Gadgets Money saving Shabbihaus retrofit sustainability Using less energy

My Shabbihaus eco retrofit project part 2 Boiler replacement

This came about through problems with the old boiler rather than careful planning. Firstly I replaced the thermostat with a Smart controller, this was about 5 years ago and the choice was limited but I got an Owl controller which allowed us to control the heating with a smart phone.

This allowed us to monitor electricity use as well as program the boiler simply online and turn it off for holidays etc. The controller was easy to fit as you replace the existing thermostat and use the same wiring. Once this was done the heating started coming on only when the temperature in the house fell below the required temperature we set. The previous controller turned on the heating when it was programmed to, regardless of the internal temperature and waited for the thermostat to turn it off again. This fine control and ease of use saved us 10% on our gas bills straight away.

The monitor really helped us concentrate on electricity use around the house and focus on reductions, however it also coincided with having kids and being at home a lot more so our usage actually went up for each successive year, as shown below. Now they are a bit bigger we are out more and using the meter to concentrate their minds too and starting to take our usage down again:

The boiler was an old Worcester and only about 64% efficient. A fault developed with it so it started heating up radiators whenever we used the hot water so we decided to get rid of it. I did plenty of research and luckily enough this coincided with Ecobuild so I was able to go round stalls there to look at a good range of boilers and ask silly questions. Efficiency of most boilers is well over 90% so my main concerns were how it would fit in my kitchen and reliability. I eventually settled on an Intergas boiler, not quite so common in the UK but it came with a 10 year guarantee and has very few moving parts and good reliability.

Very pleased with the boiler and five years later there have been no problems. We are warmer, the shower works better and our gas bills went down.

Very pleased with the boiler and five years later there have been no problems. We are warmer, the shower works better and our gas bills went down.

We also got TRVs installed on all the radiators.

Ecoretrofit Money saving

Thermal blinds

Catching up with a few things round the home today and finished installing my new thermal blinds in the bedrooms. These serve two purposes, they are blackout blinds to keep out the light from buildings behind and they also thermally regulate the rooms.


I got the blinds from Blinds 2 Go, whilst the blinds themselves are of very high quality their cutting service leaves a little to be desired. They claim to make the deductions to ensure that the blinds fit in a recess however ours arrived too large to fit in the window recess. To remedy this I replaced the bulky and cheap feeling plastic fittings with metal ones from Fix my blinds, this gave us enough room to fit the blinds in the recess.

Now I have got the blinds up I am very pleased with them. They have a slightly spongy backing with a reflective surface that provides the thermal barrier.

So far I have only tested their ability to keep heat out and this seems to be working fine. The blinds are very close to the window so work in a similar way to secondary glazing creating an air pocket between the window and the blind. It is certainly more attractive than secondary glazing.

Although this may seem like a small thing it can have a big impact on the energy efficiency of the home. This report by Historic Scotland shows blinds to be an effective part of the strategy for your home, one of many incremental steps that can improve your home without costing the earth.

If you want to know more about what you can do to your house why not commission an Ecoalex home eco audit. If you want a full model of the efficiency of your home consider a Parity Home Energy Masterplan.