Saturday, February 24, 2007

Insulation Grants and Free CFL Bulbs


Free CFL bulbs for Everyone
50% Insulation Grants


Let me preface this piece by saying that I am no expert and that the figures I am suggesting are mere guesstimates. Nevertheless, the amount it takes to heat the average home I know, I have an average home. The experts tell us what insulation saves as a percentage of the total. I am merely extrapolating from these figures. I stand to be corrected and indeed I would love to have some expert input.

In Ireland, up to 80% of all but the newest homes are not properly insulated. Attic insulation can save up to 35% of heat loss in a house. Attic insulation is a relatively lost cost investment with a very big payback. Therefore, grant aiding attic insulation would be a very inexpensive exercise compared to the current SEI wood pellet grants of up to €4200 for one boiler and up to €6500 for one house installing geo-thermal.

One Geo-Thermal Grant Would Insulate 40 Houses

€6500 would give 100% grants to approximately 20 average houses for full attic insulation. It would give a 50% grant to 40 homes. In many cases what is needed is to improve existing insulation. In this case, One Single Geo-Thermal Grant, which by the way are only taken up by fairly well off families anyway, would give a 50% insulation improvement grant to 80 homes.

One Geo-Thermal Grant put to Insulation = €90,000 saving!

If you take the average yearly household heating bill at around €1500, and you were to save even 15% of that figure using attic insulation, that gives a saving per house of €225 per year. Going back to the 50% grant for 40 homes getting full attic insulation put in, that gives you a saving PER YEAR of €225 per house multiplied by 40 = €9000 per year. Spread over 10 years the €6500 grant would save €90,000!!!!!!!!!!

Double Glazing Grants

The same sort of logic would apply to grant aiding the installation of double glazing but the saving, while better than the geo-thermal payback, would not be as spectacular as for attic insulation but would be well worth the investment compared to wood pellet grants or geo-thermal grants. Insulation savings on fuel are immediate and last for many years into the future.

Free Light Bulbs for the Nation!!!

The modern energy saving and long-lasting CFLs or Compact Florescent Lights can be purchased in bulk at under 2 Euro each. It would pay the Irish Government to purchase 20 million or so and to give them away free to the population. At the same time banning the sales of the older incandescent bulbs.

The move would save up to 10% on our imported electricity energy costs. Remember 85% of our electricity comes from imported hydrocarbon fuels, coal and oil essentially.

The move would significantly reduce carbon our emissions, reduce imports, and the benefits would be long lasting. The CFL bulbs last for up to 10 years and use only one fifth of the power.

Currently No Home Insulation Grants Available

It should be mentioned that there are essentially no home insulation grants available. This is despite the glaring logic of substantial saving to be made. There are also no incentives to using CFL bulbs.

Does anyone out there agree with these ideas?


Friday, February 23, 2007



My Letter to SEI Cancelling My Grant Application

Dear SEI

I have done a great deal of research on wood pellet boilers, in terms of design, efficiency, and price. I have also looked into the supply situation for wood pellets in Ireland. My conclusion is that I am better staying with oil heating for now. I am therefore requesting that you cancel my application for now. When the marketplace is stabilised in Ireland, I would hope, maybe, to re-apply. I have given my reasons in detail below. Could I please ask you to have them advised to SEI policy makers, in the hope it might influence future planning.

1. Most wood pellet boilers do not have sufficient back-burn protection. Water quench is a fail-safe and simple method but is not fitted to most units. This could well be the cause of much trouble and litigation in the future.
2. Wood burning stoves and boilers produce creosote which can build up in the chimney and if ignited will burn fiercely causing much damage and great danger. The use of special dual walled high temperature stainless flues are required and these are very expensive, easily up to €1000. This is another possible time-bomb for the future.
3. Wood pellet supply in Ireland is far from stable. Disaster was barely averted this winter.
4. Wood pellet prices are far from stable. Prices not are close to oil prices, as oil has reduced and wood pellets have substantially increased in price.
5. Wood pellet quality varies a great deal. There is a great deal of sawdust in some pellets.
6. Storing wood pellets is a big problem, and costly, trying to keep them sufficiently dry.
7. Wood pellet stoves and boilers are overpriced in Ireland. There is a completely uncontrolled situation where major profiteering is taking place by some dealers. Most prices are well above those in Germany etc.
8. Some installers are way over priced. One quoted me €1000 for a boiler in an existing boiler house with flue and plumbing connection already there.
9. There is in-sufficient expertise among installers and service people in Ireland.
10. Spare part and warranty mechanisms are not fully established in Ireland.
11. There are some poor designs of boiler on the market, apart from the safety issues mentioned above. The good has not yet been separated from the bad in Ireland. Time only will tell.
12. Buying a wood pellet boiler now is simply subsidising the costs of future development. In a few years there will be standardised units from Danfoss and similar, and the whole thing will cost a half or less of the current crazy prices.




Today I Formally Cancelled
Wood Pellet Grant Application

After almost a year of research into wood pellet boilers and stoves, as well as into the fuel itself, I have made the decision to cancel my SEI Grant Application. I formally did that this morning.

Grant or no grant, wood pellet boilers are not a good investment in Ireland just yet. I have given the reasons, 12 reasons in fact, for this in previous Blogs.

Hopefully in a year or so, boilers of better design and cheaper price will be available, along with better wood pellet supplies and stable prices for the fuel. There will also be better general knowledge in the marketplace about what are good, bad, or indifferent boilers, what are proper prices, and what are good practices. At that time, I will reconsider installing a wood pellet boiler.

For now I am sticking with my oil fired central heating because it is almost 100% reliable, spares and repairs are reasonably priced, and the cost of oil has come down a good deal.

This Blog?

Well, I fully intend to maintain this blog and to extend the interest more into insulation and other fuel saving methods, and into biomass some more.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I Love a Good Lively Debate - Don't You?
Ed Replies

Hi, Just read the latest post on your blog. I couldn't post a comment but here’s my reply.

The two dealers on Jedcoe’s website that are local to me (Sligo, Donegal town) DO NOT INSTALL or commission. Also they are two of the most expensive suppliers in the area.

A company in Tyrone that do, I have been waiting over 2 weeks for a quote. Also where is the request for a quote from the so-called supplier Jedcoe ? The money is in the bank waiting to be spent but I can’t get the service. Maybe you live in a different world.

Also don’t like the agricultural design of Jedcoe stoves. But might buy one if I couild get one.




Insulation Grants
would Save More
On Carbon Emissions
Imported Energy

If SEI was to give a grant towards double glazing and attic insulation for older homes, it would, most likely, save a lot more in energy and carbon allowances than some of the present ill conceived and badly managed alternative energy schemes. Most of homes in Ireland are way under basic insulation standards. This is an obvious move to make in order to save energy, yet we see again a complete lack of joined-up-thinking by the policy makers.

Just like if the Government was to ban incandescent light bulbs in favour of CFL bulbs, this move alone would save up to 10% on electricity. That is a huge saving in every respect and it is achievable and cheap to accomplish.


SEI Installer Information is No Joke!!

A Letter in Reply to Ed of the last post

Thank you for all the work you have put into your blog over the last year.

I fully believe people like Ed should not be left thinking that the process of getting the SEI grant using an SEI approved installer is a complete joke, unfortunately, Ed's experience is not a one-of-case. Certainly, I know that those who contact a Galway company called Jedcoe, get offered the option of a full solution and full after sales service, and there are other companies like Jedcoe that offer a comprehensive service, not just the sale of a pellet stove with no installation / commissioning, technical support or quick repair service should this need occur.

For the record this view comes from a person connected to the business.

It is true getting a pellet stove is no problem but it also true getting an installer is no problem. All the information is on the SEI website, believe it, you just need to look in the right place.

Don’t look just at the registered list of installers, instead look at the Registered Product/Supplier List - Pellet Stoves and choose the pellet stove best for your needs and listed immediately below are the registered agent(s). Contact these companies and get an all-in price i.e. sale of pellet stove or boiler + installation/commissioning.
Any pellet stove supplier that will not install/commission is better avoided. What chance do you have if anything goes wrong with your pellet stove if the seller will not install/commission?? Further no one installer will be able to fit all brands of pellet stoves
as there is no universal standardisation.

Jedco are a distributor and direct seller to the public country wide of Canadian wood pellet stoves, costing between Eur2250, Eur2750. All are available including fitting with installation/commissioning, for approximately Eur300 for connection to an existing flue-lined chimney or Eur500-600 for a high-grade twin-wall insulated stainless steel fluing system out through your external wall. All Jedcoe direct sales / installations come with a two year warranty on ALL electrical components.

I would point out that the oil fired boiler market works just fine with seperate sellers such as Heatmerchants etc. and installations being done by plumbers or installers. There is no reason why this type of situation could not apply to wood pellet heating in the future. What is causing problems currently are the cowboys and profiteers hopping on the grant bandwagon, combined with SEI's bad management of the scheme. Ed (as in Editor)


Saturday, February 17, 2007

SEI is a Joke


"SEI is a Joke"
A Letter from Ed

Just like to let you know reading your blog. Just to let you know that there's more problems than supply. I am in the process of buying a stove as extra heating the house. Now getting a stove is no problem but getting an installer for the grant is a joke.

The SEI list has installers but most, aren't able to commission the stoves so you have to get another guy to commission it. The guys installing it don't know what they're doing they haven't seen most of the models on the market (not surprising considering the number)

SEI is a joke. Its system doesn't work.

I've wasted so much time on this so far it's unbelievable. I've found one supplier who fits and supplies the stoves so here's hoping. Its just I want a space heater for the office that doesn't need too much filling and maintenance and its better than the alternatives (gas , electric). But the SEI is a joke. Its system doesn't work. The listed suppliers are just tax checked, there seems to be no check on what they can do.

Keep up the good work.



Monday, February 12, 2007

BioMass Heaters

I have been asked by several readers about heater/boilers suitable for general biomass. I came across a series of heater units sold by an Irish company These units will burn straw, miscanthus, willow biomass, log or chipped wood, in fact just about any bio fuel.

Problem is they are HUGE and somewhat ugly units that could only sit comfortably in an industrial or agricultural setting.

These monsters will hapily eat whole bales of any old straw and give lots of heat from what might be considered as rubbish by some.

This beauty will heat 13 radiators while burning straw or wood shavings etc., enough for a big house or even a small factory

Its called the Dragonheater D8. Double pass size. The makers blurb says:

Perfect for energy recovery from any form of legal biomass. Suitable for Farmers, joinery shops etc. 75KW output. Suitable to feed 13 radiators. Size (a whacking great) 1530 x 1470 x 2260.

Feedstock can include: wood chip, pellets, straw bales, wood off cuts. Price excludes Flue assembly, and fitting. Price: €8,600.00 (Excluding: VAT at 21%)

If you want to know more ask the Irish Dealers:
Waste Solutions Ltd
Unit 4
Westpoint Trade Centre
Tel: 353-21-4214901

If anyone out there has one of these beauties running, I would appreciate some feedback on its performance.

PS. I am happy to post a clarification on the price of DragonHeaters from the Irish dealer, , who advise that prices exclude delivery from UK, flue assembly, fitting by a plumber, and Vat at 21%


Friday, February 09, 2007


Addendum and Questions
pertaining to Last Two Posts

A learned reader of this blog has posed some further questions regarding the "no-brain" latest Government, well meaning but lacking joined-up-thinking, Grant Scheme.

Miscanthus has several problems related to it as a BioMass fuel.

Question number 1:

Has the Governments brainy bofin department considered the chlorine content of miscanthus?

Question number 2:

Has the Government brains depository department consulted the ESB regarding the practical use of this biomass fuel? And, is the ESB geared to use this fuel?


Thursday, February 08, 2007


There Appears to be a
Frightening Lack

The Irish Government has allocated €8m in grants to promote the planting of willow and miscanthus for biomass. The grants to farmers will be up to 50% of the costs associated with establishing miscanthus and willow on set-aside land and on areas which have been aided by the EU Premium of €45 per hectare. Farmers could receive up to €1,450 per hectare towards establishment costs.

Full details of the scheme are now available from the Department of Agriculture and Food and the closing date for applications is February 28, 2007. The Department is also introducing an additional top-up payment of €80 per hectare in 2007 to support the growing of energy crops.

But Hang on a Moment!

The total area eligible for grant assistance is only 1400 hectares. This would be just 70 individual applications with full allocation take up - BIG DEAL!!

SEI promoted wood pellet heaters without giving a thought to the supply of wood pellets - who is to say this initiative isn't just as stupidly thought out?

I also wonder if there is any consideration given to how the biomass fuel will be (1) transported, (2) processed, (3) stored, and most importantly (4) by whom, and how will it be used??

Is the ESB Electricity Supply Board gearing up some of its generators to use this stuff? Who will sell it, who will put a price on it?

Would it not be better just to flush the money down a drain? Or am I being to hard and critical?

You asked about the significance of the bird? - Think bird-brain!


Friday, February 02, 2007


Bright Idea in California

Can We Do It Also?

California, a great place for both new ideas and nutty people!!! Here is one darn bright idea though. A lawmaker there is attempting to bring in a "How Many Legislators Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb Act" to ban the sale of the regular incandescent bulbs by 2012.

Changing Light Bulbs will save 10% of Energy

By eliminating the use of the common incandescent bulb, California would cut energy use by more than 10%. It is hard to believe so much power is wasted by old-fashioned light bulbs!!

Micheal Martin Maybe You Could Swing This One Also

This sounds like a “brilliant” idea to me. Perhaps Ireland could consider a similar law. After all, we eliminated plastic bags at supermarkets, and banned smoking in public buildings, this also we could do and save a lot of money for our economy, and at the same time, help the environment.