Big Energy Saving Week: Households given fuel bill saving advice

Households across the United Kingdom are being encouraged to take steps to reduce their energy usage and save money on their fuel bills as part of a nationwide campaign.

Big Energy Saving Week (21st - 27th January), organised each year by Citizens Advice, aims to raise awareness of the simple steps we can all take to lower our energy bills through being more energy efficient.

OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, and the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS), the trade association for oil distributers, are official partners of Big Energy Saving Week and are encouraging oil households in the UK to think about their current energy consumption as well as offering money saving advice. 

Despite recent small increases in price, oil heated households in the UK continue to enjoy the cheapest fuel bills of all the main off-grid heating systems and are paying on average nearly £500 less than homes using LPG and over £800 less than those with electric storage heaters.

However, in the cold winter months, there are still ways households can reduce their spending costs even further, without having to turn down the heating.

As part of Big Energy Saving Week, OFTEC and FPS are urging households to consider:

  1. When was the last time I bled my radiator?

    • Bleeding your radiators will help to increase heating efficiency during cold weather.

  2. How old is my thermostat?

    • Many homes have a simple thermostat which sets one temperature for the whole house. Installing a more advanced system will enable you to set different temperatures for each room throughout the day and even control your heating remotely, saving money by only heating those you use.

  3. When was the last time I had my boiler serviced?

    • It is important that you service your boiler at least once a year, in particular during colder months and use an OFTEC (for oil and solid fuel) or GasSafe (for mains gas) registered technician. This will ensure it is working efficiently and help you avoid potential costly breakdowns.

  4. How much oil is left in the tank?

    • Make sure you check the level of oil in your tank on a regular basis as you may be using more in winter. We recommend that you plan in advance and tell your local FPS accredited heating oil supplier when you are running low; this will ensure you are prioritised by your supplier and that your tank is topped up in good time. If you are considering joining an oil buying group the FPS has a pros and cons guide which can be found at www.oilsave.org.uk

  5. Is my boiler the most efficient?

    • One out of three households still rely on an old, less efficient boiler. By purchasing a modern, condensing model you could potentially reduce your fuel bills by over 20%.

Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC commented: "Households in the UK who use heating oil to keep warm have been making huge savings on their fuel bills over the past year due to the low price of oil. Despite recent increases, we expect this trend to continue throughout 2019.

"However, many households, particularly in more rural parts of the UK live in older homes which are often less energy efficient. Whilst not everybody can afford upgrading to the latest boiler technology, we hope that by encouraging consumers to think about their heating efficiency and take a few simple steps, they can enjoy further savings on their heating bills this winter."

FPS Technical Manager Tony Brown adds: "The cost of energy is a worry for many households and this week-long campaign points out all the many positive steps people can take to better manage their energy and reduce costs, as well as receive all the help they’re entitled to when it comes to grants and benefits such as Winter Fuel Allowance.

"Alongside general advice for consumers, such as comparing the prices of various energy suppliers and turning the thermostat down by just one degree to make a big 10 percent saving, there is a wealth of support specifically for the 1.5million UK off-grid energy users."

Households in England and Wales are urged to check on vulnerable neighbours and relatives following cold festive season

Following the cold festive period, households in England and Wales are being reminded to regularly visit vulnerable relatives, neighbours and friends to check they are keeping warm and well.

The warning comes after 50,100 excess winter deaths were recorded in England and Wales  during 2017/18*.

Those living in rural parts of England and Wales are more likely to struggle to keep warm during the winter season because their houses tend to be older and less well insulated, making them harder to heat effectively.

People living within these households are often at greater risk of developing health problems, such as respiratory conditions, which are made worse by cold temperatures. 

In response OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, is encouraging people to regularly check on older relatives and friends to ensure they are taking care of themselves over the colder months.

OFTEC has shared five top tips on things to look out for which could potentially save a life, as part of a free 'Keeping warm this winter’ guide. 

  1. Ensure main rooms are heated to at least 21C with other commonly used rooms kept to at least 18C

  2. Make sure the heating comes on at the correct time and radiators are turned off in unused rooms. You may also want to adjust the heating timers to match the weather conditions

  3. Check that nothing is blocking radiators as this reduces effectiveness

  4. If you use heating oil make sure there is plenty of oil in the tank. If it needs topping up, use a firm which is a member of the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers

  5. Check the boiler has recently been serviced by an OFTEC (for oil or solid fuel) or GasSafe (for mains gas) registered technician who has checked it is working correctly and efficiently. If it does breakdown over winter, visit www.oftec.org.uk to find the nearest local registered technician


Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC, commented: "This time of year can be a real struggle for many people, especially following the expensive festive period.  As a result, some households resort to turning down their heating in an effort to save money.

"However, this puts people at greater risk of developing health complications, especially if they are older and more vulnerable. This is reflected in the large number of excess winter deaths seen in England and Wales over recent years.

"With a high number of older and vulnerable people living in rural areas , it is more important than ever that we look out for our relatives, friends and neighbours to check they are keeping warm and their heating system is working correctly. This could be a regular visit or phone call to make sure they are ok."

More information and advice can be found at www.oftec.org and the 'Keeping warm this winter guide can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/KeepingWarmThisWinter. 



*Excess Winter Mortality Data, ONS November 2018

Myths about your central heating

Myths about your central heating

Did you know you could save yourself £250 a year just by switching off your lights and heating when they’re not in use? Oftec have released a list of mysthbusting facts to help you save money this winter.

Safety Advice for Students Heading in to Rented Properties

Safety Advice for Students Heading in to Rented Properties

OFTEC has supplied some basic Gas and Oil safety guidelines to help protect students in their search for a rented property.

Is your heating system ready for round two with the ‘Beast from the East’?

Is your heating system ready for round two with the ‘Beast from the East’?

With what it is meant to be the coldest winter in a decade, OFTEC are issuing advice on how to make sure you and your family stay warm this winter, especially in oil heated homes.

Survey Reveals scary statistics on carbon monoxide poisoning

A Honeywell Carbon Monoxide Alarm. These should be fitted in every room with a fuel burning appliance e.g. boiler, woodburner, open fire etc.

A Honeywell Carbon Monoxide Alarm. These should be fitted in every room with a fuel burning appliance e.g. boiler, woodburner, open fire etc.

Experts are warning homeowners to be more vigilant for carbon monoxide poisoning after a survey shows that 2/3 of homes do not have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted, suggesting people are not taking the threat seriously enough.

Carbon monoxide poisoning kills more than 50 people and hospitalises more 40,000 each year, so as part of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month, Oftec are promoting the installation of Co alarms in people’s homes.

CO is produced when carbon fuels don't burn properly and any type of heating system where combustion takes place can potentially give off the odourless, colourless gas. CO poisoning can result in severe long-term health problems, or even death, with younger and older people most at risk. Key symptoms to watch out for are tiredness, dizziness and headaches.

In support of the campaign, Abbey Boilers is promoting the simple ABC safety checklist which advises households of the key steps they should take to reduce the risk:

  • Alarm – purchase a CO alarm (usually around £20) for every room which has a fuel burning appliance e.g. boiler, woodburner, open fire etc. It is mandatory for private landlords to provide an alarm in rented properties with a solid fuel appliance

  • Batteries – regularly ensure all the alarms are functional by holding the 'test' button

  • Check – have your boiler serviced at least one a year by an OFTEC (for oil or solid fuel) or GasSafe (for mains gas) registered technician to check it is working correctly. Abbey Boilers has both Gas Safe and OFTEC registered engineers.


If the event of a CO alarm going off, the advice is to open the windows and leave the room immediately. You should then contact OFTEC or GasSafe and, if you experience any symptoms of CO poisoning, call 999.

Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC said: "Carbon monoxide poisoning can have a devastating impact on the lives of the people it affects so the lack of awareness is particularly worrying with many households still oblivious to the dangers. We wouldn't think twice about having smoke alarms installed and we should take the same approach with CO alarms.”


Get in touch with us at Abbey Boilers on 01403 275512 to ensure you and your family are safe and your heating system is running correctly.

RENTERS FAILING TO UNDERSTAND BASIC GAS SAFETY

Millions of homes in the UK have unsafe gas appliances because homeowners and tenants don’t ask the correct questions or know what to look for when looking for an central heating engineer.

7 reasons you should get an Aga.

An aga has been an iconic centrepiece in the British kitchen since their invention in 1922. An Aga is a cast iron cooker. Each Aga is built to order but there are staple elements in any Aga. These include the simmering oven, roasting oven and at least one hot plate. 

You can buy Electric, Gas and oil Agas, but Agas don't come cheap so is it worth it?

1. Food Just tastes better.

The cast Iron nature of the aga means it uses radiant heat compared to the drying heat of an ordinary fan oven. The radiant heat ensures plenty of delicious moist roasts and solidarity with the forgetful cook who leaves things in the oven a little too long. 

2. Warmth

Agas were originally designed to never be turned off so they could warm old farmhouses. This means there is seldom reason to have both the radiators and the aga on at the same time, especially with modern housing insulation. 

This constant heat could be problematic in the past but now with the new generation Agas you are able to pick and chose which ovens you have on, and when. 

3. Design

Whilst Agas are still a main feature in quintessentially British kitchens, due to the Aga's flexibility in colours and size they can suit any style of kitchen. 

Agas come in a variety of colours from duck egg blue to heather and sizes from the small Aga Module to the 5 oven Aga. 

4. It is multiple appliances in one 

The aga has different ovens and hot plates at different temperatures making it a good all-round kitchen appliance. It can take the job of a toaster, a slow cooker and a rice maker among other things. 

you can also use the floor of the roasting plate as a pizza stone, the simmering over as a rice cooker, the hot plates as a toastie maker and you can even make fried eggs, pancakes and drop scones directly on to the hot plate. 

5. Made in the UK.

Agas have been made in Shropshire since 1940s with generations of families working side by side in the factory. Unfortunately, the Coalbrookdale foundry closed in November 2017

6. Long  lasting

Agas are well documented for their longevity. The average lifespan of the aga is nearly 40 years, much longer than an ordinary oven. This is due to the quality of the materials used in an aga. the cast iron casing and enamel finish are built to last. 

Aga ran a competition recently to find the oldest working Aga in England. The award went to the Hett family in Sussex who were still using their 1932 long barrel D aga. The Hett aga has been in use for 80 years. 

7. They are an investment

The City-60 Models can be bought on 0% finance, with £465 deposit meaning Agas are becoming more affordable for everyone. Furthermore, the new designs of the Aga mean they can be transported much easier so if you move house it can easily come too. 

 

Abbey Boilers service oil, gas and LPG Agas for £87.33-£93.60 plus VATand for those of you without an Aga, yet, Abbey Boilers installs range cookers too so you can always have your deliciously cooked food. Click here for more information. 

 

 

Oftec Encourages Youths to Start a Career in the Heating Industry.

Recent studies show there has been a 27% decrease in the number of new apprenticeships started between August and October 2017 in comparison to the same period last year. Only 0.2% were in the heating industry. 

This drop in apprenticeships is in spite of the new government scheme to promote on the job training and a large number of jobs available in the sector for qualified engineers due to the lack of skilled technicians. 

With the rising costs of University and the increasing cost of living, apprenticeships are ever becoming a more viable option for further education and an easier transition into future employment. People are becoming aware of the benefits of hands-on training and experience in their chosen field. 

This year, as part of National Apprenticeship Week, local training centres were highlighting the opportunities an apprenticeship and then a consequent career in the heating industry can bring. The initiative aimed to help young people start various careers through apprenticeships. 

Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, said: “The heating sector is a fantastic industry to be involved with, offering good career prospects in a variety of different roles. Apprenticeships provide real hands on experience and they are a great starting place for anyone looking to become a heating technician.

“OFTEC approved training centres work with many young people coming into the heating profession who have already completed an apprenticeship and provide additional industry-recognised qualifications for technicians to demonstrate their professionalism and competence.

“Although building standards and technology are always advancing, people will always need heating and hot water. There is no shortage of work out there – just not enough professionals to do it. Trusted and reliable OFTEC registered heating technicians are always in demand.”

If you are a qualified heating engineer and are looking to work for a busy and respectable heating firm them please get in touch with Abbey Boilers. Click here for contact details. 

What is a Powerflush?

 

A Powerflush is a cleansing process which aims to remove deposits of sludge, rust and any other debris from your central heating system.

 

These contaminants, if left, can seriously affect the efficiency of a heating system and, in severe cases, a powerflush could be the only option available. Over time the water in your pipes, boiler and radiators deposits unwanted byproducts like rust. This rust (plus other dirt and debris) becomes an unpleasant, mud-like substance that professionals affectionately refer to as ‘sludge’.

Sludge in your heating system can cause to blockages and corrosion which will lead to both inefficiency and / or breakdown. In extreme cases it can be so damaging that a complete boiler replacement is needed.

When do you need a Powerflush?

If you carry out regular servicing and maintenance (professional servicing is recommended annually) then a preventative Powerflush should only be necessary every 5-6 years to clear debris and prevent significant blockages from taking hold.

However, this will vary depending on the system you have. For example, some boilers use copper heat exchangers rather than stainless steel which will corrode quicker.

IMPORTANT: If you are planning to replace your boiler it’s important that the engineer performs a Powerflush before the installation. Otherwise, you risk contaminating the new boiler with damaging sludge and debris that’s hanging around in the old pipework.

Get quote for a poweflush from Abbey Boilers here.

Signs you need a Powerflush

There are signs to look out for that suggest that all is not well in your central heating system.

  • Cold areas on radiators e.g. at the bottom
  • Excessive noise from the boiler or the heating system pump
  • Discoloured water when you bleed the radiators
  • Heating is slow to warm up
  • Cloudy tap water (limescale in system)
  • Some radiators struggle to heat up as well as others
  • Radiators cold but pipes are hot
  • Boiler regularly shuts down and needs restarting
  • No water escapes when you bleed a radiator
  • Noisy radiators and or / boiler
  • Small leaks in radiators.

If any of these problems sound familiar to you, it’s time to contact a professional engineer. While a Powerflush may be all that is required to get your heating back on track, unfortunately, it is not always that simple. A system may be so damaged that it is actually cheaper to replace rather than repair. If that’s the case you will need to consult with at least two professionals to make sure you’re getting the right solution at the best price.

What are the benefits of a Powerflush?

It’s not all doom and gloom; there are lots of positive reasons to get a Powerflush carried out too.

  • Radiators will heat up quicker
  • Radiators will get hotter
  • Quieter radiators / boiler
  • More energy efficient system = cheaper energy bills
  • Higher hot water temperatures
  • More reliable i.e. less chance of breakdown
  • Increase the life of your heating system.

How does a Powerflush work?

An engineer will connect a pump to your central heating system. If it’s a Combi it will be connected at the pump head but if it’s a system boiler it will be connected at the circulation pump. This pump will push special chemicals through the pipes, boiler and radiators.

This includes a chemical that will remove sludge and rust, a descaler to remove limescale and corrosion inhibitor to help prevent future rust from forming. The engineer will collect and dispose of any contaminated water, debris or particles that they remove from the system.

The engineer may also use special tools on the exterior of the radiator to dislodge stubborn blockages. They should be able to measure the temperature of your radiators before they have started work and then show you the improvement after the Powerflush.

The whole process can last anything from 6 – 10 hours depending on the number of radiators in your home, the age of the system and the severity of the sludge in the system. The engineer may find more problems than originally anticipated such as needing new parts to replace those that have been damaged beyond repair. Most Powerflush jobs can be completed in one day but some of the more severe cases may require longer.

A qualified engineer will be able to perform repairs, replacements and carry out a Powerflush.

Who should carry out a Powerflush?

Not all companies will perform a Powerflush to the same standard. There are a range of chemicals and equipment on the market and, as with all industries, there are providers with varying levels of expertise and attention to detail. Always check independent review sites and request customer recommendations. We recommend sourcing at least two quotes from professionals so you can compare costs.

Boiler Guide has a network of 5,000 reputable engineers across the UK and can provide you with up to 3 free of charge, no obligation, competitive quotes.

Can you perform a Powerflush without a professional?

Put simply, not really.

While there are Powerflushing kits for hire and instructional videos available on the internet, it’s a risky and complicated job. A professional will make a Powerflush look easy, clean and safe but the reality is it’s a job that has the potential to get very messy. Specialist chemicals and equipment should only be handled by those trained to do so.

It’s also possible that carrying out the work on your heating system by yourself may invalidate any manufacturer’s warranty you have. A professional engineer will provide you with a certificate to prove that the Powerflush has been carried out. This is crucial if you need to evidence to a manufacturer or insurance provider that you have had all work carried out by a professional. Get quotes.

Finally, if the work is completed incorrectly it could cause more damage than you had to begin with.

NOTE: Installing a magnetic filter will not deliver the same benefits as a Powerflush procedure, but it can protect a system (that is still working well) from future sludge blockages.

How much will a Powerflush cost?

There are lots of factors that will affect the price of a Powerflush such as size and complexity of the heating system, not to mention any incidental troubleshooting that crops up. A Powerflush can cost anything between £300 to £1000+ but will also vary from engineer to engineer. Sometimes there will be additional costs like extra descaler chemicals or replacing the TRVs.

It is important that your central heating system is as efficient as it can be at all times and, although a Powerflush can be an expensive process, it can also save a lot of money over time in reduced heating bills.

Is a Powerflush always the solution?

In some particularly severe cases you may find it is actually more cost effective to replace the system than carry out a Powerflush. A Powerflush will not fix broken parts. If a blockage has caused a part to break that will add time and cost to the job to get the system back to optimum performance. A professional will be able to advise you if this is the case.