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Monthly Archives: December 2016

  • Getting a SAP Pass for a Self-Build

    Getting a SAP Pass for a Self-Build - central heating pumpWe're all being encouraged to be more energy-efficient in our homes, and that affects not just boilers but everything from the insulation to the type of central heating pump installed.

    If you're building your own home, it will need to undergo the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) in order to get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and be signed off by the building inspector.

    Understanding SAP

    It's important to understand exactly what the SAP is. A SAP rating allows different properties to be compared for energy-efficiency. It measures how much energy is used by the property, how much of this is lost and how good the building is at retaining heat.

    SAP ratings are on a one to 100 scale - a property scoring 100 would be so efficient that it actually exported energy to the grid. A higher rating therefore means a more efficient home that will use less energy and create less CO2.

    Getting a SAP

    SAP ratings need to be carried out by an accredited assessor. It takes into account the construction materials used, insulation, ventilation, the efficiency of heating systems and their controls, solar gain and any renewable energy technology.

    The SAP rating is used to create an EPC, which gives potential buyers the ability to compare the energy-efficiency of different properties. An EPC once granted is valid for 10 years unless there are any major changes to the property.

    Plan ahead

    In order to get a high SAP score, it pays to start thinking about energy-efficiency at the design stage. If you leave things too late, you could end up having to carry out costly and disruptive remedial work. You can get an initial SAP assessment before you apply for planning consent, which will help avoid problems later.

    The SAP test will often involve an air test. This involves blowing air into the house and measuring how much escapes. While all homes need some ventilation, too much means you're losing heat and could fail the test. It might be worth getting an air test done before the official assessment so you can fix any issues.

    U and Non-U Revisited

    All building materials have a u-value. This indicates how good they are at stopping heat from passing through them. The lower the u-value, the better the insulation value of the product. By specifying the most u-efficient products at the planning stage, you'll reduce the risk of problems later. Play special attention to doors and windows, as these are areas where heat is most likely to escape, so adhering to the latest standards for frames and glazing will help your score.

    Feel the Heat

    Heating systems have a major impact on SAP scores. Having an energy-efficient boiler or an alternative system like a heat pump is important. But heating controls make a big difference too. You need to show that you can obtain heat only when and where it's needed, so sophisticated programmers, wireless thermostats that you can take from room to room and thermostatic radiator valves are must-haves.

    Choose an Efficient Central Heating Pump

    Even the humble heating pump can make a difference, so ensure you choose a model with energy-efficient features like variable speed technology, and one that will work in harmony with your other heating controls to only run when needed.

    Find out more about SAP Calculations.

  • SAP Calculations - What Are They?

    SAP Calculations - What Are They and circulation pumpsSAP calculations were brought in as a way of measuring energy usage and are now required under Part L of building regulations. It pays to plan ahead and think about using energy-efficient heating, such as using a circulation pump, insulation and renewable energy sources in your project. These calculations can seem confusing, but as they are a fundamental part of planning and building, it pays to be familiar with the basics.

    What is the Standard Assessment Procedure?

    SAP assesses the energy rating of any building and must be carried out by accredited assessors. Your building will be rated from 1 to100, and the higher the score the lower your fuel bill and your C02 emissions.

    The SAP energy cost calculation is based on the building’s construction, the heating system installed and whether you use energy-saving measures like a circulation pump, renewables and internal and external lighting fixtures. It doesn’t include domestic appliances.

    Why Is SAP important?

    Without an assessment, your building will not comply with building regulations and can’t be sold or let. Therefore SAP is of absolute importance to your project.

    The important thing is not to think of SAP as just another bit of red tape but as an opportunity to really think about and plan for the most energy-efficient build possible. You can minimise energy use and carbon emissions either for yourself or your prospective buyers or tenants.

    You’ll receive an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) based on the SAP assessment.

    How is SAP worked out

    As the SAP assessor works from architects’ plans and the specifications for HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning), you’ll need to ensure these are professionally produced and clearly show elevations, cross-sections and specific plans. These are used to create a model from which the site form is created.

    The heating, lighting and ventilation systems are included along with the thermal elements like roofs and walls and any renewable energy sources.

    Finally, the SAP calculation is generated to include heat loss, C02 emissions, input from renewables like solar panels and seasonal variations in energy use.

    How do I pass my SAP?

    The SAP assessment is based on the loss of heat through the fabric of the building, construction quality, solar gain and calculated C02 emissions. By focusing on these four crucial areas, you’ll be able to plan and build with a focus on passing the SAP.

    Your C02 emissions are calculated by comparing the Target Emission Rate (TER) with the predicted Dwelling Emission Rate (DER). It’s important because many councils now use the TER as part of determining an S106 agreement or ‘developer's contribution'.

    The regulations are extremely robust, and a pass or fail can come down to whether you’ve fitted the right kind of boiler or the thickness of insulation. There is no hard and fast formula for passing the SAP, as you may be forced to make energy decisions with higher C02 emissions.

    Any advice?

    The main pointers we would advise you to focus on are:

    • Focus on insulation - insulate to the maximum then insulate some more.
    • Doors and windows are prime heat-loss areas - reduce their U-rating as far as possible.
    • Pay close attention to boiler controls, as these have a significant impact on your SAP.
    • Heat loss through thermal bridging - junctions with exterior walls - can be a major focus of the SAP.
    • Ensure your build envelope is efficiently sealed.
    • Book a pre-test before you go through the real thing.
    • Start early. Start talking to your SAP assessor as soon as possible to stand the very best chance of producing a new-build, barn conversion or any type of change-of-use conversion that meets - and beats - the SAP standards.

    Check out our tips for getting a SAP Pass for a self-build coming soon.

  • 7 key ways new homeowners waste money

    7 key ways new homeowners waste money - Submersible pumpsBuying a new home is exciting, and making the most of it is a combination of choosing well in

    the first place and then allocating the resources you have wisely, whether you are creating a calm refuge, a welcoming place to raise children or a dazzling domestic space for entertaining friends.

    Home improvements and maintenance projects in your new home need to be chosen carefully to ensure the time and energy being invested are going to yield the biggest dividends.

    1. Al fresco ambitions

    Finally, it seems you have space to install that fancy gas-fired barbecue and build a pit for it - maybe even a pizza oven made of bricks, an outdoor cooker and all kinds of appliances. But consider carefully before you get carried away. Weigh up the cost of all this against how often you are likely to use it, especially in a temperate climate. A few briquettes, a rack and some outdoor chairs may be enough if there are only going to be two barbecues each summer.

    2. Ineffective insulation

    If your windows are not insulated properly, then you will be throwing money out the window each month when inflated energy bills arrive. The attic or roof is another area where heat can escape, along with doors and any cracks or leaks in the building. Do a thorough inspection of your home, and assess where insulation needs to be bolstered - make this a priority, especially if winter is coming.

    3. A place in the sun

    A conservatory or sunroom may seem like a bright addition to your home, but think carefully about whether it will create the kind of space that will add value to your home. Sometimes the conservatory adds less value than you anticipate and may not even pay for itself when it comes time to put the home on the market.

    4. Plan B

    Getting all nesty and stockpiling baked beans in the larder for a crisis that may never arrive can get some new homeowners thinking that what you really need next is your own power generator to make sure the lights stay on during an emergency. It may be reassuring to have one of these, but they are expensive to install and it is not likely to be appreciated by potential buyers when it comes time to sell the property

    5. Take a careful dip: Invest in a submersible pumps

    Everyone wants a pool in their garden for swimming, sun tanning or sipping cocktails. That is until they realise how much work it is to maintain a pool and the expenses of buying all that pool cleaning equipment and chemicals to stop the water turning green with algae. They also can only be used for a limited part of the year unless you want to pay the cost of heating. The pool will probably need draining at some point, and this will require knowledge of submersible pumps along with various other bits of kit. Not everyone sees a pool as an advantage either. When it comes to selling your home, it may not add much value, and potential buyers could even see it as a liability that is going to take up all of their weekends to keep clean.

    6. Cost of private mortgage insurance

    Depending on your provider, they may expect you to take out added insurance on your mortgage if your down payment is deemed as being a little on the low side. Paying this is money down the drain, and in the long run you will be glad of the savings you can make if you manage a few extra payments on the mortgage and get the equity up to a level where insurance is not necessary. A few extra payments always make sense early on if you can manage them to decrease the capital owed and get more of your regular payments working to decrease the sum owed instead of going to the lender.

    7. Warranty panic

    When you are purchasing new appliances, some salespeople really pile on the pressure to buy an extended warranty. It may provide some peace of mind, but most reputable brands are designed to keep on performing during the extra warranty period, so in the end it is probably not expenditure that will provide much of a return on investment. If you are the anxious sort, check the conditions of your credit card, as sometimes warranties are part of the benefits they offer to customers.

    While you’re on the money saving train, try our 1-hour home energy audit that can save you money.

  • The 1-hour home energy audit that can save you money

    The 1-hour home energy audit that can save you money with Grundfos central heating pumpWinter calls for cosiness, and as the temperatures fall energy bills go up. However, there are a number of easy things you can do around the home to reduce outgoings on energy without sacrificing any comfort. Tiny changes and occasional upgrades could mean significant savings - up to 30% on your current utility bills.

    Take an hour to look around your home and identify wastage and poor efficiency, take action, and then watch the savings add up.

    Leaking warmth

    Holes and cracks, especially around doors and windows, will allow your heated air to leak outside. This will obviously make your heating more costly and less efficient. All doors, windows and outside walls need to be checked for any points of vulnerability that will drive up your energy bills.

    Tend to these with a good sealant, such as caulking, especially where siding and some other type of material meet. For cracks around windows, which is where wood intersects with glass, use putty instead. Indoors, create another barrier to the outside with drapes over doors and windows that will keep warmed air in the room.

    Inefficient heating

    Warming the home can account for a large chunk of the energy bill. Make sure all components are working properly and any air filters are cleaned regularly. Professional maintenance is also recommended, and if you have a gas boiler, it should be checked annually. Bleeding radiators to ensure they heat evenly is also a good way to save money and make heating more efficient.

    A device that ensures hot water recirculation, such as a Grundfos central heating pump, could be an excellent investment. Not only does one of these make sure the heat distribution is regulated, but it will end having to wait for hot water. Maintenance will also ensure that the system will not malfunction when you are depending on it most.

    Through the roof

    If you live in a house, it is quite likely that a lot of your heating is simply rising and escaping into the atmosphere through your attic or roof. This is especially true of older homes constructed before 1980. All this heat rising up and escaping makes your heating system work ever harder, causing stress to the system and inflating your heating bills.

    Put an end to this with adequate insulation. The insulation in your roof or attic should be at least five inches deep. Not all insulation is the same, so ensure you check the rating for the insulation you buy. Install it yourself or get a professional in to do the job. Once you have done that, it may be time to think about regulating the heating distribution to make it more efficient with a Grundfos central heating pump.


    Winter's short, dark days direct more attention to lighting in the home. This is a good time to look at the lighting you have and decide if it is adequate and balanced. Some areas of the home may be spoilt for lighting choices, while some rooms or corners languish in darkness. When the lighting is arranged for maximum effect, consider whether you are paying more for it than you should.

    The solution is straightforward: replace your old incandescent energy-gobbling bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent lights). This new style of bulb uses less energy and will save you money, and CFLs produce a diffuse soft light which is attractive in the home. Better still, this type of bulb can last for up to ten years.


    The Victorians weren't always using chimney-sweeps for nothing - fireplaces and chimneys require checking and cleaning on a regular basis to make sure that they are safe and operating properly. It is a good idea to check for cracks between bricks and for the accumulation of soot. Warmed air can escape up a chimney, so ensure that the dampers in your fireplace are shut when the fireplace is not being used.

    Getting the professionals in for a thorough check-up is a worthwhile idea. They can do a full inspection, looking at the chimney and its cap along with the fireplace. They can then make any necessary repairs, and while they are doing so, you could consider having heatproof glass doors fitted to the fireplace to make it even more energy-efficient.

    Find out more things new homeowners waste money on.

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