Archive for October, 2012

Energy price hikes

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Energy price hikes

Last week Britain’s three largest energy providers announced gas and electricity prices rises of up to 9 per cent.

British Gas, Npower and Scottish Power all announced price rises that would account for between £80 to £110 increases on household bills but have blamed the rises on increased costs.

British Gas announced that both gas and electricity would rise by 6% from 16 November, adding £80 to the average bill, while Npower will increase by 8.8% on electricity and 9.1 per cent on gas from 26 November and Scottish Power by 7 per cent from 3 December.

According to Scottish power they have had to increase costs for customers due to increased costs for transporting gas and electricity to homes.

Phil Bentley from British gas claimed that 85% of costs to customers were outside of its control, while Adam Scorer of watchdog Consumer Focus said that the price hikes during the winter months would just increase concerns about the energy market.

According to price comparison site uSwitch despite the fact that household incomes have gone up by 20 per cent since 2004, energy prices have increased 151 per cent over the same period. And it seams that nine out of 10 households are now planning on rationing their gas and electricity to counteract the price hikes.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis warned that switching to a provider that had not yet hiked prices was probably not wise yet, as energy companies are like sheep and it is likely other providers will soon follow. He advised locking into a fixed tariff as these offered no price hikes for two winters but weighing up those with exit fees against the saving.

Scottish Powers fix locks in prices until 31 March 2014. EDF’s fix is a few pounds more but locks in until 1 May 2014, both have no exit fees.

Other than switching he advised sticking, and waiting until all the big suppliers had hiked before comparing options.

EDF and Eon have pledged not to increase prices this year, but have not ruled out rises happening in the New Year.

Preventing frozen pipes in winter

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Preventing frozen pipes in winter

Winter months are on the way and with them come a whole host of problems for your home and heating. Frozen pipes in winter are aggravating but avoidable.

Taking preventative measures early on will stop your pipes from freezing and save you the hassle of burst pipes and heating breakdowns in the coldest months.

Pipes below the house are the most exposed to cold temperatures and more prone to bursting.  By insulating these pipes you will go a long way to preventing freezing. Insulation can be obtained from a DIY store but if you are unsure of what to buy or how to apply it then a professional plumber will be able to help.

The cost of insulating pipes will be minimal compared to the cost of having to replace or repair pipes that have burst due to freezing.

A common mistake made during winter is to turn your heating off when going away for just a few days. It is actually more prudent to leave the heating on but at a very low temperature. The low heat will not be enough to heat the house or waste much energy but it will mean that pipes stay warm enough to prevent freezing and subsequently bursting. Even setting your boiler timer to come on for just an hour each day will avoid freezing.

It is important to note also that if you spot a leaking pipe that you get it fixed as soon as possible, before the situation worsens. Leaks occur when a pipe is put under pressure and signals that it is about to burst. A disposable diaper or a towel and wrap can be put around a leak but this will only hold for an hour, a professional plumber will need to fix the leak properly.

Being aware of the issues of the possibility of frozen pipes and taking measures in advance will ensure your heating and hot water works efficiently when it is needed most.

Speak to a qualified plumber if you are concerned about frozen pipes or have suffered in the past.