Tuesday, 25 June 2013

What is a Professional Electrician?

Here at Fulcher Edwards we visit our clients homes and businesses all across London providing quotes and carrying out electrical work. One of the main scenarios we come across with our customers whether they are home owners or business owners is the worry of finding an electrician who is professional. With programmes such as cowboy builders on the television, it comes as no surprise to us that many clients are rightfully concerned about getting a professional electrician to carry out their electrical work but of course don't want to pay more than necessary for the job.

With home owners and business owners often feeling more stressed than usual when it comes to having work carried out on their properties, we have devised a handy check list to help avoid hiring the wrong electrician and to hopefully clear up the uncertainty when finding a professional electrician.

Know what to look for

* Getting in touch - At Fulcher Edwards we understand how frustrating it is to find the right electrician and one of our undermining values within our company is to ensure we return emails and calls when necessary. We always ensure a prompt service but many of our clients tell us that they call electricians asking them to quote a job and never hear back. We believe this is poor service and one of our customer promises is to always return contact and arrange quotation appointments in a professional manner – we won't call you up out of the blue to ask if we can come round to quote a job.

* Turning up for quotes - Excellent service and quality management is very important to us so when you contact us about a quotation we will arrange to see you at a time to suit you. We are very passionate about the work that we do and offering a friendly, reliable, professional and competitive service to each and every job or quotation visit is very important to us. We will not expect you to drop everything to suit us. We have heard of instances where a customer has contacted an electrician and they have expected to come round the same day to provide the quotation. Here at Fulcher Edwards, we arrange a mutually convenient time to come and see you – and essentially we always turn up on time!

* First Impressions - When we come to see you, we listen carefully to your needs and respond in a professional and courteous manner. We don't expect you to understand technical issues, so our quotation visits are very thorough. We wear works uniform and drive company vans so you know exactly who is turning up at your door. If we can save you money or we feel you would benefit more by doing the job differently we will tell you so. We don't simply quote for the job you ask us for, we provide you with options that could save you money. Our knowledge, presentation and professionalism is well known throughout London and many of our clients are long standing and call us up whenever they are in need of an electrician.

* Price - Due to the thorough nature of our quotations, we hope to eliminate the need to exceed the quotation price you are given. When we come to your property we assess what other works may be necessary in order to carry out the job. In some cases, the electrical work required may be necessary in order to meet the current electricity regulations. We will always advice you of the nature of the work and cost. In other cases we may recommend certain electrical work is carried out beforehand to avoid any potential problems in the future. Whatever our recommendations, we always advice our clients to obtain at least 3 quotes before proceeding with any works. This way, it will give you as our customer a good guideline as to the expected costs of the work you would like done. Generally out of 3 quotes, 2 will be roughly the same. The other one may be either more expensive or cheap. In all cases always check what is included in the quote. Remember material quality varies hugely, always ensure you understand what you are getting. Dependant on budget, we find clients either want something making good or want it to last many years. If a quote is very cheap, is it matching your requirements, similarly if a quote seems expensive, do you need such a hi-spec finish?

* Payment - When it comes to payment, we advice not to pay until the job is complete. Some electricians will ask for material money in advance on very large jobs. However, we strongly recommend you don't pay for the actual job until it is complete. Negotiating staged payments is fine if the job is on-going, where you pay for parts of the job as they are completed. Always make sure you know how long the job is expected to take if you opt for staged payments. When making the payment, most electricians are happy to accept payment directly into their bank account. A growing number of electricians are now also able to take payments by card. If you are paying by cash, always make sure you obtain a receipt. You should not feel forced into making payments by a certain method, professional electricians are happy to take payment by a number of methods and indeed many electricians are still happy to take a cheque which you don't see very often any more.

What is something goes wrong?

At no point should you ever feel intimidated or be on the receiving end of angry outbursts. If a problem does occur, we recommend speaking to the electrician at the first opportunity. Often it is a misunderstanding that can be easily rectified. At Fulcher Edwards, customer satisfaction is our number 1 priority, we consider ourselves as fast, efficient and pleasant at all times. We also charge reasonable rates in order that we remain competitive and fair to all our customers at all times.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Electricians need to play a bigger part in Energy Efficiency

Despite public campaigns via energy companies and the government, many homes in the UK are still without energy saving features in their home.

In a recent survey carried out by the Rexel Foundation and Opinion Way, 9 out of 10 respondents to the survey believe that fuel poverty will continue to rise in the UK due to lack the of energy efficiency being adapted within homes.

Of the survey respondents who cited concern about fuel poverty, 68% had some type of energy saving features within their homes already. Giving their reasons why they had chosen to become more energy efficient, 4 out of 5 said it was to save money on their energy bills, with only 27% of respondents doing so because of environmental concern.

This means that almost 32% of homes surveyed who have concerns about fuel poverty do not have any form of energy efficiency measures within their home. The main reason given for not participating in energy saving was purely financial - from lack of disposable income, to the cost of installation. People living in rented accommodation feel that installing energy saving measures wouldn't be worth their while (24%) with a further 21% feeling overwhelmed by the choice of energy measures available to house holders.

The results of this survey comes as no surprise to electricians with a staggering 91% of electricians agreeing fully with the answers given by the respondents and echoing the need for more financing options for energy efficiency products and certainly here at Fulcher Edwards we advise our customers on a daily basis about how to save money and energy in their homes. Ultimately our customers are looking at the bottom line and we have seen in recent times that there is increasing reluctance to spend money where it is not deemed necessary.

Brian Smithers, strategic development director for Rexel Northern European Zone, commented: “It’s worrying to hear that cost concerns are still putting consumers off investing in energy efficiency measures especially in view of the launch of incentives such as the Green Deal, which allows home owners to access funding for energy efficiency at no upfront cost. However, this survey makes it clear that there is little awareness of the options available.
“While the government and the energy companies have an important role to play here, it’s crucial that the UK’s army of trusted electricians are able to educate their customers about the support available. Soft skills are as valuable here as technical ones; the future of energy efficiency in the UK depends on the ability to better communicate financial incentives, ROI and long term cost savings. Rexel is committed to providing the tools and know how needed to help electricians drive greater adoption of energy efficiency through training and by raising awareness and understanding of the most effective energy efficient technologies and products available.”

New research published yesterday by the Department of Energy and Climate change (DECC) states that properties which are making use of energy efficiency measures could see the value of the property increase by an average of 14%. With 46% of properties in the UK only achieving an EPC Band D in energy efficiency, it shows that there is still much work to be done with regards to energy efficiency. An average UK property which moves up 2 bands i.e. from a G to an E or from a D to B could see up to £16,000 added to the value of their property.

With this knowledge in mind and the advantages given through the Green Deal incentive, home owners can start to make these much needed changes, decrease their energy bills and add value to their home.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Why it is a good idea to have an RCD in your home

A Residual Current Device (RCD) is a safety device that forms part of your electrical installation. If a fault or accident occurs with either the wiring or the electrical appliance you are using, the power will be cut in a fraction of a second. It has been a requirement to fit an RCD in homes since 2008 with new consumerunits/fuse boards having dual RCD protection which give you and loved ones electrical protection all over your home. If you don't currently have RCD protection in your home and you are not planning to upgrade your consumer unit, there are other methods of obtaining RCD protection by using RCD sockets or a portable RCD. However, there is nothing to match the protection obtained by having RCD protection via your consumer unit.

Of course new consumer units will need to be installed by a qualified electrician who will ensure the RCD is installed correctly and is working. One of the common questions we get asked here at FulcherEdwards about RCD protection is “what is the difference between a fuse and an RCD?” Many customers feel they are sufficiently protected by ensuring they are using the correct fuse in electrical appliances. Unfortunately, as important as a fuse is, they are limited in their capabilities and should not be used as life saving devices. An RCD is a life saving device, if you were to accidentally touch a live cable in your home for example the RCD would activate. If you were reliant on a fuse then this would not activate and you would receive an electric shock which may cost you your life.

An RCD is activated automatically, it activates so quickly that you would not be aware of what had happened until the realisation of what could have happened has sunk in. RCD protection in homes has saved lives and avoided many cases of serious electrical injury in homes since they became compulsory to fit on new consumer units in 2008. Unfortunately there are still 13 million homes without or inadequate RCD protection. A recent government report indicated that up to 4,000 house fires could be prevented if more homes had RCD protection.

Once installed, much like a smoke alarm, an RCD will need to tested at regular intervals, at least quarterly, to ensure it is working. To test an RCD, simply go to your consumer unit and find the button which is marked T (for test) by pressing this button, you will cut out the electrical supply to the areas of the home it protects, simply press the button on again and the supply will switch back on. It is important to get advice from a qualified electrician if the RCD does not switch the electrical supply off when it is tested.

Here at Fulcher Edwards we would recommend to all London home owners to consider upgrading their consumer unit if they do not have RCD protection. Alternatively obtaining some RCD protection in your home is better than none at all. A portable RCD will cost around £10 and we would recommend using a portable RCD for outdoor jobs such as mowing the lawn. This way, you will be protected if you make a mistake and chop through the cable for example. It is worth bearing in mind though that only the appliance in use will offer RCD protection and no internal wiring in your home will be protected.

Remember an RCD will provide protection that fuses and circuit breakers are unable to provide. If there was one electrical job we here at Fulcher Edwards would recommend you do in your home this year, we would always recommend the installation a dual RCD consumer unit – it will protect you and your family as well as your home for years to come.