Monthly Archives: January 2012

  • A VAT reduction could improve energy efficiency, expert says

    A VAT reduction on home improvements could persuade more people to boost the energy efficiency of their property, one group has suggested.

    Residents have to currently pay "through the nose" if they want to improve the sustainability of their home, whereas other people are choosing cheaper alternatives that present poorer quality, a representative from the National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) has stated.

    Andrew Leech, director at the NHIC, said: "Cutting VAT would save the consumer money and also it means that the consumer is more likely [than currently] to go to a builder who does charge VAT as opposed to a rogue trader who doesn't charge VAT."

    Mr Leech added that the current VAT on home improvements makes people think twice about making their homes more sustainable.

    The regulation of home improvements could be made tighter in the future, as the Federation of Master Builders has called on the government to take action regarding the number of builders who accept cash in hand payments for renovation and maintenance work.

  • CFRS urges residents to check gas appliances

    Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) has called on residents in the county to ensure that all gas appliances and flue accessories are inspected regularly, following a suspected carbon monoxide leak.

    Fire officials were called to Belsize Avenue in Woodston, where a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm was sounding and the home's two inhabitants were feeling nauseous. Fire fighters took the two people to hospital as a precaution and isolated the home's gas supply.

    A representative from CFRS said: "Carbon monoxide has no taste or odour so a CO alarm can save your life - you will have no other way of knowing if there is a leak."

    They also advised that gas appliances should be maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

    Speaking to the East Lothian News, Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service recently recommended that homeowners should check that their smoke alarms are functional, particularly due to the onset of cold weather.

  • Whitecliff furnace repairs completed

    A project to conserve a historic blast furnace in the Forest of Dean has finished, following work on its flue accessories.

    The structure is the only coke-fuelled blast furnace remaining in the forest and steel pins have been fitted into its flue in order to ensure that it is not at risk of collapsing, reports the BBC.

    In addition, the structure's stonework has been pointed in order to further protect it from damage, with the refurbishment funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Forest of Dean Local Action.

    The work was completed as part of the £2.8 million lottery project Overlooking the Wye, which aims to support conservation works on at-risk sites.

    Work has also been undertaken to restart a blast furnace at the SSI steel plant in Redcar.

    Four stoves have now been lit ahead of the gas furnace's reactivation, although it will take a number of weeks for them to reach a sufficient working temperature.

  • Wood stove pipes should be correctly installed, says expert

    Property owners should make sure that their wood stove pipes are correctly installed by an expert in order to prevent any issues arising.

    Ade Taylor, watch commander for Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, has teamed up with Malvern's B&Q store in order to promote chimney fire safety.

    "Real fires and woodburning stoves are becoming more and more popular, and we can only see this trend continuing, especially with fuel prices at the levels they are," he noted.

    "It's important that people ensure their woodburning stoves are correctly installed and that they burn only the correct type of fuel for their particular fire," Mr Taylor added.

    Woodburning stoves have the advantage of being very energy efficient, while they are also carbon neutral.

    Known for being clean in terms of the amount of smoke and ash produced, property owners might also opt for one of these devices to add some style to their home.

  • Arctic conditions to put pressure on heating systems

    Britain is preparing to be hit by an icy blast of Arctic weather this week, leading to many people cranking up the heating in order to stay warm.

    The conditions will be caused by a high-pressure system which is currently situated over Russia and parts of Scandinavia.

    It will push easterly winds down towards the UK, with temperatures dropping as low as -10C.

    Paul Mott, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, said: "There has been a sprinkling of snow overnight over parts of Wales, Devon, Somerset and Hampshire. It has mainly been over hills - with accumulations of up to five centimetres in some areas - but there have also been some falls on lower ground locally."

    He went on to say that Gloucestershire, Somerset and south Wales will be covered in wet snow, however, it should not settle and therefore traffic will not be too badly affected.

    The conditions could come as a shock to many after Britain has largely avoided a cold spell so far this winter.

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