Friday, 21 October 2016

How smart are Smart Heating Controls?

In today's digital age, we're forever being told how much money we could save by installing smart heating controls - devices designed to help consumers save money by helping them to heat their homes more efficiently. With the ability to switch your heating on or off remotely via the Internet so that you only heat your home when it's really needed and making it easy to measure how much heat you're actually using, smart controls should make keeping your heating bills down easier than ever before, but how much money can they really save you, and how can you decide if one is really right for you?

Why are they Smart?

While all are controlled remotely via the Internet, Smart Heating Controls come with a variety of functions, for example, the ability to switch your heating on when you're on your way home to prevent money from being wasted while you're out. Some are able to learn your daily routine in order to switch your heating on and off automatically and have the ability to control individual rooms in your home, so that you only heat the rooms you actually use. By adjusting to the temperature outside, they can even help to ensure that your home doesn't overheat on a hot day.

How much money could I save?

Estimates for savings from Smart Heating Controls can vary widely between manufacturers and suppliers, with some claiming they can reduce heating bills by 20%, some quoting up to £150 a year and some even suggesting that they can half your annual heating bill. In reality though, the amount homeowners can save is more likely to depend on their commitment to learning about the system and teaching it their daily routine.

How do I know if they're right for me?

When considering whether to purchase Smart Heating Controls, it's important to weigh up the price of the system against the potential savings to be made. When making your decision, consider your motivations for installing digital heating technologies, for example, do you want to consider how much heating you're using and how much it's costing you? Another thing to ask yourself is whether you're comfortable using computers and smartphone apps. If you're a frequent user of such devices, you may have a lot to gain from programming your thermostat to fit around your busy lifestyle. Finally, it's important to be honest with yourself with regards to your memory! Would you struggle to remember to switch your heating on and off remotely? If so, Smart Controls may not be a worthwhile investment, especially if you're not planning on staying in your property for a long time.

Search via your local plumber's association

If you still feel that you're the type of person who could benefit from installing Smart Heating Controls in your home, remember always to choose a quality heating engineer for the job. Search for one in your local area via the APHC website at

Friday, 14 October 2016

National Burns Awareness Day 2016

There's no doubt that it's getting colder outside all of a sudden, so what will be your favourite way of keeping cosy this winter? A hot bubble bath perhaps or a steaming mug of tea or coffee? When finding ways to stay warm in our homes and workplaces, it's easy to forget the potential dangers presented to us by scalding, yet last year around 37% of all burns occurred this way.

National Burns Awareness Day
Running for the third time this year on Wednesday 19th October, National Burns Awareness Day, which is coordinated by the British Burn Association, is aiming to raise awareness of the potential dangers at home and at work which may result in burn injuries and is encouraging communities to take part in events and activities to share advice on burn treatment and prevention. In support of the campaign, we've compiled a list of essential tips to protect yourself and those around you from suffering from painful and potentially life threatening burns:

  • Consider adding thermostatic mixing valves to high risk plumbing equipment such as baths and showers to mix the hot water temperature to below 48 degrees C.
  • Install special bath spouts and shower heads that prevent scalding by sensing if water gets too hot and shutting off the flow of water.
  • Always test bathwater before placing your child in the bathtub, and help them to get in. When running a bath, put cold water into the bath first and then add the hot water, using your elbows to test the temperature.
  • Never leave a child under 5 unattended in a bathtub, not even for a moment.
  • When cooking, try to use the rings at the back of the hob and turn saucepan handles towards the back or centre of the stove so that children can't grab them and tip the pots over.
  • Similarly, don't use a kettle with a cord which could dangle over the side of the work surface and be grabbed.
  • Ideally keep toddlers and young children out of the kitchen altogether, for example, by putting a safety gate across the doorway.
  • Never warm baby bottles in the microwave - they may heat unevenly and burn your baby's mouth.
  • Use mugs or coffee cups with lids when you're around children and keep hot liquids like soup, coffee or tea away from the edge of counters and tables.

Cool, call, cover
The majority of burns are preventable, but sometimes accidents do happen. With data suggesting that only 1 in 3 people with a burn injury received the appropriate First Aid treatment prior to being admitted to hospital, be sure to follow the 3 C's (COOL, CALL, COVER) in the event of suffering a burn:
  • Cool the burn with 20 minutes of cool, running water. Do not use ice, butter, aloe vera, toothpaste or ointments, which could cause further damage.
  • Call for help. Ideally medical attention should be sought while the burn is still being cooled.
  • Cover the burn with clingfilm. This protects the burn from infection whilst stopping the wound from drying out. Cells that dry out will die, delaying the healing process.

For the installation of thermostatic mixing valves or other plumbing work in your home, be sure to always call a quality plumber. Search for one in your local area via the APHC website, at

Quality plumbers

Friday, 7 October 2016

Simple changes could mean big savings on your heating bills!

It's that time of year again. With temperatures dropping, we're finding ourselves getting that winter coat out of the wardrobe and if you haven't already, it won't be long before you turn on the central heating for the cold few months ahead. We all like to be cosy in our homes as it gets chillier outside, however, none of us likes having to pay a huge heating bill. We've compiled a list of our top tips to help you curb heating costs this autumn/winter season whilst keeping warm in your home.


With around a third of the heat in our homes lost through the walls, it really does pay to insulate your property. As well as being inexpensive and straightforward to fit, foams and sealants are available at most DIY stores but remember to look for types which conform to the standard BS7386. You can also lag your pipes and water tank for maximum efficiency - fitting a standard British jacket around your hot water cylinder could save heat loss by 75%. That's a saving of £20 per year on your fuel bill! Finally, be sure to install insulation in your loft which works like a blanket, trapping heat rising from the floors below. Remember that lofts should be insulated to 270mm so even if you already have insulation fitted, you can save money and energy by taking it up to this amount.

Upgrade your heating system

Another way of making savings on your heating bills this winter is by upgrading your heating system. For example, a high efficiency condensing boiler with heating controls could save you up to £200 a year! Smart Heating Controls are another area of technology that could help you to save, adapting to your day-to-day routine so that the heating comes on when you need it but turns off when you don't. Having a solar panel installed on your roof could also help you to cut costs by using the sun's energy to heat water. You may even be eligible for a grant to have one installed!

Every little helps!

Aside from the larger changes mentioned above, there are a number of small changes you can make to your home heating routine which could make a big difference when it comes to that monthly bill. You may be surprised to learn that just turning down your thermostat by 1˚C could cut your heating bills by up to 10%, saving you around £40 each year. Another tip is to close the curtains at night, which stops heat from escaping through the window and take advantage of the cheapest form of energy (the sun) by opening doors into rooms which get the most sun and allowing warm air to circulate around the house. Finally, by ensuring all taps are turned off properly and broken taps are fixed, you're literally stopping money from going down the drain!

When getting any plumbing and heating work done on your property be sure to always use a quality plumber. Search for one in your local area on the APHC website at Why not follow some of our tips today and see how much you can save?

Central Heating Systems

Friday, 30 September 2016

What makes a Quality Plumber?

As part of our third ever Quality Plumber Week, running next week from 3rd-9th October, we're once again emphasising the importance of always using a Quality Plumber for any plumbing work undertaken within your home, however big or small the job. But what, you may ask, do we mean by the term "Quality Plumber" and where and how can you find one?

One of the main goals of our Quality Plumber Week campaign is to reduce numbers of rogue installers operating in the industry by always sticking to skilled tradespeople, who will complete work in your property to a high standard and for a fair price. Below we've listed some top tips that you can follow to ensure you hire a professional and reduce your chances of getting ripped off.

Look for a member of a plumbers' association

If you use an installer who belongs to a trade association (such as APHC) you'll be sure to have the job done by someone with minimum levels of qualifications and work experience, as all trade associations must check a tradesperson's claims to membership. It only takes a 2 minute phonecall to check an installer's credentials, so there really is no excuse not to do it. Trade associations should also be able to provide useful details of the types of work carried out by members in your area.

Consider word of mouth recommendations

Word of mouth recommendations can be a handy tool when searching for a truly quality plumber, especially if they've done work for a friend, family member or neighbour and you have the opportunity to take a look at the work undertaken by the contractor. Remember, recommendations shouldn't be considered on their own but rather should be looked at in conjunction with other methods of identifying a professional tradesman.

Is the plumbing company a good business?

Picking a contractor with a physical address will allow you to make contact before and after work has been undertaken. Any reputable company should be happy to provide this information, so if your contractor seems reluctant to do this it should set alarm bells ringing immediately. The same applies to being provided with a contact number which is essential, especially in case of emergencies.

Established time in business

Long established businesses are often  more likely to stick around in the event of a problem, so always bear this in mind when choosing an installer.

Are they Gas Safe?

By law, work on gas systems and appliances must be undertaken by an organisation listed on the Gas Safe Register, so be sure to check your gas engineer's credentials before allowing them to commence any work in your home. With faulty gas appliances prone to emitting toxic carbon monoxide gas, that quick check could mean the difference between life and death.

To find an APHC member in your local area, simply search via our website at If you're ever tempted to opt for the plumber with the cheapest quote or shortest waiting list remember that taking the time to find a truly Quality Plumber could save you a lot of time and money in the long run! Find out more about Quality Plumber Week and how you can get involved at

Quality Plumber

Friday, 23 September 2016

Preparing for a flood

With heavy rain and thunderstorms causing flash floods across some areas of the UK last week, we've all been reminded of the devastation and destruction that these natural events can cause. While there's nothing we can do to control the weather, careful preparation can significantly help to mitigate the damage and distress which inevitably accompanies an instance of flooding in our homes.


Follow flood warning and weather warning issued by the met office and the environment agency for your area. These can be found at and

Once a flood warning has been issued it's a good idea to make up a flood kit, containing essential items and information to help you cope should flooding affect your home. The one thing most victims of a flood will tell you is the how fast the flood waters rose. Being prepared could save valuable property such as photographs or valuable jewellery and more importantly the lives of you, family and pets. Your kit should include a plan detailing how to turn off your gas, water and electricity, your evacuation site and a list of what to take with you. Important items to include are blankets, a mixture of warm and waterproof clothing, wellington boots , a first aid kits, rubber gloves and hand sanitizer. When preparing for a flood, be sure to move all valuable items and clothing to a high place and keep a small stock of strong plastic sheeting, sandbags and sand to protect doors and air vents against the rising floodwater. For more long term protection, use domestic flood barriers and fit toilet bungs to all downstairs WCs to mitigate the effects of floodwater rising through the sewage system.

Always be sure to follow the evacuation advice of the emergency services and Environment Agency.

When a flood is imminent
Just before a flood is about to occur, disconnect washing machines and dishwashers to protect them from backflow and turn off gas, electricity and water at the stop valve. Be sure to close the lid on downstairs WCs and put a weight on top or use toilet bungs.

If you have to walk through floodwaters, take care to avoid any hazards that might be lurking below the surface and try to keep children and other vulnerable people out of the water altogether. Remember, drain and other services access covers may be missing and it is easy to get trapped or sucked into these whilst in floodwater. Always let the emergency services rescue you rather than walking through flood water. As it is often contaminated with sewage, chemical or animal waste it's important to wash hands thoroughly after contact.

Once flooding starts to recede
When the floodwater begins to recede, a pump and generator can be used to remove standing water. Bear in mind that these tools should be used with caution and because they produce dangerous carbon monoxide fumes they should only be positioned in the open air. Only pump water when flood levels outside the property start to be lower than inside as this will help to reduce the risk of structural damage. Make sure that gas and heating oil supplies are checked only by a quality plumber or heating engineer. Check that any person called out to work on gas installations is registered with Gas Safe and carries a Gas Safe Register photo ID card.

When drying out your property, keep the thermostat between 20 and 22 ˚C for steady drying but if you decide to dry out your property naturally instead keep doors and windows open as much as possible. If you have any suspicion that drinking water has been contaminated (water running an unusual colour/tasting different) contact a
Watersafe plumber straight away. They will be able to inspect your drinking water and, in some cases, take a sample for analysis and disinfect the water system inside your property.
*Remember that in the event of a flood, emergency services will be busy and can only help where life is in danger. In an emergency dial 999 and for up to the minute information on flooding in your local area call the Environment Agency Flood Line on 0845 988 1188.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Gas Safety Week 2016

We may have just experienced the hottest September day for 105 years, but the fact is it won't be long before the weather cools and we start to think about turning on our central heating again in time for autumn. Just as our thoughts turn to getting our boiler serviced, Gas Safety Week, the sixth annual campaign coordinated by the Gas Safe Register, is returning to remind us of the importance of gas safety. Running from 19th-25th September, Gas Safety Week 2016 will also be providing useful tips for improving safety and reducing fatal cases of CO poisoning.  

The silent killer

Produced by unsafe gas appliances, carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas which can cause serious long term health problems or even death. If inhaled, CO replaces oxygen in your bloodstream, causing body cells and tissues to die. As the six main symptoms of CO poisoning (headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness) are similar to those of food poisoning, viral infections and fatigue, it's common to mistake it for something else, so if suffering from any of these it's important to be aware that your home may have a gas leak.

If you suspect CO poisoning

If you think there may be a gas leak in your home and that you may be experiencing CO poisoning, the first thing you should do is to try and get fresh air; open doors and windows, turn off gas appliances and leave the house. It's also essential to seek medical help immediately via your doctor or by going to hospital, mentioning that you suspect CO poisoning. If you think you may be in immediate danger you can also call the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999 and ask a Gas Safe Registered engineer to ensure your gas appliances and flues are safe.

Top gas safety tips

As part of Gas Safety Week's efforts to reduce the numbers of people dying from CO poisoning each year, the Gas Safe Register is providing the following tips to help you stay safe and warm in your homes this winter season:
  • Only use a Gas Safe Registered Engineer to fix, fit and service your appliances. Find and check engineers at or call 0800 408 5500.
  • Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm, which will alert you if there is carbon monoxide in your home.
  • Check gas appliances for warnings that they are not working properly e.g. lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks/stains on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.
  • Know the six signs of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness. Unsafe gas appliances can put you at risk of CO poisoning, gas leaks, fires and explosions.
  • Have all gas appliances regularly serviced and safety checked every year. If you rent a home ask for a copy of the landlord’s current Gas Safety record.
  • Check both sides of an engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card and make sure they are qualified for the work you need doing. This information can be found on the back of the card.
To ensure your family stays safe this winter season, find a quality Gas Safe Registered heating engineer in your local area via our website at

Friday, 9 September 2016

Stay on top of your boiler servicing schedule

Running a boiler without regular servicing makes about as much sense as driving your car without its MOT, writes UK boiler manufacturer Baxi’s Jon Phillips.

At first glance, drawing a comparison between your boiler and the family hatchback might seem unlikely.Yet when it comes to servicing, the similarities are obvious.That annual check-up of your motor ultimately ensures it operates efficiently and safely, and will continue to do so for months and years to come – and that‘s exactly why you should have the same approach when it comes to servicing your boiler. One of the best reasons for staying on top of your servicing schedule is that manufacturer warranties, which are designed to protect homeowners from expensive repairs, often require the buyer to commit to the annual servicing of their boiler.

Manufacturers are keen for you to do this for good reason.

When your engineer visits, they will be able to ensure that your boiler is running at peak performance, which will ultimately save you money on your energy bills. Estimates suggest that you can save as much as 10% by regularly servicing your boiler1.

They will also prevent the boiler from incurring unnecessary stresses and strains that could cause damage in the future, and clear out any debris that could affect the efficiency of the system.They’ll be checking to make sure that the seals, gaskets or heat exchanger aren’t showing any signs of wear and tear. In rare cases, a fault with your boiler can cause it to release poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) gasses, which cannot be detected through taste, scent or sight and pose a deadly risk to people living in the home. This check will ensure everything is in top running order, and will ultimately help to keep you and your family safe.

It is also for this reason that it’s important that the engineer who carries out your service or any maintenance is Gas Safe registered. All Baxi engineers are manufacturer trained and carry Gas Safe accreditation, so you’ll know they’ve been trained to the highest level before coming into your home.

You should also make sure that you use only approved, genuine parts from the manufacturer to ensure that your boiler continues to serve your family well for years to come.Remember, it’s always important to look after your boiler – because if you do your boiler will look after you.

To find a quality heating engineer in your local area, simply search via the APHC website at