Saturday, 28 June 2014

Keeping a lid on your bills this summer - and not a panama hat in sight

Is it possible to keep cool at home in a heatwave without spending money?

Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it's too hot for too long it is nice to be able to escape the heat.

Air conditioning is expensive to install and costly to run.  Air conditioning is also not necessary to stay cool in your home when the temperature soars.  Follow the tips below to stay comfortable in a heatwave without spending a fortunate.

Keeping cool at home during the day - quick wins:
  • Stay downstairs: warm air rises so it will be cooler on the ground floor.
  • Close your curtains: keep your curtains closed throughout the day to help block the sun's heat.
  • While you are closing those curtains also shut your windows to keep the warm air out.
  • Don't use the oven for cooking.  Use the microwave or BBQ when cooking your meals.
  • Better still, stick to cold meals.
  • Switch off and unplug heat generating household appliances such as TVs and computers.
  • Still hot?  A great fix - take a cold bath or shower.

Keeping cool at home during the day - investments that will keep you cool and save you money:
  • Insulate your home. A home that has well insulated walls and loft will also keep the heat out in the summer.
  • Prevent solar heating gain by fitting solar window film. Solar film reflects infrared radiation (the heat) contained in the sun's rays whilst allowing the sunlight in. Its also cheap and easy to install.
  • Alternatively, you can prevent solar heating of your home by installing awnings.
  • Replace heat generating incandescent light bulbs with cooler, and more efficient, fluorescent or LED lights.

Keeping cool at night

If the heat is preventing you from sleeping at night, try these fixes:
  • Place your pillows in plastic bags and store in your freezer for an hour before bedtime.
  • Keep your bedding in the coolest room in the house during the day.
  • Use silk or satin pillowcases. These fabrics feel cooler against your skin.
  • Open windows and inside doors at night to get rid of the warm daytime air and to allow in the cooler night-time air.
  • Late sleeper?  You may need to get up to close the windows when the sun rises to enable you to sleep comfortably for longer.

Tips for coping in hot weather whilst out and about
  • Try to keep out of the sun during the hottest part of the day (between 11am and 3pm).
  • The morning and evening are usually cool enough to enable you to do your errands or to exercise.
  • Wear light coloured and loose fitting clothing.  Clothes that are made of natural fabrics such as cotton work best.
  • Go to the shops! Most shopping centres are air-conditioned.  But try not to spend money.
  • Sip cold drinks regularly. This does not work with alcohol though - sorry.

Hope these tip help.


Sunday, 8 June 2014

Relaunch of the Green Deal - could this be second time lucky for the Government's flagship domestic energy saving scheme?

The Green Deal - a Great Concept
The Green Deal was launched in January 2013 to help households fund home improvements that will increase the energy efficiency of their home.

Home improvements delivered with the help of the Green Deal are expected to reduce your energy bills. The Green Deal lets you pay for some or all of the improvements over time through your electricity bill. The scheme is designed in a way that repayments should be no more than what you would save in your energy bills.

Initial failure to take-off
Whilst the Green Deal offers lots of benefits to households it has never really taken off.  

The scheme has received some poor publicity, its approach has proved overly complicated, and not enough certified Green Deal "Providers" and "Installers" have been recruited to implement the scheme on the ground.

The Relaunch
A key element of the Green Deal is its ability to let homeowners earn money from their energy efficient home improvements to offset the cost of having the work done.  However this aspect of the Green Deal has proven to be over-complicated.  The Government is seeking to tackle this problem.

The new Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF) launches on Monday 9 June 2014 in England and Wales. A similar scheme called the Green Homes Cashback is being launched in Scotland.

The Government expects that the relaunched scheme, which is more user-friendly and which offers more generous terms than the previous Green Deal "cashback scheme", will encourage more households to take up the Green Deal.

The Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey has described the scheme as:
“The best way for households to take control of their energy bills is to use less energy."

The Climate Change Minister Greg Barker has also lauded the new scheme:
“The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund is another way the Government is making it simpler and cheaper for people to stay warm and improve their homes.  

I want households across the country to benefit from more energy efficient homes and reduced bills through the Green Deal, and that is what the new home incentive fund will do.”

The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund - at a glance
The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF) is a new incentive scheme open to all householders in England and Wales wanting to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

Under the GDHIF households that install energy efficiency measures such as solid wall insulation and new heating systems can earn up to £7,600 to help cover the cost of the energy efficiency improvements.

The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund - in detail
Under the GDHIF householders can receive:

  • up to £1000 for installing two measures from an approved list; and/or
  • up to £6000 for installing solid wall insulation; and
  • up to £100 refunded for their Green Deal Assessment.

The scheme also entitles those who have bought a property in the 12 months prior to application to qualify for up to an additional £500 if they carry out energy efficiency improvements.

Householders will be able to receive GDHIF funding for solid wall insulation and/or any two of the following energy savings improvements:
  • Condensing gas boiler (on mains gas)
  • Double glazing (replacing single glazing)
  • Secondary glazing
  • Replacement doors
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Floor insulation
  • Flat roof insulation
  • Room-in-roof insulation
  • Replacement warm air unit
  • Replacement storage heaters
  • Flue gas heat recovery units
  • Waste water heat recovery systems
GDHIF is designed to work alongside Green Deal Finance and householders have the option to use Green Deal Finance to help fund some of the upfront cost of the installation.

How can I claim the GDHIF payment?
Your Green Deal "Provider" and "Installer" will help take you through the process of making a claim. In summary, you will need to take the following steps to apply for and claim their GDHIF payment:

  • have a valid Green Deal Assessment Report or Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which must have been carried out in the two years prior to application;
  • apply for measures as recommended on their  Green Deal Assessment Report or EPC;
  • register for their GDHIF voucher;
  • once they have received their voucher, householders must have the improvements installed by a registered Green Deal "Installer" or "Provider" within six months;
  • once the work has been completed, submit their voucher – countersigned by the Green Deal Installer or Provider – with copies of the invoice, PAS2030 Claim(s) of Conformity, and their Green Deal Assessment Report invoice; 
  • Once the GDHIF administrator has validated the voucher, you will receive payment in ten working days.
Further Information on the GDHIF 
The Government has published an advice sheet on the GDHIF which can be downloaded at

Information about certified Green Deal "Providers" and "Installers" can be found on the Green Deal Oversight Body website.