Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Green Deal – What part does an electrician play?

The launch of the Green Deal yesterday (28th January 2013) was met with much interest from anyone involved with the construction industry. The Green Deal is the long awaited coalition government plan to make Britain’s homes and businesses more energy efficient.

Currently, households in Britain are amongst the least energy efficient in the world, and the plan is to give everyone the opportunity to make their homes warm, more energy efficient and to save money on their energy bills.

Householders who are interested in Green Deal will book an initial Green Deal Assessment to determine where savings can be made and how to make their home more energy efficient. A plan will be drawn up to include the cost of the installations, and if the householder goes ahead, they will sign a Green Deal Contract.

All installations will be carried out by Green Deal Approved Installers so householders will have peace of mind that the work will be carried out to the required standards.

So what kind of work would an electrician be carrying out in your home as part of the Green Deal?

Well, as far as electricians are concerned, there is no huge change. At Fulcher Edwards we advice people on a daily basis how to make their homes more energy efficient and one of the main aspects of our work is installing energy saving efficient products and renewables. We would not consider our job complete if we were not saving our customers money once their new electrical installation was in place.

At the moment, energy efficiency is hot news, all the homes and businesses we serve in and around London are rightfully interested in saving money and installing the latest products, however we thought we should point out some main reactions to Green Deal that have hit the headlines this morning. Whilst of course the final decision rests with the householder, we believe that the decision should be made based on knowledge and not solely on what Green Deal is saying.

* Look out for 'hidden fees' Green Deal is not a free scheme. You may be required to pay up to £150 for your initial energy assessment. Most electricians do not charge for quotations which naturally include free advice on what the best electrical solution for your home would be.

* If you decide to go ahead with a Green Deal loan, the interest rate will be set at around 7% with possible set up fees and annual operating charges on top of that. The final cost should be less than the savings you will make by having the work carried out, however this is not guaranteed.

* The Green Deal loan will be attached to your property and as yet there is uncertainty as to whether this will affect the future saleability of the property. If you move, the responsibility for repaying the loan rests with the new buyer.

Whether you decide to use the Green Deal scheme or decide on more flexible funding options, you can be sure that the advice and service you receive from Fulcher Edwards London electricians will be of the highest standard.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Does more need to be done about product recalls?

Reading the news today, we see yet another 'near miss' with regards to a dangerous electrical appliance going up in flames. The product concerned was a Beko fridge freezer that set itself alight whilst the family slept upstairs. The fridge freezer model was included as part of a product recall where serious safety concerns had been expressed by experts with the products thermostat and the company at the time of the recall had offered offered free repairs to affected models.

Luckily the family escaped from their home unharmed, but the electrical fire has caused serious damage to their home. It was only spotted after hissing was heard coming from the kitchen and upon investigation the fire was found. We dread to think what would have happened if the family has not been alerted by this hissing and had slept through.

So why hadn't the family been informed?

Simply because they moved home and the letter from Beko was sent to their old address. Now, this might seem on the face of it that Beko had done their job and it was unfortunate they never received the letter but at Fulcher Edwards we think more should be done. In 2011 alone, London Fire Brigade reported that Beko fridge freezers had caused 20 house fires and 1 death in London.

Clearly, this family are not the only ones not to be aware of the potentially life threatening fault on their fridge freezer. Furthermore, we wonder how many other electrical appliances are being used across London that are potentially dangerous to their user.

Product recalls are often problematic and can range from anything from cars to everyday foods brought in the supermarket. We admit that we very rarely check product recalls in supermarkets so our question is, should we be simply relying on paperwork work telling us of serious safety concerns on products we have purchased?

In todays modern world we are contactable by virtually every method – we receive endless spam emails and sales calls, so if these companies can contact us to tell us about their products then we're surprised that companies such as Beko have no other contact details about their customers.

What might be a good solution?

Of course people move house, but people generally keep tabs on their mobile phones and the internet. A text message to advise of the potential safety issue would prompt people to ring a number with a reference. Social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook are a quick way of spreading news as users share and comment on important announcements.

What can I do if I'm worried?

If you have any doubt about the safety of an electrical appliance then do not use it and unplug it immediately. However, before you replace it (especially if its a large item) consult a qualified part p registered electrician to take a look. If you have any concerns about a Beko product or to check to see if they have written to you, you can check the link here

What happens if an electrical fire breaks out in my home?

Electrical fires often starts small and often unnoticed particularly if the fire starts in a socket. This means the fire would be burning inside the wall and by the time it is noticed, it would be capable of causing serious harm to the occupants inside the house.

Electrical fires spread very quickly so it is essential that everyone including pets leave the house and then alert the fire brigade. Don't return to your home until the fire crew tells you it is safe to do so.

If you able to do so, turn off power in your home using the switch located in your consumer unit. Its normally a big red switch that will cut power to everything in your home. We suggest making yourself familiar with this switch should you need to use it in an emergency. Also ensure you know where to find your consumer unit and that you can get to it easily. Lots of people store piles of boxes in front of theirs and it can be a half days work simply removing boxes and other household items out of the way in order to access it!

If you feel able to tackle the fire, only use a CO2 fire extinguisher, never water as you could electrocute yourself.

Before you switch power back on in your home, always ensure a Registered Part P electrician ensures it is safe to do so first.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Why it is more important than ever to use a Part P Registered Electrician

This year sees big changes happening within the electrical industry. A big change that has already happened is to the building regulation Part P. Two major changes have already been announced as of January 2013 due to come into force in April 2013.

The two changes state:

* The range of electrical installation work that is notifiable (where there is a requirement to certify compliance with the Building Regulations) has been reduced.

* An installer who is not a registered competent person may use a registered third party to certify notifiable electrical installation work as an alternative to using a building control body.

The full governmental document can be viewed here

Two things spring to mind when reading these two changes. Firstly electrical safety and secondly Part P Registered Electrician.

In terms of electrical safety, we at Fulcher Edwards believe that the certifying of electrical installations is a very important aspect of our work as London electricians. Currently, having electrical certification on new electrical installations is confirmation that the work has been installed in line with BS7671 and has been tested for safety by a registered Part P electrician or building control body. Most new electrical installations require certification with careful attention needed in special locations – these are rooms containing a bath, shower, sauna heater or swimming pool.

The changes mean that the work that requires certification is being reduced. In a nut shell this means that less electrical work now needs to comply with Building Regulations. This means that its going to leave the door open for unregistered tradespeople to carry out work which could compromise the customers electrical safety. There is always temptation for others to 'have a go' on electrical work and we have lost count of the number of times we have been called out to rectify dangerous and poorly installed electrical work. Whilst we understand the temptation to use one person to complete your whole job, it is not worth putting your family and home at risk.

Moving onto the fact that it is now no longer necessary to use a competent person to carry out electrical work in homes. We are very concerned about the future of electrical safety on this aspect as we have long been informing the public to only used a Registered Part P electrician to carry out electrical work. The rules will be changing and someone who is not a qualified, registered electrician will be able to carry out the electrical work, and then they will need to have the work certified. Previously this would have been done by the building control body but as of April 2013, the certification can be carried out by a Part P Registered electrician. This will be a huge additional expense to the customer as the electrician will need to be satisfied that the work has been carried out at all stages in line with current regulations and then certify the work. We suspect that many installations tested will not comply with current regulations and will fail. The work would then have to rectified and then retested, all at cost to the customer. If the person is not qualified to do the work in the first place, we ask where will they obtain their knowledge from to install electrical work safely and in line with said regulations?

Our advice when you are thinking of having electrical work carried out in your home is to either have it carried out before April 2013 before Part P changes or to do what we've always said, and that is to employ only a Part P registered electrician to carry out the work. It will certainly be the cheapest option and most importantly, will leave you with peace of mind that your home electrics are safe.