The Green Deal is in danger of “sleepwalking into obscurity”, warns the ECA.

In response to the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s report into the Green Deal, the ECA has said that the findings should be a stark warning for the Government.

The ECA said, “The Energy and Climate Change Committee’s report into the Green Deal issued on 22nd May is a wake-up call to Government, which must keep on top of Green Deal performance if it is to prevent its flagship policy from sleepwalking into obscurity.”

Now the Green Deal is live, the Government must be quick to react to what is happening on the ground, and make changes if success is in doubt. Considering the PV FITs fiasco was worsened by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) relying on outdated figures on solar installations, the DECC should be accessing real-time information on the Green Deal, right now.

Millions of homes and businesses could benefit from the Green Deal, but at the current rate of assessments it will take around 100 years to get round to them. The first figures on actual Green Deal installation work, which come out in June, will be crucial.

Depending on what these figures say, the DECC may need to be ready with a Plan B. That should include reducing interest rates, which are widely seen as uncompetitive. Even simple measures like making the early adopter loans more obvious to consumers could help.

Awareness of the Green Deal financial incentives is very sketchy; publicity of what people need to do to benefit from the scheme is non-existent. How can the ‘common man’ (or woman) take advantage of the scheme when they are not being provided with any information?

The government call this a "Flagship incentive" - I would call it propaganda.

- Mark Jenkins

With the recession only just behind us and various other money troubles coming into play, it isn't surprising that the country as a whole has adopted some sort of "DIY Nation" mentality of late. And while its encouraging that more and more people are picking up tools and having a go at something they could perhaps do without the aid of a trained professional, this is something that could potentially affect the amount of work of those with the qualifications. However, a recent study has revealed that this might actually not be the case.

The study, commissioned by business insurance broker Swinton Commercial, took a sample of 100 tradesmen and women across the UK and found that in fact business is booming due to the number of botched jobs performed by budding DIYers. 20% of the plumbers who took part said that it often accounted for up to 84% of their workload! A further 25% said that they were regularly called out to fix DIY mishaps at business, while 100% of them were in agreement that over-ambitious DIYers are putting themselves and others at risk.

Some of the jobs reported included:

 

  • A waitress in a cafe attempting to repair a commercial boiler using a bread knife and scissors while the unit was still live.
  • An unsecured bath where overflows were running into the ceiling void. Lead pipes had been left and fudged into the copper pipes, with boxing made from MDF absorbing water.
  • A basin tap fitted without a sealing washer, causing a large water leak, which ran through the ceiling in the hallway.

 

So how does this affect you? If you consider yourself a DIY enthusiast and often do this sort of work, it's vital that you know what you're doing before you start. Access Training offer a number of DIY training courses in plumbing, electric and various construction trades. These courses outline what you're capable of doing around the house on your own not just safely, but legally as well. Knowing when a job is too difficult for you is extremely important, and there's no substitute for the work of a professional tradesman when it is needed. 

Full story: http://www.hpmmag.com/newsitem.asp?newsID=2089

The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) have recently released their first alterations to the 'TM13: Minimising the risk of Legionnaires' disease' guide in ten years. This comes following Britain experiencing its worst outbreaks of the disease to date, as well as in reaction to the advances in technology and environmental concern there are in managing water systems.

Legionella bacteria are commonly found in large sources of water such as rivers and lakes, but can very easily contaminate drinking water systems should it not be treated properly. If the bacteria are allowed to multiply and then become released into the air in water droplets, they become a serious health risk. Large buildings suchs as hotels, hospitals and office blocks, are particularly susceptible to contamination due to their more complex water supply systems.

It is aimed at primarily facility/premises managers, engineers, consultants or any other person involved in the design, installation or maintenance of building water systems. It sets to give out guidance on the appropriate design, installation, commissioning, operation and maintenance procedures necessary to minimise the risk of infection by Legionella from water systems within a building. Principles are highlighted, and practitioners in these fields are encouraged to apply them to their own particular building services applications.

This new guide also makes reference to health concerns on an international level, providing guidance on non-UK based requirements in the hope it will be a "valuable tool" in supporting compliance outside of the UK.

Speaking to HVP magazine, chairman for the new guide Greg Davies said: "The guidance has been revised and updated to reflect the legal, environmental and technological advancements we have seen over the last decade. The significant advantage of this document is it contains the level of advice needed to support those responsible for managing and maintaining water systems and services, for minimising the risks with legionella as well as how to demonstrate proactive control."

To purchase a copy of TM13, visit the CIBSE Knowledge Portal

Full story: Daily Mail - 'Incompetent' plumber causes gas explosion

A 32-year old plumber is currently in course after he caused a gas explosion which resulted in a home being 'blown from its foundations' and leaving the couple inside with serious burns.

While converting the former kitchen of Martyn Moody and his wife Theresa's luxury home in the Lincolnshire Wolds into a dining room, plumber Daniel Hickling cut off and capped the protruding gas pipe, burying it under the floorboards. However during the work he punctured the pipe and failed to carry out a straightforward check to ensure there had been no damage to it.

Later the couple smelt gas and began searching their home. During this time Mr Moody flicked on a cigarette lighter and the flame ignited, causing a massive explosion with such force that the entire building moved an inch. Mr Moody, a retired construction and electrical tradesman spent two weeks in hospital undergoing skin grafts after suffering serious burns to his hands, arms and scalp. His wife suffered burns to her legs and feet nut was released from hospital after two days.

The home, which the couple had built for themselves in 1993, sustained so much damaged that it had to be almost completely rebuilt. It was a year before the couple were able to move back in. They were also left £100,000 out of pocket after being found to be underinsured on their contents insurance and thus had to cover some of the loss themselves.

Lincoln Crown Court were told by prosecutor James Puzey that Hickley was "incompetent to carry out this work and it was carried out incompetently. That led directly to an explosion which almost destroyed the property and caused serious injury to the householders." It was also revealed that he was not a registered Gas Safe engineer and failed to tell the couple this when he agreed to do the work. However he claims that he did not know he would be working on a gas pipe and as such never put himself forward as properly qualified.

Hickley has admitted to breaching the 1998 Gas Safety Regulations and performing work to an inappropriate standard. Recorder Helen Malcolm QC has adjourned the case to a future date when she will give her ruling on the case following these two days of evidence.

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Cases like this are a prime example of why having the right qualifications to do the job is vital. Simply having plumbing qualifications is not enough if you are potentially going to work with gas pipes, as not only are you breaking the law and could potentially face prosecution but you are also endangering the lives of your customers. If you train as a gas engineer, becoming Gas Safe Registered isn't just advised, it is essential proof that you are legally competent to work with gas pipes and gas appliances safely. If you are a plumber and would like to learn more about gas engineering, gaining the qualifications required to be eligable for Gas Safe registration, we at Access Training offer comprehensive gas courses to ensure you are fully trained. To find out more click the link or give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

electric shower

Firstly when you’re having problems with your electric shower don’t attempt to fix it, this is false economy – you’re much better off changing the item completely. Here are a few steps to show you how to change an electric shower. 

  • Step One - Safely take off the front cover of the electric shower box. There will be at least 1 or possibly 2 small screws holding this in place. Next, take off the front temperature and control knobs by pulling them straight off (this shouldn’t be too difficult to do). With the front cover off you should be able to see a valve on the water pipe going into the shower unit, it should have a screw slot in the middle of the valve. Turn this a ¼ turn either way and test the shower to see if this has turned off the water. You can use the control knob by temporarily re-attaching it to the shower to get the water to flow.
  • Step Two - When changing an electric shower, you must turn off the electric supply at the consumer unit (or fuse board as it’s commonly known). The fuses/trips should be marked but if they’re not, the 1 of 2 possible trips you are going to turn off will be either a 35 amp or a 45 amp depending on the Kilo-watt power of the shower. For a 35 amp fuse/trip, the shower should not be over 8.5 kilowatts. For a shower that is greater in kilowatts, the fuse/trip will be a 45 amp.
  • Step Three - The next step in changing your electric shower is to check that the electric has been turned off by either pulling the cord switch in your bathroom or the wall-mounted one outside. Run the shower and make sure that the running water isn’t warm/hot. With the electric turned off, you can put a notice hanging from the consumer unit to warn others not to turn back on.
  • Step Four - If the water is now off you can take off the water connection where it connects closest to the unit. Undo the electric cable connections and remove the unit, remembering to replace like-for-like in the kilowatt power rating of the unit (this rating can be found somewhere on the old unit, and on the front cover box of the new one).
  • Step Five - When you have connected the new unit to the electric cable and to the water supply, check the water flow through the unit first, then with the cover on the unit you can turn the electric fuse/trip back on. Go back to the unit and turn the wall-mounted switch or pull the cord on, turn up the thermostatic control on the unit and the water control knob to on. Your new shower should be working, but with the new shower unit you will have the manufacturer’s instructions in the box. Follow these carefully, and it should be safe for you to install.

- Mark Lewis

 Would you like to learn more about the kind of DIY plumbing tasks you can perform yourself around the home? Access Training offers a number of bespoke plumbing courses for both DIY enthusiasts and those looking for a career as a professional plumber. You'll have access to our state-of-the-art training facilities and be taught by fully-trained plumbers with many years' experience in the trade. To find out more, give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

View the amended Part P Document here: planningportal.gov.uk

As of last month the Government has wheeled out its latest changes to Part P of the Building Regulations in an attempt to cut down on the amount of “red tape”. In the eight years since its introduction Part P has been a vital measure in maintaining safety when it comes to electrical installations, making sure that professional electricians have the skill and competency needed to perform these tasks. In order to do certain installations, electricians (and DIYers) are required to gain their Part P certificate and join a Competent Person Scheme such as NICEIC, NAPIT or ELECSA.

The main change to the document is that it is now shorter and has greater clarity, with a notable reduction to the number of works that need to be notified to Local Authority Building Control. The full breakdown of changes is

  • Under the new regulations, any electrical work undertaken in kitchens or outdoors in no longer covered by Part P unless a new circuit is required. 
  • While before installers not registered with a Competent Person Scheme would have to notify their work so that a third-party inspector would need to check it, now these installers can instead use a registered third-party (e.g. another electrician) to sign off their work. This eliminates the cost of producing Building Regulations Compliance Certificates for some minor works, but importantly, the new regulations still retain the need to issue Electrical Installation Certificate Reports (EICRs) for all work carried out within a dwelling.
  • Reference is now made to BS 7671:2008 incorporating Amendment No. 1:2011.

The main positive that has come out of these changes is the potential new areas of work it opens up for Part P qualified electricians who can earn more from inspecting and signing off other people’s work. Organisations have also commended this new streamlined document for not compromising on safety.

However while the ESC (Electrical Safety Council) has praised the fact the Government is amending Part P, they have expressed concern over some of the changes. They believe that the areas that have seen a reduction in notifiable are reasonably high-risk according to data, and so “any electrical work must be of a particularly high standard”.

The third-party certification is also still in question, as the rules for the Approved Inspector Scheme are currently unclear. The document itself is likely to go under review again in 2015.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) today released the latest Green Deal statistics, and already there has been warnings coming from various different groups and companies.

Insulation company Knauf has warned that according to the current rate, it will take more than 200 years to reach the Government’s 2020 targets. This comes following the revelation that only 2031 more Green Deal assessments place in April than March, suggesting that interest may already be starting to stagnate.

Northern Europe Knauf Managing Director John Sinfield said: “These figures confirm the industry’s worst fears – that the Green Deal has been strangled at birth by the complete lack of any real incentive to encourage uptake amongst householders. If this rate of activity evens out at 10,000 assessments a month it will take 116 years to reach the original DECC aspiration of tackling 14 million homes – and that assumes an optimistic 100 per cent conversion rate from assessment to Green Deal. At a more realistic rate of 50 per cent it will take 232 years to achieve this goal!

“Therefore, our argument to Government is that a significant ‘demand driver’ is urgently needed in order to create momentum amongst householders. The Government claims that the Green Deal is a market driven mechanism yet as currently designed it will only appeal to a small subset of the population. The Green Deal must be made attractive to ALL householders if it is to stand any chance of success. Cashback should be broadened from just Green Deal to all boiler and insulation retrofits.”

However the slow-down in progress could be due to a “severe shortage” of building companies registered as installers, says The Federation of Master Builders in an unrelated assessment based on the same set of statistics. With only 942 companies approved to carry out the work, the FMB has warned that this is nowhere near enough to deliver targets.

Chief executive Brian Berry said: “There are more than 240,000 companies in the construction industry that employ fewer than 14 people. These companies are often best placed to carry out Green Deal work, but because it is difficult to access the market, they are reluctant to train the number of approved installers needed to retrofit Britain’s building stock.

“The Green Deal has now been open for business for almost four months and demand for work under the initiative appears to be growing, but it still feels like a missed opportunity to the majority of SMEs in the industry who haven’t seen any sign of transformation in the energy-efficiency market.”

In order to combat this, the FMB plan to introduce a “Strategy for the Low Carbon Building and Refurbishment Market”. This will involve giving its members better access to the training and certification required to carry out these areas of work.

Sources: Knaufinsulation.co.uk

theconstructionindex.co.uk

Just over a month after the announcement that the start of the Renewable Heat Incentive would be delayed until Spring 2014, the UK Government has also delayed the introduction of proposed "smart meters" to 30 million homes until Autumn 2015.

The £11.7 billion project has been considered vital to getting householders to cut their energy use as the country faces having to import more energy in the future. These smart meters record consumption of gas and electricity in hourly intervals, regularly communicating the information back to the utility provider for monitoring and billing purposes. While the project is set to start in 2015, its estimated that the move to install these into every home won't be completed until 2020.

Angela Knight, chief executive of Energy UK, noted that installing these meters is going to be a "complex task" and this delay will allow the changeover to happen more efficiently. She said: "We welcome the government's prudent decision to allow an additional 12 months to complete the smart meter programme. This recognises the scale of the programme and the need to prepare carefully."

Energy Secretary Ed Davey added: "Completing the national rollout will be an enormous logistical and technical challenge for the industry. Getting this right for consumers is the government's priority."

However the Government will be taking measures to speed up the introduction despite delays. From the end of 2013, when a customer switches from a supplier who has provided them with a smart meter, the new supplier has to either rent the previous supplier’s meter or install their own smart meter, helping to gradually phase out old equipment. This also makes sure that suppliers don’t lose out when they become early adopters. There are also proposals to require energy suppliers and network operators to comply with the Smart Energy Code and ensure their smart meters really perform their advanced functions and supply data to customers.

Further reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22480068

http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/smart-meter-roll-out-delayed-until-autumn-2015-116011

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/70d66e86-b97b-11e2-bc57-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2TFaAEogR

While there will always be a demand for qualified tradesmen such as electricians, plumbers and gas engineers, setting yourself apart from the other tradesmen in your local area is an important factor is getting your name out there among potential clients. And the best way to do this is to consider qualifying in more than one skill. Commonly gas engineer training goes hand in hand with plumbing qualifications, but there are far more potential combinations that could benefit your future career.

For example, if a plumber were to undertake electrical training it would open up a variety of new work for them that they wouldn’t be able to complete otherwise without a second tradesman. They would be able to properly install power showers, and by achieving a Part P qualification would also be permitted to sign off the work themselves once they had joined a relevant Competent Person Scheme.

In turn, if an electrician had plastering qualifications, they could provide a fresh finish to a wall surface after tearing it apart to complete an installation. The same applies for combining plastering, tiling and/or carpentry courses. You’ll be increasing both your eternal potential and boost your chance of success when starting up your own business.

Take note though, it’s vital that you train properly for your second skill just as you did the first. A plumber should not be attempting any electrical work without the proper electrical qualifications and the same goes for any other potential trades. Not only would you be putting yourself at risk, but your customer as well. By training properly, you’ll be able to do the job properly and known as a tradesman capable and competent enough to get the job done on their own.

If you would like to find out more about the multi-skills training routes available to you, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 and our team will be happy to tell you more.

In these days of high energy prices we are all looking for ways to save a few pounds on our electricity bills. I think I may have a way of achieving this saving -get your teenagers to move out of the family home!

A teenagers bedroom consumes large amounts of electricity, TV’s, games consoles, music systems, mobile phone chargers, lights, computers etc. all on at the same time and left on when not in use. Sounds familiar? Over a period of a year (multiplied by the number of teenagers in the home) equates to a large amount of energy being wasted.

We can try to educate them, but to no avail, they don’t listen or is it that they don’t understand? A friend noticed a vast difference in his energy bills once his teenager ‘flew’ the nest to go to university. He calculated that he was saving £10 a month on his electricity bill alone, that’s an annual saving of £120. It may not seem a vast amount of money but it’s a saving that has allowed him and his wife to start a new hobby together, allowing them to have ‘more’ quality time with each other.

He is also making savings on his heating costs as windows are not being left open for the heat to escape and the heating isn’t being left on when no one is in the house! Is the way to save money on energy bills as simple as getting the teenagers to move out? From where I’m sat it looks like a viable answer.

“You can’t do that!” I hear some of you scream. You could try putting timer switches on the sockets, so devices are not left on unnecessary. You could use lamps that are more energy efficient or of a small wattage. These are little things that could make a difference to your wallet at the end of each month.

- Mark Jenkins

If you are replacing the motor, you will need to turn off your central heating system at the fused spur, removing the fuse to prove safe isolation. Open up the wiring centre or junction box that the 2 or 3 port valve is wired to and check for power at the brown and orange wires – you should have no power on the valve motor. If you check when turned on and then remove the fuse and check again then you know it is safe to carry on.

When you remove the pozidrive screw from the silver top (located at end of head) you will immediately see the motor with two blue wires. To the left of the motor is one small pozidrive screw, remove and keep it safe as you will need it to screw back the new motor. Twist the motor slightly to the left to remove the screw holder from the body and pull motor clear, slight resistance from the motor shaft gearing.

Disconnect the two blue wires and using the new motor and plastic electrical twisters included in the box, bare the wires and twist them together replacing the motor in reverse, i.e. push the motor gear shaft into hole in actuator body, twist to align screw hole and re-secure using small screw that you kept safe. Replace the metal head cover and screw and replace fuse in fused spur. Switch on the central heating system and check that when you are calling for heat or hot water that the motor moves – you will see the arm of the valve move as an indication that it is working.

It's long winded I know but I hope this helps. If you are unsure, contact a Gas Safe heating engineer.

- Mark Lewis

If you would like to learn more about the kind of gas/plumbing tasks you can do yourself around the home, have you considered taking one of Access Training's DIY plumbing courses? We offer courses for those simply looking to get new skills under their belt as well as those aiming to gain professional qualifications in the trade. Whatever your needs are, give us a call on 0800 345 7492 and we'll find a course suitable for you.

With Action Fraud recently reporting that fraudsters in Caerphilly have begun to use the Green Deal as a means of conning unwitting householders, it’s important that people know the basics when it comes to this new Government initiative.

The Green Deal’s aim is to encourage home and business owners to adopt more energy-saving technology in their properties, with the incentive of no upfront costs. Examples of possible improvements include:

  • Insulation (Such as loft or cavity wall insulation)
  • Heating
  • Draught-proofing
  • Double glazing
  • Solar panels/wind turbines

The installation cost will eventually be paid over time through your energy bill. What makes this unique is that the bill is attached to the property rather than the person, as this is where the money is being saved.

 

What to do to get involved

  • You will need to get an assessment of your property so that it can be determined what improvements can be made to your home. The assessor will also explain how much money you could be saving on your energy bill.
  • Choose a Green Deal provider to do the work for you. All Green Deal providers will have a mark of quality (pictured below) – it’s important you look out for this to make sure you are getting the right people for the job.

  • If you agree to the work, you will be signing a Green Deal Plan which is a contract stating what work is being done and how much it costs. Once the work is done, you’ll pay off the cost periodically through your electricity bill.

Further reading: https://www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures/?&gclid=CMjpsI3I6LYCFe3MtAod7kQAlw

http://www.greendealinitiative.co.uk/