HLN Meets: Amy Mooney from Gas Angel Heating
In the spirit of Big Energy Saving Week, HLN caught up with Amy – MD of Newcastle-based (and family-run) heating company, Gas Angel – to find out how we can save money and reduce our carbon footprint, all from the comfort of home
It’s Big Energy Saving Week, which gives us all an excuse to practice some much-needed household admin. And although checking your boiler might not feel as fun as ‘Hinching’ your cupboards or ‘tidying with Marie Kondo’, it’s seriously worth the effort. Not only can you save money by running your central heating more efficiently, but you can also help save the planet.
Big Energy Saving Week is a national awareness campaign that’s run in partnership with Citizen’s Advice, the Energy Saving Trust, and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – with the support of many more organisations, charities, and companies. The campaign’s focus is on helping the public save money (which is never a bad thing, particularly during these difficult times). However, an efficient boiler and heating system isn’t just cheaper, it’s also greener and safer too.
So, if you’ve been putting off sussing out how to work your boiler controls or switching tariffs with your energy supplier, now’s the time to learn. After all, nobody wants their boiler to conk out during the coldest months of the year.
Need a little starting out? We’ve got you covered. Enter Amy…
The cost of energy, particularly with some of the big energy companies, has been a hot (and controversial) topic for many years now. And while we can’t control how much the companies decide to charge per unit, we can shop around. You don’t even have to switch suppliers to make savings – you can switch tariffs with your current supplier, too.
‘Gas bills can be notoriously complex and difficult to understand,’ explains Amy. ‘However, you don’t need a degree in engineering to influence how much you’re spending.
‘The easiest option is to download your energy supplier’s app, if you haven’t already, and register for your own online account. You can see how bills are being calculated, what you owe or are owed, and what tariffs are available to you. It’s usually fairly straightforward to see the difference in cost related to switching tariffs with your current supplier, so you can easily compare.
‘One thing I will stress, though, is that providing your meter readings regularly – while it might feel like a chore – will also help you save money, because you’ll be paying for your actual use rather than your estimated usage. If you’re likely to forget to send your meter readings regularly, then a smart meter might be the best option for you. This sends the meter readings over to your supplier automatically. You may also want to consider requesting a withdrawal of any credit you accrue, depending on the amount and the time of year. This is because, as we use less heat in the summer months, it’s sometimes worth having a little bit of credit to make up for in the winter months. However, always remember that this is your money, so if you’d rather it was sitting in your account accruing interest, that’s entirely your decision and your right.’
Making sure your boiler is running efficiently
Noisy, rumbling boilers are unlikely to be healthy boilers. If your heating system isn’t running efficiently, it will not only be wasting your money, it will be wasting energy too – which is obviously bad for your green credentials!
‘You need to look after your boiler through regular servicing and reporting any problems as soon as they arise,’ says Amy. ‘An annual service is the best option – but remember, you should ensure it is only serviced by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer. Getting it wrong doesn’t just waste energy, it can be a serious health hazard.
‘Annual services don’t have to cost much, you can usually spread the cost from as little as £5 per month. At the end of the day, if it keeps your boiler ticking over nicely, you won’t run into high cost repairs further down the line. Many companies, including Gas Angel, provide boiler cover plans, which can protect your boiler and your wider heating system for a small payment each month, plus your annual boiler service is included free.’
Programming your boiler to give you heat when you need it – and not when you don’t
As many of us are working and learning from home at the moment, we should be aware of when our heating is programmed to come on and what temperature we need our home to be. If you find yourself cracking the windows open in January to cool down, then you’re definitely doing something wrong!
‘It’s worth spending the time to get to grips with your heating controls – what controls you have, what they can do and what else you might need,’ Amy suggests. ‘Getting the controls right will keep your home at a nice, comfortable temperature, save on energy and, therefore, save you money and minimise your carbon footprint. If you’ve got a gas boiler it should at least include a thermostat, timer/programmer and, ideally, a room thermostat plus a set of radiator valves.
‘Boiler thermostats are the main port of call and these are sometimes built within the boiler. Then, if you have a room thermostat too, this will basically control the temperature of your home. It works by switching off the boiler and central heating when the room is at the temperature you have programmed it to be at.
‘Another helpful control is the radiator valve – these let you adjust the temperature of specific rooms and can be fitted to most radiators. They’re really easy to use, too. But if you’re still feeling stumped, your heating engineer should be able to give you advice over the telephone on how to get your controls working effectively.
Future developments in energy
An environmentally-friendly alternative to natural gas, hydrogen heating is becoming a much-talked-about topic – particularly in the North East, where residents of Winlaton, Gateshead, will be the first community to receive hydrogen blended gas.
‘Northern Gas Networks have been working on a major project that will see residents in Winlaton receiving hydrogen blended gas on a public gas network,’ explains Amy. ‘The introduction of the hydrogen blend requires no installation as it can run through existing boilers and, while it is only a 20% blend of hydrogen vs 80% natural gas, its benefits are expected to be huge. In fact, it’s estimated that if we all used hydrogen blended energy in the UK, we’d see the same environmental impact as we would if we took 2.5 million cars off the road!’
The hydrogen blend is an interim measure to help make a significant, positive impact on the environment, while 100% hydrogen boilers are being developed by major suppliers including Worcester Bosch and Baxi.
‘At Gas Angel Heating, we’re passionate about doing what we can to limit the impact of natural gas on the environment,’ Amy continues. ‘As such, we’ve been running initiatives such as our JUST ONE Tree project – which involves planting two trees for every boiler cover customer each year. And I think the fact that we have had so many customers approach us and ask to be put on the waiting list for our hydrogen-ready boilers shows just how climate-conscious our customer base is.’
Heat currently makes up 41% of the energy landscape and is therefore a significant contributor to our carbon footprint. It is hoped that, by 2025, the 20% hydrogen blend will be available to thousands of homes around the UK and that, by 2030, there will be a full 100% hydrogen switch over.
To find out more about hydrogen heating, read Gas Angel’s blog here.