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Wales and West Utilities

Utility company urges young people to be ‘CO Aware’

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Wales & West Utilities is using this year’s Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week to launch a campaign that encourages young people to understand the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) and the steps they can take to stay safe this winter.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week runs from 22-28 November and is organised by the All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG). It aims to raise awareness and help consumers and the public to wise up to carbon monoxide.

As part of the campaign, Wales & West Utilities is specifically targeting 16–25-year-olds, with a simple message – Stay safe from CO or it could be ‘Game Over’.

Carbon monoxide is the silent killer: a poisonous gas that you can’t smell, can’t taste, can’t see or hear. It is produced when any fossil fuel like coal, wood, oil or natural gas doesn’t burn properly.

Breathing it in can make you unwell, and it can kill you if you’re exposed to high levels.  The gas is also associated with a range of health complications, including low birth weight in babies, brain damage and heart disease.

Carbon monoxide poisoning kills 50 people a year in England & Wales and hospitalises many more. In the UK, there are more than 4,000 visits to Accident and & Emergency for treatment of CO poisoning – which can often lead to lasting neurological damage.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, tiredness, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, shortness of breath and, in extreme cases, loss of consciousness.

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To stay safe Wales & West Utilities is urging people to:

  • Know the symptoms.
  • Get yourself an audible carbon monoxide alarm.
  • Make sure you get your gas appliances serviced annually – that includes gas boilers, gas cookers and gas water heaters.
  • In a medical emergency, don’t delay, call 999 immediately.

Clive Book, Head of Emergency Services at Wales & West Utilities, explains: “Young people aged 16-25 are often leaving their family home for the first time: going to university, setting up their own home or starting a family. Research shows they are less likely than other age groups to have an audible carbon monoxide alarm, and few realise the importance of having their gas appliances regularly serviced.  

“We do everything we can to raise awareness of the deathly dangers of carbon monoxide – the ‘silent killer’. 

“We urge everyone to stay gas safe by getting an audible carbon monoxide alarm and be sure to get all gas appliances serviced annually including gas boilers, cookers and water heaters…. or it could be Game Over.” 

You can find out more about Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week on Twitter using the hashtag #COAW21.

Barry Sheerman MP, Co-Chair of APCOG said: “I am urging everyone to understand the dangers posed by carbon monoxide. Each year in November, Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week is held to raise awareness of what you can do to stay safe and protect your family. Number one is getting your appliances serviced and investing in a carbon monoxide alarm. But if that’s not affordable for you, there are still simple things you can do to stay safe. Learn the signs that carbon monoxide could be around and save the Gas Emergency Service number 0800 111 999 on to your phone today – it could save a life!”

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Calor

Calls for hybrid heating to play central role

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A diverse group of energy companies is calling for the UK to put hybrid heating systems at the centre of its strategy to decarbonise home heating.

Hybrid Heating Great Britain, made up of energy networks, suppliers and appliance manufacturers, is calling for hybrid heating systems – which combine gas and electricity and can be easily retrofitted to existing homes – to be used as a comprehensive solution to decarbonising home heating in the UK.  

The call comes as Hybrid Heating Great Britain launches its Vision and Action Paper, building on the UK Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy, detailing a plan for transitioning to low carbon heating.

Hybrid heating systems can include a natural gas, hydrogen, oil, LPG or bioLPG boiler and an electric air source heat pump, alongside smart control software. The system, fitted directly into customers’ homes, can flexibly switch between using renewable electricity, when it’s available, and green gas at other times – enabling the full decarbonisation of heat with switching driven by cost and carbon.

Hybrid heating systems offer an affordable and practical way to decarbonise home heating, where it is unaffordable or impractical to retrofit a full heat pump system. Research suggests that almost 50% of UK properties are not suitable for standalone heat pumps due to their thermal properties and other limitations. Hybrid heating systems offer a less disruptive heat decarbonisation for energy consumers, avoiding the need for a deep and potentially costly house retrofit with solid or cavity wall insulation and under floor insultation. This means they can be fitted quickly – potentially within a day – compared to standalone electric air source heat pump, which could take multiple weeks.

They are also an important source of grid flexibility. Hybrid heating systems can reduce the impact of heat decarbonisation on peak power demand by up to 40% because the boiler can be switched on at times of the highest heat demand. This provides important flexibility to the electricity network and could save up to £15.4bn a year of network reinforcement that would be costly and disruptive to communities.

Gas network for Wales and south west England, Wales & West Utilities, are part of Hybrid Heating GB. Their Head of Net Zero & Sustainability, Matt Hindle, said:  “The Heat and Buildings Strategy acknowledged that hybrids could play a transitional role in the 2020s and 2030s but contained no targets for their manufacture or installations or manufacture. Hybrid heating systems have benefits to offer both on and off gas grid consumers and the broader energy system and this paper puts forward clear recommendations for key stakeholders including policymakers, energy suppliers, network operators, and equipment providers.

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“The 2020s must be a decade of delivery and we’d urge Government and policymakers to include hybrids in incentives and support schemes like the Clean Heat Grant and encourage installations of hybrids to help towards achieving the 600,000 heat pumps per year target.”

Calor is also part of Hybrid Heating GB and Andy Parker, Calor’s Head of Strategy and Corporate Affairs, said: “Hybrid heat pumps are urgently needed to help rural homes off the gas grid, particularly the many old and poorly insulated rural homes, where the cost of whole house energy efficiency retrofit necessary for standalone heat pumps is disruptive, technically challenging and very expensive. Hybrids combined with Calor’s green gas BioLPG offer an available and long-term net zero compatible heating solution for many rural homes.”

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Business

Welsh company wins coveted safety award

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Gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities, has been recognised for the eighth consecutive year by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

The company has received its eighth gold award in recognition of its outstanding and exemplary health and safety record, whilst it has also been highly commended in the Oil & Gas Industry Sector.

Wales & West Utilities is the company that look after the pipes that keep the gas flowing to heat the homes and power businesses of 7.5m people across Wales and south west England. They operate the gas emergency service, connect new homes and businesses, and upgrade the gas network so it’s safe today and ready to transport green gases like hydrogen and biomethane.

Graham Edwards, Wales & West Utilities Chief Executive said: “We’re delighted to receive this prestigious award from our peers at RoSPA, recognising our world leading safety record. The awards are highly regarded in the health and safety field and our success is a testament to the continued hard work and commitment of our colleagues.

“Health and safety is at the heart of everything we do. From responding to gas emergencies and supporting the most vulnerable, to making sure young people know all about the dangers posed by carbon monoxide, the safety of our colleagues and the communities we serve is a top priority for us.

“Now, more than ever, we are committed to do everything we can to keep people right across Wales and south west England safe and warm, with a gas supply they can rely on and level of service they can trust.”

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Julia Small, RoSPA’s achievements director said: “RoSPA’s mission to save lives and reduce injuries covers all ages and stages of life. The RoSPA Awards recognise commitment to continuous improvement in accident and ill health prevention at work. Organisations receiving a RoSPA Award are recognised as being world-leaders in health and safety practice. Every year, nearly 2,000 entrants vie to achieve the highest possible accolade in what is the UK’s longest-running H&S industry awards.

“The RoSPA Award scheme is the longest running of its kind in the UK, but it receives entries from organisations across the globe, making it one of the most sought-after achievement awards for health and safety worldwide.

“RoSPA is very proud of the achievements of its entrants, and with this award we recognise the best of the best, those organisations that have gone the extra mile, raising the bar for the delivery of safety in the workplace. Employees should be able to go to work safe in the knowledge that they will return home unharmed and healthy at the end of every day. Our RoSPA Award winners are central to achieving this goal. By entering they are driving up standards and setting new safety benchmarks for organisations across the world.”

The awards programme, which is sponsored by NEBOSH (the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health), is the largest occupational health and safety awards programme in the UK. It recognises organisations’ commitment to continuous improvement in the prevention of accidents and ill health at work, looking at entrants’ overarching health and safety management systems, including practices such as leadership and workforce involvement.

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Wales and West Utilities

Utility company urges residents to get gas appliances safety checked before Winter

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Wales & West Utilities is urging people to act and carry out a home gas audit to make sure their gas appliances are working properly ahead of the coming winter months.

The call comes from the gas emergency and pipeline service during Gas Safety Week 2021 (13-19 September) and following simple gas safety steps will help make sure the 7.5million people the company serves across Wales and south west of England are kept safe and warm this winter.

Gas Safety Week is now into its second decade of keeping people safe and this year has an ongoing focus on keeping communities’ gas safe, as well as advising on topics such as illegal gas fitters.

With badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances able to cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, there are some simple steps to follow, whether you own or rent your home.

  • Save the National Gas Emergency Number 0800 111 999 in your phone and call it immediately if you smell gas or suspect CO.
  • Have all your gas appliances regularly serviced and safety checked every year. If you rent your home, ask for a copy of the landlord’s current Gas Safety Record.
  • Only use a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit, fix and service your appliances. You can find and check an engineer at GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
  • Check gas appliances for warning signs that they are not working properly e.g. lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks or stains on or around the appliance and condensation in the room.
  • Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm. This will alert you if there is carbon monoxide in your home.
  • Know the six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.

Wales & West Utilities Head of Emergency Service, Clive Book, said: “Gas Safety Week is a timely reminder to homeowners and tenants to make sure they know how to stay gas safe ahead of the winter months.

“Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. We urge everyone to look at their appliances before the winter sets in, when more and more people start to use their gas central heating.

“In the past 18 months or so we have seen communities come together to support one another. Through taking these simple steps and sharing information with family, friends and neighbours, we can save lives.”

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(Lead image: Wales & West Utilities)

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