Linda Camp, of sustainable group Cheltenham Green Doors, has more than 12 years' experience in the property market. Here, she discusses how you can heat your home in an energy saving way, ahead of the group's open homes weekend in the town on June 22 and 23.
Who wants to think about central heating when the sun is shining and you are stripped down to shorts and a T-shirt? No one does. But when the summer is as cold as this one has been, high fuel bills are a year-long reality which makes reducing expenditure a priority.
I asked Robin Heffter of local heating engineers, Shackleton and Wintle, to update me on what's new in heating technology and to give me some advice about saving energy – and money – on heating. He stressed that, before any other expenditure is made, everyone should look at their insulation. Check you've done what you can to make sure that the heat you pay to generate stays inside your house. Tackle leaky windows, drafty doors, gaps in floorboards. Put a cover over that letter flap. Make sure that the loft is topped up with the best insulation you can afford.
Once you have made sure that you are as well insulated as possible, examine what you already have. If your existing system is working and you have no plans or need to upgrade your boiler, you could still make it more cost efficient by improving the control you have over the areas you heat.
If your boiler is old, the cost of replacing it with a new condensing boiler will be paid back within five years because the efficiency is far greater and it needs less fuel to run. Most people automatically assume a condensing boiler must be a combi but that is not necessarily the case.
Ground source heating is another sustainable method of energy production that attracts grants and rebates. Once the renewable of choice, the high cost of excavation now makes it most suitable for new build property – where there is a digger on site – or on a farm with easy use of tractors and heavy machinery.
The free power of the sun is a seductive notion which has resulted in the proliferation of solar panels on our roofs. But, solar thermal water heating may not suit every household or every property. To be cost effective, the panels should face south and be intended to supply a fairly large household.
Why not chat to the householders opening their green doors in Cheltenham this weekend?