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Posts Tagged ‘insulation’

Windows Win

The window men have been to the Vicarage today. And not just for measuring up (as has been the case over the last four years). They haven’t given us double glazing everywhere, alas, but there are now cosy new windows in the attic. Our ministry trainees no longer have broken panes and drafty sashes, and 170 yearsworth of dust has been dislodged over the upstairs rooms, into the garden and over the window men. There are still a couple of windows to go upstairs, and another contract for the remaining ones in the rest of the house, but for now we (and especially the attic dwellers) are extremely happy to have some added insulation in the Baltic top floor.

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We had our Quinquennial last Wednesday. Oh the joys of being Anglican and living in the world of archdeacons, Septuagesima and antidisestablishmentarianism.  But thankfully a Quinquennial is not as complex as any of these: is just a five year anniversary. And it’s the shorthand for a five yearly inspection of church property. In this case it was of the Vicarage. It’s the diocese’s way of ensuring that essential maintenance is done on crumbling Vicarages at regular intervals.

So we had a visit from our excellent diocesan architect and he went round making a note of the broken door handles and peeling external paint. He gave us the good news of the four year double glazing programme to which have now been added. Meaning that we should get double glazing in about a year’s time. So we’ve another year of pretty iced window photos to come. And he admired our wood burning stoves and wrote a long list of works. These then have to be quoted against, go up to a diocesan committee and then get commissioned. My vicar’s wife friend, Snap, who lives in a different diocese, says her work, already identified, won’t be started on until September. The joys of ministry. But at least it’s in the pipeline.

Us soon! I hope.

As the architect left, a surveyor for the insulation company commissioned by WarmZone arrived. He went round our cold bits and has promised loft and cavity wall insulation before Easter. So although we’ll not have the double glazing, we should be properly insulated next winter. After our visit from Seema the other week, we were under the impression that we’d get this work done for a bargain £49.

But it seems things are turning out even better for us – npower are now funding the project completely for all payers of council tax in Sandwell. So if you live near me you can get this help for nothing. Gratis. Wonderful.

But not if you’re my friend Tink. She applied for help from WarmZone, but her private landlord has declined to have anything done. She tells me that although they offered the loft and cavity wall insulation for free, because they declined to provide a free boiler as well, her landlord decided not to have any work at all.

In the meantime, Tink continues to pay higher bills for energy than all her neighbours, living in council owned property in the same terrace. And there’s nothing she can do about it apart from continue to bid for a council house, just as she’s been doing for the last two years. Sometimes I have reason to be thankful for the Church of England.

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The Vicar's study has been 10°C today. Brrr.

Before Christmas, we had a nasty shock from our power supplier, e.on. They wanted to raise our monthly direct debit for gas and electricity by nearly 85%. Although our usage has gone up a bit in the cold weather, we were still in credit with them.

The Vicar had some long discussions with their customer services department, both on the phone and by email, but to no avail. They’ve estimated our usage for the next few months based on the records from when we didn’t live here and the decorators were in, heating the house 24/7.

Although we think they’ve made a bad call, we have to go along with it. It will cause a bit of cash flow trouble in the next couple of months, but once we’ve proved that they’ve made a mistake, it should even out.

The upside of all this irritation is that we went online and switched our tariff, saving another 8% on the charges. The other upside is that the Vicar contacted the diocese about sorting out some loft insulation and they put us onto the excellent Warm Zone team.

Warm Zone is an EU funded initiative operating in selected areas, including ours. They provide advice and can also help out with insulation and other kit if you fall into the fuel poverty bracket, which we do now, since a Vicar’s salary is not what you’d usually have if you lived in a house this size.

So this morning we had a visit from Seema, from Sandwell Warm Zone. She came armed with goodies, including a fancy plug to turn off printers when the computer is switched off, a timer switch, an eco kettle and some low energy light bulbs. Most importantly, she brought an energy sensor, which she’s lent us for the next few weeks. It monitors electricity usage so you can see the power used by each appliance in the house as it’s switched on. I’m a little scared about what it’s going to reveal, but it will be useful.

And we’re on the list for loft insulation and possibly cavity wall insulation in the modern extension part of the house. There’s a bit of a waiting list, so we’re not sure when that will happen. As we’re not in the lowest income bracket, we’re going to have to pay for their services. But only £49. We’re hoping that will make a big difference, especially to Happy, the Vicar’s Apprentice, whose room is in the uninsulated attic. It’s so cold up there at the moment that we’ve taken pity on him and brought him down to sleep in the spare bedroom a floor below.

So if you’re in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Devon, Gateshead, Hull, Kirklees, London, Newcastle, North Staffordshire, North Tyneside, Northumberland, Nottingham, Sandwell, South Tyneside or Swindon, give them a call. It won’t do any harm and you could find yourself cheaply warmer.

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