Wednesday, November 29, 2006

BBC Watchdog Part I

Hello There My Friends

Just hope you are all well and that now that the Warm Front Team are considering looking at incorporating alternative technologies into the grant scheme, that they make doubly sure that they only include reputable systems and installers - unlike some existing contractors I could mention.

A recent BBC Watchdog programme highlighted the issues of some systems and contractors installing solar thermal in the private sector. Their article was very illuminating so anyone considering solar thermal from this particular organisation should perhaps read on:

"With climate change and rising energy prices, it's no wonder many of us are looking to alternative energy sources. Solar Technik Ltd offers a system it claims is German engineered, designed by Daimler Benz Aerospace and will slash your energy bills.

The company offers two types of solar heating systems: a basic hot water system and a dual system which also boosts your central heating.

Susan Jappie from Lewes paid almost £11,000 for a dual system, hoping to save money as well as help the environment. But when she noticed no savings on her energy bills, she asked Solar Technik Ltd to investigate. Receiving no response from the company, she got an independent company to inspect the system. The survey revealed Solar Technik Ltd hadn't even bothered to connect her system to the central heating.

We arranged for a Solar Technik Ltd sales agent to visit us. He quoted us £9,850 for a solar hot water system. He claimed it would account for 70 per cent of our hot water needs and provide us with up to 40 per cent of our energy for life.

Solar heating expert Nick Davies from the Buildings Research Establishment told us we should expect to pay between £3,000 and £4,500 for a solar hot water system and, for most of the UK's housing stock, typical savings would be around 15 per cent of total energy bills.

Neil Procter from Taunton paid just under £11,000 for his dual system. This was a lot of money, considering Proctor's system only worked for a month. Almost all of the system had to be removed.

Adebayo Adeokun from Bracknell agreed to pay £10,500, for his system. When it failed to work after installation, a second engineer came to see it and condemned the installation, saying it would never work. The engineer finally got it going but by the following morning, it was stone cold again.

We asked Davies to investigate this too. He detected a fault with the control panel and found a temperature sensor was incorrectly fitted. When we asked Davies whether it would be possible to get any central heating benefits from Adeokun's system, he told us that despite giving the illusion it could, the tank was far too small for it to contribute to space heating. Davies also told us the standard of Solar Technik Ltd's installations he'd inspected was generally very poor. At one job, they’d left a lady without heating for several months.

On investigation, we found many of Solar Technik Ltd's claims to be false and were told by Davies that, from the installations he'd seen, Solar Technik Ltd's dual system was little more than a hot water system and unlikely to provide any contribution to central heating in the UK.

Solar Technik Ltd says it provides a premium product with high levels of performance. It doesn't claim to be the cheapest, but says most of its customers enjoy trouble-free installations and significant fuel savings. It says it's sorry for the cases that didn't go smoothly.

Homeowners can get details of how to apply for grants to get solar power at: www.lowcarbonbuildings.co.uk. "

I wonder if these clients were made aware of the (then) Clear Skies or LCBP grants - mmm !

Enjoy your day and come back soon - more news about BBC Watchdog reports to follow on a more recent programme where they highlighted Warm Front ..... to be continued !!

Make good choices and learn from mistakes - I certainly have lately.

BBC Watchdog Warm Front Link

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

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