice on saving energy in your home –  or even your business –  then I would be happy to help.  I help you to understand where to start, and how to plan for making your home or business environmentally friendly in the short, medium and long term.  

 

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Energy confidence

 

washing machine

Are you looking for a kitchen appliance?  My post-Brexit advice is now to compare the amount of kiloWatt hours (kWh) of electricity the appliance is predicted to use in a year.  Not the energy rating (A-G), as you might have done previously.

Why is this?

It’s to do with Brexit and the UK’s antiquated electricity distribution system.

The electricity that comes into your house is 240 volts.  But none of the appliances in a modern house need 240 volts.  They typically run at 220 volts.

So that is quite a bit of electricity going to waste.

Since we left the European Union, that waste is now reflected on the energy label of appliances.  So something that used to be A-rated, might now only be E-rated, as I found recently when shopping for a new washing machine.  

So it’s best to compare appliances by predicted kWh use in an average year.  So fridge-freezer A might use 60 kWh, whereas fridge-freezer B might use 70 kWh.  You can compare water use on washing machines and dishwashers too.

If you’re a householder then there’s not much you can do about the fact that your electricity supply is 240 volts.  But there are still a myriad of ways you can save energy in the home.

Whereas if you’re a business, it might be worthwhile fitting a voltage optimiser.  This is a transformer that reduces the voltage from 240 volts to 220.

If you’re a householder, business or public body than needs advice on reducing your greenhouse gas emissions, then check out my expert advice packages.

Energy confidence

 

The Fab 55
 
 
Saving the planet with The Fab 55

Does your home or small business have a combination boiler?  With no hot water cylinder? You could save energy, money and greenhouse gas emissions by turning the boiler temperature to your radiators down to 55 degrees or below.  

If you have a boiler with a hot water cylinder or heat store?  You could still save – but it’s slightly more complicated with this type of boiler.  So read on …

Making better use of existing heating controls is one thing almost every home or business can do to reduce their Greenhouse Gas emissions NOW … and it’s free.

The government has recently announced that on all new heating systems, the maximum boiler temperature should be set to 55 degrees.  This is long overdue.  But you don’t have to wait until you have a new heating system.  You can be part of The Fab 55 right now.

The Fab 55

If your boiler has been installed in the last 15 years, it is almost certainly a condensing boiler, whether it’s mains gas, heating oil, or LPG.  It is designed to run at lower temperatures than older gas boilers.  In fact it MUST be run at 55 degrees or lower in order to operate in condensing mode.  If you run it at too high a temperature, then the water going back to the boiler from your radiators or under-floor heating will be too hot, and this excess heat will escape through the flue.  This is not how condensing boilers were designed to work.  Condensing boilers have a second heat exchanger, which is what makes them potentially more efficient than older boilers.  But if the boiler temperature to the radiators is too high, then the boiler will run in non-condensing mode, wasting energy, money and greenhouse gases.  Unfortunately I often see clients, both householders and businesses, where the boiler temperature to the radiators has been set to 60 or even 70 degrees.  

Will it be cold if I turn the boiler temperature down?

You can get the same amount of heat to keep your home or business warm by running the heating for longer.  A steady background heat during the heating season is more efficient than short bursts of on/off using the timer.  You should also regularly monitor your room thermostats.  You should not treat the thermostatic radiator valves like a motorbike throttle – it’s not good to turn them up and down too frequently.  It’s best not to let temperatures fall below 16 degrees in a home at night, because that can be dangerous for people with cold related medical conditions.  

If you have a combination boiler, you can experiment with turning your boiler temperature to the radiators to below 55 degrees – to 45 degrees.  Do it in stages, not all at once.  

How do I know if I have a combination boiler?

These are the signs:

  • A combination boiler doesn’t have a hot water cylinder or heat store
  • Google the manual for your boiler make and model – it will tell you if it’s a combination boiler.

If your boiler does have a hot water cylinder or heat store, then it’s not a combination boiler.  See below.

How do I know if I have a condensing boiler?
insulated condensate pipe
Insulated condensate pipe

All boilers can be condensing boilers.  This includes combination boilers, and boilers with a hot water cylinder/heat store. 

  • A condensing boiler will have a condensate pipe (see photo) that evacuates condensed flue gases down your drain.  This will usually be an insulated diagonal pipe outside.  If your washing machine is below your boiler then the installer might have done a very clever thing where the condensed flue gases run out of your washing machine outlet pipe, so there won’t be an additional condensing pipe outside your home.
  • Google the manual for your boiler make and model – it will tell you if it’s a condensing boiler.
If you don’t have a combination boiler …

Then you can still have the boiler temperature for the radiators at 55 degrees or lower, but it’s too complicated to explain in a blog as it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.  Google the manual for your boiler make and model.

If you have a hot water cylinder or heat store, then you must ensure that the stored hot water is not at risk of legionella bacteria.  Normally this means making sure the temperature is raised to 60 degrees periodically to kill off the bacteria.  Do not take risks with a hot water cylinder temperature – consult the boiler manual.

If your home is heated by a different type of heating system, e,g, electric radiators or storage heaters, then the same principle applies, that a steady background heat is preferable, although this might be harder to achieve with storage heaters.

Getting your building “heat pump ready”

If you are considering having a heat pump, then it is essential that you run the heat pump at lower temperatures of 55 degrees or lower.  Practising running your existing boiler at lower temperatures is one of the most important thing you can do to make your home or business heat pump ready.

Let’s make you energy confident

If you sign up to one of my energy advice packages, I will help you get energy confident so you know you are doing the right things to reduce the environmental impact of your home, business or non-profit.  

 

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About me

Grinning at Moor Street Station

 

I am the West Midlands’ leading expert in:

  • energy saving
  • renewable energy
  • procurement of energy saving products
  • water saving.

My customers include householders, landlords, public bodies, small businesses, charities and coops.

I am independent and impartial.

Phil Beardmore, FRSA AIEMA.

CONTACT ME NOW

TESTIMONIALS

Nathalie Rush

Nathalie Rush

Phil is truly an expert in his field. I can understand why most people around the West Midlands choose to go to Phil for energy-saving consultancy. Phil has a thorough understanding of energy conservation and sustainable living. Would highly recommend.  Nathalie Rush, MD, Six Star Insulation.

Claire Spencer

Claire Spencer

His knowledge of community-led sustainability is second to none, and his perspective on local and national issues is invaluable to us. He adds value, and is everything a good consultant should be, and I would recommend him to anyone in our field  Claire Spencer, Sustainable Moseley.

Rosemary Coyne

Rosemary Coyne

It has been hugely inspiring to work with Phil.  While others talk, Phil gets on and does it.  Rosemary Coyne, Coordinator, Sustainable Housing Action Partnership

Ray Walker

Ray Walker

In working with Phil I have been impressed by his level of knowledge and enthusiasm. He has a vast array of contacts and has brought us into contact with other stakeholder in the energy business that would have been much more difficult to achieve without him. I am also struck by his commitment to supporting communities and the most vulnerable client groups.

Ray Walker, Disability Resource Centre

Karen McCarthy

Cllr Karen McCarthy

 

 

 

Phil Beardmore has a long association with Localise West Midlands and is a valued associate on environmental, housing and fuel poverty projects. 

He works with us both as an individual practitioner and leading multi-disciplinary teams on larger projects, delivering high quality results on time and on budget.

 Cllr Karen McCarthy, Localise West Midlands

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AECB

Membership of the AECB – Association of Environmentally Conscious Buildings – enables me to keep my skills up to date

making birmingham green

I won a Making Birmingham Greener Award for Outstanding Personal Achievement.

green leader

I was nominated twice by my peers as one of the top Green Leaders in the West Midlands

 

 

working in bar

 

 

If your business rents an office or shop premises from a landlord, then don’t worry, there are still many things you can do to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.

And most importantly, however much or little you are able to do, you must tell your customers what you are doing.  People like to buy from businesses that are ethical and sustainable.  

Here are my top tips for improving the environmental performance of your business if you rent:

  • Turn off lights, computers and other machines when not in use.  Put up stickers, particularly in parts of the building that are intermittently used – e.g. kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Make sure doors and windows are closed in cold weather.  The Close the Door campaign shows how you can do this without losing trade.
  • Can you reduce the number of journeys made by car or van?  Where journeys are unavoidable, are your staff aware of eco-driving techniques?  Has home working and remote working had a positive or negative impact on your environmental performance?
  • How local is your supply chain?  Can you buy local?
  • If there are heating and air conditioning controls that you have access to, have you reviewed how you use them?  Better control of heating and air conditioning is one of the most effective ways to reduce your energy consumption.
  • Are there any empty fridges or freezers?  Are they turned off?  Where there are fridges that have stuff in them, are they kept full and frost-free?
  • Devise a simple monitoring strategy to show how you are getting on.  Take photos.  Tell your customers via your website, social media, in your window.  They will feel good about buying from you if they know you are an environmentally business.

Can you think of any others?  My workbook (pay as you feel) will help.

If you need expert help with taking environmental action then check out my energy advice packages for small businesses.  Tell me what makes your business great and we’ll make it greener and more profitable.  #EnergyConfident

 

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Energy confidence