Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Drugasar Update

A couple of week ago we paid a visit to our friends at Drugasar and their Innovations Roadshow, they had some very exciting news, they adding to their Metro range, with more details to follow as soon as it is launched!

They also shared with us the below image of one of thier Metro Fires with the Ceraglass interior! I think it really adds something that isn't quite matched by the standard black or natural interior. The flames reflecting the warm glow back into the room add that extra depth that makes the flames even more alluring! Although it is a little extra I think it would certainly add that extra wow factor! While the natural interior certainly gives the traditional log fire feel the relfexive black glass interior adds a very modern and cutting edge finish.

We also had a demostration of the Drugasar PowerVent® system that will allow your Drugasar balanced flue fire to be installed almost anywhere in your property, allowing even more flexibility to that already offered by the standard balanced flue system. But we will have more news about each product as they are officially launched. For now, we leave you with a video of the Metro 100XT Tunnel, what better way to make a design statement and separate two rooms than to use the Metrol 100XT Tunnel.


Sunday, 29 May 2011

False Corgi registration rumbled


An unregistered gas fitter misled customers into believing he was a legally-registered gas engineer and then carried out work that put lives at risk.

Clive Farrant, 57, from Chelmsford, used a false Corgi registration number in adverts and paperwork when trading as Essex Plumbing Connection. He also committed offences as a director of Secret Heat Ltd. Both companies were registered to his home address.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found Farrant had carried out gas work at several properties and left them all in a dangerous condition.

He worked at a number of homes in and around Chelmsford, Essex, between July 2006 and June 2009. During the same period, he also instructed another unregistered engineer to carry out work at properties in Tadley, Hampshire and Chelmsford.

It is a legal requirement for any gas engineering business or self-employed gas engineer carrying out domestic or commercial gas work to be registered under the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998.

Farrant admitted 10 out of 11 charges relating to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Gas Safety Regulations 1998 when he appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court. He was fined £23,000 with £5,000 costs.

After the sentencing, HSE inspector Samantha Thomson said: "There is no excuse for illegally carrying out work on gas appliances – and to falsify documentation in order to defraud customers is not only a terrible thing to do but also a very serious offence.

"It is illegal for any unregistered person to carry out such work. When unqualified workers try to bypass the law in this way they are not only putting themselves at risk of prosecution, a large fine and a lengthy time in prison – they are also putting their customers' lives at risk."

Friday, 27 May 2011


Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne has recently announced plans to introduce regulations ensuring that landlords would face minimum energy efficiency standards under the Green Deal.

Under the proposals, from April 2016 landlords will not be able to refuse reasonable requests from tenants to improve their property.

From April 2018 the government will make it unlawful to rent out a house or business premise with less than an E energy efficiency rating.

At least 682,000 properties will have to be improved as a result of the new proposals.

The Green Deal is the coalition’s national plan of home improvements to make houses and businesses cheaper to run through better energy efficiency.

From 2012, people will be able to access finance to pay for the upfront cost of work which will be paid back through savings on lower fuel bills.

The government believes the proposals will help the most vulnerable as more than a quarter of a million of the worst insulated rented homes are classed as fuel poor.

Huhne said: “Our proposals provide a voice for tenants living in poorly insulated, draughty homes. The Green Deal is a win-win opportunity for landlords by removing the upfront cost of work to upgrade the property, making it cheaper to run, more environmentally friendly and ultimately more attractive to rent.

“For those landlords who don’t take up the Green Deal, then we will get tough so that by 2018 the poorest performing rented housing stock is brought up to a decent standard.”

This is great news for the increasing number of people renting because they simply cannot afford to get onto the property ladder yet. I certainly have experienced the disappointment of signing a contract to rent a property in summer and then having to pay over the odds to heat it during the winter due to inefficient heating.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Checking your gas man's credentials

The cost of fixing botched work done by illegal gas fitters is costing customers up to £100m a year, according to the Gas Safe Register.

It said 250,000 illegal jobs were carried out annually and one in five of those inspected are found to be immediately dangerous.

The register replaced the Corgi registration scheme in April 2009.

It is urging customers to check that recommended engineers have the right qualifications.

50% carbon monoxide

Jan Collins from Cheshire tried to save money when she hired a fitter to install a gas fire in the dining room of her converted barn.

He worked for a registered gas engineering company, but he was doing the job for them on the side, more cheaply.

However, he was not qualified to put in a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) fire and installed it incorrectly.

''I started getting very bad headaches and very bad nosebleeds and was really quite lethargic," Mrs Collins said.

"The chimney sweep was the first to alarm me when he did a test showing that 50% of the carbon monoxide was coming back into the room.

"The only thing that saved me was the size of the room. If it had been a standard room with an eight-foot ceiling and a door then I absolutely would not be alive today.''

A gas inspector confirmed the fire had five major defects, all of which were potentially fatal.

Mrs Collins's fitter was eventually prosecuted.

Check in advance

It is a legal requirement for gas engineering businesses and individual fitters to be on the register.

About 120,000 engineers are on it and a sample of their work is assessed to make sure they are safe.

The register also has a record of which appliances each fitter is qualified to work on.

''What we want people to do is take a little bit of care and check they are using a registered person," said Paul Johnstone, chief executive of the Gas Safe Register.

"Ask for ID at the door and even before they arrive it is very simple to check they have the right qualifications by going onto our website or phoning us.

Getting a quote

There are warnings that even registered gas fitters may not always offer the best level of service.

Which? says it has been contacted by people who have used gas engineers but who have had continuing problems for years before they have been identified and corrected.

''Being on the Gas Safe register is no guarantee in terms of cost effectiveness, although it may be good in terms of competency," said Matt Bath, a Which? spokesman.

"To make sure you are getting the best possible deal and are not locked into an unnecessary contract the best thing to do is to get three good quotes from qualified fitters.

"Each quote should show a clear breakdown of what the engineer will deliver as part of the service,'' Mr Bath added.

'Putting it right'

Jan Collins still regrets not making the right checks on the engineer she hired to do her gas work.

She wasted thousands of pounds, but could also have lost her life.

Paul Johnstone of Gas Safe register said that 18 people died last year after gas appliances were installed or repaired badly, adding: "That's 18 deaths too many'.

"The cost of fixing botched jobs has also soared," he added.

"Customers may spend thousands of fitting appliances and when they've been fitted incorrectly, it costs on average an extra 25% on top of the initial cost to put it right,'' he added.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Apex Oakland

Following the incredible success of the Apex Intense and Apex Devotion Apex have decided to bring out a new product. The Apex Oakland.

This stunning hang on the wall electric fire features the innovative and energy saving LED flame effect employed on the Intense and Devotion, combining with the flat black glass fascia to create a very contemporary and modern feel. Ideal for that minimalist feel.

Offering a 2Kw heat output, the Oakland is ideal to quickly take the cold edge off of almost any sized room. The unique LED flame effect can be dimmed to one of three settings, for that subtle feel or to truly give the impression of a roaring fire.

The white stone fuel effect adds a further contemporary feel and a thermostatic control means that the temperature can be set and maintained without even having to leave the comfort of your chair.


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Go Green And Save Money

Our homes generate a quarter of the UK's CO2 emissions, yet a third of the energy we use is wasted. It's time to act, but what is truly practical and affordable for us to do? And can we save some money while we're at it? Channel 4 Homes Helps Us Take A Look Into How We can cut carbon emissions and save money.

The Loft

Up to a quarter of a home's heat can escape through the roof if it's badly insulated. According to the Building Research Establishment, if you were to put down 270mm of insulation in an empty loft, you'd save £145 a year. The greenest option would be to insulate it with natural, environmentally friendly products. These include Warmcel 100, made from recycled paper; Isonat Plus, made from UK-grown hemp and recycled cotton; and Thermafleece, which comes from UK sheep. You can buy all of them from EnergyWays at www.naturalinsulations.co.uk.

There are reductions to be made on insulation measures for home owners and landlords, as part of the government's Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT). Contact your local Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre to see what's on offer. For more advice on insulation, see Fitting Insulation

Cost: £250 (installed); £50-£350 (DIY)
Return: Two to three years

The Walls

Like roofs, walls can also leak up to a third of the heat produced in your home. The government is very keen on cavity wall insulation at the moment, so grab a grant while you can. It takes less than a day to install, there's minimal disruption, and it could save you £110 a year on fuel bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Ideally, opt for eco-friendly Warmcel.

If your home was built before or around the 1920s, it probably has solid walls, and around 45% of heat is lost through them. Insulation is expensive and usually worth considering only when you're refurbishing, though it could save you £375 a year on fuel bills. Internal insulation consists of rigid insulation boards or a stud wall, and costs £5,500 to £8,500. External insulation consists of a layer

of insulating material attached to walls then finished with cladding or render, cost £10,500 to £14,500. Find a registered installer at The Insulated Render & Cladding Association (INCA).

Cost: (cavity walls) around £250 including CERT subsidy (see above); otherwise around £500
Return: Two years


Draught Proofing

Around 20% of all heat loss in a typical home is through ventilation and draughts. Obviously, some ventilation is essential, especially if you have solid-fuel or gas fires, but don't forget that wherever you can feel a draught coming in, warm air is going out.

Save around £25

by draught proofing doors and windows, and around £20 extra if you fill gaps between the floorboards and skirtings as well.

Cost: £100 if you do it yourself
Return: Four years (or one year if you do the floorboards and skirting, too)

Buying New Equipment

Appliances

Don't forget to look out for the official energy rating when you're buying a new appliance. 'A', 'A+' and 'A++' rated is good, but don't bother if it's less than 'B' or 'C'. It's difficult to cost out the saving, but as an example, an 'A' rated freezer or washing machine will only use a third of the energy of one with a lower rating. Sneak Preview: I'm told The new House 2 Home Megastore has some very efficient appliances that will be available for purchase when the site launches completely, which, i'm told is getting nearer everyday.

Saves: from £7 (for integrated digital TV) to £38 (for a fridge freezer)
Cost: Depends what you buy
Return: Four years

The Boiler

If you're thinking of installing a new one, go for it as soon as possible! Around 60% of all domestic CO2 emissions come from old boilers. New rules say boilers should have an 'A' efficiency rating, which basically means having a condensing boiler.

Save up to £235 by replacing an old G-rated boiler with a new A-rated one and installing a full set of heating controls.

Cost: From £650 (plus £600 to £800 for installation)
Return: Four years

Lightbulbs

Is your ceiling filled with those pretty little halogen bulbs? Each one uses 50w, while energy-efficient bulbs use up to four times less electricity to generate the same amount of light. Each one will save around £9 on your annual bill.

Cost: from 50p
Return: Within a year

Double Glazing

This will reduce heat loss by half and knock £130 a year off the average bill. Look for the energy-saving recommended logo, and if money's not a factor, choose Argon-filled triple-glazed timber-framed windows made with low-emissivity glass (look for the 'A' to 'G' energy rating and Forest Stewardship Council certification for the frame). 'If you are on a budget, secondary glazing that fits inside the existing frame is much more cost-effective and can reduce heat loss,' says Sally Oakes from the Centre for Alternative Technology.

Cost: £400 per unit
Return: 20 years+

Thursday, 19 May 2011

BREAKING NEWS! House2Home Megastore Is Now Taking Orders

We have just recieved an email from House2Home Megastore with some exciting news:

House 2 home megastore wish to showcase furniture and finishing touches to make your house a home. Supplying all that is required to structure your perfect room, using superlative design and creative know how.

Achieve desirable results from house 2 home megastores extensive high quality product ranges, delivered to your home by a conscientious team.

In need of inspiration then simply browse the house 2 home megastore product ranges for stimulating room sets and innovative product ideas; Temper living room space with subtle room lighting, invigorate your bathroom with fresh fixtures, or create a social area in your garden for adults and children alike, with attention grabbing furniture.

Whether you wish to uniform or contrast the d├ęcor, or create something bespoke to your personnel taste and needs then house 2 home megastore are striving to meet your requirements with constant price evaluation and renewed product ranges and ideas.

For seasonal fashions and the most up to date product releases then visit our house 2 home megastore blogging site designed to inform of the latest breaking news and information on existing products and future releases, room design tips and articles of general interest. House 2 home megastore have a genuine interest in our products and services, we want our returning customers and first time visitors to feel that their custom is valued and respected, so we become valued and respected too.

We are pleased to announce that the House2Home Megastore is set to go live this afternoon on 19th May 2011 at 3pm showcasing our wide range of products ranging from decorative towel radiators to garden furniture. We welcome you to come and visit our website for all your home furnishing needs.


We look forward to browsing the House2Home Megastore website and giving our reviews of their products.

DRU Art Heaters For Studios And Workshops

Workspace group owns and manages over 100 business centres, situated in prime locations throughout the capital. It's portfolio includes offices, warehouses, workshops as well as industrial units and studio space, catering for the small to medium sized companies in a wide range of industries.

A typical Workspace development is the Riverside Business Park in Wandsworth. Originally an old AirFix building, Riverside offers a range of uses from light industrial to office and studio space bringing together both creative and manufacturing industries. Workspace has specified the DRU Art series balances flue gas wall heaters for many of the workspaces at Riverside. The heaters offer an efficient and flexible heating solution that are robust, practical and economical, ideal for both studio and industrial spaces. Featuring the classic Drugasar Balanced Flue System drawing air from outside the building for combustion. This makes them quick and easy to fit, and comfortable and economical to operate They are available in a number of sizes ranging from just 2kW for a smaller studio or office up to 10kW for some of the larger industrial units.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Be Aware Of Rogue Dealers

There are numerous internet traders who falsely claim to be authorised Broseley dealers. As with any internet purchase, you need to be sure that the site in question is reputable and genuine and that the product which is being offered is a genuine Broseley stove which has been CE tested. If the site has no contact information, has no landline number or has no physical address, we advise that you err on the side of caution and see if you can find another website with a landline number and physical address. (It has become far to easy for Rogue Traders to set up an online business and just work from their back room or garage.)
Fireplace Megastore is proud to display the Authorised Broseley Dealer logo on their website and have the high quality stoves from Broseley available on display in their showroom.
If you are planning to install a multifuel or wood burning appliance,Broseley strongly recommend the use of HETAS approved engineers. HETAS engineers can carry out a detailed site survey prior to installation; a heat loss calculation can also be performed ensuring that you know your property's individual heating requirements. A survey and heat loss calculation will give peace of mind that the appliance you buy will meet your requirements. If you buy the wrong stove because you have not had this survey carried out, it could be a very expensive mistake!

  1. Broseley authorised retailers have to comply to strict Broseley standards which requires the authorised retailer to have fully trained, professional sales and technical team.This ensures Fireplace Megastore maintains a high level of customer service and after-care to help consumers make an informed decision, complying to Broseley standards.
  2. Broseley authorised retailers are required by Broseley to display their products in their showroom available for the public to view.
  3. Broseley authorised retailers are required by Broseley to offer a full installation service to its showroom customers.
  4. Manufacturer’s warranty may be invalid when not purchased from an authorised retailer.
  5. As with all E-commerce websites if applicable, Broseley ensure that authorised retailers have the correct information readily available to the customer on their web site - company registration details, VAT number, company address, and land-line phone numbers.
  6. Never buy from an unauthorised retailer as you may not get the correct sales, technical information and customer service required when purchasing an Broseley stove. If in doubt please check with Broseley to avoid rogue traders.
  7. Buy with confidence from an authorised retailer. Buy from Fireplace Megastore.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

How To Choose A New Boiler

It might not be as exciting as the new Cappuccino Maker or the Wide Screen TV but the boiler is one of the most important pieces of technology in your home. 4Homes have got together with www.house.co.uk to bring you a guide to the world of hot water and warm homes.
Boiler Control Panel

There's the mournful shaking of the head, the quick sucking in of air between the teeth and then the phrase every home owner dreads "Oooh dear. You're going to need a new boiler here and no mistake".

It's enough to strike a chill into the stoutest heart. However not only are boilers probably less expensive than you think they're also a key part of the home.

With a good boiler you can have a plentiful supply of heating and hot water provided efficiently and economically. An old or unsuitable boiler is likely to leave you with ever increasing heating bills, while making you vulnerable to a system that is unable to provide hot water to more than one outlet at the same time (we've all been there - the shower goes cold as someone starts doing the washing up in the kitchen) or packs up completely if someone dares try to have a bath while the heating is on.

Boilers

The Energy Saving Trust recommend that you should think about replacing your boiler after 15 years. Whilst boilers beyond this age can often still function, their effectiveness and efficiency becomes reduced.

Boilers over fifteen years old can have an average efficiency of around 65%, this is compared to over 90% efficiency offered by "A" rated condensing boilers from British Gas.

The first thing to decide when choosing a boiler is what sort of fuel you're going to use - town gas, LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) or oil. Then you need to decide on the size of the boiler, measured in BTU (British Thermal Unit) or Kilowatts, the number of radiators, the type of hot water system and whether you're planning to upgrade your system.

How To Choose

It is important to take advice (preferably from a Gas Safe registered engineer for gas, or an OFTEC registered engineer for oil) before deciding which boiler is best for your home.

Don't install a boiler yourself. It must be installed by a qualified engineer and inspected regularly. It is not sufficient that the owner of the company be Gas Safe registered, the person fitting your boiler must be able to demonstrate that he/she is registered by showing ID before you permit access.

Once fitted you will need to have your system checked regularly. In the meantime you should know enough about the workings of the boiler to be able to spot any drop in water pressure which could damage your system.

You may wish to take out a service care agreement against any future problems with the system and be prepared for any unexpected emergencies.

If you haven't had your boiler replaced in the last 15 years you could do worse than replacing it with one of the new generation of high efficiency condensing combination boilers which could save you as much as 37p in every pound you spend on heating and hot water.*

*Source: SUDBUK boiler efficiency database, published as part of the Government's Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme. Applies to energy-saving (condensing)boilers, depending on type of boiler being replaced and consumption. Based on the average life span of a boiler (15 years) in a standard three bedroom semi-detached house and on an average UK gas price of 1.41p/kWh as recommended by the Energy Saving Trust, December 2001.

Maintaining Your Heating System Tips From British Gas

  • Ensure your central heating and gas appliances are serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • Never block or cover vents. Clear vents allow your gas appliances to breathe and burn safely and efficiently.
  • Consider fitting a carbon monoxide detector in your property - one of these small, inexpensive devices could save your life. Maintained correctly, they will warn you if the carbon monoxide level in your home becomes dangerous.
  • Although in the summer the weather may be warm and sunny, fire up your central heating system occasionally to keep it ticking over and prevent it from jamming when the cold sets in.
  • Bleed your radiators every now and again to ensure they have no air in them. You'll know if they need bleeding as they may be cold at the top.

Types Of Boiler

Conventional Boilers

If you have a gravity heating system (with a water tank in the loft) then you'll need a conventional boiler. These use a traditional system which heats up a store of water before you need to use it, via a hot water cylinder and header tank

Condensing Boilers

Although more expensive than a conventional boiler a condensing boiler is highly efficient - using an extra heat exchanger to extract further heat from the water vapour produced in the combustion process, so very little heat is wasted.

Boiler

Combination Boilers

For a flat or small house Combi Boilers are most suitable since they don't need to store water but instead heat the water as you use it.

Useful Links

There is no cylinder, no tank and no connecting pipe work, which saves space and reduces hot water costs. A combination boiler produces a near instantaneous supply of hot water on tap, 24 hours a day. Unlike conventional heating and hot water systems, a combination system does not store hot water.


British Gas
www.est.org.uk

The Boiler Efficiency Database
www.sedbuk.com

The Energy Saving Trust
The Energy Saving Trust

Gas Safe Register

www.gassaferegister.co.uk

DEFRA
www.defra.gov.uk

Friday, 13 May 2011

There's More To Logs Than Simply Cutting Down A Tree

Increased demand for wood burning appliances has not only resulted in increased demand for logs but has also raised some concerns about the quality and availability of this very popular energy source. With the help of the experts we take a closer look into what's involved in producing logs.

Fuel quality is pretty much taken for granted. Although our gas bills carry some techical details of the energy coming down the pipe, few people take any notice. It's exactly the same for electricity and oil, we've got used to high quality energy and no longer take any notice of it.

Wood on the other hand is all together different. There are over 10,000 tree species in the world and more that 100 in the UK (only 33 of these are native). These generally divide into hard woods and soft woods, hardwoods native to the UK include Ash, Beech, Elm, Maple and the mighty Oak with Yew, Scots Pine and Juniper among the softwoods.

In short, if you're going to burn wood you have a wide selection to choose from and as we're about to tell you, an even wider choice of quality.

As natural living organisms, trees drink and retain a very large amount of ground water absorbed through their roots and obviously fire and water do not mix. The tree, or more correctly the moisture content of a tree varies with it's species and maturity and is greatest when a living tree is cut down. When left to do it's own thing, the tree will start to dry out, but that would take a very long time.

Sawing a tree into smaller pieces and splitting the resulting logs with dramatically increase the surface area of the wood and reduce the drying time considerably. Artificially drying (or kiln drying) accelerates the process quite considerably but it is not just a matter of applying heat... Theoretically, the maximum amount of energy that could be released from burning wood will occur when the moisture content is 0% but this means the wood would disintegrate and be useless to use in a stove or fire.

As Nic Snell of Certainly Wood explains, "It is really a relatively simple economic balance. Drying uses energy which must be balanced against the heat gain from burning 'dried' wood. We believe that logs for wood burning appliances should have a moisture content of between 15% and 25%. At this level, combustion is excellent and any remaining moisture is quickly driven off by the heat intensity.

In comparison, wood with a moisture content between 15% and 25% produces four and a half times as much heat as freshly cut wood. Putting this another way, 10kg of dried wood would produce 45kW where as the same amount of fresh wood would only produce 10kW of heat.

And this moisture content issue is the main problem regarding quality of wood for stoves and fires, visit any garage or DIY shop and you're almost guarenteed to see nets of wood for sale on the forecourt or by the main entrance but in most cases if you ask where the wood is sourced from and the moisture content you may not get an answer. Obviously some of this wood may be of high quality and may well have been kiln dried or at least well seasoned, but all of that work is undone if the wood is left outside in the weather so the wood can absorb any and all rain or dew that settles on it, and this combined with any that is freshly cut makes this wood very wet and totally unsuitable for a stove or fire.

For example, watch what happens next time you see roadworks that involve the felling of a tree. Either a shredder is brought in and everything is shredded and reduced to being buried in the ground. Or a group of men normally armed with chainsaws and traditionally in a white van appear, cut the wood and disappear again. They normally take the wood back to a yard where it is split and netted and then on the market within a couple of days! This results in a very low quality wood that will release very little energy and can do some quite considerable damage to stoves, chimneys, flues or even the environment!
Although just a small fraction of the wood felled in the UK is used for fuel the equipment used to sustain just a small, but rapidly expanding market is quite substantial. One company, well hidden amongst farmland and orchards boasts a site occupying over three acres, all devoted to turning trees into kiln dried wood logs.

Large Quantities of harvested hardwood is being continuosly deliveryed to the site and stacked with precision that would probably beat most Supermarket shelves! These 'trees' are often up to 45cm in diameter and as king as 3 metres! They are then cut to lenghts of abouve 250mm and split into up to 16 segments. The machine that does this job uses pure brute force to split the logs, using up to 4 tonnes of pressure to get the job done!

These logs are then transferred to the drying operation where brute force is replaced by technical prowess and knowledge as the drying system comes into force.

The wood is then transferred into the drying kilns, in reality most of these will be ex-shipping containers that have been adapted and modified with all the hardware and safety equipment that the drying operation demands.

Getting the wood down to the correct moisture content has been refined and is now more science than guesswork, early experiments show that when taken too far the wood could spontaneously combust so all the drying kilns contain sensitive equipment to tackle any problem should it arise, which may even come to flooding the container itself with water!

Reducing the moisture content to between 15% and 25% takes approximately 32 hours per container, rather dramatically this reduces the volume of the wood by 20%. Add this to the cutting of kindling and storage for the finished dry woods and you quickly realise that there is more the firewood than just cutting down a tree!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Dying To Know Where The Nearest Pub Is?

In a recent survey, Gas Safe has revealed that nearly half of students think the distance from their student house to the local pub is more important than keeping safe from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Research also showed that almost a quarter of students were more concerned about potentially falling out with their house mates than being poisoned by carbon monoxide.
Students are among the most vulnerable groups within society when it comes to being at risk to carbon monoxide poisoning. Living in rented accomodation and possibly living away from their parents for the risk time, it can be hard to know what safety precautions to take.
In a campaign from Gas Safe, students are urged to be more aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide when moving into their new accommodation at the start of term. Gas Safe is advising students and their parents what they should be looking out for when viewing and moving into rented properties. The campaign aims to make students and whoever is dropping them off to their new house, wary of the dangers that could be lurking in their digs. As part of this initiative Gas Safe have launched a podcast which guides students and parents around a typical student house, walking them through all the potential hazards that the home could contain.
This guide will explain what safety obligations landlords should meet. By law a landlord must ensure that an annual gas safety check is carried out by a Gas Safe engineer and the student tennant should recieve a gas safety record. The guide also shows what signs to look out for as evidence that carbon monoxide might be present such as checking there is a blue crisp flame on the hob as opposed to a lazy orange/yellow flame (the latter could indicate that carbon monoxide may be present). The guide also recommends the purchase of an audible Carbon Monoxide alarm as a second line of defence.
On the Gas Safe Website there is a specific page for students http://gassaferegister.co.uk/advice/renting_a_property/for_students/for_students.aspx which contains downloadable information for students to look out for when renting a property.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Twenty Facts About Chimney Sweeps

Chimneys and chimney sweeps figure in folklore and legend not only in Britain but in many other countries around the world. Chimney sweeps are honoured by festivals and appear in literature. We thought you'd quite enjoy a small insight into some of these legends, festivals and curious customs.

Annual Leave (And A Free Lunch)
Traditionally the May Day holiday (May 1st) was celebrated by chimney sweeps as their annual holiday. Although sadly this tradition slowly began to die out as child labour laws meant young boys were banned from climbing inside chimneys to clean them. But it was revived in Rochester, Kent where the Sweeps' Festival is a very merry occasion. It takes place over a weekend in early May and features morris dancers and a foliage covered character known as 'Jack In The Green' who has been woken from his slumber on Bluebell Hill. The Sweeps' Festival attracts thousands of people every year, dressed as chimney sweeps who walk in procession through the town centre to kick off the festivities.

Royal Decree
Tradition claims that King George II was riding in his carriage one day when his horses bolted. A sweep bravely leapt forward and stopped them. The grateful King was so delighted that he issued a Royal Decree that chimneys sweeps are lucky and should be treated with respect.

Sweeping With A Bang
Extraordinary (and dangerous) methods of chimney sweeping were employed many years ago. Becasue country gentlemen found muzzle-loading guns difficult to unload after a day's shooting they oftern fired them up the chimney to dislodge any built-up soot. This method became immortalised in the "Merry Wives of Windsor" by William Shakespeare himself! A casualty of the practise of firing guns up them was the palace at Dijon, France, which burnt downt in the spring of 1503 when a culverin was fired up it in an attempt to clean it. However the town was not without a palace for long as a splendid new one was soon built.

Bringing Good & Bad Luck
Probably the best known traditions regarding chimney sweeps relate to weddings. It is considered lucky to see a chimney sweep on your wedding day and even luckier to see his brush emerging from a chimney, and perhaps the luckiest thing of all is for the bride to be kissed by a sweep.
Chimney's were once swept by various plants such as heather and gorse tied in bunches and fixed to poles, however folklore warned against using holly. It is said that Holly is a "gentle tree" well liked by the fairies who would object to its use in this way and create mischief in the house all year as a punishment.

Italian Style
In September every year a Sweeps' Festival takes place in the village of Santa Maria Maggiore in Italy. It was established in 1983 when 13 chimney sweeps met to chat and walk around the town. Since then it has grown steadily and now sweeps travel from many European countries to attend the festival. There is much merrymaking and feasting and a procession takes place in the town which is now so long it takes nearly an hour to pass by. A Sweeps' museum was opened on the 5th April 2005 following the strong successes of the Sweeps' Festival.

Around The World
As in Britain, chimney sweeps in Poland are considered lucky. But there is a catch... To benefit from the luck of a chimney sweep, upon first seeing the sweep, you must instantly take hold of a button on your shirt or coat to make a wish, to hesitate for a second cancels out the luck. Saint Florian, the patron saint of Poland is alos the patron saint of Chimney sweeps. An Irish tradition states that after a chimney sweep had finished his work, the housewife would brush the soot off the tail of his coat and save it in a container. This should then be placed in the hearth to bring peace and harmony to the house.
In some European countries house-holders fix old wagon wheels to disused chimneys to encourage storks to nest there. The birds' habit of nesting in high places including chimneys may account for the legend that babies are brought by the stork and delivered down the chimney!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Fires Echo Retro Styling


Smeg says its range of 100% efficient flueless natural gas and LPG fires are the perfect extenstion to the Smeg range of design-led appliances.

Offering innovation that complements consumer lifestyles, the flueless fires are an 'eco-friendly' heating solution designed to be wall ahnging as well as suitable for living rooms, offices and kitchens.

Smeg adds "The L30FAB's soft curves and bold colours echo retro styling while the L23LIN encorporates sleek and elegant lines, consisten with Smeg's Linea series with the P23Cl ompleting the fire range by offering a Classic."