Wednesday 31 October 2012

It COuld Be The Death of You

A new film to raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning was shown at the re-launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group in Parliament on the 15th October.

The film was produced by the Katie Haines Memorial Trust to raise awareness of this silent killer and prompt people to install an audible CO alarm.
Trustee Gordon Samuel encouraged everyone to share the film and hopes such advertising and awareness campaigns become standard practice in the near future.
“We’re very, very pleased to have it out at this time of the year when boilers and gas fires are being switched on,” he said.
The Trust also emphasises the importance of regularly maintaining appliances that burn gas or other fossil fuels, with gas appliances being serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Monday 29 October 2012

Consumer group challenges rising energy bills

Which? is calling for an independent review to be launched into the rising cost of domestic energy bills.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the consumer group challenged the validity of continuing price increases and said that consumers deserve the truth.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said it was time for government to face the fact that the energy market is broken.
“We want an independent review to look at whether the reasons given for the recent price increases are justified,” he said.
“The sector is dominated by a handful of big and powerful players who are seemingly unaffected by the normal competitive pressure of price and customer service. They also blame the cost of implementing your government’s environmental and social policies for the price rises. Yet, as your own Energy Department has said, there is no hard evidence to back this claim up.”
This follows the news that four of the UK’s ‘big six’ energy companies are increasing prices this winter.
The letter outlined that energy prices are one of consumer’s top financial concerns with 75% of consumers on the most expensive tariffs and the average energy bill already rising 13% since last year.
“Until we see greater transparency and prices presented clearly, consumers will continue to distrust the energy market and remain unable to drive genuine competition through moving to the cheapest tariffs,” Lloyd added.
“The time for action is now. Warm words alone are not enough to keep consumers from the cold this winter.”
In response, a DECC spokesman said: “Households facing rising energy bills this winter aren’t going to be helped by more inquiries or investigations that could take years to complete and implement. We know what the problems are; we want to get on with tackling them now. We’re focussing on action, not more words.
“The fact is reforms by Government and Ofgem, including electricity market reform through the forthcoming Energy Bill and Ofgem’s ongoing Retail Market Review, offer the quickest way to boost consumer confidence in the energy market.
“We have the Energy Bill due this autumn, and Ofgem is due to move to the next stage of its review before winter. In the meantime we’re offering practical advice to households on how to get energy bills down and keep their homes warm.”
However Lloyd said that while Ofgem’s proposals to change the retail energy market are necessary, they are not enough. To read the letter in full, visit the Which? website.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Woodburning Stoves from the Other Side Of The World

For 27 years, Amesti have been developing clean burning efficient wood burning stoves from their factory in Chile. Chile is a wooded country where heating is required six to nine months of the year, and the main heat sources inside dwellings are wood burning stoves. Chile has one of the lowest legal thresholds of breathable particulates, so Amesti stoves are amongst the cleanest in the World. Amesti have developed a unique clean burning process at the key 600 degrees temperature, with a 3-stage air inflow, giving particulates emissions below 2gr/hr. This makes the Amesti stoves a first choice in cities (DEFRA approved), and an excellent investment for environmentally-and energy price-conscious consumers. The Amesti NORDIC range of four stoves are the first product being introduced, a contemporary looking quality range of wood burning stoves, designed to agreeably fit any room, with smooth slightly curved design and log storage, all with CE en13240 and HETAS approval. The enlarged double combustion chamber and air injection system, achieve greater permanence of the blaze and easy ignition. The right balance between design and efficiency the Amesti stoves combine a decorative object with an efficient and clean burning wood burning stove, ideal for modern environments and suitable for smoke control areas.
Primary air inlet
Secondary air induction
Pilot air intake
Double combustion at a temperature above 600 ° C
Ceramic glass resists thermal shock up to 800 ยบ C
Removable ashtray to prevent the floor ashfall
Firewood storage compartment
 Available in four sizes ranging from the Nordic 350 with a heat output of 6.95kW to the Nordic 450 that boasts a massive 13.95kW heat output, meaning these stoves will be ideal for those looking to heat rooms anywhere from the average living room up to a room area of 100 square meters.

Thursday 25 October 2012

New 5KW freestanding stove models from Fireline

Rapid sales growth of Fireline’ s high performance wood and multi fuel stove range has lead to continued substantial investment in stove R&D at the Telford HQ. As a result an expanded model line up has been introduced for the heating season 2012/13.
Direct dealer and customer feedback into the Charlton & Jenrick sales and management team has been the principal driver in introduction of the FX and FP 5 Wide stoves. Featuring styling fully in line with the very successful original line up, the objective was to give the large looks of the 8kW wide screen stove but maintaining the nominal heat output at 5kW. The R&D team have achieved this by a subtle reduction in depth of the grate area whilst the over-all 500mm width of the stove is the same as the larger 8kW model. This means that full 14.5” logs (375mm) can be accommodated on the standard multi fuel capable grate which incorporates a rotary riddle mechanism using well proven principles. With a firebox lined with compressed vermiculite insulating board and Fireline’s own patent pending firebox air supply technology means that clean burning was assured from the beginning – CE and DEFRA compliance were a formality. 79% efficiency ensures top levels of fuel economy and the highly effective, proven Fireline air wash system gives fabulous views of the fire through the large glass panel.
Fireline marketing manager Dane Beckett commented: “Early indications suggest that these new models will quickly become established as best sellers in the Fireline stove range. Bearing in mind that listening to our customers and dealer’s wants and desires delivered the brief for these stoves we would expect a good response but display orders have far outstripped initial production such has been the demand. Now that production is catching up with sales there are once again good opportunities to get dealerships and displays in selected areas so we would encourage interested dealers to get in touch without delay.”
Stoves were once merely utilitarian, functional heating appliances with few frills and customers wanted nothing more than robustness and simplicity. However today Fireline recognise that stoves are more of a lifestyle choice for many, so the designers set out to produce an attractive and high performance unit as well as one that is fit to stand up to many years of solid fuel burning pleasure for the owner. Starting from a very large glass panel and always incorporating high performance clean combustion technology stands the range in good stead and always gives the customer the best features and benefits at a very competitive price level. Exclusivity, strict non-internet policy and independent dealer focus are established benefits of the Charlton & Jenrick group. These new Fireline Stoves are now available from the Stove Megastore, with the new FP5 Stove on display in the Aylesbury surround from Fireline. Why not pop in and have a look for yourself?

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Gas safe register carries out Gas Safety Raids in Oldham

Gas Safe Register recently took part in a series of multi-agency raids on commercial properties in Oldham town centre, in a bid to tackle gas safety and a range of other issues, including illegal immigration, environmental health breaches and abuse of benefits.
Investigators worked with Greater Manchester Police, The Department for Work and Pensions, UK Border Agency and local authority officers in the licensing, environmental health and housing departments to uncover suspected legal infringements.

Gas Safe Register’s role was to investigate the safety of gas appliances in these properties following concerns raised that many were dangerous and potentially leaking gas.

The raids ran over two evenings last month and targeted eight properties, most of which were catering establishments. Inside four of the five properties that had gas installed, gas could be smelt and had to be referred to the emergency services provider, resulting in the gas supply being disconnected. In the fifth property, three of the four appliances were found to be immediately dangerous and were disconnected.

“By working with local authorities, these big multi-agency raids give us the opportunity to inspect properties we wouldn’t have access to ordinarily,” said Phill Brewster, investigations manager for Gas Safe Register.
“These were not abandoned properties, all were being used commercially. The fact that four of the five were found to have gas leaking is very worrying. I’m just glad that we managed to intervene before anyone got hurt."

The investigations team carry out around 1,000 inspections of gas work every year and over half of these are identified as being unsafe. However, most of these investigations come about as the result of customers contacting Gas Safe Register with concerns that their appliance is faulty.
If you know of any commercial buildings with unsafe gas work, please report it to the Register.

Sunday 21 October 2012

An Open Letter from Energy Secretary Edward Davey

In advance of Big Energy Saving Week, Energy Secretary Edward Davey has written an open letter to all Members of Parliament with advice for their constituents to help them keep energy bills down and their homes warm this winter.
15 October 2012

Dear Colleague,

As winter approaches, I am writing to let you know how the Government is helping your constituents reduce their energy bills and keep their homes warm.

The Government cannot control volatile world energy prices, which account for around half the current domestic energy bill, but there are a number of ways it can help consumers to cut their energy bills, including additional support for those on low incomes and the vulnerable.


Big Energy Saving Week

One reason for writing now is to draw your attention to Big Energy Saving Week (22-28 October). This week of activity is being co-ordinated by Citizens Advice and supported by funding from the six largest energy suppliers, which was negotiated by the Government earlier this year. The campaign brings together consumer groups, the Energy Saving Trust, third sector organisations, Government and Ofgem to help consumers find out how they can lower their energy bills.

Citizens Advice and its partners aim to reach around 50 million people through this campaign, including around 400 events in communities throughout Great Britain, with a particular emphasis on reaching vulnerable consumers.

I encourage you to support any events being held in or near your constituency. To find out more, please go to the campaign website at:

Year round help

In addition to this week of action, consumers can call the Energy Saving Advice Service (ESAS), a phone service set up by the Government:

ESAS: 0300 123 1234*
*Calls are charged at standard national rate

ESAS provides advice on how to reduce bills and make homes more energy efficient. It also gives details on eligibility for the schemes mentioned below, including which parts of the UK they apply to. Advice can also be found online at


Most of our homes have some basic insulation, but more than half have neither enough insulation nor an efficient condensing boiler.

Green Deal

In Great Britain the Green Deal will let householders pay for a wide range of energy saving home improvements through savings expected to be made on their energy bills. Since 1 October 2012 authorised Green Deal assessors and providers can offer ‘whole house’ property assessments and discuss packages of improvements with householders. From 28 January 2013 Green Deal finance plans may be agreed. Your constituents can find out more, including how to book an assessment, from ESAS. In addition, Green Deal Quick Guides can be found at:

Extra help

The Government continues to provide heating and insulation measures to low income and vulnerable households in England through the Warm Front scheme. This support is free for most people who are eligible for the scheme, with grants available worth up to £3,500 (for homes with mains gas) and £6,000 (for homes off the gas grid). In September we changed the eligibility rules, meaning even more people can access this help, with a budget of up to £100m this year.

In addition, the devolved administrations have energy efficiency schemes and many energy companies continue to offer free or subsidised basic home insulation packages. ESAS can advise customers on what is available where they live.

In early 2013 a new Energy Company Obligation (ECO) will run alongside the Green Deal, providing extra help for properties that are harder to treat and for those households who are most in need. This will include support for a range of heating and insulation improvements to low income and vulnerable households.


Low income and vulnerable consumers

In Great Britain the Warm Home Discount scheme will help around two million low income and vulnerable households with their energy costs. This includes more than one million of the poorest pensioners, who will receive an automatic £130 discount on their electricity bill by 31 December 2012. Government is writing to all those potentially eligible for the discount by February 2013. Over a million pensioners will receive a letter telling them they will receive the discount automatically and do not need to claim. The small number of customers who get a letter asking them to confirm their eligibility must call the Warm Home Discount Scheme helpline by 13 March 2013.

Other groups, such as low income families and those on low incomes with long-term illnesses and disabilities can also benefit through the scheme. Consumers should contact their energy supplier to see if they are eligible.

Cold Weather Payment

Cold Weather Payments provide help with additional costs of heating during periods of severe weather to vulnerable people who live in an affected area and who are in receipt of certain benefits. In 2011/12 an estimated 5.2 million Cold Weather Payments, worth £129.2 million, were paid. The Government has increased this support permanently to £25 for each qualifying period of cold weather.

Help for older people

The Winter Fuel Payment helps older people with their energy bills, with payments made from November to the end of December. This equates to £200 or £300 – depending on age – and in 2011/12 the scheme helped over 12.6 million older people in over 9 million households.


Consumer power

Customers who have never switched can save up to £200 a year by changing energy supplier and paying by direct debit.

In addition, collective purchasing and switching – when a group of consumers come together to negotiate a better deal with their gas and electricity suppliers – have huge potential to ensure consumers get a better deal on their gas and electricity bills. For example, about 38 000 people have switched as a result of the Which? Big Switch initiative. Which? estimates they will save an average of £223 per year.

To help consumers harness their collective power the Government has announced a £5 million competition to support innovative collective switching schemes run by local authorities or the third sector. A consumer information leaflet is available to help consumers who are considering joining a collective purchasing or switching scheme (

Greater transparency

If asked to do so, energy suppliers are now obliged to put the consumer on the best tariff. Suppliers will also tell customers about the best tariff – and how to get it – at least once a year and also when a fixed-term contract is coming to an end. In addition, a number of low income and vulnerable households assisted by the Warm Home Discount scheme will receive a second communication each year to help them get the best tariff.

I hope this information will help you to explain to your constituents how they can reduce their energy bills over the winter period.

Edward Davey
Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change

Friday 19 October 2012

Get ready for Big Energy Saving Week

Householders can reduce their energy bills and their carbon footprint with the help of Big Energy Saving Week.
Taking place from 22 to 27 October, the national campaign is being run by Citizens Advice to help people cut their fuel bills and get all the financial support they are entitled to.
Energy advisers will be available at events across England, Scotland and Wales helping people check they are getting the best deal from their energy company, are on the cheapest way to pay and explaining how they might be able to save more by switching suppliers.
They’ll also be giving energy saving tips and talking about help available to insulate homes.
The drive follows the success of the first Big Energy Week in January this year which gave advice to over 75,000 people nationally.
Citizens Advice and its partners aim to reach around 50 million people through this campaign, including around 400 events in communities, with a particular emphasis on reaching vulnerable consumers.
Big Energy Saving Week is funded by the main six energy companies and supported by Age UK, ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Consumer Focus, the Government, Ofgem, Energy UK and National Energy Action.

To find out if there's a Big Energy Saving Week event near you, visit the Citizen's Advice website.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Advances in Gas Fire Design

Peter Mintoft, Technical Director of Charlton & Jenrick Ltd looks at the development history of the realistic gas fire and how it influenced the highly popular aspirational range of Infinity gas fires the company produces:
Living flame gas fires have moved on immensely since their rapid rise in popularity during the 1980’s and 90’s to a level of realism, controllability and efficiency completely unforeseen in those early days. Features such as battery powered thermostatic remote controls with automatic electronic flame safety and ignition are now commonplace whereas when the living flame fire first became widespread this technical wizardry would have been thought of as nothing but a pipe dream.

First attempts at gas fires that looked closely like a real fire focussed on the 16” wide open coal fire found in millions of homes countrywide. Every gas fuel effect was usually based on a simple tray filled with granular materials through which non-aerated gas percolated from a basic gas cock to burn with a sooty yellow flame and precious little efficiency or heat output. These fires were lit with a match, often had no pilot or any safety devices, gas consumptions were large and complaints about high gas bills combined with little room-warming output were rife. Safety was also not a major concern in the early days although that quickly improved with piezo ignition then flame-failure devices and subsequently spillage monitoring devices became mandatory during the 90’s. At this point UK gas fires were very specific to the UK with our coal burning heritage, something which would not really change significantly until the first decade of the new millennium.
Over a period of time in the 80’s and 90’s improvements were made to the combustion efficiency obtained from these 16” coal effect yellow flame fires by producing burners that at least partially aerated the gas being burned before it was released, together with rapid developments in the forming of realistic fuel shapes from ceramic fibres. In some cases complete burners and fuel beds were formed from ceramic fibre producing a depth of hot fire bed that finally began to give the customer some useful heat output for their money. Stainless steel burners began to be adapted and sometimes designed specifically for gas fires and special aerated burners of every variety were designed in bespoke shapes and configurations so as to give a tailored flame that could be used to heat the centre of a ceramic fibre bed to temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees Celsius.
During the 80’s a variety of hearth standing gas fires became popular through British Gas, all of which sought to give the customer an efficient version of the living flame fire. Whilst these were typically 60% efficient, they stood out on the hearth in a relatively unrealistic way and had a very obvious glass front which at the time was not an ideal feature. These fires did fulfil a need but customer demand for realism pushed development work on the open fronted inset fire to continue apace.
Concurrently with burner developments it was realised that part of the efficiency problem was the fireback surrounding the open fronted gas fire. Refractory ‘Milner’ fire backs were very tough and adequate for radiating coal fire heat into the room but did not restrict the draught up the chimney enough and needed to radiate more efficiently for gas. A lining of ceramic fibre inside a metal convector or radiant box plus clever designs of reduced top outlets began to remove this obstacle as well. Finally an open fronted fire was producing efficiencies around or in excess of 50%, better than an open fire at approximately 20% but slightly less than hearth standing glass fronted gas fires of about 60%.
During this time, British and European standards had developed out of all recognition which meant safety took a big leap forward and gas fuel as well as handling of products of combustion which had once seemed so hazardous became much safer. Installers became strictly controlled through UK law which means that today you are much more likely to have a successful and safe gas fire installation experience.
With the property building, development and improvement boom in the 2000’s people began to look much further than the traditional coal fire for something to provide a realistic and convenient live fire feature in their living space. A brief surge in open fronted ‘hole in the wall’ gas fires then ensued, but this was not to last. It had become obvious through pioneering inset glass fronted fires such as the Charlton & Jenrick Matchless Heat Machine that a consumer could have a really efficient inset gas fire that looked great but did not throw away heat up the chimney by having an open front. This technology could be applied to bigger, wider, better fires that really formed the centre point of a room. Gone was the traditional 16” wide limitation – why not create something much bigger and bolder? Large format European gas fires, although not tailored to the UK market and in most cases very difficult and costly to install began to sell in larger quantities for the first time.
So the gas fire had finally come of age, an efficient, glass fronted inset fire with a realistic flame and fuel effect which could either be built into the wall or alternatively built in to a bespoke fireplace package….. Or had it? The engineers at Charlton & Jenrick knew there was still a great deal of important work to be done and set to, creating the Infinity range of gas fires which we believe offers more than any other range of large format gas fires and all at a competitive price for such substantial units.
Early UK large format gas fires were often just gas guzzling EU fires - or copies, more often than not balanced flue – requiring their own flue system and air supply and a great deal of building work. This would be no problem if a room was being gutted and re-built but what if there was already a chimney in place and a new chimney breast making the room smaller was just not desirable? Energy price rises across the board meant that high gas consumptions for big flames were now something of the past. So C&J engineers first developed a range of fires that could be fitted into existing properties with relatively small amounts of building work, no flue liners or adapter kits required as standard and a control system built into the firebox itself – not requiring a pit under the fire or a separate control box to be built in. A trimmed model and trim-less versions were prepared to meet the real needs of the UK gas fire market, not adaptations or variations of a theme. A bespoke burner system was developed that could provide a substantial flame effect at greatly reduced gas consumption which when coupled with a brand new firebox design provides state of the art heating efficiencies of 80% from units which are often coveted just for their good looks. High quality ceramic shapes are used to create the fuel effect which has now changed from the obligatory matt black coal to attractive and very realistic log forms together with barks chips and ash or glowing ember effects. Servicing is not ignored either, C&J engineers have field experience and knowledge of UK installation regulations so they have developed special panels for inspection of the flue and chimney in situ where required, something often ignored or not known by other manufacturers. Various different sizes have been introduced and balanced flue versions are in development.
Upper end gas fire remote control systems are steadily improving in terms of usability, features and energy consumption. Modern fires of this type are usually equipped with battery operated remote controls to maintain the advantage of fuel autonomy that a gas fire can bring - in a power cut a central heating boiler is useless whereas an autonomous gas fire can continue to be used to provide vital heating in living spaces. Thermostatic controls can be used for reduced gas consumption whilst maintaining comfort levels without switching on the whole house heating in the autumn or spring. Whichever gas fire you choose always look for a control which is ‘full sequence’, i.e. one that ignites the pilot automatically as well as the burners – control systems that only have a manually lit ‘standing’ pilot flame are a nuisance and wasteful of valuable gas. Costs to run a standing pilot for a year can amount to £100 in some cases, not to mention the unnecessary CO2 emitted.
When looking at the past few decades of gas fire development we can see how far things have come and that gas fires remain relevant today. Charlton & Jenrick invest substantial amounts into R&D every year to ensure that the state of the art moves on. Infinity gas fires represent modern gas fire design at its very best – efficient, convenient, simple for both customers and installers, effective, very attractive and useful in more ways than many other lifestyle choices.
So at a time when yet more energy companies are raising gas prices, it may pay off to replace that gas fire that did a lovely job at looking realistic, however didn't offer any heat with a modern, efficient appliance that can heat the room, while still offering a very realistic flame effect.

Monday 15 October 2012

Can A Double Sided Stove Work For You?

It is often the case with larger properties built around a central chimney breast that people would like2 appliances, one for each room either side of the chimney breast. However it is also common that when carrying out the home survey the engineer discovers that one of the chimneys the customer wants to use was a false chimney, False chimneys are not suitable to use with solid fuel as they are not heat resistant and the gasses from a solid fuel stove will always be over 100 degrees.

This means that if the customer wanted a second stove they would either need to have a class 1 chimney built or install a factory made metal chimney both of which are costly and can be very messy and require a large amount of building work.

This could mean that you are restricted to just have one multi fuel appliance and settling for an electric in the other room. But all is not lost, with a double sided stove from manufacturers such as Firebelly, then it may be possible to knock through to the opposite room and can help open the house and ensure heat is spread throughout the house.

Having a double sided stove rather than two separate units can save customers from having large amounts of additional building work completed as well as potentially offering a large saving on purchasing one appliance over two in seperate rooms.

It always helps to have a HETAS engineer come round and look at your property and asking them what can be done. You won’t get this kind of help and advice when you buy a stove off the internet so it’s always a good idea to visit your local stove retailer for advice when purchasing a stove, you might be pleasantly surprised!

Saturday 13 October 2012

New Fires from Beaucrest

Not a day goes by at the moment when we do not hear about another new fire or range, just the other day we were telling you about the new fire from Apex, this time is the turn of Beaucrest.

Beaucrest have certainly pulled out the stops to release this range of three electric suites, ranging from traditional to the more contemporary.

We start this introduction to the latest Beaucrest fires by showcasing the ideal electric fireplace suite for smaller living spaces. The Beaucrest Tahere Electric Fireplace Suite is small enough at just 34 inches wide, to allow people who may not be able to have a larger electric suite to still enjoy the realistic LED flame effect of the fire inside. Finished in an attractive stone effect finish with chrome fire inside, the Beaucrest Tahere electric suite boasts a heat output out 1.5kW using a concealed heater vent and controls. And with the option of Coal or Pebble fuel effect, the Tahere would work beautifully in either a contemporary or traditional setting.

The next fire from the new range is the Beaucrest Bartley, giving a slightly more contemporary finish to a cast iron arch and electric suite, the light oak effect finish on the surround complements the deep cast finish and offers the choice of Coals or Logs and gives a the option or either 1kW, 2kW, or light effect only setting with a Multifunction remote control including double dimmer for flames and fuel bed. Just like the Tahere, the Bartley requires no depth in the wall and can be installed on a completely flat wall with a hearth depth of 390mm.

Another fire that is new to the Beaucrest Heaton that compliments the new Bartley electric fireplace suite. Much like its sister suite, the Heaton features an authentic cast insert with an electric fire. These electric suites offer so much more than a traditional buy your own cast iron insert and electric fire that just offer a glow and some heat, the Heaton and Bartley offer both a flame effect and the option of a flickering fuel bed that really helps create a realistic flame effect. The Beaucrest Heaton features a white effect surround and black granite effect hearth that would fit perfectly into almost any living space. Boasting luxury features such as remote control also means you don't even need to get up to turn the fire on, and 2kW of heat can be at the press of a button for when the cold nights set in.

Thursday 11 October 2012

The Latest Fire From Apex

Just as the weather starts to get cold and the nights start to get longer, Apex have launched a brand new fire that offers one of the most realistic flame effects on the market. The Apex Culture hang on the wall electric fire features a new LED flame effect and log fuel bed to really create the illusion of a real living flame.
Breaking further from the traditional reflective black glass that has become all to common and can often look just like a television, the Apex Culture is available in two stone effect colours, White Stone Effect, for a stunning white finish and Stone Effect (Shown Above) that offers a beautiful stone effect that looks almost identical to the marble.

A Slimline landscape design with only a 78mm projection into the room means that this fire is among the slimmest on the market and with silent flame operation means you can have the flame effect on and just sit next to the fire, without the noise associated with a ribbon flame effect.

a 2kW fan heater provides the heat that exits from the base to allow flat wall TV installation above, allowing you to create that stunning focal point in any room, combining arguably the two most looked at items in any living space. The Apex Culture is certainly destined to become 'hot' property

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Coronation Street set to air shocking carbon monoxide plot

Coronation Street regular Fiz Brown is set to fall into a coma after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning in a Coronation Street cliffhanger.

Fiz Brown, played by Jennie McAlpine, will be left fighting for her life in the dramatic Corrie storyline (Picture: ITV)

The character, played by actress Jennie McAlpine, will be left fighting for her life after Tyrone fixes her boiler, but does not do the job properly.
And the storyline, which will be aired over Christmas, will see Fiz collapsing at home alone while her toddler daughter Hope is away with her brother Chesney during the festive season.
The plot is reportedly set to be so controversial that producers have taken advice from the Gas Safe Register over how it should be properly portrayed.
'It is one of our biggest and most important storylines in a very long time and we need to make sure that it is done properly as we know that scenes like this, done properly, can save lives,' a show source told the Sunday Mirror.
'We want to make sure that we get everything accurate and right. It will have fans on the edge of their seats. Carbon monoxide is the silent killer and the show hopes to bring the issue to everyone.'
The drama could also see Tyrone, played by Alan Halsall, facing prosecution for unlawfully trying to fix Fiz's boiler - in a bid to raise awareness of the dangers of having such work carried out by those who are not qualified to do so.
The soap recently ran in to trouble over its portrayal of Carla Connor's rape at the hands of Frank Foster - which critics suggested would deter real-life victims from reporting their own assaults to police.

Sunday 7 October 2012

Dimplex tackles the heating 'hype'

Dimplex has described claims currently being made about some electric appliances in the market as confusing and "unachievable".
Chris Stammers, marketing director at Dimplex, said: “Some surprising assertions with regard to efficiencies and running costs are being made in the marketplace at the moment. But frankly, many of these claims are unachievable, and specifiers and installers need to be able to see through the hype, by making some straightforward comparisons.”
Dimplex said that any electric resistance heater can only ever be 100% efficient. A 1kwh input of electricty will transfer 1kw of heat into a room for one hour, and the company said it’s not possible to improve on that.
Not all electric heaters operate in the same way. A fluid-filled radiator transfers the heat uniformly around the radiator, giving more radiant than convected heat, compared with a convector heater. A slower warm-up and continued release of heat after switch-off are also characteristic of the fluid-filled design. But they both release exactly the same amount of energy to the room.
Some electric radiators, filled with so-called ‘thermodynamic’ oil or water-based fluids, claim to be more efficient and even more economical to run than either storage heaters or panel convector heaters.
Dimplex said that neither the European Commission nor the government’s SAP system of energy ratings recognises the claims of these ‘thermodynamic’ appliances, with both stating that the efficiency of all electric room heaters is 100%.
When it comes to running costs, Dimplex said storage heaters that use low-cost, off-peak electricity to heat a given property will always be cheaper to run over a 16 hour day than direct-acting heaters which use day-rate electricity – whether these are fluid-filled or convector heaters.

Friday 5 October 2012

Five basic steps to prevent chimney fires

Five basic steps to prevent chimney fires

— Debbie Robinson is the Deputy Community Fire Safety Manager at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue. She shares a few basic fire safety tips to prevent chimney fires.

With cooler weather around the corner and the nights beginning to draw in, many people will soon be firing up their fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.
Although open fires and wood burners undeniably add heat and ambience to a home, it’s important to remember that over 6,000 chimney fires occur in England each year.
In the last year, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue attended 146 fires that started in a chimney – and many of these could have been prevented if precautions had been taken.
Chimney fires happen when soot or creosote deposits in the chimney catch light due to high temperatures or flames from a very hot fire extending into the outlet.
All chimney fires are extremely dangerous as internal flue temperatures can reach 1,100 degrees Celsius and heat radiated through chimney walls can cause a devastating house fire – especially in properties with thatched or wooden roofs.
Flames or sparks can leap from the chimney top or through cracks in the flue and ignite the roof or other parts of the house.
The bricks of the chimney can become hot enough to combust thatch, wooden beams – even adjoining houses or nearby trees.

Fire safety tips

Therefore, it’s important to remember a few basic fire safety tips to make sure you’re not at risk.
First of all, always make sure you have a working smoke alarm fitted to each floor of your house. They help save lives by giving you earlier warning of a fire and extra seconds to get out. Make sure, too, that you have a fire escape plan.
Chimney fires most commonly result from four basic causes – infrequent sweeping and cleaning, burning of unseasoned wood, improper appliance sizing, or overnight burning or smouldering of wood for long periods in wood burners.
So to reduce the risk of a fire, make sure your chimney is swept regularly by a professional, qualified chimney sweep such as those certified by the National Association of Chimney Sweeps.
Only burn seasoned wood purchased from reputable suppliers and make sure your wood burner isn’t too large for your room, always following manufacturer’s instructions for fuel loading and air flow.
Use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers, and make sure the fire is completely out before you go to bed.
Also, remember that if you are in a rented property, your landlord has a duty of care towards you as a tenant to repair and maintain heaters and fuel burners.
Make sure your family can safely enjoy a cosy fire – take the proper precautions before the cold weather sets i

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Just When You Thought You'd Seen It All

Most of us have seen the now almost predictable styling of wooden fireplace surrounds from a majority of the manufacturers. With either very traditional carving and corbels or featuring very simple clean lines for a more contemporary finish with a single colour back panel and hearth.
However OER have released the new Lineare Fireplace Surround, shown left, which as you can see is unlike anything else on the market from any other manufacturer at the moment. The clean lines of the legs, are  complemented and contrasted by the header, featuring a linear detailing that not only gives a good aesthetic pattern, it also offers some relief, with each linear piece of the pattern at a different height to others. This means that while some fireplace surrounds can be considered 'boring' the Lineare Fireplace Surround is far from boring.

Another exciting feature that sets this fireplace out from the rest is the back panel and hearth, traditionally a single piece of granite, marble or slate,the Lineare Fireplace surround comes with Quartzite and Ochre Chiselled Stone back panel and Quartzite hearth, truly unique and creates a very attractive finish.With the added bonus of being suitable for both standard gas and electric fires as well as a solid fuel appliances.

Shown above with the Meg Inset 4.5kW inset stove, creating that rustic warmth that you can only get from a solid fuel fire and shown right with an open-fronted gas fire, showing that this fireplace works beautifully with whatever fire you have inside, gas, electric or solid fuel.

Monday 1 October 2012

Environmental Benefits of Wood Burning

Peter Mintoft, Technical Director of Charlton & Jenrick Ltd, manufacturer of Fireline wood stoves takes a look at some common wood burning myths and actual eco-benefits of using wood to heat your home:

In recent times greater numbers of householders are turning to wood fuelled stoves as part of their over all heating strategy. With gas and electricity prices hovering around historic highs, this often makes sense financially as well as environmentally, not to mention enhancing the living space with a very tangible warm and homely ambience. However, there is often concern expressed about wood stoves and alleged pollution, plus cutting of wood to use as fuel, most of which is unfounded. To start with it is worth discussing some common myths about wood burning and revealing the actual facts:

“Surely if we cut down trees to burn them it is a bad thing and we will end up with less trees and less wood left?”

Not true – almost all firewood comes from thinning operations during forestry management and if demand for wood fuel is low then many areas of woodland can be neglected and not managed correctly. Increased demand for wood fuel will simply increase the amount of proper thinning and management that is done. Correctly managed woodland will increase its bulk and grow better than non-managed woodland. It is easy to forget that trees are constantly growing; they are not a static resource, a hardwood forest might accumulate up to 7 cubic metres (about 7 tonnes green) of new wood per hectare each year and softwood much more. When fully seasoned this is approximately 5 tonnes of useful fire wood per hectare per annum. There are 3.1 million hectares of woodland in the UK which has been increasing in recent years, so it can be seen that fully sustainable wood fuel potential is huge.

“Isn’t it just as environmentally friendly to burn logs in my open hearth?”

Definitely not – open fires are very inefficient because combustion cannot complete and lots of warm room air is lost up the chimney whether or not the fire is burning. Open fires burning wood, or any fuel, are very inefficient and smoky and must be avoided at all costs. A modern closed wood stove will produce around 4 times the heat from the same amount of wood as an open fire plus massively reduced smoke and particulate emissions. The best, most environmentally friendly way to burn wood logs is in a modern DEFRA compliant wood burner.

“I hear that all wood stoves produce dirty smoke, tar and soot don’t they?”

Not true – sure some older stoves are nothing more than a dirty burning metal box and they should definitely be replaced with modern, efficient clean burning stoves. Current clean burn and DEFRA exempt stoves have very clear exhaust. All Charlton & Jenrick Fireline stoves are DEFRA capable or already exempted for burning wood in UK smokeless zones and produce particulates and visible smoke levels 60% or more below DEFRA limits. DEFRA smoke particulate limits are actually tighter than some EU and Scandinavian limits. Just maintain flames above the logs at all times and the exhaust will remain clear.

“Although the stove has a glass panel won’t it soot up after a couple of hours so we can’t see the fire?”

Not true – Charlton & Jenrick Fireline stoves have a very well developed air wash system that operates as an integral part of the clean burn combustion system. Just maintain flames above the logs at all times and the glass will not soot up. Older stoves either did not have these or they were a poor add-on air wash box that did not work properly. With our modern designs and clean combustion usually the most that will be needed is a wipe over the glass with a dry cloth before lighting the stove next day.

“I hear that the ash will need taking out every day and it’s too much hassle.”

Aylesbury Fireplace & Stove Package
Not true – most wood burning stoves have ash capacity for many days burning within the firebox and ash pan. If only burning a stove for evenings and weekends it may only need emptying once every month or two. Modern wood stoves have a proper grate allowing a build up of ash bed to be achieved together with proper ash collection arrangements rather than the basic metal box requiring shovelling out that users used to be given. All Charlton & Jenrick Fireline stoves are provided with proper wood burning grates and stainless steel ash pans for ash management.

“Surely burning any fuel emits carbon dioxide and that is a bad thing?”

Partial truth – of course burning wood does emit carbon dioxide (CO2) like any other fuel but the big difference is the carbon cycle that is operating when using wood fuel. Coal, oil and gas are ‘fossil’ fuels so-called because the carbon inside them has been stored for millions of years underground – not in the atmosphere. When we burn these fossil fuels we release that old carbon back into the atmosphere as additional CO2. When burning seasoned logs we are still releasing carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere but that gas has been absorbed by the wood in recent years. So as we burn wood, a new or existing tree is growing and soaking up that CO2 from the atmosphere quickly. As long as woodland is correctly managed we are not adding to the over all burden of carbon in our atmosphere. Even if trees are left to rot in the forest they give up their carbon back to the atmosphere eventually.

“The new Fireline stove I want has a cast iron grate and I’m told it can’t possibly burn wood as well as a flat bottomed stove?”

Not true – This was often the case in the past for UK designed stoves but modern wood burners, particularly those from Europe or Scandinavia are equipped with properly designed wood burning grates for convenience and flexibility. Charlton & Jenrick Fireline stoves are all provided with our own specially designed grates to allow 78-81.5% efficiency, very clean combustion and ash building on the standard grate. We don’t believe that you should have to scrabble and shovel out ash from a stove just because it is a wood burner so we provide large ash storage capacity and a proper stainless steel ash pan to manage the wood ash.

“Cutting splitting and stacking logs is hard work and doesn’t it take up a lot of space?”

Not necessarily – Space is a big advantage for cutting, splitting, storing and seasoning wood at low cost but you don’t always need to do things the traditional way. One method of greatly reducing hard work and storage requirements is to buy in prepared logs, preferably kiln dried such as Certainly Wood’s environmentally sound and high quality products. These can be obtained just a few bags at a time from stockists or cheaper in bulk if a little space is available to store them. Be sure that your supplier uses their waste wood energy for the kiln drying process and is not employing oil or gas which impacts badly on the wood fuel’s carbon footprint.

“If we have to cut down trees shouldn’t we be using it for buildings or furniture instead of burning it?”

Not necessarily – As we have already identified almost all firewood comes from thinning operations during forestry management. The type of wood harvested during these operations is just not of the high quality required for construction or cabinet making. It could be left to rot in the forest – releasing carbon dioxide anyway – or we can use it as a carbon neutral fuel.

“Won’t we return to the bad old days of ‘London smogs’ if everyone burns wood?”

Not true – ‘London smog’ was mainly caused by the fall out from terribly inefficient (20%) dirty open fires incompletely burning filthy coal fossil fuel. Modern wood burners meeting strict emission rules must be encouraged and used to replace old stoves and open fires, particularly in built up areas and smokeless zones and no such issues will arise. Open fires burning wood are very inefficient and smoky and must be avoided at all costs.

“I have central heating so I can’t have a wood burning stove can I?”

Not true. All you need is a suitable chimney or flue – and these can be retro-fitted into a property or repaired easily where necessary. Most central heating systems should already have thermal radiator valves fitted (TRV’s) or zones so that if a stove is lit it will take over the thermal load from the central heating system in that room. If you do not have TRV’s then they are easily retro-fitted. A boiler stove can even be connected into almost any kind of wet central heating system and power the radiators and sometimes the hot water when it is lit. These types of mixed systems are improving rapidly and as a bonus greatly reduce dependence on gas or oil as a sole heat source.

“Aren’t heat pumps powered by electricity more environmentally sound than wood burners?”

Not true – the biggest flaw in this assumption is the fossil fuel used to generate electricity and the losses in distribution of that electricity. The vast majority of electricity comes from fossil fuels and then by the time the electricity is generated and transmitted to your home, often only about 40% of the original energy is available to be used. Heat pumps are very expensive in first cost and performance is often not as good as predicted, not least because the technology is not yet mature and lots of development remains to be completed. In comparison an 80% efficient DEFRA exempt wood burner using properly seasoned or kiln dried firewood from a sustainable source is carbon neutral technology available today. Besides – there is also no heat pump in the world which is as enjoyable to watch in operation as a wood stove!

Burning wood is definitely a very positive environmental move overall if it is from a  sustainable source, dry, burnt in a new clean burn stove and can displace oil, coal, electricity or gas use in the home. Fortunately these are easy issues to deal with today. Fuel supply from managed woodland replaces the trees and encourages maximum growth to re-absorb the CO2 released during stove operation giving a relatively short closed loop carbon cycle. There is little waste in heat loss from the chimney and wood ash can be mixed with topsoil in the garden to help plant growth. The heat we feel from the wood stove is the sun’s energy returned to us in a way that fits in with the natural cycle of the woodland environment.
Wood stoves with modern combustion chamber design can be found in many different aesthetic styles from traditional British freestanding type to fabulous European designer looks. Be sure to look for the essential air wash coupled with tertiary air systems which introduce air into the top of the combustion chamber and clean up otherwise unburned flue gases before they leave the firebox. DEFRA exemption is usually a very good guide to the quality of emissions from a wood burning stove. Stove CE marking is a requirement from 2013 and any stove worth its salt will be CE marked already. Proper upper firebox baffles help to elongate the flame path and maximise efficiency and proper ash handling facilities are a must if you prefer not to be shovelling ash out from a more basic stove.
There is also the unquantifiable ‘feel good’ factor in being able to absorb the comforting warmth from a wood stove whilst watching the exquisite flame picture through a large air-washed glass window. A good stove can be an extremely satisfying and valuable asset to your home whist not costing the earth.
Charlton & Jenrick are members of the national Stove Industry Alliance (SIA – ) and manufacture the CE marked Fireline range of cost-effective, modern, in-house designed clean burning wood stoves. Some have multi-fuel capability and all have maximum size ceramic glass panels. All but one of the range are DEFRA exempt for wood burning in smokeless zones and have fantastically effective window air wash meaning that combustion is full and complete so you, and your environment are getting the best value from your stove and fuel.
Why not visit Fireplace Megastore and see the Aylesbury Fireplace and Stove Package in all its glory, get a feel for the solid natural limestone surround and matching chamber, complete with DEFRA approved wood burning stove.