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Monday, 30 July 2007

Be Kind to the Planet (and your Pocket)

While reviewing the energy usage both at work and at home I did some research on the subject of hot water and central heating. I found that although our boiler at home was only 12 years old it was rated as a G on the modern scale, where A is the most efficient 95-98% and G the least efficient 20-30%.

This prompted me to look deeper into the subject. A normal boiler where the oil, or gas in our case, heats the water and transfers it to a storage tank is the most inefficient method of all; the losses are great even with a fully lagged cylinder.
A combi boiler is one where the water is heated on demand and is 60% more efficient than the indirect method. A combi condensing boiler is one where water is heated on demand and the hot exhaust gas normally vented to the air is used to heat a secondary coil; this extracted heat is then used to heat water. In addition exhaust gas emission is drastically reduced.

I decided on this combi condensing boiler as the one of choice. It is A-rated and heats the water as and when I need it. In addition it has a preheat facility that is turned off in summer that keeps a small reservoir of water hot so that there is no delay in obtaining hot water. The system also provided central heating.

I am assured that my gas bill will be drastically reduced as the change to a combi boiler will save 60% and then the condensing boiler will save a further 80% of the remainder.

At this rate my gas supplier should be paying me! but I believe I am in for a pleasant surprise when my next bill is due and I have the satisfaction that my CO2, CO and NOx emissions are much reduced.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Spam and Computer Security

Spam, or unwanted email, is often seen as a nuisance rather than a threat but the reverse can be the case. Spam can fill your inbox rapidly, tie up your servers and desktops processing needless data and sometimes the spam carries un unwanted payload of Trojans or viruses.

There are many anti-spam programmes available and while these can cut down the amount of spam received they cannot stop it altogether. Any system that will block 100% of spam will also block good email so there is a trade off to be considered.
Anti-spam systems should always be accompanied by good anti virus measures. These anti spam and anti virus programmes also nee to be kept up to date, otherwise they soon become relatively useless.

The one thing you should never do is to respond, even in anger, to spam; to do so will result in even more spam because responding simply proves that your email address exists and will certainly be sold on to another spammer.

Eventually Governments will act against spammers but until that happens the byword is vigilance.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Green Living

I recently took delivery of my new car, a Honda Civic Hybrid, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it drove like a 2ltr car but in reality only had a 1300 cc engine.

For the uninitiated a hybrid car has a small engine and an electric motor in series. The gearbox is a CVT (continuously variable transmission) so no automatic gear changes are perceptible. In normal motoring the car uses the small engine; when you need more power, the electric motor assists the engine and conversely when less power is needed the car charges the batteries, equally when braking the energy is directed to the batteries as well.

The one feature which was initially unsettling was that the engine stops when at a standstill with the footbrake applied. Releasing the footbrake starts the engine again.

The dashboard has an additional dial which indicates the state of charge of the batteries and an indication of assist (using the stored power from the batteries) or charge (putting power back into the batteries.

Questions

Do the batteries need recharging?
No, they are automatically charged when the car is used.

Do the batteries make the boot very small?
No, the 150 volt batteries sit behind the rear seat so the boot is a normal size.

What MPG is available?
The car is new so 50 MPG is what I am getting now, but I am assured that this will increase as the car loosens up, although the published top MPG of 65+ I think is unrealistic.

What are the other advantages?
Exempt from the London Congestion charge, £18 road tax and low CO2 emissions.

Is the car reliable?
Honda comes top in the car reliability stakes.

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