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  HARINGEY
by Robert Kyriakides
 
 
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Solar thermal systems are practical things. They provide free hot water that helps people in a real way in their daily lives. I feel it important to get out and see our installations and talk to some of the end users. Do they understand what we are doing? Do they want what we have done?

Generally I find the end users to be very well informed on issues such as global warming and very keen to do their bit. Each of our domestic systems save nearly a ton of carbon dioxide a year - some of them save more - and people want these savings to be made.

A few weeks ago I visited some work in progress at the Hornsey Park Repair Scheme in the London Borough of Haringey. Haringey were addressing Agenda
21 by (amongst other things) installing our solar thermal systems on some of their housing stock. Their houses on which we were installing our panels were small-roofed so we decided to install evacuated panels where the heat
losses by conduction and convection are minimised, compared with insulated panels.

The roofs were covered in slate tiles. Fixing a panel on a slate roof is different from fixing one on a tiled roof. Tiles are relatively easy to move and replace
but slates are pinned to the roof timbers and should not be disturbed if possible. When we saw that the job involved slate roofs we designed a special fixing method so that we could firmly establish the panels on the roof without lifting slates.

The nice thing about fixing panels on slate roofs is the aesthetics. Tiled roofs tend to be red, but slate roofs are dark grey. The most visible part of the installation is the absorber plate or "blackbody" of the panel. This has to be a very dark blue in order to absorb as much light as possible. I was pleased when I saw that the overall effect of the panel on a slate roof was not intrusive but was aesthetically acceptable.

The house I visited needed its hot water cylinder replaced. The old cylinder was standing forlornly in the front garden, awaiting collection. It was small and thin, like a tiny torpedo. It had no insulation. It must have been very expensive to heat up and would have lost huge amounts of heat.

I met the woman who occupied the house and discussed the installation with her. She was a cheerful lady, of Armenian origin, who was very interested in what we were doing. We discussed how she could get the best use of her new solar system, what were the best times of the day to do her washing. She complained about how expensive her hot water was, getting quite animated about the cost. She was pleased that she would get around 70% of her water free, in future.

"They charge too much money for gas", she told me. We continued our discussions and I thought her a satisfied customer. Strictly speaking the London Borough of Haringey are our customers but we have to satisfy not only them but also their householders.

I asked her if she had any complaints.

"Oh, yes, " she replied, "I got a complaint."

My heart sank. It is never easy working in someone's home and although I knew that our engineer was a sensitive thoughtful person, perhaps he had cut off her water for longer than he promised, or done any of the many things that can be done inadvertently to upset a family when you are working in their home.

"My complaint is this, " she explained, looking me straight in the eye. "My complaint is, how come my friends across the road aren't getting this solar? They want it too. Another thing, how come the people in Muswell Hill don't get solar?"

I could have kissed her.
 
     
  enquiries@thermosolar.co.uk
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