It has not been a good week. Long before the current energy crisis (or panic), there had been acceptance in our household that a 23-year-old gas boiler was not the best way to engage with reducing our consumption of fossil fuels. Spurred on by mockery from greener friends and family, we decided to change our wasteful ways.
Thirty-plus years ago, we bought a heat pump for £1,000 (we had been left a wee legacy and felt flush) to warm an outdoor swimming pool in our Hertfordshire garden. Operating like a fridge in reverse, it had worked reasonably well so we sought a similar product for our current house. A £13,000 quotation left us less than enthusiastic. The installer made it plain, gently, that at our age the savings might not come quick enough to be of real benefit.
Solar panels should do the trick though. Er... no. The attractive black tiles on our roof are either not strong enough or in some other definite way not suitable for panels to be fitted. The big change to hydrogen boilers is not going to happen in our lifetime. As an expert explained, 'at your age, the best and simplest solution would be to replace your boiler'. Regretfully, we had to concur but became happier when an online advertisement confidently proclaimed that we were entitled to 'a £500 government grant under the Boiler Scrappage Scheme'.
Over the years, we have learned that not all internet promises are to be trusted but this seemed pukka. We entered our details and were told an engineer would call the next morning. And call he did. A two-minute look at the old boiler was followed by a two-hour sales presentation involving laptop screen, sealed jars full of iron filings sticking and unsticking to a magnet, and a final price quotation that promised us a boiler at four times the manufacturer's list price.
Gas boilers are many things but they are not rocket science. Manufacturers have websites and price lists. The two best rated manufacturers also give you a 10-year parts and labour guarantee, provided the boiler has an annual service. (If you buy from British Gas, the guarantee is for five years but that is another story.) This suggests that they are pretty confident not a lot is going to go wrong.
Our engineer/salesman, however, was not so sure. We needed a vastly expensive system clean plus an additional expensive filtering system to keep things in tip top order. Over a 10-year period, however, we would make substantial savings. And the Boiler Scrappage Scheme? 'We don't bother with that', said he, heading for his car.
Twenty minutes later, another internet research revealed that the Boiler Scrappage Scheme is not available where we live or anywhere else we could find. A closer inspection of the advertisement that had lured us in showed it was placed by a company who merely sought customers for clients. We had been suckers.
So now we have to face the final facts. Despite our heartfelt desire to be green and good, we will buy an ordinary gas fired boiler. On the plus side, however, the current energy panic could extend to power cuts in the months ahead leading to enforced reduction in our gas consumption. So that's all right then. We think…
Once again, I find myself in surprisingly strong agreement with Gerry Hassan
, who recently wrote a paragraph (below) that confirms my view: the leading Scottish political party is not worthy of support. As he wrote: 'The SNP have in recent years become a court party, defined and run by a narrow insider class of people who have known each other for decades. It is this way of doing politics and government which came asunder in the Salmond affair… This is the same kind of politics which produced the hubris and tragedy of Blair and New Labour, the illegal invasion of Iraq and the 20-year "war on terror". It is a politics prone to excess, over-reach and misjudgement'.
B L Cohen
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