How I Became A Green Bore

It happens, when you turn your heating over to solid fuel in a smokeless area you find yourself on a steep learning curve from buying the wrong oven to buying the right fire. 


A few years back we decided we wanted to be as green and as self-sufficient or sustainable as we could. It was a decision not born through some holy-than-thou-jump-on-the-band-wagon-and-see-what-sticks mentality but through sound reasoning. Gas will not last forever and with the imminent closures of coal power stations, gas will be under more pressure to power our stations and our homes. Import costs are spiralling and there is a predicted shortfall by 2015 in what we use and in what we import. Which means gas prices will rise and there could be a slim chance that we will all return to the 1970s and experience brown outs. For those of you who avoided the 70s and 80s, this means your lights will dim and in some cases you may lose power altogether. 

Back in 2010, Carol and I saw this coming. It wasn't a smug, self satisfying pat on the back realisation but one discovered via the escalating electric bills from our then current provider, Eon. We were caught in a vicious circle with them as our heating was Economy 7 and they were the only providers who could and would take on our antiquated meter system. Even though our meters were digital and we had two, we didn't have one electric provider account, we had two. The day that second meter came out was wonderful and we can now skip around finding any supplier we want. However, even then we decided we would be green, we would be responsible and we opted to go with Ecotricity (if you go with our referral, quote RAFR-2AH67 and we will both receive an incentive!). For the record they are the most polite, interesting and helpful provider we have ever had. They are not pushy, they genuinely want to make the UK a greener place. 

In our own way, we too wanted to make our corner a greener place. So, we were recommended by DEFRA the Broseley Thermo Suprema Range Cooker to heat our home, heat our water and cook our food. This was a big mistake, never have I experienced so poor a customer care regime as Broseley have. They recommend engineers to fit their systems but seem to have little or no care whether those engineers are up to date and qualified in the technology they are asking them to fit (in this case SCWS technology). A job that was supposed to last for 1 week has run into 12 months and we are still chasing the engineers to do a job that Broseley confirmed that they could do (our engineers try to tell us they were doing the best they could by 'muddling through'). My advice is avoid Broseley, I don't blame the engineers but I do blame Broseley and their man who signed off a system that has in the last 12 months baffled every HETAS engineer that has come to fix it. Sometimes new technology is just an excuse not to do the job correctly and Broseley have done nothing to help us. They left us cold for one winter, with a toddler and with temperatures plummeting below -10c. Their response was they were not responsible for engineers they recommend. It looks like they to leave us for another winter rather than face up to their responsibilities. I have heard green horror stories from many quarters, from heating pumps that don't work to solar panels that have been fitted onto roofs on the verge of collapse. Unfortunately, the green deal will have more and more charlatans enter the industry and my advice is to sit down and be a bore and question them. If you're not happy, show them the door. If I was to do it all again, it would be a reconditioned Rayburn. But, there's the rub, we spent our savings on this system and it could be another decade before we could do this. These systems are not cheap and therefore those who fit them should have a higher level of responsibility to their customer. In my opinion Broseley have never done this for us.

However, at the other end of the scale, the same engineers fitted our Burley Stove. Here they knew what they were doing but then again they didn't subcontract this part out. That came as a big surprise and with the oven we are on our fifth subcontracted engineer who scratches his head. The last one knew his stuff and then vanished, never to be seen again. That aside, my opinion of Burley is that it is a great stove, easy to light, and easy to run and if I did it all again I would ditch the Broseley Range Cooker in favour of two Burleys, one for upstairs and downstairs. Utilising heat exchange technology (also know as vents) to move the hot air around the house. That unfortunately is what DEFRA has given us, rather than a greener world, they have given us hot air and have recommended new untried technology to the masses rather than build on a legacy of solid fuel heating and air heating we've used in the past but at £50K (this is what we were told by the rep from Broseley) a pop to have them approved by DEFRA, not many companies can fork this out. It is a real shame that we institutionalise greed rather than good green policies. My opinion is that Broseley do put money over their customers, they have done nothing to show us otherwise other than to tell us to go back to the engineers, who then go to Broseley, who then ignore us all. At least with their heads buried in the sand, they will be warm this winter.

A qualified engineer recommended by Broseley eventually identified problems with the pump and lack of sealant in the system. SCWS need water tight pipes unlike an unvented system. The system has run well since then.

Here is our complete story over the last twelve months (we shouldn't have had to have blogged so much about this when the mistake was so simple to rectify):
How I Became A Green Bore: Lighting the Way (November 2012)
How I Became A Green Bore (October 2012)
The End is Nigh (March 2012)
The End is Nigh, Again (March 2012)
Snowed Under (February 2012)
Problems with the Broseley Continued (February 2012)
The Snows are Here (January 2012)
Broseley Pressure Rising (December 2011)
Broseley Thermo Suprema Pressure Problems (December 2011)
Broseley Help Us (December 2011)
Problems With Our Broseley Thermo Suprema (December 2011)
Solid Fuel - Does it Work? (November 2011)
Solid Fuel and Biomass (November 2011)
New Winter, New Heating System (October 2011)
Living with the enemy (September 2011)

Please note that this post is our own personal opinion.