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A Homeowners Guide To Green Boilers



These days, we are called to make changes that will allow us to live more sustainably. Since heating is one of the biggest energy users, it makes sense to transition toward more efficient heating systems. Green boilers are a great solution for those seeking to reduce their carbon footprint, and the options for green boilers are increasing all the time.

If you’re considering a green boiler for your home, there are a few things to think about before you make the transition. Let’s take a look at the various types of green boilers and how to choose the green boiler that’s right for you.

There are two main types of green boilers that both reduce environmental impact while meeting different consumer needs: biomass boilers and condensing boilers.

Exploring Biomass Boilers

Biomass boilers take us back to earlier times, when wood burning stoves and fireplaces were central to heating our homes. In fact, they operate in a similar way: by burning fuel (like logs or wood pellets). However, in the case of these earlier technologies, most of the heat goes out through the chimney. Modern wood burning stoves are actually quite efficient, with design improvements that convert more of the fuel into useable heat. For many modern wood burning stoves, you can attach a boiler to heat water and direct the heat to radiators throughout your home.

While biomass boilers do emit carbon dioxide by burning wood and other biomass, we can classify them as carbon-neutral systems of renewable energy, since the carbon dioxide emitted equals the amount absorbed by the plants while they grew. Compare this to oil or gas, which do not absorb carbon dioxide before they’re extracted, cost energy to extract, and then emit carbon dioxide while they’re burned.

Automatic biomass boilers control the amount of fuel and air that are sent to the combustion chamber, making automatic biomass boilers optimally efficient. But for any biomass boiler, two things are needed: space and fuel. Rural dwellers often have the space to store a big biomass boiler and the stacks of logs needed to keep it running; they also often have access to free fuel (trees) that they can obtain themselves. For those living in smaller spaces or in the city, getting and storing wood logs can be more difficult, and importing wood chips is not a highly sustainable practice. This brings us to the second main type of boiler.

Condensing BoilersCondensing Boilers: The Modern Marvel

Since 2007, all gas boilers installed in England and Wales must be condensing boilers by law. But even if your old gas boiler doesn’t need to be replaced, there are still reasons to consider switching to a condensing boiler.

As opposed to biomass boilers, condensing boilers are fuelled by oil or gas. So why are they energy-efficient? Condensing boilers use waste heat that’s released from the initial burning process to preheat cold water entering the boiler. During combustion, water vapour is condensed into liquid, recovering this heat to make the whole process more efficient.

The efficiency of condensing boilers can be up to 28% greater than standard boilers, making this transition an effective one. The extra heat exchanger in condensing boilers allow for greater efficiency without sacrificing space for biomass storage. They require little interaction from the user beyond regular maintenance, and there are various sizes to accommodate different households.

Making the Switch

There’s no doubt that green boilers save energy and have a smaller environmental footprint than older boilers. Like many eco-friendly systems, they also save homeowners money, using less (and often cheaper) resources. But are these savings enough to make up for the investment that comes with switching to a new boiler?

Consider your resources, your surrounding home environment, and your needs. Do you have access to biomass and storage? Do you have a system than can be converted into a condensing boiler for more efficiency?

Once you know what type of boiler will suit your needs, research local and regional boiler installers to compare costs and benefits associated with each. With a few calculations, it will be easy to see that investing in a green boiler will not only pay you back but will help reduce your carbon footprint along the way.

About the Author: Lee Kelly is the owner of Ambient Heating & Plumbing in Bristol. He has been qualified for over 13 years and in that time has helped many homeowners and landlords with their plumbing, boiler and gas safety checks. You can connect with Lee on Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn or call Ambient Heating & Plumbing on 01179 619 021.


Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long will my retirement savings last?”

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?



Clean Growth Strategy for green energy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By sdecoret |

It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?

The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.

A Strategy, Instead of a Plan

But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.

The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.

A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth

But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.

Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push

While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.

The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.

But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.

This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.

Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.

In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.

It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.

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