Electricity Pylon

Electric Vs. Gas Central Heating Cost and Energy

Electric heaters may be in form of radiation or convection heaters. Radiation heaters produce warmth through infrared radiations from a heating element inside a glass envelops. They are usually equipped with reflectors that direct heat away from the heater to desired body. They are mostly appropriate for warming focal points. Convection heaters on the other hand provide warmth by heating air that rises up leading to a constant flow of warm air within the room. They are suitable for heating closed spaces such as rooms, homes and houses. A centralized heating system works by passing an electric current through a heating element whose resistance causes it to heat up and radiate heat into the adjacent air. It is equipped with a fan, which forces the transmission of warm air via tubes to other rooms.
A central gas furnace works by burning a gas, in form of propane or natural gas, using flame that heats air passing over it. There is a fan inside blowing the heated air through duct to other rooms in the home while the by products are passed out through the chimney while fresh air gets back to the furnace and is heated again and sent through the tubes. Gas heaters are usually of two types. Flued heaters are installed permanently at correct heights to extract all the gases that are emitted. Flueless heaters are vent-free and usually used in rooms with good ventilations. The sources of gas could be the mains, LPG gas or bottled gas.

Installation Costs

Installation costs of gas heaters are comparatively higher to electric heaters since they require specialized expertise and more expensive materials. Installation requires a chimney that sends out the combusted gas, air channels through which the gases and air pass as well as a centralized furnace that combusts the gas and heats the air. Installation of a centralized electric system requires an electric furnace which heats up air as well as pipes which move the heated air to other rooms. The cost of an electric furnace is relatively cheaper, making its installation fairly affordable. It is estimated that the average installation price of a gas furnace ranges between 1500-3000 pounds while that of an electric furnace is between 600-700 pounds.

Operational Costs

Gas heaters are said to produce a higher amount of energy compared to electric heaters in the same amount of time. This is because the gas is burned which produces a flame that heats air, which is spread through convection while in electric heaters; the heating element has to get hot first before it starts emitting heat. For heat to be produced, a lot of energy has to be consumed to be able to exceed the electrical resistance. Gas is also cheaper compared to electricity making operating costs of gas heaters cheaper in the long run. In UK for example, the cost of one unit of gas is about 4p for every kWh while that of electricity is 15p for every kWh. The cost of using electricity for centralized heating ends up having an overall cost of about three times more than that of gas However, electric heaters have proven to be cheaper when heating a small room at reduced temperatures. Gas heaters are therefore suitable for heating larger homes as the warm is easily transmitted to other rooms via the constructed channels; or within the same room through convection. The lifespan of electric heaters is however greater than that of gas heaters. The probability of changing equipment is low; these further hike up the maintenance costs of gas heaters associated with swapping of older equipment with the newer ones.

Environmental Cost

Despite their energy efficiency, electricity generating power plants produce considerable amounts of pollutants such as greenhousegases, which are hazardous to the environment and animal life. The heating elements in electric heaters provide warmth by radiation and convection that is accompanied by production of carbon dioxide. Gas heaters produce less carbon dioxide than electric heating; however, incompletely combusted gas may emit nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide that pose a danger to health such as asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Energy efficiency

Electricity is readily available anywhere and can be easily utilized. The electric heaters are known to be very energy efficient, using up to 100% of the energy to provide heating. This means that all the energy that goes into a heater is not wasted,but comes out as heat. This is applicable to those heaters using the aid of a fan to spread the heat around, convection based heaters that spreads the heat through radiant energy or a centralized heaters that spread the warmth to other rooms by pipes making them ultimate energy savers. Electric heaters don’t require stored fuel to generate heat; they work immediately they are plugged into the electricity mains.
Gas heaters cannot be used everywhere due to the unavailability of gas in some areas. They are less efficient compared to electric heaters as they utilize about 80-90% of the energy andlosing about 10-20% to the surrounding. Gas efficiency can however, be improved by weather-stripping, which eliminates leaks of gases. The heating system should also be turned off in unused rooms to avoid unnecessary loss of energy. Professional servicing could also be sought to fine tune and inspect the furnace. These professionals should also check for other abnormalities such as cracks within the unit, pipe obstruction, loose wires, blower flaws, malfunctioning safety switches, thermostat problems, faulty ignition components, damaged capacitors and low gas pressure. Proper maintenance of gas heaters increases their durability and efficiency.
Energy efficiency of both electric or gas heaters can be optimized by incorporating them with a thermostat. The thermostat regulates the room temperature by turning the heater off when it’s too hot and on when the temperature is getting low; this also minimizes continuous running and saves on energy costs.

Energy Saving Lightbulb

Why Use Energy Saving Light Bulbs?

Compared to old incandescent, Energy saving bulbs consume up to 80% less energy and produce same or better amount of light. Use of these bulbs will ensure more saved money and energy and less carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change.
According to research findings, just one bulb replacement with an energy saver saves an average of £5 a year. And this figure rises with more bulb replacements. If more homes adopt this, more energy will be saved and money initially spent on energy used in other activities.
Initial use of inefficient halogen light bulbs and traditional incandescent bulbs is being overtaken slowly by the introduction of more efficient energy saving bulbs which are environmental friendly. Together with the government, energy regulatory companies and retailers are working together towards a common goal of phasing out the use of inefficient bulbs and as a consumer, you need to complete the cycle by embracing the use of this bulbs.

Types of energy saving bulbs

Three most common types include; Halogen Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

I. Halogen incandescent

For efficiency, the incandescent bulbs are fitted with a capsule that holds gas around the filament. They are of different shapes, sizes and colors and can be used with dimmers. With regards to energy regulation, they meet the minimum energy efficiency standards.

II. The Light Emitting Diode (LEDs)

LEDs are semi-conductors that convert heat energy to light energy. Initially they were only used as indicators and traffic lights but their energy efficiency feature has made them better compared to traditional incandescent since they last up to 25 times longer. Consequently, they use only 20%-25% of the energy.
In as much as they are expensive, more money is saved since they last longer and consume very low energy. Also as more varieties enter the markets, and improved technology in manufacturing, prices are expected to go down. They are mostly of 40w, 60w and 75w.
LEDs, manufactured as small bulbs were first used for battery powered items e.g. headlamps and flashlights. Nowadays they are available with standard bases that fit to varied light fixtures.
There most important feature is them being directional and have diffuser lenses that disperse light more as opposed to incandescent bulbs
Owing to the use of cheaper silicon wafers instead of a more expensive sapphire technology in the production of LEDs, reduced costs are expected in the LED markets soon.

Why you should consider the use of LEDs

Long lasting; comparing them to typical incandescent bulbs, they last more than ten times longer.
Durable; this is due to the fact that they do not have a filament and can therefore not break under jarring and bumping conditions.
Cool; using the British Thermal Unit (BTU) where one BTU is equivalent to 1055 joules, LED bulbs only produce approximately 3 BTUs in an hour hence no heat build-up. Incandescent bulbs produce approximately 90 in the same time duration leading to heat build-up in a room and thereby more air conditioning costs.
No mercury; mercury when not properly disposed can cause health complications.
Efficient; in terms of watts, LEDs use as low as 2 watts to a maximum of 17 watts which is only 1/3 to 1/30 respectively of watts used by incandescent. In flashlight bulbs, they extend the battery life to fifteen times longer than incandescent bulbs.
Cost effective; initially, LEDs were considered expensive during purchase but taking into consideration their life span and battery savings, they are cheaper in the long run. Nowadays, the costs have considerably reduced due to more production and market influx.

Lighting for portable generators; LED bulbs are most ideal for homeowners with portable generators important for power backups and during emergencies
Remote area lighting; in remote areas where electricity is a problem, LED bulbs are the most ideal to use with solar panels or generators due to their low power requirements.

Choosing an LED Bulb

Because of market influx and availability of different products in the market, it’s important to have a guideline of what you should consider when purchasing an LED bulb. Basically understand lumens as a measure of brightness and choose a bulb with more light but consumes less energy. The following are other factors to keep in mind.
Desired Brightness; this information is contained in the package. Read and compare wattage. Currently, as a new measure, all bulbs display lumen information which measures brightness. The higher the lumen, the more will be the brightness.
Combination 3 way bulbs; three way bulbs replaced the 30w, 60w and 75w bulbs incandescent bulbs and consume up to 80% less energy. The Omni directional feature makes them usable everywhere the incandescent bulbs are used.
Type of light; do you require warm or cool light? Cool white light is essential for task lighting while warm light is for small area lighting. Choose as per requirement
Pin Base; standard and dimmable bulbs; choose the appropriate standard or socket ‘pin’ base. Consequently consider bulbs that will work with the standard dimmer switch.
Cost and certification; very low cost bulbs are low quality and contain a chip that fails easily therefore dying prematurely. LEDs should also be verified with energy stars.
Examples of LEDs include;

  • Diffused bulbs; are covered by a lens that helps in spreading light over a large area. They are suitable for large rooms and hallways.
  • Dimmable globe LED bulbs; dimmable from 100% to 10% and have up to 200 degree beam angle for casting light in broad, wide areas.
  • Track Lighting Pin Base; mostly available pin base is MR-16 and are ideal for track lighting. They last long and do not get hot to touch.

Others include flood reflector LED light bulbs, flame Tip, Candelabra Base LEDs and LED tube lights that replaced fluorescent tube bulbs.

III. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)

CFLs are similar to long fluorescent tubes but are curly. Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, they are more efficient and save more energy. Considering the little amount of electricity they use, it is estimated that they pay for themselves in around nine months and for each subsequent month, it will be money saved. On average, they last more than ten times and use only a quarter of the energy used by the traditional incandescent bulbs.
To take care of different tastes and preferences, CFLs are of different colors and have different features. Similar shape bulbs to the one you are replacing can be obtained and the different level of lighting they exhibit gives you the option of a brighter or dimmer bulb. They are also recyclable.

Why you should consider the use of CFLs

Less expensive; although a bit costly on initial purchase, less energy consumption means more energy and money saved.
Quality light; CFLs emit warmer, inviting light compared to ‘cool white’ light by traditional incandescent bulbs. Consequently, they don’t flicker nor hum.
Pollution; reduced carbon dioxide emissions from power plants mean reduced air pollution, reduced electricity consumption, reduced sulfur oxides and nuclear waste emissions.
Versatility; can be used anywhere; in recessed fixtures, track lighting, table lamps and in porch lights among others. Are also dimmable with 3-way settings.

Choosing a CFL Bulb

When choosing the kind of CFL bulb to purchase, the following are some of the considerations;

  • Shape;CFLs are available in many shapes that fit various fixtures, choose the most desirable one.
  • Lumen Output; Lumens indicate the amount of light the bulb emits. The lumen output information can be obtained from the bulb package
  • Kelvin (k) number. The kelvin number available on the packaging indicates the level of brightness of a bulb. I.e.2700-3000; indicates emission of soft bright light 3500-6000; more bright light and around 5000; cool white/blue light.

Disposing CFL bulbs

CFL bulbs contain mercury which when not handled properly leads to water contamination and food effects thereby causing health complications. When disposing these bulbs, it is advisable to keep them out of the waste stream
If the bulb breaks accidentally, ensure to keep window open for approximately 20 minutes and clean the mess with a wet rag,thereafter, enclose the broken waste material in a plastic bag and call the recycling center.
Commonly asked questions on energy saving bulbs

Why should I use low energy light bulbs?

Traditional bulbs waste too much energy; actually, only 10% is converted into light. Compared to traditional bulbs, energy saving bulbs last 10 times longer and consume up to 80% less of energy. Less energy consumption means more savings in terms of electricity costs.
In terms of environmental conservation, long lifespan of energy efficient bulbs means reduced dispose hence less space in landfill. Also, less energy consumption means less carbon dioxide gas production.

Energy efficient bulbs cost more. Am I really saving money?

Consider the lifespan; more than ten times the traditional bulbs. This means more than ten additional purchases of traditional bulbs.Also, little energy consumed means low power bills. In the long run, more money and energy saved.

Does lower energy mean less light?

No. some bulbs e.g. the Bio bulbs are regarded as daylight bulbs because of the quality of light they produce. A regular bio bulb of 60 watts produces around 1260 lumens (a unit of measuring light as seen by the naked human eye) which is almost two times that of traditional bulbs.

What should I consider before purchase of an energy efficient bulb?

  • The power emitted in terms of lumens (600 lumens for a 60 watt incandescent bulb)
  • The type of fitting (screw in bulb or bayonet)
  • Lifespan in hours, (Traditional bulbs last for 1000 hours)

Apart from savings, is there another major difference from incandescent bulbs?

Yes. Energy saving bulbs is tailored to suit personal tastes and preferences. They come with different shapes and colors to choose from.

What are the different types of energy saving bulbs?

The most common energy efficient bulbs include; CFLs, LEDs and halogen incandescent bulbs. They can be easily obtained from local hardware and stores.

Energy Efficient Wind Farm

Ways to Improve Home Energy Efficiency

There are many ways to improve on home energy efficiency. Some of the ways are explained below.

1. Insulation

By Insulating home ceilings, attic, floors and walls, draughts and air leakages are prevented ensuring colder summers and warm winters.
Wall insulation; up to 40% of energy lost is through un-insulated walls. Save up to £200 a year and reduce carbon emissions by filling cavity walls.
Insulation by filling cavity walls can be expensive more so if your property is big it is therefore advised to check on available offers and grants before insulating. Also, bear in mind that these offers differ depending on geographical area and income levels.
Loft insulation; poorly insulated roofs and walls can lead to wastage of up to £600 million in a year by pumping heat into the house which escapes due to poor insulation. Loft insulation minimizes this.
Double glazing windows; With double glazed windows, more heat is trapped inside the house thus less pumping of additional heat thereby increased savings on energy.
Double glazing takes care of different preferences since it comes in different styles tailored to suite your home. Before purchase, ensure the windows have a seal of approval from ‘energy saving trust’ an indication of more energy efficiency.
Sealing Draughts and air leakages; Leakages may occur in; electrical outlets, switch plates, window frames, attic hatches, fireplace dampers and baseboards among other areas. Repairs and maintenance is therefore encouraged so as to reduce energy wasted and increase home comfortability. Consider the following simple energy saving practices;

  • Plugging large holes; mostly where the walls meet the attic floor
  • Doing weather-stripping i.e. using fiberglass or foam board to seal the attic access panel
  • Sealing small holes; e.g. around pipes, electrical wires and plumbing vents with the help of caulk or expanding foam

Revamping windows; this can be through;

  • Opening blinds; opened blinds allow natural light into the house. Use of sun light during the day saves on lighting costs and is absolutely free.
  • Multiple panes; double/triple argon gas-filled windows are very effective insulators
  • Also consider weather-stripping between the windows and the frame
  • Replace single pane windows with storm windows. Also those with damaged wood, cracked glass and missing putty should be replaced or repaired.
  • Window edges and cracks can also be sealed with caulk. This is an easy, effective and a very cheap method.
  • Replacing aluminium window frames with vinyl frames as aluminium allows easy heat transfer
  • Tinting windows; to keep out unwanted heat, light and even cold

2. Use of energy efficient bulbs

Almost 15%-20% of home energy is attributed to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights wasted up to 90% of energy by overheating converting only 10% to light. Too much heat emitted causes low lifespan and uncomfortable home environment resulting to additional room conditioning thereby increased additional costs.
Innovation and technology has led to production of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) which are more energy efficient compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. Other facts on LEDs and CFLs include;

  • Long lasting with reduced amounts of energy consumption
  • Energy saving of up to 80% compared to traditional incandescent bulbs
  • Also Cost effective due to savings made by resulting long life batteries and 3-way settings that replaced the 40 watts, 60 watts and 75 watts.

3. Electrical appliances

Before using any electrical appliance, ensure you have familiarized yourself with how it operates by going through its manual. After that, by using it only when necessary, a lot of energy will be saved.
It is advisable to use efficient electrical appliances so as to cut down on wastage. If you take a fridge for example, its running costs vary from £10 to around £100 depending on how energy efficient it is. Always consider the use of freezers with ‘an energy efficient setting’ as ideal and recommended models.
Consequently using electrical appliances responsibly is highly desirable. Consider the following;

  • Not placing refrigerators in warm areas e.g. near stoves or heat vents as this will lead to more energy consumption in order to remain cool.
  • According to research, computers account for approximately 5% of consumed energy. To reduce this, computers when not in use, should be shut down. Also laptop computers consume relatively less energy compared to desktop computers therefore there use should be upheld to that of desktops.
  • Always use energy star rated appliances I.e. TVs, home theatre systems and players.
  • Unplug phone chargers and laptop chargers when not in use since they consume and waste energy when plugged in.

Also old electrical appliances are inefficient and consume more energy compared to newer models. Replacing them will mean more energy saved in the long run thus reduced power bills. The most recommended appliances to replace include; old model freezers, dishwashers, washing machines and dehumidifiers.

4. Use of daylight

Daylight, which is free and natural light, can be a very good alternative to electrical lighting. Interior home illumination by use of daylight can be achieved through;

  • Use of light tubes; light tubes have a lens that amplifies low level light. The tubes also contain reflective materials for channeling light to where desired and a diffuser for distribution.
  • Clerestory windows; short wide windows set very high on the wall allowing sunshine into the room.
  • Also double pane skylights and light shelves that reflect light back into the room.

5. Cooking smart

When cooking, a lot of energy is wasted. To cut down on this wastage, the following is recommended;

  • Use of convection ovens instead of conventional ovens; convection ovens use fans that forces hot air to circulate evenly enabling cooking at low temperatures thus less energy. Compared to conventional ovens, they use 25% less heat energy
  • While cooking with conventional ovens, it is recommended to place food on the top rack which is usually hotter for faster cooking.
  • Always consider the microwave oven option as they consume more than 80% less of the energy compared to conventional ovens.
  • For quick cooking, always cover food with lids or use pressure cookers
  • The size of cooking pans should be proportional to the flame. I.e. large flames for larger pans.

6. Use of cheaper energy tariffs

Cheaper tariffs mean more savings which can be used for making your home more energy efficient. Some companies, through tariff offers ensure much is saved on energy consumption.
Green energy tariff offer by various companies mean that for any power consumed, there is a contribution from the renewable sources of grid.

7. Use of solar panels

The advantage of a solar panel is that it enables you to generate own power for consumption. The excess power generated or power not utilized at some given time can be sold back to the national grid via a feed in tariff.
Sometimes solar generated energy is used to heat water in tanks thereby reducing the overall cost of power bills. Actually more than 50% of home energy can be generated by solar panels.
The cost of solar panels depends on the size and the amount of energy they generate. A standard one costs around £13000 but some companies offer free panels in exchange of the income generated by selling excess power to the energy grid.
Due to rising fraudulent claims, ensure your panel is approved by the energy savings trust and also exercise caution before power sales to the national grid.

8. Be keen on your energy consumption

Energy monitors, when placed where everyone can see them, indicate the cost of energy consumed. This always is a good reminder to cut back. Most of them are given for free by energy companies or purchased for around £ 40
According to research and statistics, having an energy monitor can help save up to £100 a year by cutting back on consumption.

9. Installing tank-less water heaters

Turning on a hot water tap enables tank-less water heaters to heat water directly without using a storage tank. Cold water passes through a heating unit where it is heat enabling continuous supply of warm/hot water. With tank-less water heating systems, energy losses associated with old storage water heaters is reduced.

10. Water saving shower-head

A lot of water and energy is used by inefficient shower-heads. Actually it has been established that some shower-heads use more water in four minutes that a whole bath. Also if much time is spent on soaping while under torrent of hot/warm water, then off course you are using a lot of energy. Low flow shower-heads which are usually encouraged have a pause button to enable soaping up. They also come with different water flow rates.

11. Eco friendly kettles

Although the initial cost is expensive, a lot of energy will be saved by this type of kettle in the long run. Also by using the kettle to your standard e.g. not boiling a kettle full of water while you only need a cup for tea, cuts down on wastage.

12. Important laundry measures

Laundry machines, if not utilized properly, can cause a lot of energy wastage. When doing your laundry, keep in mind energy conservation methods and practice the following;

  • Wring clothes before putting them back in a dryer. Sometimes consider it necessary to hang clothes on lines.
  • To reduce the amount of time spent on drying clothes, always clean the lint trap before using it
  • Do not use very high temperature settings for cleaning and always start cleaning when you have a full clothes load.

13. Use of Thick curtains

Thicker curtains are considered the simplest yet the most effective way of preventing heat escaping through windows. During longer nights, they make the home more cozy, warm and well protected from cold.
Doors can be insulated by a cheap stick that runs down the sides of draughty doors. This will reduce draught, add warmth to the home and consequently lead to reduced bills.

14. Upgrade your boiler

Inefficient boilers add up to £200 to your energy bill. In addition, they have higher levels of carbon emissions, which are reduced on upgrading.
A scale of A to G is used in boiler rating with ‘A’ being the most efficient and ‘G’ the least. If yours is at the low end of the scale, upgrading or purchase of a different higher scaled boiler is advised.
Other ways of improving energy efficiency in homes include;

  • Use of ceiling fans in place of air conditioners
  • Replacing air filters in heaters and air conditioners
  • Use of programmed thermostats that allow automatic turn off of electrical appliances when nobody is around. This can save up to £200.
  • If possible employ the use of wood stoves to furnaces and always draw curtains over windows at night for better insulation
  • Heating and cooling only rooms that are occupied and closing vents
  • Planting a deciduous tree that provides shade during hot days and allows sunlight during winter since it’s bare.
  • Keeping water heaters at warm temperatures as opposed to hot temperatures

Practice energy conservation by employing any of the above ways and enjoy home comfortability, increased energy savings, reduced bills and above all take part in reducing the impact of climate change and global warming.

Central Heating

Are Electric Heaters Better Than Central Heating?

Central heating

Central heating comes about when heat to every room in the house (resulting from heating water or air) is distributed from a central heat source.

Note: For a video on how central heating works, check this one out and then come back to continue reading:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJEAXIInc00

Different heat sources that can be used for central heating include; gas boiler, wood pellet boiler, air to water heat pump and diesel boiler among others. Central heating from solar panels is very much possible however more set up costs will be required.
Central heating sources have different features as below;

  • Heated water is passed through underflow pipes into the radiator which thereby reduce heat into the home
  • The heat warms objects within the room passively. You do not need to worry about noisy fans and draughts.
  • When the water is heated up to the required temperature level, the boiler modulates/switches off as heat is evenly emitted from the radiator.
  • Modern central heating systems can produce hot water for domestic consumption. Also, they can heat swimming pools and spas.
  • Should be fitted with a time controller to ensure heat is emitted only when needed and also a thermostat which controls the amount of heat supplied to various rooms.
  • For central heating systems with under-floor pipes, they need to be installed before laying the floor slab.

Before choosing on the type of system to install, bear in mind the system efficiency, cost and the type of material used in constructing your home. Also assess the amount of heat required for desired level heating by calculating the approximate heat energy lost via windows, walls, floors and the ceiling.
After drawing conclusions on the amount of heat required and heat loss assessments, choose the most suitable radiator with pipe lengths and spacing for underground heating with respective boiler for installation (for steam boilers). The installation process should only be undertaken by experienced and qualified professional. For efficiency ensure your system is serviced at least annually.
People prefer central home heating because of the following reasons;

  • Efficiency; Compared to other forms of heating, water systems provide four times the amount of heat produced. Also warm air that runs throughout the building provides even warmth distribution.
  • Convenience; Central heating comes with flexibility of being used anywhere. In rural areas where electricity is a problem, propane can be used as an option. Depending on the type of house, the cost and contractor recommendations, different types of central heating systems can be used.
  • Economical; the initial purchase and installation of the central heating system is quite expensive however the savings made in the long run by using the system are worthwhile and they actually recover the initial costs. Modern heaters are fitted with timers to run only when required and thermostats to regulate heat to required levels. Also system pipes are narrow and can back up heat enabling heated water to remain hot for long periods with minimal energy.
  • Central location; heat from one location is distributed equally enabling even distribution to the entire house. The central location can be a utility room or any safe room. This makes this a very secure and safe way of heating the house
  • Controls; central heating systems have thermostats that are programmed. A thermostat allows even temperature regulation and distribution throughout rooms. The system can be turned off in rooms that heating is not required. Also when the heat reaches desirable levels, the system is programmed to shut down automatically.
  • Sources of heat; Central heating system runs on gas, electricity or solar energy among other sources. All these sources give alternatives to choose from for efficiency, convenience and effectiveness.
  • Environmental friendly; Compared to other forms of heating, gas central heating produces less emissions (water and carbon dioxide) becoming cleaner and more Eco-friendly. The convenience of the gas through a pipe means that large tanks of oil that could leak and poison the ground water are not required.

Despite the above merits, drawbacks of central heating include:

  • Higher installation costs
  • Suitable route has to be established through which pipes will pass
  • The central heating unit needs sufficient space for installation
  • It does not offer flexibility to meet changing heat requirements in terms of resizing or moving components.

Electric heaters

Electric Heating is a process by which electrical energy is converted to heat energy. Usually an electric heater (that uses resistors emitting radiant energy) is used in this conversion process. Common uses of heat energy include; cooking, space heating and water heating among others.
Electric resistors in electric heaters work by joule heating. Modern electric heaters use nichrome wire as heating elements.
Sometimes electric heating can be via heat pumps that use electric motor to draw heat energy from the source and produce up to four units of heating energy from each unit of electricity.
When warming house interiors, various space heating methods can be used as below;

  • Radiative heating; by use of a radiative heater with a heating element resembling a light bulb that emits infra-red radiations which are converted to heat energy and by the help of a reflector, reflected directly to heat people and objects. Radiative heaters, though silent, lack overheat protection thus pose a high risk of causing accidental fires.
  • Convection heating; convection heaters heat air by thermal conduction. Warm air being lighter is displaced by cool air which is heat to also rise due to buoyancy. This process continues thereby creating a convection cycle.To create a heat reservoir, convection heaters are sometimes filled with oil.
  • Fan heating; electric fan heaters used are also called forced convection heaters as they speed up airflow reducing thermal resistance between the heating element and the surrounding. Although they speed up heating, the electric fan produces noise while working.
  • Storage heating system; storage heaters store heat at night then release it during the day when required. It is relatively cheap to acquire a reason why it is branded the name Economy 7 in some parts e.g. the UK

Other methods used for electric heating include; electric arc heating, induction heating, and dielectric heating. Produced heat(by induction or dielectric losses) is transferred by conduction, convection or radiation to the work-piece for heating.
Some people prefer electric heating due to the following reasons;

  • Temperature control; easy room by room temperature control is exhibited by various electric heating methods
  • Cost; compared to other heating systems, electric systems and heaters are cheaper and easy to install.
  • Space; electric heaters occupy relatively little space in the house
  • Clean and quiet; no emissions and sounds produced unless when using electric fan heaters.
  • Environmental friendly; despite noise from electric fan heaters, there are zero emissions (carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide) when this method is used. Also natural resources are preserved as wood and fossil fuel consumption is reduced.

Despite the above merits, electric heating possess some setbacks as below;

  • Operational expenses; electric resistance heaters that are used to heat up the room when used for long time periods make the electricity bill unbearable.Sometimes the bill can be two times that of gas.
  • Inefficiency; although very efficient when different methods are used to generate interior heat for buildings, the efficiency levels drop when supplying power plants are included. I.e. more than ten units of fossil fuel is used to produce less than four units of electricity in a fossil fuelled electricity plant. This could have been more effective and efficient if fossil fuel was burned directly by the consumer to produce heat.
  • When space heaters are used in electric heating, humidification, filtration or cooling cannot easily be provided.
  • Also electric hazards are diverse from shocks to faults that can cause accidental fires making it not a very safe process.

Before settling on the type of home heating method to adopt, it is important to do an in depth analysis of benefits and setbacks that come with each system. Central heating however has proved to be the most preferred method because of variety of systems that come with it, lower operational costs and installations even in rural areas where electricity is a problem.

Old Window of House

Benefits Of Modern Double Glazing Windows

Double glazed windows are windows with sealed inert gas in between two glass layers. They have properties that enable them provide insulation twice as much as single glazed windows. They can easily be fitted in older or new homes as well as in commercial properties.
The following are some of the benefits of modern double glazing windows;

Modern Window

I. Cost of Energy

Double glazed windows are used for thermal insulation as they reduce the flow of heat movement (incoming and outgoing), what results is less energy for heating or cooling the house. The more the glass layers, the more the insulation as each layer traps a good amount of heat that passes through increasing protection against heat loss.
Reduced heat loss means less usage of the heating system thus lower energy consumption and reduced power bills. They are also draught proof and this can save a significant amount of money which could have otherwise been spent in draught proofing. Also, low maintenance costs after installation and long lifespan leads to increased savings.

II. Reduced damage to furnishing

This is because double glazed windows reduce the amount of UV light that enters the room. When the heat from the sun is extreme, it can damage in-house furniture, fittings, carpets and paintings.
Minimized UV light transmission reduces interior fading to up to 95%. Laminated and Tinted glass also offers similar benefit (of reducing the UV light penetration) but with reduced clarity to external views. With Double Glazed Windows, thermal drapes that block the exterior view from inside the house are no longer utilized.

III. Improved Security

Compared to other types of windows e.g. Single Pane, Double Glazed Windows are hard to break.When broken, the shards stay intact resisting penetration thereby discouraging intruders and making them a good option for increasing security to your home. The security feature can further be enhanced by incorporating toughened glass in double glazing units.
Consequently, since they are sealed tighter and fitted with safer, stylish hi tech locking systems, opening them from outside is not easy. Thus very effective protection from break ins.
A superior, stylish and improved security windows system with PVC fittings is maintained.

IV. Sound Insulation

This is because of the barrier created between the inside of the house and the outside environment.
Double Glazing works by diluting noise as it passes through the two layers of glass and through the inert gases. This process is very effective and an encouraged investment for those who live in cities, by a busy road/street or beneath a flight path, as it reduces up to 70% of the noise from outside ensuring a calmer, quieter home.
Noise, due to its wave properties can pass through windows by;

  • Vibration; allows easy sound travel through solid objects.
  • Poor seals, cracks or spaces; after entry, it amplifies inside.

High sound levels and noise can inhibit concentration, reduce sleep, cause headache and make one lose the sense of hearing. To prevent these, measure of control must be enforced.
Double glazing windows prevent sound penetration by the above two ways since they are heavy enough to reduce vibration and exhibit minimal air infiltration.
According to research and statistics, the noise reduction effectiveness is also enhanced by the large buffering air cavity that exists between the two glass layers.
The distance between glasses provides depth to the air cavity. The larger the depth, the more sound is insulated.

V. Reduced Condensation

When moisture lands on a warmer surface, it condenses to water droplets which in turn freeze to frost. Frost makes the room colder by lowering the temperatures inside. The inert air between the two layers of glass and the airtight seal blocks up moisture in the cold weather preventing condensation process (even in bathrooms).
With Double Glazing therefore, an improved thermal insulation is exhibited thereby greatly reducing the condensation process maintaining a warmer, drier home.
In older homes, Condensation can cause mould and mildew, damaged window frames and timber rot which can eventually cause adverse health effects. Double Glazing mitigates these effects by reducing excess moisture that collects on window panes

VI. Cold Summers

Heat into the house from sunlight travels via the following methods;

  • Convection; heat transfer by air currents where warm lighter air rises displacing denser air or ‘forced’ convention through breeze. Both processes can also take place concurrently.
  • Conduction; heat travels via a conductor e.g. aluminium or steel among others.
  • Radiation; heat travels directly from the sun

To prevent or reduce the above heat transfer processes during summer, double glazing windows exhibit a low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)to reduce heat effect from direct sun-rays and low u-value that prevents light heated air outside the room from moving inside and cool air inside from escaping through the window.Also trapped heat energy reduces the burning effect through windows in hot sunny days.
Compared to Single Glazing, Double Glazing can reduce solar heat through windows by up to 20%.
Argon filled units and Low-E glass, which contain higher thermal properties can reduce solar heat by up to 50%

VII. Warm Winters

Single Glazed Windows lose up to 70% of heat. As insulators, the depth of inert gas between the two layers of glass prevents cold temperatures from affecting the warm temperatures already existing in the house.
Other glasses superior for this role include; argon filled units and Low-E glass.
During winter, high Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)properties enables the windows to allow the heat from the sun be transmitted into the house by convention, conduction or radiation and low u-value prevents the warm heat in the house from escaping.

VIII. Resale value

A home fitted with double glazing windows has an enhanced resale value. Home buyers want homes with sufficient insulation material and these windows make the house even more desirable to house purchasers. They give an old home a better modern look.

IX. Maintenance Costs

After fitting, Double Glazing Windows last for a very long time when still in good initial condition without additional maintenance.Consequently, they are impact resistant therefore don’t break easily, are not affected by strong UV lights, are not affected by termites, they do not undergo warping and no corrosion or paint is needed. All these save on time as a resource, effort and money.

X. Resistant to adverse weather conditions

This property makes them important for use by those living near large water bodies. Double Glazing Windows are not affected by heavy winds, heavy rains and salty air or water. Brocken glass tends to remain intact, still protecting from wind and strong UV light for replacement at a later, more convenient period.

XI. Improved Privacy

This is by the use of tint glass on double glazing creating a darker look, slightly difficult to see through.

XII. Environment friendly

Double glazing ensures more heat is trapped inside the house for longer periods. Thermostats and other room heat heating appliances are kept off leading to lower or no carbon emissions into the environment.
As per research, a three bedroom house with ‘A’ rated windows saves more than 700 Kgs of carbon dioxide gas in a year.
Consider all the above benefits of double glazing windows and enjoy long run reduced costs, improved authentic appeals summed up by comfort, fulfilling and a more relaxing temperature controlled environment,

 

Energy Efficiency Sign

What To Look For In A Halogen Heater

A halogen heater is device that produces heat by using halogens, when plugged into an electric current. Unlike other electrical devices that produce heat through coils and heat conductors, these heaters use halogen elements enclosed in lamps or bulbs to provide a direct source of radiant heat or energy. Halogen-2 heaters are mainly of two types: Oscillating heaters, which have a fan that propels air within the heating system, enabling it to get heated and finally blowing it out of the system. The other type uses blowers that expel heated air from the system. Halogen heaters come in different sizes and shapes depending on their functions.

These sizes range from small, medium, large to extra-large. Small sized heaters are mainly designed for smaller rooms or homes while the application of larger ones tends to be in larger homes, offices or houses. Their design is also dependent on function in that, the design of a storage heater is totally different from that of a conservatory unit. This equips each heater with a customized ability to deal with its own problem. Before purchasing a halogen heater, several factors should be considered. These include:

I. Energy efficiency

Halogen heaters are designed to improve energy efficiency by using light from infra-red regions and converting it to radiant heat. Halogen heaters use less energy compared to other electrical heaters. They are said to utilize 85% of all the input power by converting it to radiant heat. This makes them excellent focal heaters, in that they can heat an area they are facing quicker through radiation compared to other electric heaters, which heat through convection.

For example, if you want to heat your feet, the halogen heater focuses most of its heat to the legs and not the area around it. Electric heaters tend to warm the air which circulates through the entire room including areas where the heat may not be required such as the ceiling. Halogen heaters heat faster, further reducing energy consumption. They use large bulbs with a low overall energy consumption compared to bulbs of the same sizes used in other non-halogen products.

II. Environmental-friendliness

Halogen heaters produce clean Eco-friendly heat that does not pollute the air. This reduces emission of gases the cause greenhouse emissions whose consequences are linked to forest fires, rise of ocean levels, melting of mountain tops etc. They don’t produce smoke or carbon monoxide gases that are hazardous to our health or dusty air that affect people with allergies.

III. Safety

Halogen heaters possess quartz that provides the heaters with a shock resistant capability reducing risks associated with electric shock. Unlike They also they don’t get heated up as they generate radiant heat. Their rear side remain cold to touch no matter how high the temperatures are. Most electrical heaters possess a coil that becomes red hot when heated while the halogen heaters use safe radiant energy that possess little or no threat to vulnerable people or animals such as children and pets.However some get heated in the front side which may be dangerous. They are still, however, the ideal solution to safety as they rarely start fires even when tipped over.

IV. Size

The smaller size of halogen heaters equips them with a portability advantage. They can easily be moved from one point to the other without much hustle. Usually, the size of a halogen heater is proportional to the amount of heat generated. Small heaters tend to produce little radiant energy appropriate for small rooms, while larger ones are effective in warming large rooms. Larger households that require heating spread throughout the home are more effectively heated using central heating systems that heat the air which in turn warms the whole room or house. Halogen heaters that produce radiant heat with a small focal point therefore become ineffective in such scenarios. This can however be solved by purchasing larger halogen heaters with heat adjustable properties.

V. Affordability/ cost

Due to their efficiency, halogen heaters tend to be more expensive compared to conventional heaters. Their expensive nature is also associated to their durability, low serviceability and cost effective nature. Larger and more durable heaters are more costly compared to small and less durable heaters.

VI. Quick on/off response

Unlike other heaters that use thermostats to control room temperature, the heating element in hydrogen heaters is a bulb whose tungsten filament gets heated to immediately result in production of the desired radiant energy. A reverse function of turning it off is also instant because it turns off the filament ceasing production of radiant energy. This makes the halogen heater ideal in emergencies that require warming of chilled persons or objects.The electric heaters on the other hand produce heat or cool their systems gradually. Some halogen heaters are fitted with built in timers that enable them to automatically turn on or off at preset times. Others are fitted with “Frost watch” settings that enable them to turn on or off in case of freezing temperatures. These additional features however come with increased cost of the heaters.

VII. Durability

Halogen heaters are equipped with halogen that ensures a long usage life. They have the capability to maintain a constant energy emission throughout their lifetime. The bulbs in these heaters use fused quartz to provide the high radiant heat making them last long. The halogen cycle also makes the halogen heaters more durable compared to the incandescent light bulbs by preventing the sides of the bulb from getting discolored translating to a maximum production of luminous energy.

VIII. Flexibility and controllability

Hydrogen heaters are easy to use or install in homes. Their heaters can easily gather and disperse light and heat by use of mirrors and lenses to other areas that require the radiant heat. They are known to use very simple systems to provide high efficient heating in homes. They are adjustable and can produce the desired amount of heat; low, medium or high. Some large halogen heaters are fitted with wheels which makes them easy to move around the house.

For more information check out this blog and Google plus page which has some updates regarding heating appliances, energy usage, green/environmental issues and a whole host of other topics surrounding the home and energy.

Home Insulation

Modern Building Materials Used To Insulate

Building materials are readily available materials for construction. They can be naturally obtained e.g. timber, sand, rocks and clay or manufactured in industries. Building insulation materials are thermal insulation materials used in retrofitting and reduce heat transfer in buildings by various modes; conduction, convection or radiation with a general goal of attaining home thermal comfort and reduced energy consumption.

Choosing building insulation materials

Before choosing the type of building insulation material, a lot of factors are considered. Some of these factors include;

  • Climatic conditions; regional weather conditions
  • Ease of replacement at the end of its life
  • Material flammability; for safety protection against accidental fires
  • Material toxicity;
  • Cost and effectiveness; this is the material affordability
  • Environmental effects and sustainability; whether they are environmental friendly.
  • Material durability; how effective it is in resisting degradation from decomposition, moisture and compression.
  • Ease of installation

Sometimes, when a single building material does notattain desired results, a combination of materials is advised for optimal solutions. Some examples of building insulation materials are explained below;

I. Hebel

For large scale construction projects e.g. warehouses, production centres and facilities, sports halls and events training centres among others, consider the use of hebel products. Building materials are delivered and assembled on site before being used in construction. In terms of efficiency and insulation, Hebel products are inflammable thus protect against fire.

II. Silka

These are calcium silicate blocks used in building slim highly stable walls with extreme sound absorbent properties. Silka, being a good material for storing heat, has over the years been used for thermal insulation in modern buildings. It being environmental friendly is made up of lime, water and sand.

III. Ytong

ClassicYtong building block as a construction material is very reliable and can be obtained at relatively low costs and can be used to attain very high quality construction requirements. The fact that it is easily compatible with other building materials and withstands high pressure makes it effective for use in a wide range of construction and renovation applications for both new and old buildings.
As an insulator, Ytong AAC (from sand, cement, lime and water) exhibits thermal insulation efficiency and its non-inflammable nature makes it offer good protection from accidental fires.

IV. Multipor

Multipor adds to classic Ytong building block. As a more innovative product with special properties, it forms multipor mineral insulation boards and panels for insulating new buildings and old buildings, also commercial and industrial structures and for energy modernization.
Multipor panels are free from harmful substances and contain no fibers; their production is also from environmentally safe raw materials.
Its properties make it to be considered an epitome in thermal insulation as it exhibits structural strength and optimum insulation performance.

Home Being Insulated while Building

V. Structural insulated panels (SIPS)

Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are also referred to as stressed skin walls. The concept of foam-core external doors is extended to the entire house i.e. floors, walls, ceilings and roofs.
The panels are made from plywood, oriented strand-boards or drywall glued together and sandwiched with cores of expanded polystyrene or polyurethane, compressed wheat straws or proxy.
Proxy can also be used as an insulator on its own since it has a high R-value of between 7 and 9 and can resist chemicals and moisture. Its only setback is that of higher initial costs.
Materials used in making structured insulated panels (expanded polystyrene, polyurethane wheat straw, or epoxy) enable SIPs insulation properties. The following are other benefits

  • Exhibit true R-values and lower energy costs in the long run
  • No CFCs, HFCFs or formaldehyde substances used in its production
  • Can be assembled on site and offers a faster or quicker construction option
  • Impermeable to moisture and creates a solid insulation shell around the house ensuring an energy efficient home.

Despite their high costs compared to other insulation materials and the fact that thermal bridging may occur at lumber fastening points, their efficiency, effectiveness and R-value makes them desirable home insulation materials for modern houses.

VI. Straw bales

Straw bales usually construct thick walls from rice or wheat straws highly compressed together. They were used in traditional houses but different experimental projects have made them popular and are now embraced in modern structures due to low costs involved and the high R-value exhibited.
Before construction they are allowed to dry to get rid of moisture and then tightly packed to remove air gaps which might lead to reduced energy insulation efficiency.

VII. Insulating concrete form

Also called insulated concrete form (ICF), it is basically reinforced concrete unit form with thermal insulation properties for interior and exterior walls and also floors. They are manufactured from any of the below material;

  • Expanded Polystyrene or Polyurethane foam
  • Cement-bonded polystyrene beads or wood fiber
  • Cellular concrete

For flexural strength, concrete is poured onto steel bars erected in forms, it’s then cured and depending on the form material used, it offers thermal and sound insulation, improved interior air quality, backing for drywall, protection against fire and regulated humidity levels that reduce mold growth.
Insulating concrete form are categorized by shape of concrete inside form or by the characteristics they exhibit

Categorization by shape

Examples include

  • Waffle Grid System; concrete shape is obtained from a hybrid of screen grid and flat wall systems
  • Post and Lintel System; concrete contains lintel
  • Flat wall system; the concrete takes the shape of a flat wall
  • Grid system; the concrete takes the shape of the metal in a screen. The solid form material separates channels of reinforced concrete.

Categorization by characteristics

Examples include

  • Blocks; ICF block edges interlock thus no need of bonding material. They are manufactured from materials that exhibit low gravity
  • Panels; panel ICFs are flat and rectangular
  • Plank; have characteristics of both block ICFs and Panel ICFs in terms of dimensions

VIII. Ceramics

Clay manufactures bricks and special tiles used in floors, walls and roofs. All these materials exhibit good insulation properties.

IX. Building Papers and membranes

Building papers and membranes are used for Damp-proofing and water-proofing. Examples include;

  • Red Rosin Paper; used for protecting a job-site during construction and as an underlayment in roofs, floors and exterior walls.
  • Tar paper; invented in the 19th century and used as red rosin paper.

X. Styrofoam

Styrofoam which is 90 percent air is a very light material use in pipe insulation. It has an R-value of five per inch and can be used in road construction to prevent soil disturbances due to thawing. Styrofoam has the following characteristics;

  • High thermal resistance; making it a good material for saving energy
  • Thermal mass; for energy reductions especially when combined with passive solar designs
  • No or minimal air leaks; reduces heat loss and improved home comfort.
  • Strength and Durability; Styrofoam lasts longer and its component materials do not rot even when wet. Compared to wood framed structures, its structures last ten times longer
  • Also has high resistance to forces of nature.

Because of above characteristics and other qualities, Styrofoam has different uses as explained below;
Sound absorption; Styrofoam has low acoustic transmission and sound transmission coefficients (STC) of between 46 and 72 making it good for insulation against noise and unwanted sounds compared to Drywalls and fiberglass with an STC of 36.
Air quality; Styrofoam walls regulate humidity levels reducing the chances of mold growth therefore ensuring more comfortable home interiors
Fire protection; walls from Styrofoam have up to six hours fire resistant rating
Reduced landfills; it can be manufactured from recycled materials hence reduced environmental hazards.

XI. Glass

Glass is manufactured from sand and silicate mixtures subjected to very high temperatures in a kiln. To make it bulletproof, some additives are included in the mixture.
In modern construction, glass is used to cover small building openings allowing light into the building interior at the same time protecting against inclement and sometimes as a ‘curtain wall’ when used in covering the entire wall section of a building.

If you would like to see some great ideas and watch a few videos on this topic, have a look at this You Tube channel which is aimed at those who are looking for eco design ideas but also covers many insulation related topics.

Renovated House with Insulation

Best Ways To Insulate Your Home

According to experts, home insulation has many options to choose from ranging from the most efficient to least efficient. Choosing the right insulation therefore depends on the levels of efficiency required and the budget set aside for the process. Perhaps the degree of efficiency is directly proportional the installation cost of a particular method; expensive insulation methods tend to be more efficient and energy saving. Before insulation a home, one should take into consideration, the R-Value of the insulator. This is the material’s measured ability to resist conduction of heat. Materials with higher R-value act as better insulators since they conduct heat low amounts of heat. The R-value of each material is noted on the package during its manufacture.

Ways of insulation

The following are some of the best ways of insulating your home;

I. Blanket: Batt and roll insulation

Blanket is the most frequent insulation method. It utilizes materials such as natural and plastic fibers, mineral rock or fiberglass. Just as the name suggests, it consists of rolls and batts. Rolls are made of long, rolled-up strips of material and work best when casing a large open area while batts are cut into standard lengths and are more efficient in wrapping exteriors or interiors of walls. Fiberglass is the commonly used material due to its easy nature of installation; it can be done without the necessity of hiring a professional. The fiberglass is integrated in between beams, joists and studs. On the other hand, plastic and natural fibers are placed in floors or ceilings and have an easy installation procedure that saves on costs. They tend to be relatively cheap since they are mostly made of recycled material.

II. Concrete block and foam insulation

During building, a poor heat conductor is incorporated into concrete to add insulating properties to the walls. These materials are placed either on the exterior or interior of the walls to limit heat conduction. Materials such as form boards are placed inside or outside walls. They are also placed in unfinished walls or foundations to increase their R-value. In spite of their effectiveness in insulation, they do require specialized expertise to do the installation. Other materials such as concrete block are also used for new constructions and are done by insulating the outside of concrete blocks with an insulator that tends to control indoor temperatures. They are then dry stacked and surface bonded during building resulting in a high thermal resistant walls. Sometimes, beads or air particles are incorporated into the concrete mix used in making walls to increase its ability to resist heat conduction.
Concrete foam insulation is also an effective insulation method that involves installation of foam boards or blocks as part of structure of the building by interlocking hollow foam blocks. These materials are effective insulators due to their high warm air endurance

III. Blow-in or loose-fill

This type of insulation consists of materials loose enough to be blown into a wall cavity or hidden positions such as corners and edges using a blowing machine. These materials include loose cellulose, fibreglass which are generally cheap, easy to install and can easily be blown into position by drilling of holes into exterior of houses. They are mostly used in wall cavities, attic floors and other hard to reach areas such as non-conforming spaces and around framing. They are appropriate in insulating areas with obstructions or irregular shapes as well as already finished areas.

IV. Reflective systems

This type of insulation has a facing made of foil or Kraft attached to it for vapor and moisture control. The foils are incorporated between wooden frames, joints and even beams giving them the ability to reflect heat from the outside; which in turn reduces costs associated with cooling. Reflective systems can also be made of materials such as plastic film, polyethylene bubbles or cardboard. These materials are relatively cheap and help conserve energy. They are easy to install and don’t require specialized expertise and can be fitted in floors, ceilings or even unfinished walls. They are very applicable in areas with several blockades and crooked framing due to their high dynamism. They are mostly used to prevent vertical flow of heat such as roofs.

V. Sprayed foam

This type of insulation utilizes materials such as polyurethane, polyisocyanurate, cementitious phenolic to impede the transfer of either heat or cold. Spray foams are majorly of two types.The two-pound closed-cell foam inhibits the transfer of both air and vapor. It is usually applied on ceilings and roofs or in tight areas due to its high R-value. The half-pound open-cell foam is primarily installed in addition to the presence of a vapor inhibitor and usually used in vapor-free regions and walls. They are both effective in insulating irregularly shaped areas that may have several barriers. They are applied using specialized spray containers which then harden and take the shape of the cavity forming a barrier that inhibits moisture.

VI. Structural insulated panels (SIPs)

SIPs are made up of materials such as straws, form boards or liquid forms. Incorporation of these materials is done by fitting them together to form the floors, walls ceilings, and roofs of a house. They are more energy efficient in that, they are very good insulators that also offer noise proof abilities to a house. SIPs when used to build a house therefore offer the ability to build and insulate at the same time. They have high R-values enabling them be an ideal home insulators. Building of houses using SIPs takes a shorter time since the construction involves fitting together of pre-manufactured panels that make the walls and roofs of a house. Houses made with SIPs have been known to offer the highest insulation properties.

VII. Rigid foam and rigid fiber board

The rigid fiber board uses materials such as fiberglass or mineral wool to offer insulation properties. These materials are able to withstand very temperatures making them applicable in insulating very hot surfaces. The rigid foam board method uses materials such as polystyrene, polyisocyanurate and polyuthane that are installed in walls, floors, ceilings and roofs. They are thin but offer have very effective insulation properties. They lower conduction of heat due to their high thermal resistance ability

Large Storage Heater

Consideration For Using Storage Heaters

Storage heaters, as the name suggest store or keep heat. Good storage heaters are designed to consume cheap off peak or direct electricity for maximum output.
Among other models, the following are some types of storage heaters designed for comfort and optimum efficiency and effectiveness.

  • Combination model
  • Automatic model
  • Smart fun assisted model
  • Manual control model

Before deciding on any of the above types of storage heaters, the following specific heater considerations have to be taken into account.

I. Safety Features

Minimum safety required standards should be taken into consideration before installing a storage home heater. The following are some of the safety concerns;

  • Exposed surfaces; should be cool to touch and free from any acute shocks
  • Safety cut off switch; to stop current flow in case of any emergency
  • Air inlets and outlets; ventilation is important for cooling. This prevents energy loss due to overheating.
  • It should also be free of open flames and exposed heating elements to prevent accidental fires and burns.
  • Should conform to low voltage directive (LVD). should draw less amount of current so as not to overload the electrical circuit systems
  • Should be Eco-friendly by not emitting unsafe exhaust gases e.g. carbon monoxide and smells

At any time, even under a vacated premise, it should not expose your property to damages by leaks from radiators

II. Energy Saving Features

High cost of fuel, climate change and supply shortages are some of the important reasons for energy conservation. To aid this, a good storage heater should have well installed features for energy conservation. These include;
i. Panel heaters; Panel heaters offer a variety of options in relation to energy saving as below;

  • Run back timers; after a specified time duration, the run back timer switches off the heater automatically.
  • 24 hours timer; allows planned (advance) heating since it controls when the heater will be switched on or off
  • Accurate thermostats;controls overheating or under heating by ensuring the room temperatures do not vary/fluctuate
  • Half heat switches; reduces watts used if heater output is more than required.

ii. Heater Controls; Examples include; Plug in Modules, Individual Heater Controls or Central Programmers. They improve on efficiency of the storage heater.
The Automatic Input Control controls the amount of heat the heater stores depending on the weather.

iii. Duo heat radiators; by using off peak and direct source of electricity, they enable 24 hours provision of heat. The heater should be able to automatically adjust to desired heat proportions for comfort-ability. Check out this video for a little advice on how to get the most out of your storage heater:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUwXE8mlj-I

III. Maintenance

For safety and efficiency, some storage heaters require regular maintenance. To avoid damages to heater cords, Servicing should be done by only qualified personnel.
Before deciding this type of storage heater, get information on how frequently it will be serviced and if there is any fee attached to that. If it needs frequent servicing, consider other better options.
Also get to know the type of servicing whether it will involve changing parts or just simple routine maintenance. A good storage heater requires very minimal or no maintenance.

IV. Positioning

For effectiveness, safety, efficiency and optimal results, heaters should be strategically installed with the following taken into consideration;

  • Human traffic; as a safety measure, heaters should be installed in arrears or sections of the house free from human traffic. This will prevent burns and trip hazards from heater cords.
  • Visible cords; heater cords should not be passed under carpets or anywhere not visible as they might unknowingly undergo wear and tear.
  • Away from easily combustible material e.g. paper bins, curtains, desks among others to prevent accidental fires
  • Balanced, optimal heating; should be orientated for maximum, better heat output results.

V. Cost and warranty

With many storage heaters in the market, consider the one most tailored to your needs in terms of optimum energy output and low costs (price and maintenance) Cut on installation costs by inquiring about after sale installation service and get assurance about the heater quality through warranty to cover on any inconvenience.

VI. Heating effectiveness

Optimal effectiveness depends on heater efficiency and size of the room among other factors. A large open space will require more powerful heaters compared to smaller enclosed rooms. For energy efficiency, a heater with correct capacity for a given room should be considered
Overheating heaters that exhibit more than 22c of temperature are never a good fit since a lot of energy is wasted. Consequently, consider heaters with automatic input controls, half heat switches and Run back timers for automatic energy regulations.

VII. Supervision

Some heaters require constant or frequent supervision due to their overheating nature or exposed flames e.g. small fun heaters. These kinds of heaters must be attended to when in operation and should not be preferred for home installations due to high risks associated with them.
Heaters with automatic cut outs on tipping, without exposed flames, cool to touch and free from faults should be preferred.

Value Vs Cost

How Much Does it Cost to Insulate your Home?

Warm air usually flows to a cooler place. During summer, it tends to flow from the outside hot environment into the house. On winter, it tends to flow from a warm in-house environment to the external colder environment. This process though easily prevented by insulation, comes at a cost.

Insulation, when done by yourself can be a simple home improvement process .i.e. batts insulation can be by nailing or stapling, foam panel insulation can be by simple cutting and fixing and reflective foil insulation can be installed by a staple gun. Although this is the case, it can sometimes turn messy and some insulation materials are not safe for handling. Therefore, it should be left to qualified, certified professionals.

According to statistics, an average home is about 2520 square feet with walls and ceiling for insulation. Depending on your budget, materials and other factors, the cost of insulation can vary as explained below;

  1. The Attic

According to experts, the cost of attic insulation ranges from $1.5 to $2.5 per square foot. (This can change by 100% if insulation is of blown type). Air sealing and Attic ventilation will have to be taken care of during this process at a cost of $45 to $55 per ventilating unit.

  1. Wall cavity insulation

Homes built in early years were constructed with two wall layers leaving a cavity between them. Cavity wall insulation is the filling of this gap to reduce condensation from external wall, enhance warmth and save energy.

To consider cavity wall insulation, your home should;

  • Have been built more than ten years ago and doesn’t have insulation. You can confirm this with the help of a registered installer. By drilling a small hole into your house wall (boroscope inspection), to confirm presence or absence of insulation material. Alternatively, confirm from the local authority building control department.
  • Have a wall cavity of more than 50mm
  • Not have walls exposed to driving rain and no leaks. If internal walls are found to be dump during the insulation process, registered damp prevention experts should be contacted to take care of the dampness problem first.
  • Have good brickwork.
  • Have easily accessible external walls. If they are joined to another house, a cavity barrier is inserted to protect from any effect.

The insulation material is then blown into the 50mm cavity from outside the house (through 22mm drilled holes) to fill every part of the wall. After filling, the drilled holes are professionally sealed, not to be noticed.

Cost of wall cavity insulation

The insulation material is mainly made from mineral wool, foamed insulants and beads all manufactured as per set standards and professionally certified. Before purchase, it is important to determine the thermal resistance or R-value that is to be achieved. The better the material is in insulation, the higher the thermal resistance (R-Value).

For wall cavity insulation, most professionals charge $2.50-$3.50 per square foot. This also varies from $ 1100-$3600 for a thousand square feet.

For Full home insulation, the cost depends on the material to be used, area climatic and the economic condition. It averages to about $2600-$5600.

It is important to note that, some companies encourage insulation by offering insulation rebates and discounts. Therefore, before purchase and installation of any insulation material, ensure you are informed about the local insulation services offered.

The following are annual estimates of savings that can be made with wall cavity insulation on a gas heated home. (They are not definite)

Type of building

Flat Bungalow Mid Terrace Semi Detached Detached
Annual savings £380 £100 £100 £150 £255
Installation costs £340 £440 £380 £485 £730
Saved carbon dioxide in a year 330kgs 430kgs 400kgs 700kgs 1140kgs
Payback period

Less than five year period

  1. Floor insulation

Floor insulation is the addition of insulation materials below floor boards to minimise loss of heat into the ground. Sometimes draughts come into the house through floorboards and insulation works to reduce this. According to research and statistics, 16% of heat loss is via the floor. Apart from new floor insulation, retrofitting can also be done.

Floor insulation can be done by yourself at home however it is advisable to involve a professional since some insulation materials e.g. glass wool are not safe when handled without protective clothing.

If rooms below are heated, it is not necessary to insulate floors on 2nd or 3rd floors.

Cost of Floor Insulation

A roll of floor insulation fibre 7 metres in length and 1m in width, costs Rising Cost of Home Insulation£15. For concrete floors, insulation boards 2.4 metre length and 1.2 metre width Cost approximately £20. These come in different sizes and thickness therefore offering different levels of desired insulation.

Floor insulation can also be done using butt materials. As represented in the table below, the cost of batt floor insulation depends on material cost, labour time and cost of materials.

1TEM QUANTITY LOW HIGH
Common Mid-Grade Batt Insulation Cost For 200 square feet $ 80.00 $90.00
Batt Insulation Labour 4.0 hours $105.00 $200.00
Cost of Materials and Supplies e.g. fasteners, sealing tape among others 190 square feet $20.00 $30.00
Installation Costs 190 square feet $195.00 $305.00

With the above information, average cost of batt insulation per square metre can easily be obtained.

  1. Warehouse insulation; Cost of materials

This depends on the size of the warehouse and the type of insulation material. The following is a rough estimate cost representation of quality materials for insulation.

Under-floor insulation materials; if the size is of 80 square metres, the estimated cost will be between $ 160 and $800. If it’s of 110 square metres, the cost will vary from $220 to $1100 and that of 130 square metres, the cost will be between $260 and $1300.

Ceiling insulation materials; for 80 square metres, the estimated cost will be between $400 and $1200. If it’s of 110 square metres, the cost will vary from $550 to $1550 and that of 130 square metres, the cost will be between $650 and $1850

Cost of warehouse insulation

The following is a rough estimate cost representation of quality insulation.

Under-floor insulation; for perfect insulation, charges vary from $18 to $20 per square metre. For fair or good insulation, one pays from $13 to $17 per square metre.

Ceiling insulation; charges vary from $10 to $20 per square metre depending on the grade. (Inclusive of materials and labour)

It is important to note that the costs and prices as explained above are not definite and can vary depending on place or locality. They should just act as a guideline.