Friday, 31 October 2014

Friday Fact

Critic Michael Crowley gave such a poor review of one of author Michael Crichton's books that, in his next book, Crichton made a character 'Mick Crowley' who was a child molester with a small penis.

That's a bit like Goya painting the Spanish Royal Court. Love it.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Leaving your electrical devices on standby can costs £80 a year

Leaving electrical devices such as televisions and games consoles on standby can cost up to £80 a year in electricity bills.

Turning appliances off when they are not in use would save UK homes £1.7billion a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust,

Despite the cost, a poll found that three-quarters of homes with a spare television leave it on standby.

A games console on standby can cost up to £30 a year, but nearly two-fifths of console owners leave them on, according to the Ipsos Mori poll.

Old appliances can also waste money if they have small faults or are inefficient.

We are a nation on standby.

Millions of us are unintentionally wasting electricity when we leave our gadgets on standby, It’s an easy mistake to make yet it costs us a fortune.

YES, I'm talking about YOU!!!!

In the next 5 days most of you will be out of the house for 40 hours and asleep for a further 40. 80 hours of electricity wasted in a week, EVERY week...

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Landlord fined over dangerous property

Leicester City Council has successfully prosecuted a landlord for a series of offences relating to an unlicensed property.

Stephen Raynes was ordered to pay over £10,000 in costs and fines by Leicester Magistrates Court.

An environmental health officer visited the three-storey property after a tenant complained to the council about a damp problem in one of the bedsits.

The inspection of the building found that the fire detection and alarm system had been tampered with and was not working.

Other issues identified by the inspection included mould, a broken extractor fan, a damaged wall heater socket. The property wasn't licensed as a House in Multiple Occupation ( HMO ).

Rayns was ordered to pay £6,000 for failing the register the property as a HMO , and a further £1,000 for the faulty fire alarm system. He was fined £1000 for a further four offences.

found at

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

VW says electric car range will be between 310-370 miles by 2020

Slow battery technology improvement is holding back EV

Wouldn't it be nice to charge your phone once a week? even better once a month!!!

If you don't drive long distances frequently, the current crop of electric cars is probably ok-ish

Every morning you leave with a full charge, and the 80-100 miles that most

I would be far more comfortable with a car that had a 150-200 miles of driving range.

there is some good news on the Horizon. Volkswagen's head of powertrain development, Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser, recently said that he believes that plug-in hybrids are only a stop-gap technology that is only bridging the past and the future on the road to 100% electric vehicles, and that as early as 2020, these could have between 310 and 370 miles of range.

"Battery [technology] makes the biggest steps in very short time frames. If you look at when we started with the e-mobility of the Golf, and you look now to the Passat, we have done the first step," said Dr Neusser. "We have more energy density in the batteries [than before], and in 2015-16 will come the next step which means we come from 25-28 ampere hours (Ah) energy density to 36-37Ah. Now we are actually working on the next step to around 60Ah... with research will come a completely new electro-chemical chemistry inside the batteries, and this will come at the beginning of the next decade. We have to look to the e-Golf, which had an operating range of around 190km. I expect the next generation in 2015-17 will increase to around 300km and the following step will be around 500-600km."

hopefully he is right...

Monday, 27 October 2014

The UK Changes Company Car Tax Rules For Electric Cars

If you live in the United Kingdom then you will have encountered the concept of the “company car”, where an employer offers their employee a car, paid for by the employer so that the employee can use it for work. Of course, the lucky staffer then gets to take the car home and use it for visiting etc as a  “Benefit In Kind” is then taxed by The Government.

Before 2002 the proof that your car really was a company car was that you drove 18,000 miles or more on company business.

Cue therefore many London based drivers booking meetings in Aberdeen while their Scottish colleagues would book Brighton based meetings just to clock up those all important business miles. It didn’t take long before people realised that this was not environmentally responsible. So the rules changed, and now the all important figure was the level of carbon emissions.

With the move to an emissions based scheme The Government introduced a category of vehicle which they called Zero Emissions Vehicles. These vehicles attracted a 0% Benefit in Kind allowance, something which Tesla, Nissan and the other EV producers have been trading on as, right now in October 2014 if you drive an electric car given to you by the company then you pay NO TAX on it whatsoever.

This was never going to last and in April 2015 company EV drivers should brace themselves for the shock of paying tax on their cars.

From April 2015 your EV will no longer be classed by HMRC as a Zero Emissions Vehicle but will become an Ultra Low Carbon car and you will be able to emit up to 50g/km of carbon dioxide through your non-existent exhaust.

In the financial year 2015-2016 your Ultra Low Carbon vehicle will attract a Benefit In Kind of 5% and in 2016-2017 this rises to 7%.

Benefit In Kind is calculated not on what your employer paid for your car but is based upon the list price of your car, including any options which you have decided to add on. Yes, Volkswagen e-UP drivers, that means that if you order the £85 noise emitter to save pedestrians from being mown down by you, HMRC will class 5% of that cost (£4.25) as a benefit direct to you and tax you accordingly. When you are looking at a new car this figure will be listed on the quote or on the lease agreement. This is what goes on your P11D form back to The Revenue.

So if we went shopping for a Nissan LEAF TEKNA today, before we start adding those all important options the car will have a list value of £30,490. Using this figure therefore next financial year The Revenue will say that you have received 5% of that (£1524.50) as a taxable benefit. If you are then earning enough to be a basic rate taxpayer then you will be taxed 20% of £1524.50 or £304.90 for the use of the car and you should expect to see this being taken from your wages. If you are a higher rate tax payer then you will be taxed £609.80 for the LEAF. If you’re an upper rate taxpayer then you’re driving a Tesla so you’re figures will be higher still – don’t worry, you can afford it!

From April 2016 these figures rise a little – your LEAF will now cost you £426.86 or £853.72 based upon your tax rate.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Risking property and personal safety by following online DIY advice is pretty common

According to research released by UK safety charity, Electrical Safety First, half of local homeowners believe they will ultimately save time and money by using YouTube DIY videos to complete projects around the home, even if they don't have the necessary experience or skill.

The number of people across the UK carrying out work to increase their property's value has trebled in the last two years, but the charity suggests people are taking on more than they can handle with many homeowners tackling projects that, by law, should be carried out by a registered electrician.
The study, which is part of a new #dontdieforDIY campaign, also revealed one in 16 people who followed online advice caused significant damage to their property or had to pay for costly repairs as a result of botched DIY.

Emma Apter of Electrical Safety First said, "The Internet is a fantastic resource and the new generation of YouTube DIYers shows just how much we have come to rely on it.
But there's only so much online videos and tips can tell you and not everyone will have the knowledge or experience to carry out more complicated tasks. Ash yourself, 'If I have to Google this, should I really be doing it?'. If in doubt, get a professional in - it could save you a lot of time and money in the long run."

As part of the campaign a series of spoof videos, featuring "expert" YouTube DIYer Mike Power, have been released as well as these tips for safely following online DIY instructions:

1. If something looks too complicated to try yourself, it probably is. You could save a lot of time and hassle by getting a professional in.
2.When doing electrical DIY make sure you have RCD protection, either in your fuse-box or as a plug-in. An RCD is a life-saving device that cuts out power if there's an accident and can help prevent an electric shock.
3.If you have any doubts about the type of electrical DIY you should or shouldn't be doing visit for more advice.
4.Always use a registered electrician. Click here to find one in your local area.
Learn more at #dontdieforDIY or get the professionals in...

Saturday, 25 October 2014

BMW reveals more about electric car customers

WITH 1,000 BMW i3 models finding homes in the UK, BMW has revealed more information about the buyers of its electric cars.

Which make up some of the 10,000 BMW i3 cars registered globally.

Of the 1,000 sold, 60 per cent were the range extender, which on top of the all-electric powertrain, has an on-board petrol-powered generator. The generator can then be fired up when the electric power runs out, to continue any journey and avoid the range anxiety associated with other electric cars.

The remaining 40 per cent was made up of the pure electric version, with BMW believing this will go up over time, once a national charging network is in place.

BMW admits it was surprised at the 80 per cent take up of its bespoke i Wallbox Pure, for charging at home. Plus, a further 50 per cent have taken up the Charge Now ‘Pay as you go’ charging service.
The German car company was also able to give us details of how customers charge their BMW i3.

Obviously, with the popularity of the i Wallbox Pure, most owners charge their cars at home. With public charging seen as a backup.

i3 customers are an inquisitive bunch, apparently asking lots of questions and an in-depth knowledge of the product.

The popularity of BMW’s i electric brand doesn’t stop at the i3, as despite the i8 supercar’s recent introduction, it is sold out until September 2016.


Friday, 24 October 2014

Friday Fact

MI6 once hacked an Al-Qaeda website and replaced instructions on how to make a bomb with a fairy cake recipe.

poetic justice

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Doon n Gloom - Electricity Bills going up!!!

Every now and again I read an article and it takes me three paragraphs of sensationalised bullshit before I even get to the meat of the story.

A report claims that if the Government continues to chase renewable wind power, the average household bill will soar by £1,000, costing homes £26billion by 2030.

The report, submitted to the Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, was authored by the Scientific Alliance.

The push for a greater reliance on wind power has been labelled a 'folly' likely to drastically raise the price of the average electricity bills

The Scientific Alliance said the Government's aims to have 35 per cent of electrical energy generated from renewable sources by 2020 will 'not be achieved in their entirety'.

Sir Donald Miller, the former chairman of Scottish Power, said: 'The blind reliance by successive governments on unreliable, intermittent renewable energy has reduced the margin of safety to a critical level."

Sir Donald Miller, one of the authors of the report, was chairman of Scottish Power from 1982 to 1992

The report, stated the electricity production margin for winter next winter was at an 'all time low' of 2 per cent.

'It has been reported that National Grid are taking emergency measures to increase these margins by contracting with owners of small private standby generators for emergency supplies.

It is not known to what extent this will be helpful, but the costs per KWhr are likely to be high.

By 2020, the supply margins will remain at a 'critical' level due to the planned withdrawal of conventional power generators over the next two years and the inadequate replacement of these with wind farms.

These margins are against the background of no growth in demand and, even so, are likely to result in extended periods of loss of supply over periods of high winter demand.'

Storms can be good! - Wind farms outstrip nuclear power this week...

The UK's wind farms generated more power than its nuclear power stations on Tuesday, the National Grid says.

The energy network operator said it was caused by a combination of high winds and faults in nuclear plants.

Wind farms are causing controversy in rural areas and the government is choking off planning permission for new sites.

But for a 24-hour period yesterday, spinning blades produced more energy than splitting atoms.
Wind made up 14.2% of all generation and nuclear offered 13.2%.

It follows another milestone on Saturday, when wind generated a record amount of power - 6,372 MW, according to National Grid.

This formed nearly 20% of the the UK's electricity, albeit at a time at the weekend when demand is relatively low.

The situation is caused by windy conditions boosting the output from turbines at a time when eight out of the UK's 15 nuclear reactors are offline.

EDF Energy said current ageing reactors are down for a number of reasons:
  1. Sizewell B is in the middle of a planned "statutory outage" for maintenance and refuelling
  2. Hunterston B Reactor 4 is down for maintenance, expected back in early November
  3. At Dungeness B, one unit is being refuelled and the other is expected back online soon after being shut down after a fault on a boiler pump was discovered
  4. The four reactors at Heysham and Hartlepool were taken offline in August after a crack was found on a boiler spine.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Landlord jailed for breaching fire safety regulations

A Leicester landlord has been sentenced to eight months in prison for ignoring fire safety regulations and putting his tenants’ lives at risk.

 Despite having been warned about the safety of his properties, Haresh Rambhai Patel ignored the Council’s advice and was prosecuted after two adjoining properties caught fire in May 2013.  

 The properties were split into 11 separate flats and bedsits. There were no working smoke alarms or emergency lighting in the building. Fire doors were either missing or jammed open. The fire exits were blocked and the fire escape routes were cluttered with combustable obstacles, such as furniture. A fire extinguisher in the hallway had not been inspected for 25 years.

 Tenants at another property owned by Patel had also complained about a lack of fire safety measures.

Patel pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.


Monday, 20 October 2014

The Best energy savings HIDDEN!!! - Almost a third of energy deals are hidden by Switching sites

Switching Energy providers (UK) - If a comparison site asks if you want to switch "today", if yes, it claims all the deals that do not earn commission are filtered out. - Click NO and you will get a better deal!!!!

Five of the UK's biggest price comparison sites have been accused of "hiding" the best energy deals.
The Big Deal website, which also helps consumers find cheaper energy, said the five were behaving unethically.

It said they ask consumers whether they want to switch "today", if yes, it claims all the deals that do not earn commission are filtered out.

The five companies said their websites are transparent, and conform to the regulator's code of practice.

However the regulator, Ofgem, said it was already thinking of updating its code, to give better protection to consumers.

uSwitch, Compare the Market, MoneySuperMarket, Go Compare and are all doing the Dirty on us!!!! time to complain.

It said all five use a mechanism on their site that asks consumers if they want to switch "today" or "now".

By clicking "yes" to that question, all the deals that do not earn the company a commission are filtered out.

Only if a consumer clicks "no" are they shown other deals, which can be cheaper.

Click NO to save money...

Energy efficiency will be the priority for future UK Governments

Over the last decade the UK has used 10% less energy than the previous 10 years, while GDP has returned to its 2004 levels despite the financial crash which wiped 7% off national wealth.

This is impressive as the number of households is 6% higher than 2004 – and is a trend that has been mirrored across the first world.

Experts attribute some of the falls in energy use a raft of households energy efficiency measures such as; better insulation and boilers and incandescent light bulbs – although there is still a long way to go (see panel).

With UK and global energy use set to double in the next 30 years, and UK energy prices set to rise as a result of renewable subsidies, the Government is keen to see households and businesses cut consumption by 50% by 2050.

If you throw into this mix the need for countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by switching to renewable power supplies, then this presents a major headache for policy makers and grid operators.
Here in the North East a world-leading trial aimed at supporting the transition to a smarter renewable electricity system is coming to an end.

Incentives offered during the trial include free electricity on a Saturday and cheaper energy during off-peak periods.

The findings report that on average the customers consumed 3% less energy and reduced their peak consumption by 10%.

Didcot B power station blaze investigated

Firefighters are investigating the cause of a major blaze at Didcot B power station in Oxfordshire.

At its height, 25 fire engines and about 100 firefighters tackled the blaze at the gas-fired station, which broke out at about 20:00 BST on Sunday.

The station was partially shut down, but Energy Secretary Ed Davey said National Grid had assured him that there was no risk to energy supplies.

The fire was later extinguished and there were no injuries.

Dave Bray, the fire service's incident commander, said: "We have extinguished the fire, although there are hot spots that are remaining within the structure.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Saturday, 18 October 2014

How safe if your electric Blanket

As summer draws to an end and the temperature drops and the sudden cold snap, people may be getting their electric blankets out ready for the winter.

Many of these blankets could be an accident waiting to happen, as a faulty or damaged blanket can start an electrical fire.

Last year, over half of the electric blankets that were checked at the council’s safety testing event proved to be faulty.

To ensure you use your electric blanket 1,2,3 safely tips:
  1. Check your electric blanket, plug and cord regularly for all signs of wear and damage.
  2. Do not use if you see scorch marks or exposed elements.
  3. Never use an electric blanket if it is wet, creased or folded.

For further safety advice on electric blankets, please visit Electrical Safety First at and click on ‘Guides and Advice’ where you can download a free leaflet, or telephone on 0870 040 0561.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Upcoming - IET solar PV code of practice

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is perhaps most commonly known as the publisher of the Wiring Regulations, BS7671 or as most people know them, The Regs.

The IET Solar PV code of practice (PV-CoP) will be the first PV-specific document that the IET has released and is due to be issued imminently as a draft for public comment.

Guide to the installation of PV Systems - was published in 2002 and its writing was funded by the government (via the then DTI). mostly called the "DTI Guide", was basically a framework for  various PV grant programmes that were running at the time.

Edition 2 of the DTI Guide was released in 06 and was eventually heavily edited and re-issued as the MCS Guide to the installation of PV systems, in 2012. All three publications have always been key documents to UK solar PV installers because, although only installation guides, following them was required in order for most customers to get the feed-in tariff

The IEC, has been working on a PV installation standard. Unfortunately the process requires international consensus.

If you are familiar with our UK PV guides would find much in IEC TS 62548 pretty familiar and all PV installers should be familiar with the content of 7-712. Both documents need updating and 62548 is at present only a technical specification, not a full standard. Although I am heavily involved in the process, I am not sure how these two documents will evolve.

With the MCS guide out of date in a few parts and with the IEC process running slowly, the IET working together with the BRE National Solar Centre decided that the time was right to provide a solar PV code of practice, similar to other code of practices that the IET publish (eg LED lighting or electric vehicle charging). The following is an extract from the scope of the draft PV-CoP:
This Code of Practice sets out the requirements for the design, specification, installation, commissioning, operation and maintenance of grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed in the UK.

The scope of this Code of Practice covers:
o All parts of a grid-connected solar PV system up to, and including, the connection to the AC mains.
o LV and HV connections and components.
o All scales of application, from small domestic systems to large-scale PV farms.
o Building-mounted, building-integrated and ground-mounted systems.
o Grid-connected systems with battery storage.
o Systems with an open circuit DC voltage of greater than 30VDC and less than 1,500VDC.

This covers a lot  more than a simple 4kw domestic install and addresses much larger systems and also HV connections. With this wider scope, it is likely that it will be used as a key document during the design and development of large-scale PV systems here in the UK - an area not really covered by any standards at the moment. It is also fairly likely it will be adopted by MCS to replace the existing PV guide.

there are a few changes proposed, including:
* Array frame earthing - it is proposed that the PV array frame will now need an earth connection in most circumstances
* Earth fault alarm - new requirements for an earth fault alarm
* String fuses - it is proposed that these will only now be required on one of the active conductors
* PV plug & sockets - it is proposed to ban mating of different manufacturer's/models

Many of the proposed changes are anticipating likely requirements that we can see heading our way from IEC, some are lessons learnt and some simply reflect advances in inverters and arrays

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

What is the National Grid

The National Grid is Britain's transmission system for electricity. In order to get from power stations to homes and businesses around the country, energy passes through the grid's pylons and cables.
It has been operating since 1933, when it first started carrying electricity across the countries and into homes. By 1946, 80% of households were connected to the grid by pre-wired electricity supplies in houses. In the 1950s, construction began on a new "super grid", which included new 42-metre pylons and more than 4,500 new transmission lines.

Today, National Grid plc is the company appointed by Ofgem to manage Britain's grid and the entirely separate network of gas pipelines.

It owns and maintains the high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales. Scotland has its own electricity networks, run by SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) and SP Energy Networks.

The grid is UK-wide, so that if a local power station breaks down, another can supply power to its area.

There are two control centres - one for the northern half of Britain, and the other for the southern half.

Their exact locations are a secret. - for security reasons

It is also linked by interconnectors to France, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland, which means that countries that have a surplus of electricity can send it to ones that are lacking.

Generators are the device at the centre of most power stations that convert mechanical power into electrical power.

In order to be connected to the National Grid, generators have to pay a transmission charge - but the charge varies depending on location.

Those generators that are far from the main centre of demand will be charged more more because it costs more to transport the energy further - maintaining long power lines requires more maintenance.
The further the plant is from London and the South East - the most densely populated areas - the higher the charges.

The aim of the higher fees is to encourage power companies to invest in generation capacity where it's most needed.

But it is not always easy to build plants in the areas with lowest transmission charges

Ironically, getting planning permission for power generation close to densely-populated areas is very difficult, so National Grid is trying to force things one way, where planning policies are trying to force them the other.

Coal burning
Electricity is sent through the National Grid cables at very high voltages - between 132,000 and 400,000. It benefits National Grid to not have to keep investing in reinforcing the high-voltage grid necessary to transport the power long distances. That's why Southern English generators pay reduced charges - and sometimes they even receive payments.

This is unlike most of Europe, where generators pay a flat fee to connect to the rest of the grid.
Longannet, a Fife power station that burns coal to produce electricity for the grid, pays about £40m a year just to be connected to the National Grid purely because of its location. It is relatively far from the centres of highest demand.

Suppliers - energy companies such as Scottish Power - also pay charges to take power from the network and supply it to their customers. According to Ofgem, this accounts for about 4% of a household energy bill.

This year, the UK government is running the first "capacity market auction", where suppliers bid to guarantee electricity generation for the winter of 2018/19.

Things are going to change...

In July, Ofgem said it was going to change the way it calculated what generators pay to use the electricity transmission network. It said: "Analysis indicates the changes will lead to a more efficient system which will benefit customers."

The changes are not due to come into effect until 1 April 2016 - but Ofgem say that their updated methodology will reduce the north and south divide in transmission charges.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Oh look and Electric Astra on Steroids - 2016

Could this be a 200-Mile Pure Electric Car

The Next generation thermostat

Gibbs and Dandy brought in the Nest Thermostat for us to see.
I have to say I am very impressed
Lets face it, most of us just leave the house at one temperature and forget to change it.

What I was most impressed by was the Nest’s ability to learn your ‘life’ and then it programs itself.

The press release says it can lower your heating and cooling bills up to 20%.

Heating makes up over 60% of my energy bill - heating controls have scarcely changed in decades.
It's a broken system. So it got reinventing in a funky way.
My heating bills are pretty typical at £1,400.00 a year, and over 60% of that is heating through the winter. The nest retails at £180 and typically it’s going to cost around all in £250 to get it fitted to your heating system. depending what you need, sometimes you need an extra socket...
60% of my heating = £840. 20% saving £168, so if I fit one now it will have paid for itself in about 1.6 winters = Feb 2016. Mmm that sounds like a plan.
It does some very clever things to save fuel costs but it also has the ability to make you more comfortable. Obviously comfort comes at a cost but if its heating the house only when you are there than it has to save you money
The Thermostat programs itself in about a week. It creates a personalised settings based on the temperature changes you’ve made and continually adapts to your changing life.
After you’ve left the house, the Nest Thermostat senses you've gone and automatically adjusts the temperature to avoid heating or cooling an empty home.
If you want to know if you’re saving energy when you change the temp? The Nest Leaf appears when you turn Nest to a temperature that's energy efficient. It guides you in the right direction.
You can change the temperature from anywhere using your smartphone, tablet or laptop. You can also adjust your schedule and check your Energy History.
Find out more at

Check out the video
Don’t try to find it by typing the address. It’s a different site. Go to the site and change the country...

I am going to buy one. I will tell you how I get on.

  • A programmer, thermostat and frostat in one - Control the heating from one place
  • Auto-Schedule - Learns your schedule in about a week and programmes itself
  • Auto-Away - Automatically turns down the heat when you’re away
  • Remote control - Change the temperature from your mobile, tablet or laptop
  • Energy History and Report - See when the heat was on and track energy use month-to-month
  • True Radiant - Turns on the heat just in time to reach the temperature you want, when you want it

Monday, 13 October 2014

Mmm, Interesting - nanomaterial

nanomaterial introduced into electrical machines

Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland has constructed the world's first prototype electrical motor using carbon nanotube yarn in the motor windings. The new technology may significantly enhance the performance.

Engineers of LUT have constructed the world's first electrical motor applying a textile material; carbon nanotube yarn. The presently most electrically conductive carbon nanotube yarn replaces usual copper wires in the windings. The motor prototype is built by the LUT Electrical Engineering group as a start towards lightweight, efficient electric drives.

The test motor output power is 40 W, it rotates at 15000 rpm, and has almost a 70 % efficiency. In the near future, carbon nanotube fibers have potential to significantly enhance the performance and energy efficiency of electrical machines. The new technology may revolutionize the whole industry.

Researchers are constantly searching for opportunities to upgrade the performance of electrical machines; to this end, one of the objectives is to find higher-conductivity wires for the windings. The best carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have demonstrated conductivities far beyond those of the best metals. Thus, future windings made of CNTs may have a double conductivity compared with the present-day copper windings. In order to make CNTs easy to manipulate, they are spun to form multifiber yarn.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

One third of electric blankets tested unsafe

Its a little bit worrying isn't it?

A SAFETY initiative has found that one third of electric blankets tested in Darlington were unsafe to use.

Age UK Darlington teamed up with the council’s trading standards team to hold a two-day testing event at the charity’s Bradbury House base on Beaumont Street.

More than 90 electric blankets were tested and 30 were deemed unsafe – a failure rate of 33 per cent.
The faulty blankets were taken out of circulation and their owners offered a free replacement blanket.
The figures compare well with last year’s when, out of 80 blankets tested, 34 failed - a failure rate of 43 per cent.

Councillor Chris McEwan, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: “Despite testing being run for several years now we still find a large number of blankets failing each year.

“This free testing is invaluable and saves lives as many people do not consider the potential dangers of using an electric blanket, especially an old or damaged one.”

Electrical related fires account for almost half of the accidental domestic fires in the UK.
Since 2003, a total of 1,398 electric blankets have been tested as part of the Darlington campaign with 546 unsafe blankets in use by residents found to be unsafe and removed from circulation.
. .
Officers from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service also support the campaign and are onhand to offer free fire safety advice to residents who take their blankets for testing.

Get your checked

Saturday, 11 October 2014

I quite like this, but I won't be getting one...

French electric car producer Venturi used the Paris Motor Show to highlight its new America sports buggy as part of it s EV technology ambitions. Having morphed from a little known French supercar maker into a zero emissions (depending on how you charge it) start-up at the turn of the century, it now produces bespoke electric sports cars.

The latest of which is the America. Making its debut at the Paris show, this all-electric buggy has the look of a jacked-up Lotus Elise crossover – but with a 400bhp electric motor driving through the rear wheels, it promises to deliver serious performance.

With just 25 likely to be produced, the America costs £290,000.  OUCH

Found here

Friday, 10 October 2014

Friday Fact

Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, felt his literature professor at Harvard was giving him unfair grades. To prove it, he turned in a paper by George Orwell and received a B-.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Regs are changing - Is this the end of the Plastic fuse box?

 IET updates wiring regulations

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is to launch its Wiring Regulations BS 7671:2008 incorporating Amendment No. 3:2015 on 5 January 2015

The amended regulations, which sets out the national standard for which all new and amended electrical installations are to comply, will feature a number of new changes to the electrical condition report section, new requirements for mobile and transportable electrical units and changes for the installation of luminaires and light fittings – bringing them in line with the latest international and European standards. 

In addition, the latest regulations will also include the new Regulation 421.1.200. This requires that within domestic premises, consumer units and similar switchgear assemblies shall comply with BS EN 61439-3 and shall have their enclosure manufactured from non-combustible material, or enclosed in a cabinet or enclosure constructed of non-combustible materials and complying with Regulation 132.12.

Is this the end of the Plastic fuse box?

The IET says this has been developed to safeguard against the risk of fire that can be produced from the overheating of connections in consumer units.


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Solar Power could Become World’s Greatest Electrical Source By 2050

Barring a Meteor strike we have about 500 million years left to enjoy the sun's energy source before it supernova. until then the sun's rays could provide the world with its greatest electrical source by the middle of the century.

A report shows solar energy could be the top source of electricity in the world by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could generate 16 percent of the world's electricity and another 11 percent from solar thermal electricity (STE)  

Solar energy will supply more electricity than fossil fuels, wind, hydro or nuclear energy sources by 2050. The shared responsibility of powering the Earth could help stabilize costs for generating electricity in the long term, according to the IEA.

The cost decrease of photovoltaic modules and systems in the last few years has opened new perspectives for using solar energy as a major source of electricity in the coming years

Achieving the 2050 prediction will depend on technology improvement and policy actions.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

An additional £100 million for household energy efficiency

More people will be able to enjoy warmer homes and more control of their energy bills as a result of an additional £100 million announced today for household energy efficiency.

More people will be able to enjoy warmer homes and more control of their energy bills as a result of an additional £100 million announced today for household energy efficiency.
Applications for a new phase of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, designed to help people make energy saving improvements to their home, will open to households before the end of November.

Further details including terms and conditions, rates and all measures to be covered will be announced in November.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said:
“More money means more people can live in warmer, greener homes sooner.

“Green Deal Home Improvement Fund vouchers went like hot cakes earlier in the year and now even more people can cut their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.”

Energy and Climate Change Minister Amber Rudd said:
“We’ve already taken £50 off energy bills but we know that the best way for households to cut their bills is to use less energy.

“Over three quarters of a million homes have already had energy saving improvements installed as a result of the Energy Company Obligation and Green Deal schemes and it makes sense to help even more families install measures so that they see the benefits of lower bills and a warmer home for years to come.”

The £100 million announced today is in addition to the £450 million allocated to household energy efficiency over three years, which was announced in December 2013.

Lets see!

The Electric Family Car That Goes 500 Miles on a Charge and Is Powered by Sunshine

Check it out

Monday, 6 October 2014

All our Domestic Work is covered by the NIC EIC Householder Platinum Promise.

NIC EIC Platinum Promise

Platinum Promise is NIC EIC commitment to making sure that installation work is safe and meets the required regulations.

The Platinum Promise will protect you.

Our Promise is you wont need the Platinum Promise we will support you to make sure your installation work is right.
The NIC EIC Platinum Promise is just a little extra assurance that makes sure the work is done right.
Platinum Promise can only help with complaints if:
•The work has been fully completed within the last six years

Vince Cable plans pay rise for apprentices

Business Secretary Vince Cable is to announce plans to give the lowest-paid apprentices a £1.06 an hour pay rise.

The move is backed by the Conservatives and could come into effect next October, if cleared by regulators.

Liberal Democrat Mr Cable will unveil the plan at his party's annual conference in Glasgow later.
He is also expected to defend the benefits of immigration, saying his party has a responsibility to be the voice of "sanity" on the issue.

He will also use his speech to activists to launch a fierce attack on the Conservatives over their proposed benefit freeze.
'Extravagant' language

Mr Cable is writing to the Low Pay Commission recommending that the apprentice rate of the minimum wage and the 16/17-year-old rate are combined.

Most apprentices already earn more than the minimum wage but about 31,000 people are expected to benefit from the move, with their hourly rate going up from £2.73 to £3.79.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Energy firms are just 'too slow' to resolve complaints

Customers with complaints about their gas or electricity service typically have to contact their supplier six times before their issue is resolved.

Regulator Ofgem said this was too many and has written to energy company bosses telling them they must improve.

The details come from a report for Ofgem which found that 57% of domestic customers who had complained were not satisfied with the response.

Companies must be speedier, communicate better and be more proactive, it said.

Ofgem's chief executive Dermot Nolan said the results of its research were "frankly awful".

He has written to the companies giving them a three-month deadline to carry out an independent audit of their complaint handling process.

Satisfaction with Npower and Scottish Power was particularly low, the regulator said.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

New tech is changing disaster relief

When the British government delivered emergency aid to people fleeing Islamic militants in northern Iraq last month, one of its primary concerns was how the refugees might charge their mobile phones.

Alongside tents and drinking water, RAF planes dropped more than 1,000 solar-powered lanterns attached to chargers for all types of mobile handsets to the stranded members of the Yazidi religious community below.

It is the first time the lanterns have been airdropped in such a relief effort, but humanitarian workers say it is part of growing efforts to develop technology designed to make a difference in disaster zones.

In 2010, Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen, a computer systems researcher at Flinders University in Australia, was driving to work in his car when he first heard radio reports of the devastation of the Haiti earthquake, more than 10,000 miles away.

With roads blocked, infrastructure reduced to rubble and mobile networks down, he realised something needed to be done, and quickly.

"You typically have about three days to restore the communications before the bad people realise the good people aren't in control any more," he says.

His solution was to develop the technology that allows mobile phones to communicate directly with each other even where there is no network coverage, or when mobile masts have been knocked out of action - a system known as "mesh networking".

His Serval Project work means users can send text messages, make calls and send files to other users nearby, creating a mobile network through a web of users.

It is just one example of the dozens of technologies developed in the wake of Haiti to help relief efforts in disaster zones.

Another project born out of the Haiti disaster was the Trilogy Emergency Relief Application (Tera), a mass text messaging programme now being rolled out by the Red Cross in 40 countries around the world.

Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen is part of a growing band of researchers working on technological solutions for disaster relief efforts

It allows aid workers to navigate a disaster-hit country from a computer screen, identify all the mobile phones being used in a given area, and blast them all with urgent 140-character updates with a click of a button.

It was first developed in Haiti with the help of local mobile network operators, allowing messages with advice on water sanitation and medical aid to be distributed to millions of people across the Caribbean country.

"I don't know of any other means of communication where you could reach that many people, that quickly and that directly," says Sharon Reader, a communications adviser for the International Red Cross currently working on setting up the Tera system in east Africa.

"It's not like the radio when someone has to be switched on and listening. It's a buzz in their pocket and they're going to be able to see that information immediately."

She says the sheer volume of mobile phones now sold in developing countries makes text messaging the ideal way to communicate.

Global mobile subscriptions are expected to reach seven billion this year according to the UN, with developing countries in Africa and Asia seeing the fastest growth.

The Tera project also allows disaster victims to send messages back to aid agencies, telling them where they are and what they most urgently need.

That makes it similar to other recently developed applications designed to harvest the huge volumes of information generated in the immediate aftermath of a sudden-onset disaster, like a war or earthquake.

The Ushahidi project was used in Haiti to crowd source information from the Haitain population, using social media sources like Twitter and Facebook alongside text messages, with information visualised on an online map for humanitarian agencies to use.

"There has been a huge shift in the aid world in seeing people who are affected by a crisis not as victims but as people who have the capacity to look after themselves."
that's what I call thinking outside the BOX...

Chris Tipping is September Employee of the Month

Well Done Chris. Chris won by a landslide getting 5 votes.

The most votes we have had all year. 

Some of the best comments were “Stepping up to do the Stock” & “Taking the responsibility of the Stores while DR was on holiday”.

It wasn’t all about the stock job and we were impressed that an engineer said “MASSIVE IMPROVEMENT from last time working, more interested + improved in work!"

Friday, 3 October 2014

Friday Fact

Students at the John Hopkins University collaboratively decided to opt out of their final since the professor set his curve based on the highest score grading it as 100%.

They chose to receive a score of zero, making it the highest grade and thereby getting 100%.


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Chin strap makes electricity from chewing

Engineers in Canada have built a chin strap that harnesses energy from chewing and turns it into electricity.

They say the device could one day take the place of batteries in hearing aids, earpieces and other small gadgets.

Made from a "smart" material that becomes electrically charged when stretched, the prototype needs to be made 20 times more efficient in order to generate useful amounts of power.

The researchers claim they can achieve this by adding layers of the material.

Their work appears in the Institute of Physics journal Smart Materials and Structures.