hybrid boiler

What is a hybrid boiler?

How would you like to keep a little more money in your back pocket and be good to the environment at the same time? If that’s pricked your ears, you might just be interested in investing in a hybrid boiler for your home.

Hybrid systems feature state-of-the-art technology that combines a super-efficient gas boiler with a renewable energy Heat Pump. It can be up to 35% more efficient than a normal gas boiler, saving you money on your home’s energy bills and minimising your overall emissions into the atmosphere too. What’s not to like?

What does a hybrid boiler consist of?

A hybrid boiler system is comprised of a combi boiler that is fitted indoors, along with a heat pump unit that is positioned outside. Most hybrid indoor boilers are space-saving and will comfortably fit inside the space taken up by your old boiler.

The Daikin Altherma hybrid heat pump is leading the way in hybrid boiler technology. Its advanced internal system can detect the most cost-efficient way to heat your home during all four seasons. Another great aspect about the Daikin Altherma is that it can be installed into older properties, as well as new builds, and can be connected to already-installed radiators or Calor gas tanks.

What’s unique about this hybrid system over other boiler-heat pump combinations?

While other boiler-heat pumps operate in parallel, the Daikin Altherma works in series, allowing the flow of one source to feed through the return of the second source for a truly eco-friendly and cost-effective heat operation.

Supreme energy efficiency

It is said that for every kilowatt of electricity used by a hybrid heat pump, it will generate three to four times that amount of renewable heat from the outside air.

Buy your own hybrid boiler

At Warm Front Ltd, we’re all about helping our customers enjoy greater comfort in their family homes while saving them money. Not only does the Daikin Altherma save you money, it’s easier on the environment too. Our expert installers can fit your hybrid boiler with absolute ease and will talk you through the system settings that we commission upon installation for the ideal comfort and efficiency in your home. All hybrid boilers now carry RHI (Renewable Heating Incentive), paid for seven years.

If you’d like to learn more about how a hybrid boiler can optimise your home’s temperatures and energy bills simply call us now on Freephone 0800 083 4333 or drop us a line using our online contact form.

The five most common boiler problems

An inefficient, slow or broken boiler can leave your house freezing, your water unheated and cause you headaches trying to fit it. Given that it can also account for up to 60% of your home energy bills, it’s an appliance you want fixed as soon as possible whenever issues start occurring.

Our Gas Safe qualified engineers carry out boiler maintenance jobs and energy performance checks all the time, witnessing a range of problems on a regular basis. Here are some of the most common energy efficiency issues they come across – and which you should be aware of.

1. Pipes freezing

When the weather turns chilly, the condensation that gathers in your pipes can freeze, causing blockages. All the condensate then ‘backs up’ into the boiler itself, causing the appliance to shut down entirely.

2. Banging noises

Our clients occasionally say they hear the odd banging or clanking noise which appears to be coming from inside their boiler. This is often the result of air trapped in your system, causing it to let off a range of sounds. As well as banging, listen out for gurgling and whistling sounds, as these could also be signs of the same cause.

3. Cold radiators

Another issue that’s often caused by trapped air is a lack of warmth in your radiators. Often in these cases, the radiator is warm in the bottom half but cold in the top. It’s worth trying to bleed it first, as this sometimes solves the issue, but if you’re unsuccessful then your pipes may need clearing through a power flush.

4. Keep switching off

It’s always inconvenient when the boiler takes on a mind of its own and decides when it’s going to switch on and off. More than that, it can also leave the house much hotter or colder than you were hoping for, and risks raising your energy bills. Usually the cause of this menace is your thermostat not functioning properly, low water pressure or air trapped in the system itself.

5. No hot water

Another issue that could be caused by a variety of factors, the most likely in this case being low water levels, the motorised valves failing to work properly and the airlocks being broken.

Springtime

Why spring is a good time to upgrade your boiler

If your boiler limped its way through winter, you’re probably aware that you should consider getting a new one. With spring beckoning and the warmer weather putting in an appearance, you might be tempted to put off sorting out a new boiler until the following autumn, as you won’t be using it as much. Yet, out of sight, out of mind isn’t necessarily the best strategy to take. It can really pay to upgrade your boiler now, rather than leaving it until it gets cold again later in the year, even if you might not need to use it as much over the following months.

Upgrading your boiler now is more convenient than leaving it until you really need it again. As the weather gets warmer, you’re less likely to be inconvenienced by replacing your boiler if you don’t rely on it as much. It also means that you don’t need to rush into making any decisions and you can research all your different options. If your boiler conked out during the depths of winter, you don’t have the luxury of time to peruse your different options, and will need to make a quick decision to get it working again. By browsing your options now at your leisure, you may get a better deal, and may even find that you qualify for a free boiler or heating grant.

By taking your time to weigh up your different boiler options, one of the other benefits is that you can decide if there are any other upgrades that you want to make to your home during the summer. In some cases, it may be more sensible to get a new boiler installed first, before you do any decorating or DIY jobs, for example, especially if you decide to get a boiler of a different size or you choose to have it located in another part of the house. This is also the case if you have insulation installed over the coming months. By getting insulation fitted now, you can decorate walls or make improvements to your attic before winter arrives again.

Health impacts

Health impacts of a cold home

A sluggish boiler will fail to adequately heat up your home, whilst poor insulation will send warmth straight out through windows and doors, flooding cold draughts inside.

One of the more serious consequences of a poorly insulated and heated home is the effect it can have upon a person’s health. This is especially pronounced for more vulnerable people, especially the elderly and children, where figures reveal that nearly 8,000 people have died on average in the last five years due to living in a cold home.

People who suffer from respiratory problems, such as asthma, may find their symptoms worsen if their home is cold. Damp and mould, in particular, can aggravate existing respiratory problems or even contribute to them happening in the first place. Other people who have problems related to the joints, heart or kidneys could increase their risk of having a heart attack, stroke, infection or inflammation from living in a cold home.

It’s not just physical health that is compromised when our homes are not warm enough. A cold home can impact on our mental health, too. It can be hard to focus on anything at home, if you constantly feel cold, which can make you depressed in the long term, especially if the anxiety of not being able to pay for fuel is making the situation even worse.

So profound are the health consequences of an inadequately heated home that experts suggest that it is costing the NHS around £1.3 billion annually. In some parts of the country, doctors are not prescribing patients with pills to cure their ills, but to get a new boiler. This boiler on prescription strategy appears to be having an effect, with GP visits down by nearly a third.

Getting a new boiler or having insulation installed may sound like a costly affair, but it actually may not be as expensive as you think. In some cases, you may be able to qualify for a free boiler or a heating grant, which means that you no longer need to put up with living in a cold environment, and compromising your health.

Photo: Icicles by Timitrius licensed under Creative commons 2
Old style boiler

How to tell if you need a new boiler

An old boiler is not just inefficient, causing your bills to escalate, but if it isn’t working properly, it could be a potential health and safety hazard. Here are some tell-tale signs that indicate you might need a new boiler.

A cold house

If your house feels cold despite having the heating on, this could show that your boiler is inefficient. Equally, if your bills are rising, your boiler could be gobbling up fuel without doing its job properly.

Age

If your boiler is over 10 years old, it could be time to consider an upgrade. This is especially the case if spare parts for the boiler are becoming increasingly harder to source.

Frequent repairs

If your boiler is in need of regular repairs, or you have to keep resetting it or topping up the pressure, it isn’t functioning effectively. It could be time to consider a new boiler.

Unusual noises or smells

If you notice strange noises coming from your boiler, such as hissing, popping or knocking sounds, it might mean the pump isn’t working properly, the bearings of the fan are worn out or there is uneven water distribution. It may be more economical to get a new boiler than getting it constantly repaired.

You shouldn’t notice any smells coming from your boiler, but if you do, the boiler may not be burning as it should be. If carbon monoxide is leaking from your boiler, this won’t give off a smell, but it can be fatal, so get a carbon monoxide detector.

Water problems

If there is a change in the water temperature or the hot water won’t work unless the heating is on, it’s time to consider a new boiler. Certainly, if water leaks from your boiler, this could indicate a serious problem.

Getting a new boiler may seem costly and inconvenient, but you could save money in the long run, and it will prove more efficient and safer than an older model. You may even be able to qualify for a heating grant or a free boiler, so upgrading may be much easier than you had thought.

Photo: Boiler by VeloBusDriver licensed under Creative commons 2

Everyday tips for cutting heating costs

After what felt like an unseasonably warm Christmas, there is finally frost on the ground in the morning. Aesthetically, it’s a welcome sight – what could be prettier than frozen droplets on a spider’s web? However, practically it can be a hindrance rather than a help.

Not only does the icy weather make our morning commutes that little bit longer and more treacherous, but the colder weather can cause our heating bills to rocket. To help you avoid a nasty surprise when it’s time to pay for your heating usage, we’ve put together our top tips for reducing daily costs.

Thermal curtains

Thermal curtains (much like thermal underwear) are a fantastic way to insulate your home for a minimal investment cost. If you’re a dab hand when it comes to sewing then making your own allows you to choose the curtain pattern you want and will save you even more money. Thermal curtain lining can reduce heat loss by up to 25% to it’s certainly worth it in the long run.

Laundry

Invest in a heated laundry rack rather than putting your wet clothes on the radiators – while your trousers might be getting toasty warm, your house will remain chilly if the heat is being blocked. They’re cheap to run and will ensure you’re kept warm.

Cooking

If you’re going to be using the oven, then batch cook several meals at once on a chilly evening. Not only will this mean you’ve got meals for a week already prepared, but you’ll heat the room you’re in (the kitchen). Once the oven is off, leave the door open and let the heat escape as you divide up your meals into containers.

Heating grants

Find out if you’re able to qualify for a heating grant from the government. There are plenty of ways you can benefit from the grants that are available under the ECO and Green Deal schemes, from upgrading your boiler with a free boiler grant to installing a smart meter that helps track of how much you’re spending.

If you think that your home could be more efficient, then get in touch with Warm Front Ltd. Our expert team can provide you with an energy performance check and then make recommendations about how to improve your energy efficiency and cut your costs.

An overview of the free boiler grant

An old boiler is not great news, either for you, your home or the environment. You have the uncertainty of whether it will keep going, the worry of potential repair or replacements costs and you’ll be paying more for your energy bills as it is unlikely to be all that efficient. That being said, the thought of a new boiler is very off-putting – the hassle, the inconvenience and above all the expense! So it’s worth taking a look at the government’s ECO (Energy Company Obligation) scheme for 2016 to see if you qualify. This is a scheme where if you meet the eligibility criteria you can receive a grant towards a brand new boiler with an A-rated energy efficiency score.

Under the government backed ECO scheme, families on low income can receive help with reducing their fuel bills. The funding applies to people who receive certain income related benefits and are for replacing an old, inefficient boiler with a new condensing style model – these grants can be accessed by both tenants and homeowners alike. The applicable benefits include pension credit and child tax credit, and in some circumstances income support, jobseekers’ allowance, working tax credit and universal credit. The grants apply to boilers that are performing at less than 86% efficiency, which is typically boilers over five years old, and the cost of the grants are met by UK energy companies. They are free, and there is nothing that needs to be repaid.

In winter, paying for heating can be a worry. With the HHCRO (Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation) in place you may be eligible for funding towards other measures to keep your house warmer and more energy efficient – this scheme is also known as affordable warmth. It may include measures such as cavity wall insulation or loft insulation, and again it is available for those who are in receipt of qualifying benefits to help with lowering the costs of heating your home.

Once you have made a successful application an approved installer will visit to carry out the work, and you should be warm with lower energy bills in no time!

loft insulation

Why wait to insulate?

Have you insulated your loft? If not, it might be a good time to think about it. A study by Which shows that an insulated loft can save you up to £240 every year, and those savings start kicking in straight away.

So, why insulate your loft? Quite simply, loft insulation stops heat escaping through the roof. The heat from your central heating stays within your home, and can’t escape through the roof. If you look at thermal imaging photos of houses without loft insulation, compared to those which do, a shocking amount of heat can get out through an uninsulated roof. An uninsulated roof can let around 25% of the heat in your home escape – that’s a quarter of your heating bill going to waste.

Should you be planning on selling, or renting, your home, you’ll also find its energy performance certificate grade improves, making it a more attractive prospect for future inhabitants looking to save money.

Already got loft insulation? Head up to your loft with a tape measure and measure its depth. Historically, 100mm loft insulation was sufficient, but the current recommended thickness for insulation is 270mm. It’s also possible that your old insulation has lost height with age, or has been compressed by things sitting on it. If you have insulation but it’s not 270mm, consider having it topped up to maximise the benefits you’ll receive.

If you’re hesitant to have your loft insulated because you’re worried that you might lose storage space, there are plenty of workarounds for this. Simply insulate between the joists, and cover the mineral wool with a hard insulation board, before covering with wooden boards. Alternatively, you can purchase floor raisers for lofts, which allow you to install full height 270mm insulation, enabling you to receive the maximum benefit.

Once your loft is insulated, you should find that your loft insulation lasts for around 40 years. Sit back, and enjoy the savings. Your initial investment should pay for itself in no time at all. Get in touch with Warm Front, and let’s talk about how we can fit loft insulation in your home.

Options for off gas properties

If you live in an ‘off gas’ property, your options for heating used to be somewhat limited: electric night storage heaters, oil radiators or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) heaters. However, with the advent of new technology there is now another option, which is efficient and environmentally friendly – and this is the air source heat pump. Listed among renewable energies, it’s not been one that many people have heard about, until now.

Air source heat pumps work by absorbing the heat from the air outside, which can then be used in your home to work with radiators and underfloor heating systems. You can also use it to feed a hot water supply. They work rather like refrigerators in reverse, by extracting heat from the ambient atmosphere. They do need electricity to operate the pump, but as the heat they extract comes either from the ground or the air, it is constantly renewed naturally, and they can even function in temperatures as low as -15 degrees C.

There are several benefits to installing this type of heating. If you are replacing conventional electric heating, you can expect to see your fuel bill come down quite significantly. As this counts as a renewable energy source, there is also the possibility of earning some extra income as part of the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive. You are also likely to be lowering your carbon emissions, which can only be a good thing and could have a positive impact on potential buyers should you ever look to sell your home. An air source heat pump can also heat both your water and your home if you wish, generally there is very little maintenance required, and obviously you will no longer need to have fuel delivered.

The output from a heat pump differs to the way in which gas and oil boilers work. Rather than blasting out higher temperatures, pumps work more efficiently, constantly putting out a lower heat over a longer period, aiming for a constant temperature rather than heating a building when needed, and they are particularly effective with underfloor heating.

So there you have it – ‘off gas’ homes are no longer lagging behind in terms of technology, they are leading the way!

Houses for rent

Are renters losing out on insulation?

According to a recent report by the Citizens Advice Bureau, tenants of some of the chilliest properties in the UK, which lose heat from poorly insulated windows, walls and doors, are trapped into paying higher energy bills because they are reliant on their landlords to ensure that the property performs well in terms of energy efficiency.

Although many older properties do suffer from a high degree of heat loss, it’s a measure that’s relatively easy to combat by adding loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, double glazed windows and well-made doors to a property. At the moment there are no rules against renting poorly insulated properties, although this is set to change in 2018.

A piece of legislation will come into effect which prohibits landlords from marketing property which scores less than an ‘E’ on its Energy Performance Certificate, forcing landlords’ hands into upgrading the most substandard of the properties currently available. At the present time, around 10% of the rented accommodation in England and Wales currently falls below that threshold.

It’s leading to rental tenants forking up an average of more than £500 each year in wasted energy – energy which they would not need to pay for if their property was correctly insulated.

As of 1st April this year, tenants currently living in a property with a ‘F’ or ‘G’ rating on the Energy Performance Certificate will be entitled to request improvements to bring the rating up to an ‘E’ and in turn, landlords will be compelled to ensure that it meets that standard at the very least.

In addition to the positive impact that the measures will have on tenants’ finances, they will also impact positively on the environment, reducing the amount of energy wasted and the quantity of fossil fuels and energy needed to heat homes.

If you’re a landlord looking to improve the energy rating of one of your properties, get in touch with us today. We can discuss options to bring your property up to scratch, in line with the new legislation.