American-style freezers could be wasting energy

American-style side-by-side fridge-freezers could cost more than three times as much as a conventional standalone unit to run.

These are the findings from an appliance advice group which suggests this type of appliance is becoming increasingly common among the 19 million fridge-freezers being used in the UK.

The group at ToptenUK.org collected data on 70 side-by-side models. They found their annual running costs was nearly triple the cost of running the most efficient traditional-style free-standing options available.

The main reason for the energy usage being so different is because the compressor in American-style units is positioned close to the freezer compartment. As it gets hot, the freezer has to work harder to stay cold.

Stewart Muir, product manager at the Energy Saving Trust, said: “American-style fridge-freezers have been growing in popularity but, in some cases, the cost of running these fridge-freezers can be significantly more than that of efficient, free-standing fridge freezers.

“In fact, the lifetime running cost of an A+ rated American-style fridge freezer can be as much as £350 more than a smaller A+++ rated freestanding unit – almost enough to buy a second fridge freezer.”

Inteb director Tom Kelly appointed to chair influential Energy and Environment Forum

Inteb director Tom Kelly has been appointed to the prestigious role as chair of an influential group tasked with business growth in the energy and environment sectors.

The newly-launched Wirral Chamber of Commerce Energy and Environment Forum has identified significant growth opportunities for these sectors not only locally and regionally but also on a national and international scale.

Part of Tom’s role will be to help shape the direction of the group as well as ensure businesses take full advantage of its benefits to learn, share, collaborate and grow.

Following the announcement of his appointment, Tom said: “I am delighted to be appointed chair of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce Energy and Environment Sector Forum during what is a very exciting time for the development of the sector locally.

“The role of the forum in terms of engaging businesses to encourage a wider reach of opportunities for our members, by working with other businesses and partners across Wirral and the Liverpool City Region, has never been more relevant. Our region is uniquely and ideally placed to benefit from the opportunities this sector will bring and we hope these benefits will be widely felt by Wirral Chamber members and other local businesses alike.

“In this new role, I hope to ensure the forum continues to provide local businesses with information on specific issues relating to energy and the environment and work together to address potential barriers to growth. Together we can then ensure that businesses in the Energy and Environment sector have the skills required to form part of a robust supply chain and look to benefit from supply chain opportunities in the sector.

“There are also many other important and exciting opportunities involving the energy and environment sector where the forum will be looking to take a lead role in business engagement.

“At Inteb we promote pro-active energy management throughout businesses of all types and sizes and, as we move towards a low-carbon economy, the focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy generation is becoming more mainstream. This in turn brings further opportunities for businesses involved in the sector to reach out to a broader client base rather than being the ‘niche’ service offering it has been in the past.

“As a local business and Strategic Partner of Wirral Chamber, it is our role to ensure that our neighbour and partner businesses understand the benefits that can come from improving their approach to energy management and benefit from the cost savings and business opportunities this approach can bring.”

Paula Basnett, chief executive of Wirral Chamber of Commerce, added: “I am delighted that Tom has agreed to be an active member of our Energy and Environment Forum and to chair the group.

“He will provide great expertise, focus and enthusiasm in moving this initiative forward and play a key role in advancing both the interests of our members in sharing information and best practice, as well as working towards improving the quality of life in our region.”

Tom, who is a chartered energy manager and Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) lead assessor, has worked for more than 16 years in energy, sustainability and resource efficiency sectors, building an in-depth knowledge looking at business solutions to utility and waste costs, environmental legislation and gaining a competitive edge through improved sustainability performance.
With increasing awareness around the tightening legislation and cost of carbon emissions, Tom is able to assist organisations meet their present needs while planning for the future, including monitoring, targeting and assessment of improvement opportunities through to managing building related projects.

His specialities are energy management and carbon reduction, CRC, ESOS, utilities metering and data management, construction project management, waste management and legislation, resource efficiency project management and sustainability reporting.

Home owners may be forced to upgrade their poorly insulated homes before selling

The owners of more than a million poorly insulated homes may be forced to upgrade them before they can be sold to help to meet the government’s climate change targets.

The Committee on Climate Change, which advises the government on the targets, is calling for urgent action to reduce the amount of energy wasted in homes. It says in a report that government policies set out last year in the clean growth strategy are inadequate to meet the UK’s legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It wants the government to try to give homeowners incentives to invest in better insulation but to make it compulsory if take-up is low. The incentives could include low-interest-rate loans or discounts on stamp duty if a home is upgraded soon after being sold.

The policy would apply to at least 1.2 million homes that are in the bottom two bands, F and G, for energy efficiency. Owners would be required to upgrade them to at least band E.

Heating a band G property can cost more than £1,000 a year more than a band E home. The government is already targeting landlords who rent band F and G homes, requiring them to spend £2,500 on energy efficiency measures.

David Joffe, the committee’s head of carbon budgets, said that it was best to target properties being sold because they were often upgraded at that time anyway.

The cost of improvements ranges from £300 for loft insulation to £14,000 for external wall insulation for older properties built without cavity walls.

The committee also calls for tougher energy efficiency standards for new homes and says that some have been poorly built and use more energy than the housebuilders claim.

In addition, the committee calls for 55 million trees to be planted in England by 2025, five times more than the government has pledged to plant by 2020, to help to suck carbon from the atmosphere as well as reduce the risk from flooding linked to climate change.

It says 60 per cent of new cars and vans should be electric by 2030, compared with less than 5 per cent now.

Renewable energy ‘set to be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020’

Renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels in two years’ time, according to a new report.

Experts predict that investment in green infrastructure projects will lead to decreases in the cost of energy for consumers.

Continuous technological improvements have led to a rapid fall in the cost of renewable energy in recent years, meaning some forms can already comfortably compete with fossil fuels.

The report by International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) suggests this trend will continue and that by 2020 “all the renewable power generation technologies that are now in commercial use are expected to fall within the fossil fuel-fired cost range”.

Of those technologies, most will either be at the lower end of the cost range or actually undercutting fossil fuels.

Adnan Amin, director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, said: “This new dynamic signals a significant shift in the energy paradigm. Turning to renewables for new power generation is not simply an environmentally conscious decision, it is now – overwhelmingly – a smart economic one.”

The report looked specifically at the relative cost of new energy projects being commissioned.
As renewable energy becomes cheaper, consumers will benefit from investment in green infrastructure. The current cost for fossil fuel power generation ranges from around 4p to 12p per kilowatt hour across G20 countries.

By 2020, IREA predicted renewables will cost between 2p and 7p, with the best onshore wind and solar photovoltaic projects expected to deliver electricity by 2p or less next year.

Other methods of producing renewable energy, such as offshore wind farms and solar thermal energy, are not yet as competitive as fossil fuels. However, the results of recent renewable power auctions for projects to be commissioned in the coming years suggest these forms too are due to drop in price. Auctions provide a useful means of predicting the future cost of electricity.

Mr Amin added: “These cost declines across technologies are unprecedented and representative of the degree to which renewable energy is disrupting the global energy system.”

The new report comes after 2017 was declared the UK’s greenest year ever by WWF, when data from the National Grid revealed 13 different renewable energy records had been broken.

Electric cars ‘could save’ Ellesmere Port factory

Ministers have been asked to come up with plans to secure the future of the Vauxhall car plant at Ellesmere Port and to promote it as a factory in the vanguard of the electric vehicle revolution.

The future of the Cheshire factory, home of the Vauxhall Astra, has been in doubt since it, along with the rest of the Opel Vauxhall assets in Europe owned by General Motors, was sold to Groupe PSA, the Peugeot and Citroën carmaker. Ellesmere Port’s prospects worsened in the autumn when PSA cut a shift and laid off 400 workers, about a quarter of the labour force.

Justin Madders, the local MP, has pleaded with the government to team up with the motor industry to put together a plan to save the facility.

Ellesmere Port has been one of Britain’s most important car factories over the past 60 years. At its height in the 1970s it employed 12,000 workers.

Groupe PSA employs 180,000 people, many of them in factories in its native France, and has annual revenues of more than €50 billion. It stopped making cars in Britain more than a decade ago and has declined to commit itself to keeping Ellesmere Port open, especially as Astras are also made at a factory in Poland.

Carlos Tavares, PSA’s chief executive, has said that he would be determining the future of Ellesmere Port around now, imploring the British government to clarify its transitional arrangements for the country’s departure from the European Union. Mr Tavares has to make a decision soon because the latest generation Astra is halfway through its seven-year model life cycle and the company needs to plan now on investment from 2021.

Mr Madders, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, said that the Local Enterprise Partnership had been working hard to persuade PSA to keep the plant open, but that the time had come for Downing Street to intervene.

He said: “We have been trying to persuade government to bring forward financial incentives.”
He said that the factory could be promoted as a home for Vauxhall, Peugeot or Citroën cars being developed for the hybrid or electric market and added: “There is plenty of money being made available [by the Treasury] for electric vehicles, but that focus has been on investment in charging points or on research and development. We are making the argument that this money should be made available for manufacturing, too.”

Source: The Times

Green Christmas adds to Britain’s record year for power generation

New figures show that on top of a record breaking year for power generation, Christmas Day 2017 was the greenest ever.

According to analysis of Electric Insights data by researchers at Imperial College London, in collaboration with Drax, 2017 was also on course to be the cleanest year for electricity generation.

On Christmas Day carbon emissions from power generation were just 142g/kWh – more than 10 per cent lower than on December 25, 2016.

Gas generators provided over 30 per cent of the required capacity and coal provided just 1.4 per cent on Christmas Day, compared to 17.9 per cent for gas and 7.1 per cent for coal in 2016.

Dr Iain Staffell, of Imperial College London, said: “This was achieved in spite of generation from renewables being lower than on Christmas Day last year, mainly due to the continued reduction in coal over this year, being swapped for gas power stations.”

The low carbon Christmas comes after a whole host of renewables records were broken throughout the year and with much less coal on the system, helping to reduce Britain’s carbon emissions by around half of what they were five years ago.

Dr Staffell explained: “The carbon intensity of Britain’s electricity halved between 2012 and 2016 and we think that by New Year the 2017 figure will be at least another 10 per cent lower than last year’s record. This means the average British household produced 100kg less CO2 this year than they did last year without having to lift a finger, all the changes are being made ‘behind the scenes’.”

Electric Insights data also shows that January 17, 2017 was the “dirtiest” day of the year, with carbon intensity reaching 398g CO2/kWh. Despite this, Britain’s carbon emissions have fallen sharply as renewables records were broken throughout the year.

Dr Staffell added: “Several real milestones were reached by renewable electricity throughout 2017 – we set a new record in March for renewable generation, which was then broken again in June.

“it helped that wind speeds were relatively high during the year so wind farm output was up by around one third compared to last year. Also, electricity demand was a little lower, meaning that renewable output formed a bigger part of the mix.”

Source: Network

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) – the countdown is on!

The countdown is well and truly on for landlords to comply with new legal standards for minimum energy efficiency in commercial and residential privately-rented properties. The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) will come into force in England and Wales from April this year.

From this date it will be unlawful to grant new leases, or renew tenant leases, of residential or commercial property with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of less than E unless registered as an exemption.

In practice, this will mean that landlords renting any property from April with an EPC rating of F or G will need to carry out works to improve the energy performance rating to E or above. Failure to do so can result in a hefty fine as local authorities will be able to impose civil penalties for non-compliance based on the property’s rateable value.

The penalty for renting out a property for a period of fewer than three months in breach of MEES regulations will be equivalent to 10 per cent of the property’s rateable value, subject to a minimum penalty of £5,000 and a maximum of £50,000. After three months, the penalty rises to 20 per cent of the rateable value, with a minimum penalty of £10,000 and a maximum of £150,000.

IMPORTANT

Crucially, landlords can also be further hit financially if they do not meet MEES regulations due to a loss of income while they are unable to legally let their property. Solicitors acting for both landlords and tenants will not be able to complete property transactions on F or G rated properties.

It is currently estimated that 18 per cent of commercial properties hold the lowest EPC ratings of F or G.

Urging landlords to take action now in order to minimise any risk, Raja Khan, commercial director at Inteb Managed Services, said: “A huge number of properties in England and Wales could be taken off the lettings market because they fail to meet these new minimum energy performance standards.

“Many landlords may not even know their property’s energy rating, despite needing an EPC by law, so it is vital they take immediate steps to avoid non-compliance and the possibility of not being able to grant new leases or renew existing ones.

He added: “It is important that landlords who are not sure whether this affects them or not – and therefore don’t have a strategy in place – get immediate professional advice.”

Inteb Managed Services, as a specialist energy services provider, has helped many of its landlord/managing agent clients prepare for MEES. If you need any information or need assistance, please get in touch with Suzanne Roberts on 079830 20402 or email suzanne.roberts@intebms.co.uk to discuss your organisation’s needs.

Other key dates:

  • April 2020: MEES will be extended to apply to ALL residential lettings, both new AND existing.
  • April 2023: MEES will apply to ALL existing commercial leases. All PRS properties will need to meet the minimum standard or be register as an exemption.
  • 2025: Properties will need to be brought up to an energy efficiency of D or above.
  • 2030: Minimum target of all rental properties to be at least a C energy efficiency rating.