fuel bill concern

Energy confidence

Are you a landlord who is looking to help their tenants to keep their fuel bills affordable?  Are you concerned that rising fuel costs will make it more difficult for your tenants to afford their rent?   Do you want to avoid the expense of having to deal with condensation related damp?  Read my top tips for rented properties.

 

  •  Boiler temperature.  If your tenant has a combination boiler then the radiator temperature on the boiler should be set no higher than 55 degrees.  Click here to find out why.  
  • Storage heater controls.  In homes with night storage heaters, it’s important to make sure that the controls are set to charge during the night and discharge during the day.  The video at the bottom of this page shows how to set the controls on a night storage heater.
  • Insulating the home is the most effective way to help your tenants keep their homes warm affordably.  In most homes, the greatest heat loss is through the walls, followed by the roof and the floor.  Properly designed insulation, with adequate ventilation, reduces the risk of condensation.
  • LED lighting is a very cost-effective way of keeping running costs down.  Don’t forget fixed lighting in kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, stairs, corridors and external lighting.
  • Tariff and payment method.  Tenants often move into a home with no idea of whether they are on the best tariff or payment method.  Especially younger tenants who have no experience of running a household.  Encourage them to ask the energy supplier if they are on the best possible tariff.  If they are able to pay by direct debit then this is always a cheaper payment method than pay-as-you-go.  Modern smart meters can be easily switched from prepayment to credit mode and back again.  Homes with storage heaters should be on Economy 7 tariffs.  Homes without storage heaters should never be on an Economy 7 tariff.
  • Get impartial advice on how to improve the energy efficiency of your homes.  I have a range of home energy advice packages.  If you have more than one home then please contact me for a bespoke quote.  

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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)

 

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

 

Hadrian's wall

 

I used to wonder what the Romans ever did for us when they ruled Britain.  Was it introducing the fig tree to Britain, at Reculver in Kent?  Was it Latin place names?  Or the first ever recorded Black residents of Britain, ushering in our fabulous multi-cultural society?

Then in 2018 along with my fiancee Claire, I fulfilled a long-standing ambition to visit Hadrian’s wall and I realised the answer … the Romans gave us under-floor heating.

Like many Roman buildings in Britain, here at Housesteads Roman Fort, you can see that they went as far as building a suspended floor so they could have under-floor heating.  So they knew a thing or two about building physics, even if they hadn’t invented insulation yet.  They may even have copied under-floor heating from Egypt or Mesopotamia. 

under-floor heating
Warm as toast, even if you’re wearing a toga

Have you ever been in a building where your head feels warm but your feet feel cold?  A house, or an office, or maybe a place of worship?

This is because most of our buildings have been designed for engineering convenience, and not for the comfort of the occupants, or the environmental impact of energy and water use in the building.  

Not every building is suitable for under-floor heating.  It is not always practical to completely re-engineer an existing building like an Edwardian house or a 1960s office block or a former pub converted to a mosque.  But we can, and should, break with the bad habits of the past that have made our homes and workplaces energy inefficient.  

That’s what I do when I visit your home or business.  At the moment it’s full of problems.  Missing insulation.  Fossil fuel heating systems.  I help you to find solutions to all these problems.  A whole-building approach, that doesn’t start with a fixation on a particular technology, whether it’s under-floor heating, solar energy, or heat pumps; but which helps you understand where to begin and what you might do in the future.  

 

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Energy confidence

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

learn more

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

 

 

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 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 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 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 adjust your room thermostats and thermostatic radiator valves.  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 below 55 degrees – to 45 degrees.  Do it in stages, not all at once.  

You can also easily adjust the hot water temperature on a combination boiler.  You don’t need the hot water to be 60 degrees for washing hands, washing dishes or showers.  You can turn it down to 45 or whatever you find comfortable.  That way you aren’t wasting energy by heating water to 60 degrees and then diluting it with cold water.

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.

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.  

 

learn more

 

 

 

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

learn more

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

 

 

house losing heat

 

One of the weaknesses of the government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy is that the grants available for heat pumps are most likely to be taken up by better-off households, and that fuel poor households are at risk of missing out.  Suddenly, fuel poverty is in the news, and the internet is full of self-proclaimed experts who claim that heat pumps are no good for the fuel poor.

Let us never forget that our reliance on gas for heating homes is one of the main reasons why fuel poverty is on the increase.  Even the most efficient gas boilers are only 95% efficient, whereas heat pumps are at least 300% efficient.  Gas boilers are frequently over-sized, and incorrectly designed to run at high temperatures, which means they operate at much less than 95% efficiency.  Gas is part of the problem.

Fuel poverty is a complex social issue.  It is caused by poor efficiency of buildings and appliances; lack of understanding of how to use appliances efficiently; low income; all compounded by the fact that the fuel poor are most likely to be on the worst tariffs and use the worst payment methods.   People with cold and damp related medical conditions are at greater risk of fuel poverty.

There is no magic bullet to solve fuel poverty.

Effective fuel poverty interventions include some or all of the following:

  • Improving the thermal efficiency of a home;
  • More efficient heating appliances;
  • Income maximisation;
  • Supporting fuel poor households to find the cheapest payment methods and tariffs, which is difficult in a time of price volatility.

Successive governments have failed to implement strategies that achieve a holistic approach to solving fuel poverty.  Heat pumps are right for some homes and not right for others.  What fuel poor households need is a whole-house plan to make their homes more efficient, starting with improving the building fabric.  

Proper design is key to the successful installation of a heat pump in any home.  The UK is short on heating engineers who understand how to design and install heat pumps.  This needs to be addressed urgently.

Read a report I wrote about a project in Birmingham to help vulnerable fuel poor households.

Here is a video of the successful use of heat pumps to help fuel poor households.

Featured image by Amy Purdie for Saltley Community Association.

 

 

 

working in bar

The Heat and Buildings Strategy is a plan from the government to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced by heating buildings.  It has strengths, but also limitations.  

There is financial support in the Strategy for homeowners, landlords and the public sector to decarbonise homes and public buildings.  Heat pump grants for householders are likely to be predominantly taken up by more affluent households with higher carbon footprints.

There is no financial support for small businesses in the Heat and Buildings Strategy.  All is not lost, however, because there are many things that your small business can do to save the earth, without costing the earth. 

Here are my top tips for what you can do now:

  • Review the way you use your heating controls.  In every single building that I have ever helped, I have advised on better use of existing heating controls.  More strategic use of existing heating controls needs no capital investment.  Upgrading to smart heating controls is a cost-effective way of saving carbon.
  • Switch to LED lighting throughout the business and don’t forget lighting controls – for example, passive infra-red controls in areas of intermittent occupancy such as bathrooms and corridors.
  • Consider the impact of home working and flexible working on your business.  Just because there are fewer people in your building, it doesn’t always follow that your building is using less energy.  Now is a good time to undertake an energy audit. 
  • Improve the airtightness of your building.  Look for gaps where the floors meet the walls and where the roof meets the walls.  They can be sealed quite cheaply and will effectively stop heat escaping from your building.  This is particularly useful in older buildings where it is difficult and expensive to insulate the walls and floors.  But if you can insulate, then walls, roofs, floors, and window reveals.  Thermal imaging is great for identifying priority areas.
  • Move desks and equipment to make use of natural light.
  • Use laptops instead of desktops as they use less energy.

 

Tell me what makes your business great, and we will work together to make it greener and more profitable.

If you’re a business that needs expert help with energy saving then please check out my energy advice packages.

If you’re a homeowner please click here.  I specialise in advising homeowners on whether a heat pump is suitable for their home. 

If you’re a charity, public sector body or housing provider please click here.

Consumers want to buy off businesses that are ethical and sustainable.  Now is the time to act on the climate emergency.

 

 

 

 

COP26 is approaching and many you’re probably thinking about the environmental performance of your business.

But what environmental goals and targets should you set?  Zero carbon? Net zero? What do these phrases mean for your small business anyway?

If you are responsible for improving the environmental performance of your business, then you are an environmental leader.  

With time running out to limit the devastating effects of climate change, every business leader needs to be an environmental leader too.

I specialise in coaching environmental leaders like you to set environmental goals that are realistic and achievable for your business, whatever its scale or scope.  Every business can make a difference, as long as we aren’t thrown off course by buzzwords from giant multinationals and political leaders.

Goal-setting is my coaching superpower.  I particularly enjoy helping other environmental leaders to set and achieve goals.  Setting goals helps you to reframe something from a problem into a triumph for your business and for the planet.

What will it mean to you if you can:

  • transform the reputation and profitability of your business through being recognised for environmental leadership?
  • turn your good idea into a profitable and successful environmental business?
  • put your environmental and ethical values into practice?

I will coach you to take ownership of your environmental problems in order to solve them, and achieve your goals.

 

learn more

 

“Coaching is the universal language of change and learning.”  author unknown


 

Coaching with
PHIL BEARDMORE 
ENVIRONMENTAL LEADER
  • Decades of experience of environmental leadership
  • Voted as one of the West Midlands top Green Leaders by my peers
  • Mentor on the Uprising Birmingham environmental leadership programme
  • Mentor on the Business Innovation at Staffordshire University Programme

 

Proof House

COACHING

FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERS LIKE YOU

WHAT GOALS WILL YOU ACHIEVE?

Join my one-to-one coaching programme for environmental leaders.  Use my knowledge and expertise as an environmental leader to help you turn your environmental goals into achievable actions.

You should join my one-to-one coaching programme if you are:

  • a leader in an environmental business
  • aiming to set up an environmental business, charity or cooperative
  • a leader in any business and you are responsible for improving its environmental performance.

What will it mean to you if you can:

  • transform the reputation and profitability of your business through being recognised for environmental leadership?
  • turn your good idea into a profitable and successful environmental business?
  • put your environmental and ethical values into practice?
  • set, monitor and achieve realistic goals?

book a discovery call view pricing

 

solar

 

The price of solar panels is falling and the price of electricity is rising.  This is good news for solar electricity in homes, businesses, caravans, canal boats.  Here are a few things you should think about before you invest in solar electricity in your home or business.

 

  1. How much electricity do you use?  An average household uses 3,600 kWh a year, or 36 kWh per square metre a year.  If you are using less than this then solar electricity is less likely to be a viable investment (at the time of writing – August 2021).
  2. What time of the day or night does your building use electricity?  If there is daytime electricity use then solar might work for you.  If your electricity use is mostly at night, then it might not be worth it.  You can store solar electricity in a battery for use at night, but only if you use electricity at night.
  3. Remember that common household appliances such as fridges, washing machines, TVs, computers, kettles are becoming more and more efficient and need less electricity.  The appliances in use in a typical household might not use enough electricity to make solar electricity worthwhile.  There is no public subsidy for solar electricity and so correct design of your solar system is key to making it financially viable.  The days when people put solar panels on roofs willy-nilly are over.
  4. There are certain appliances that you might have in your home or business that will take your electricity consumption well above the average household use of 3,600 kWh a year.   An immersion heater can use several thousand kWh a year; a heat pump will use at least 5,000; air conditioning will use several thousand; an electric vehicle will use at least 2,000 kWh a year.  If you have any of these appliances, then solar electricity becomes more viable.  You can make the most of the sunniest times of the day to store water in an immersion heater or heat pump; in an electric vehicle battery, plus of course air conditioning uses most electricity when the sun is shining.
  5. If you use a gas or oil boiler, or immersion heater, for hot water, then solar thermal is an alternative to solar electricity.  If you use a lot of hot water, for catering, washing, showers, or manufacturing processes, then solar thermal could work for you.
  6. You will need a south-facing pitched roof ideally; solar can also work on flat roofs or south-facing walls.  With solar electricity you will usually need a modern electricity meter and consumer unit; and space for a battery if necessary.  If you are having solar thermal you will need an airing cupboard sized space for a hot water cylinder.  

Solar energy in the right building gives you cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.  In some circumstances it will also be cheaper than fossil fuels.  You should consider solar energy as part of a whole-building approach to energy saving.  Even if solar doesn’t work in your building, there is always something you can do.  

 

learn more

 

If you need expert advice on energy saving in your home or business, check out my energy advice packages.  If you are within 50 miles of Birmingham, you will get a site visit, a thermal imaging survey and a comprehensive written report that includes a costed assessment of the suitability of solar electricity for your building.  I will also show you what to look for when you are choosing solar products and installers, and help you to interpret quotes you receive from installers.  

Energy confidence