24 HPM 1213

HPM December 2013

WWW.HPMMAG.COM Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com INSIDEPLUMBCENTER Adjusting attitudes - not just bills Energy prices have been making headlines again, with further rises as we entered the heating season. HPM spoke to the owner of Shaun Malin Electrical and Plumbing, about how he helps his customers stay on top of their bills... Energy efficiency is one of the most important goals for the industry today. In the UK, we’re wasting too much gas and electricity and releasing too much carbon into the atmosphere and it’s costing us all a fortune. Government initiatives like the Green Deal and the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) aim to make homes more efficient, create cleaner energy and stop people getting stung by huge bills, but Shaun Malin thinks the key to a greener UK is changing attitudes. “I wish more customers would ask me about energy saving advice directly,” Shaun said. “I'm not sure if it's the area I live and work in, but people seem a bit ignorant that we can do things to significantly lower bills. Even then they’re reluctant to pay for work to be done for future benefit, preferring to keep finding an extra few quid a month to pay the bill. “A classic example is when I demonstrated to my accountant that if he changed to quality LED light bulbs, the payback time was 18 months and then he'd be saving money hand over fist. He replied: ‘I've got a box full of halogen (inefficient) ones in the garage that'll last me two years, I'll wait ‘til they run out’. “That’s the problem in a nutshell. In the UK, we moan every winter when energy prices go up and we have to turn the heating on, but we never do anything about it, and that’s where things have to change.” SIMPLE MEASURES Shaun mainly works in the Warwickshire and Leicestershire areas, but he also has customers in Rutland, Peterborough and even Cornwall, and he thinks his ability to talk to a wide range of people is the key to making sure homes are up to standard. “As installers, we’re the best people to educate the public about energy efficient measures,” Shaun said. “That’s because we’re the ones that have relationships with our customers, we know their heating requirements and what products they’re already using, so we can give them the best advice. “It’s a bit daunting because when I got into the business, I just wanted to get out and play with tools, but it’s my duty to help my customers and advise them about energy efficiency. “The problem is energy bills keep going up so people have to find ways to pay them. The extra money people will be spending on energy will have to come from somewhere so they’re going to have to make some cuts, and that’s especially difficult for families with young children. Shaun fitting wireless controls, a job that is ‘much quicker to fit than their wired counterparts’ “Their best option is to look at ways to improve their homes, save their energy and keep their bills manageable.” WIRELESS CONTROLS Fortunately, the simplest measures can be the most efficient. Heating controls reduce the amount of wear-and-tear on the boiler and give householders control of their energy consumption, which can have a serious impact. The Energy Saving Trust calculates that fitting controls can knock up to 30% off energy bills, but eight million homes in the UK are operating without any. Plumb and Parts Center is running a year-long Wise up to Wireless campaign to help educate people about the importance of heating controls, and Shaun is in full support. “Heating controls are essential for customers who want to save money and stop wasting heat,” said Shaun, “and wireless technology is making it even easier to improve the efficiency of a heating system. “Wireless controls are much quicker to fit than their wired counterparts. There are no cables to run so there’s greater flexibility in terms of locating them and upgrading existing systems, for example splitting into zones. “There’s also no damage to decor that would be caused by chasing cables into walls, which customers definitely appreciate. “When I upgraded one system, the boiler was in the kitchen, the cylinder was in the bathroom airing cupboard and the kitchen was clad in pine tongue and groove. “It would have taken two days just to remove the cladding to get cables in, but I installed wireless in half a day.” WORKING WITH ELECTRICITY? Fitting wireless controls doesn’t interfere with the wiring behind the scenes of the boiler, so installers don’t need to conform to Part P (Electrical Safety) of the Building Regulations, and there’s no need to get an electrician in. Some installers aren’t comfortable working with wiring, but Shaun thinks it’s quite straightforward when you know how. “Wireless controls are very easy with a little bit of training,” Shaun said. “I find a lot of installers struggle working out how to get a permanent live and neutral to the receiver box. This is actually a piece of cake with five core flex cables; installers just need to be shown. “The danger is the system can stop working if there’s been a mistake, so priority number one is to ensure a reliable radio signal. Some products have signal strength testing built in to them, but I always keep a unit set-up to take to site and carry out testing before work commences. “I also use products that have an incorporated 'fail-safe' mode which can be activated if desired. The receiver knows if it hasn't received communication from the transmitting device, and will then operate for short periods to get some heat into the property. “Probably the main problem would be if the installer forgot to get the live and neutral to the receiver, and then it simply wouldn't work.” GETTING TRAINED So what can installers do to make sure they’re comfortable fitting wireless controls? “Either go on a manufacturer’s training course or get a controls specialist in,” Shaun said. “The advantage of using a specialist is that that side of the job is done quickly and the customer feels reassured that a specialist has done it. “Installers can also help themselves by using reputable manufacturers. I’d stick with one make and really dig down into understanding all you can about it. “I definitely practice what I preach. I’ve got LED lights at home and a great controls package, so my energy bills are way below the average. Now I just need to convince more people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and save their hard-earned cash, because changing attitudes will lead to the biggest rewards.” 24 DECEMBER 2013 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY enquiry number 127


HPM December 2013
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