News

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That's according to Chancellor George Osborne in an announcement later today (Tuesday) at GCHQ when he will say that the UK's cyber security budget will be doubled to £1.9 billion, specifically to counter potential plots by Isis. The money will provide additional protection to the UK's infrastructure including the National Grid, power plants and even hospitals which are believed to be specific Isis targets.

 

Source: Utility Week. To read the complete Utility Week article please click here.

dan skan cartoon

Trevor Miskimmin has been a stove installer at the Stove Yard almost from day-one when we first opened our Co Down doors some ten years ago. Recently he successfully completed his 1,000th stove installation for us. We doubt very much if there's a more experienced stove installer anywhere in Ireland and we're naturally very proud that he's been part of our team for so long. We're also pleased to acknowledge the huge part Trevor has played in our success and in helping us to maintain The Stove Yard's reputation for excellence. So Trevor, a well-deserved big thank-you. We're only too happy to help you and your wife Gail celebrate this marvellous feat with a well-deserved weekend away in the lap of luxury at Dublin's Conrad Hotel.

There's been a lot of talk over the last couple of years about the UK's low energy reserves and the possibility of blackouts, especially if we have a tough Winter. Well yesterday, despite our unseasonably mild (and not so windy) Autumn, we came within hours of being able to enjoy a cold evening meal by not-so romantic candlelight. Fortunately, in the nick of time more power was produced and big electricity users managed to respond to the National Grid's call to cut consumption. So, given the long-running concern some energy experts have about our low reserves, you have to ask yourself, if we're likely to be so lucky next time.

Source: Utility Week 

When you can't rely on the weathermen maybe you should ask a Siberian swan. Their arrival in the UK usually heralds the start of our cold weather, but this year the first one has arrived nearly a month earlier than usual and because of this some experts are saying that this could be our longest Winter for 50 years. Temperatures in their Russian homeland were some 5 to 10 degrees colder than usual prompting the swans to call it a day and head south for the Winter. Currently most of them are massing in Holland for the next stage of their annual 2,500 mile trip. El Niño in the tropical Pacific has also kicked off earlier than usual and such early starts have been linked to some of Europe's coldest Winters. For the record, so far 2015 has produced the hottest July day since records began (nearly 37ºC at Heathrow on 1 July) as well as the coldest July day (just 1ºC for parts of Scotland some two weeks later) so perhaps another record is just around the corner.

 

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dan skan cartoon

Pronounced 'hoo-ga', hygge is said to be the art of making homes nicer and people happier and according to the BBC it is now being taught in a London college. It's a kind of no-nonsense version of feng shui, the Chinese philosophy of harmonising everyone with their surroundings, but much, much more than that. Hygge is to be felt and understood rather than simply put into words and it is said to be why the Danes are amongst the happiest people in the world. When translated into English as 'cosiness' it kind of misses the point. Sitting around the stove on a cold night sipping mulled wine with a load of friends, cuddling up under a duvet with a good read or a big family get-together with good home-made food – are all examples of hygge. It's part of the DNA at Dan Skan stoves (probably the best stoves on the planet...

morso s161 inset stove

Morsø have just added some stunning new wide-body, double-sided and three-sided inset stoves to their wood burner range and their ultra- cool styling make them look like they've come straight from an early bond movie. All have big, big windows, external air capability and user-friendly single control operation. More information coming soon...

solar subsidies cut, utility week

According to industry sources the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, is all set to slash the solar feed-in-tariff (FiT) rates received by small-scale and domestic solar installations by up to 50%. She's already cut subsidies for large scale commercial solar farms. Strange, since earlier this year she promised to unleash a solar revolution. For the record you know exactly where you are with a wood burning stove: They do not benefit from any government subsidies since they're already a tried, trusted and cost-effective renewable heat source. In addition they are unlikely to be quickly made redundant by new technology or a cut in government subsidy.

Source: Utility Week – to read the complete article please...

longannet power station aerial shot

After 46 years of service, Scottish Power's Longannet power station, which is one of the biggest coal-fired power stations in Europe, is set to close in March next year because it has become uneconomic to run. The company also said that it has abandoned its plans to build a gas-fired plant at Cockenzie in Scotland. This move now makes Scotland heavily dependant on one gas-fired power station and two, past their best, nuclear stations. Longannet has become a political hot potato between the SNP and the Government because of the way transmission charges are applied disproportionately between the UK's south and Scotland which is said to be the primary reason for the closure.

Source: Utility Week and the BBC – to read the complete Utility Week article please click here...

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Scottish wind farms generated enough electricity to power to 7 out of 10 Scottish homes during july – this is up by 58% compared to the same period last year. Admittedly it was rather windy around the old kilt front in July, but still, it just shows you what can be achieved with renewables when you get behind them. Alternatively you can always buy Russian gas, Polish coal and frack the land like there's no tomorrow to keep the lights on.

Source: edie newsroom – to read the complete edie story please click here.
 

government press release

The Government's widely criticised Green Deal is now dead and buried because of the disappointingly low take-up – only 10,000 households  signed up to it. It will stop all future funding releases for the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, but it is believed that 5,600 applications currently in the pipeline won't be affected.

Source: Utility Week and www.gov.uk. To read the government's press release, please click here.

sea level rise weather network article

When it comes to predicting rising sea levels scientists from the University of Florida have discovered that you really need to study the past and what they've found is actually quite alarming. The last time that global temperatures were this high, some time around 125,000 years ago, sea levels were almost 6 metres (20') higher than they are today – that would be up to the decking on your average seaside pier. Global sea levels are currently rising at around 3mm a year.

Source: The Weather Network
 

Charnwood Country Living Bembridge Stove

It's taken the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) nearly a year to tell us what we've all known for far too long: We've been paying too much for our energy. The CMA found that the 'big six' screwed UK households out of £1.2bn more each year between 2009 and 2013, than they would have done had they been operating in a truly competitive market. The average dual fuel customer spending around £1200 a year could save up to £160 if they switched suppliers. This now only takes a few minutes online (so what are you waiting for?). Neither Ofgem, the industry regulator, or the CMA have any powers over the prices the energy companies charge us. Citizens Advice say that those customers on pre-payment meters (often the poorest) pay an average of £226 a year more than if they were automatically put on the...

energy saving trust

Save Summer energy...

Even though it's Summer there's still ways for you to save money on your energy. As always the Energy Saving Trust have loads of great advice – here's three Summer-time nuggets...

1 Start to understand your energy use. That means understanding your gas and electricity bills and checking that the tariff you're on is the one that saves you the most money. Energy Saving Scotland have produced an informative video on this topic and you can watch it here. Remember, it could really pay to switch supplier now, just in time for the big energy bills of Autumn and Winter.

2 Switch things off. Electric appliances on standby are still consuming your precious energy and let's face it, we all leave more lights on than we really need. Talking of lights, every time a...

vacuum cleaner According to new research by Nottingham Trent University 44% of people ditch their old vacuum cleaners because they believe they're inefficient, even after admitting failing to carry out basic maintenance such as cleaning the filters. Making a vacuum cleaner produces the second largest amount of greenhouse gas compared to other domestic electrical products. It is believed that over 40 million tonnes of electrical products were discarded globally in 2014 with only about 16% being re-used or disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Incidentally, another re-use superstore was recently opened in Scotland aimed at encouraging people to recycle their goods rather than bin them. They have plenty of bikes, but I wonder if they have any hoovers...
 

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Charnwood Country Living Bembridge StoveIsle of Wight stove makers Charnwood, have teamed up with Country Living Magazine and produced a stunning new 5kW wood burner. Based on the very successful C-Five stove, the Bembridge has been visually enhanced with some traditional detailing including a delightful decorative leaf motif on the door casting. As you'd expect from Britain's premier stove designer, it also incorporates the very latest combustion technology, and if past experience is anything to go by, it will become an instant best seller when it arrives here in August. Country Living will be promoting the Bembridge stove to their 1 million-plus audience throughout...

So the solar powered aeroplane has headed off for a five day non-stop journey to Hawaii. But what about Dan Skan's attempt to build a wood-fired aeroplane – how's that going? Well, not well actually, but the good news is that they've managed build a scale model and Wood Burning Stoves have been amongst the first people to see it. And now it's your turn...

gas hob with blue flame

Sorry Dan Skan, we know if you ever built a wood-fired aeroplane, like your stoves, it would probably the best in the world.

 

gas hob with blue flame

Centrica, the UK's biggest supplier of gas, will increase its commitment to Russian gas by a further 75%, highlighting just how dependent we are on the Russian bear for our energy. It was also reported earlier that the UK power market will increasingly use gas-fired power this summer as coal generator profits are hit by the increase in carbon tax. So that's alright then, those Russian bombers flying very near to British air space the other day were just saying a friendly 'hello' to one of their biggest customers. Thank goodness the UK renewables sector (and that includes the small...

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Like a baddy in an old black and white cowboy movie, El Nino and its effects could be coming to a town near you. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology is predicting that the El Nino effect, which can be the driver to worldwide droughts and flooding, could become a serious problem later in the year. The El Nino phenomenon comes about every two to seven years and is already underway in the Pacific Ocean, bringing with it the potential to cause extreme weather around the world. Scientists partly attribute the really cold winter we had in 2009/ 10 to El Nino. There's a really interesting short video about El Nino on the BBC News website which you can watch by clicking here.

Source: BBC News

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The recent crash in the price of oil has also impacted on the price we now pay for gas – but will gas prices stay low? In an in-depth article, Utility Week looks at its crystal ball and makes some worrying observations. Putting it bluntly they say there is no guarantee that gas prices will stay low, in fact they're predicting a bit of a spike just in time for next winter and just for good measure, they also see capacity in electricity generation becoming an increasingly serious problem.

Source: Utility Week – to read the complete article please click here

 

nox

It's the UK's Supreme Court. Hot on the heels of our EU fine for poor air quality the UK's Supreme Court has ordered the Government to take immediate action to cut air pollution after it breached EU limits for nitrogen oxide (NO2). Diesel vehicles are the number one source of so-called NOx emissions which are linked to a number of respiratory illnesses and premature deaths. 16 different UK cities and regions have been breaching legal limits for at least the last five years. You can do your bit for local air quality by upgrading your inefficient open fire to a modern clean-burning stove and operating it correctly so that it minimises the amount of smoke it produces. See the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) website for some helpful hints.

 

Source: BBC...

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An open letter by the CEOs of 43 of the world's largest companies has been published to urge world leaders meeting at the forthcoming Paris climate talks to produce an ambitious climate deal which should include clear policy signals to help with the transition to low carbon economies. Signatories include AkzoNobel, Ikea, BT, Volvo, Unilever and HSBC. The letter says that delaying action is no longer an option. For the record we would have been signatory number 44 if they'd asked us. Remember you can do your bit to turn your house into a low carbon home by installing a wood burning stove – see the latest Stove Industry Alliance case studies (SIA) to see what we mean.

Sourece: edie newsroom – to read the complete article...

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The EU are to stick the boot in to the Russian gas giant Gazprom for gas market manipulation and over-charging our new friends, their Eastern European customers. This is very likely to upset Mr Putin who has said that he could cut the gas supply through the Ukraine, a key transit state. Last June Russia turned the taps off over a pricing dispute with Ukraine which adversely affected prices across Europe. So, fed up with the big bad Russian bear? Then why not declare independence and invest in a Squirrel (or even a Badger or an Owl).

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A new survey published by Ernst & Young has found that people worry more about the cost of their energy than any other household bill – and that's despite recent energy price cuts. However, nearly half of the 2,000 consumers who were surveyed said that they would be willing to pay more if they thought it would go towards renewables which would help to combat climate change.

Source: Utility Week – to read more please click here
 

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A new case study by the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) highlights the benefits of owning and operating a wood burning stove. This is the first of a number of real-life case studies planned by the SIA and aimed at demonstrating how easy it is to save money on your home heating when you install a wood burning stove. To read the case study please click here.

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The EU has said that it will take the UK to court over a breach of emissions limits at the Aberthaw coal-fired power station in Wales – one of the WWF's 'Dirty Thirty' worst CO2 polluting power stations in Europe. Aberthaw's problem, however is only the tip of the slag heap for the coal industry's problems: The UK’s three main political parties have made it a joint pledge to phase out coal from the UK's energy mix and even the oil and gas industries are sticking the boot in by comparing themselves to coal in an effort to convince us that they're somehow greener.

Source: Utility Week – to read the complete article by Greenpeace's Chief Scientist...