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This topic contains 21 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Dave Rice 1 week, 4 days ago.

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  • #30488

    The Duke
    Moderator
    @sgb101

    Just wondering if anyone has a Google home. We have manage to get 5 or 6 minis, they are great, and last week I got a hub for the kitchen. The one with the screen.

    Well it never made it off my desk, it’s amazing.

    Basically use them to control hearing, lighting, music, and some smart sockets. Plus some theromstates. Thinking of getting some compatible cameras now I have a hub.

    What are others using their for? That is if any one is useing them. I’ll take alexa too, we have one of those. But we opted for Home over alexa. But they are about the same +/-.

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  • #30497

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps
    Forumite Points: 2,750

    Be careful if you use it for phone calls there have been lots of problems caused by Echo/Alexa’s habits of listening to everything including voices on the TV. You may want to think about using the microphone mute button in the more ‘public’ areas.

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    #30503

    The Duke
    Moderator
    @sgb101
    Forumite Points: 2,134

    My house is coverd in Homes but not echos.

    You can log in to Google and see (and erase) everything you have ever said to Google in chronological order

    https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity

    This is a better direct link to voice storage.

    https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity?restrict=vaa&hl=en-GB&utm_source=udc&utm_medium=r&utm_campaign=

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by The Duke.
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    #30508

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps
    Forumite Points: 2,750

    The problem generally arises because Home/Echo/Alexa is continually listening to everything that is said – no matter where the source. One case in point arose because the software heard the alert keyword on the TV, misheard something else and forwarded some of their slightly embarrassing voice messages to a third party. It is not so much the Big-Brother privacy issue but rather the problems that arise in a noisy home.

    I am personally much happier using a mobile touch-pad to manage appliances, or getting up and physically performing the necessary.

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    #30515

    Dave Rice
    Moderator
    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 1,691

    The Nest cameras are very expensive for what they do. The cheaper compatible ones aren’t great specs (neither is Nest TBH). Once the specs go up the prices rocket. But I think this is the way it’s going to be, style over substance. EZViz is the consumer division of Hikvision BTW.

    Don’t forget even WiFi cameras need power, most people do forget that 😀

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    #30516

    The Duke
    Moderator
    @sgb101
    Forumite Points: 2,134

    I won’t be getting a nest camera, too expensive for me. Just like nest thermostat. Every time I see the thermostat I have to touch it, it’s one of the most satisfying bits of tech to play with.

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    #30523

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps
    Forumite Points: 2,750

    I was unconvinced by Smart Thermostats, but got one because it adds half a point or so to the energy rating of your home.

    However, I have moved from being a cynic to seeing why they are useful particularly for working families with variable ‘at home’ times.  Linking the geolocation of phones to the heating system is genius as it errs towards energy conservation but gives remote user input as well. It is also nice to have what is in effect an outside thermometer and weather app for those times you are dithering between wearing or not wearing a coat.

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    #30525

    The Duke
    Moderator
    @sgb101
    Forumite Points: 2,134

    I think the nest is pronaly the winner hands down, I think it’s the only one (atm) that learns from your habits, and will auto turn off on  and pre heat for you, with user input after a while. Even learning which days you go out and or not, and what different times on siad days. It is a good bit of kit.

    But at £200 I just can’t pull the trigger. Mine is cheap Chinese job that I pre program and have it take readings off sensors around the house. Basically if a sencer gets cold or hot, it riggers a notification on an android phone then I have ifttt read notifications form said app, and if the key word I put in the notification is read by ifttt it tells Google now to tell the the heating to come on.

    I already had the theromoitorz and thd Google now(home) set up, so the heating system only cost £30 iirc, and it can be controlled by voice via google home, as well as be programmed like all others. So it gets 90% of the way there for a 7th of the price.

    The thing I had to master was getting the xiaomi mija theromoitors to talk to google now. Which is where ifttt’s notification key word script came in.

    Next up is indevidual ‘smart’ radiator valves, but they arnt cheap yet. I’d like to be able to only turn a radiators on in the rooms that we ate in and is cold. I know by the end of the year I’ll at least have one in place. Given its February now and our radiator is usally off my end of march, its not worth the expense atm. See if they come down by October. I’d like xiaomi ones tbh, all their smart kit is brilliant and cheap.

    In China they are the equivalent of apple, they are more expensive than the majority of electronic brands, but their kits we well made and Alwasy rather pretty. Puss compared to our usual western makes still cheap for us. Thier yee ligjbulbs is what introduced me to them, smart RGB bulbs for £20, needed no hun too. Thoug I ended up getting their hub as ive not got their fire alarm, theromoitors and a few other things. All great products. Shame the hub doesn’t speak engilsh, as its like a alexa/home, but doesn’t work for uk. But the app is English, (mostly), so easy to set up and manage. Plus most of the hardware once set up in the xiaomi mija app, then auto shows up in your Google home app once you link it. Same with tp link smart sockets. And sonoff switches.

    A shame the thermometers didn’t ‘just show’ in Google home, as I wouldn’t need the ifttt to watch for triggers. But it works.

    When I changed routers it took me about a month to get everything back working how it should. As half the stuff you set up, you set and forget. Don’t use alot so only realise when you need it, and find it doesn’t work. The tortoise was one example.  Lucky I never put her into hibanation as I think her lights was off for 3 days before some one noticed. She doesn’t get fed daily, hence no one noticed.

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    #30529

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps
    Forumite Points: 2,750

    If I was still a commuter with a working wife, I would definitely want a Nest to take care of the heating while we were fighting with train delays/non-arrivals etc. The last thing I would want would be an argument about who was responsible for forgetting to turn on the heating.

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    #30539

    The Duke
    Moderator
    @sgb101
    Forumite Points: 2,134

    That’s a good point Ed. Our heating is on 2h morning and evening,  so doesn’t really need “learning functinon”.

    It’s been a mild winter, as this year we have only probably had to have the heating on all day a hand full of times, and that was the end of Jan.

    Today for instances it was on this morning for its 2h, I’m assuming it stayed on the full 2h, but hasn’t come on this evening. It should come on if the house drops below 16.  It’s currently 18 everywhere and 20 in the kitchen. So it not been triggered.

    Its set to ignore the triggers after 2100h to 0630h. When it is triggered it set to stay on for 2 hours or turn off if it hits 22.

    I think if we lived in a newer house that doesn’t have drafts we could do quite well with out hardly any heating. I go in to many peoples houses that are like saunas. It just makes me feel sick and start leaking. My auntie has the heating going 24/7 almost all year, and thd gas fire on from about October through May. I come out of the place needing a sleep. They must pay a fortune in energy bills. As mine a 70 a month and hardly use the heating.

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    #30545

    Dave Rice
    Moderator
    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 1,691

    Good point about the new build Steve, we’re on maximum possible insulation even though 18 yo house, we had a free upgrade.

    Even before the upgrade once we get to “turn on day” the heating goes to 24 /7 until “turn off day”. If it’s chilly in between its because either the thermostat in the hall (worst place for anyone apart from the builder) has been knocked into or someone has used up all the hot water and accidentally hit HC over ride instead of HW.

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    #30547

    The Duke
    Moderator
    @sgb101
    Forumite Points: 2,134

    My house is 105 years young, has no cavities and the gable faces the Irish sea. It got a battering last night. We was woke to rattling roof tiles and fingures crossed.

    Its a drafty house, even with the double glazing. But I think if we fully sealed it up damp would become an issue. Like most housed in my village. As it has never bothered us, we must be warm blooded, we haven ever tried to ‘seal’ the house form drafts. I quite like them tbh.

    We have a combie boiler as hot water isn’t an issue.we did have an electric boiler when we moved in, like I had as a kid. Turn it on 3p mins before you want a bath. But with 7 of us it was easier to turn on at 0700h and turn off about 2100h. That mixed thith the electric soriage heaters, that heated through the day when no one in, was pointless and for our first two moths coat £1600. So we went 3 winters with zero heating. As we had no gas.

    Now a leaky detached house on a mountain facing the sea, with zero heating, is a cold place in December. We lived in the living room with a single oil electric heater, thermals, quilts and wolly hats. As asson as we paid off the electricity bill we couldn’t afford, (meter job) and we could afford CH it was done. Also we had to pay  to run gas to the house.

    We are thinking of putting in two wood burners now, thst way we could minimise the gas bill. The breasts run up the centre of the house, so wousl act like CH. I was planning of making paper bricks all year form waste  to fule the winter.

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    #30549

    Dave Rice
    Moderator
    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 1,691

    I’m off to Cornwall on Saturday and both my Aunty and cousin have wood burners in their living rooms (and oil central heating elsewhere). Both rooms are big and the stoves certainly chuck it out. They have put convection driven fans on top and that makes a big difference in getting the warm air out into the room.

    Living in the country free fuel is all around but it does take a lot of effort in the summer to collect, cut and stack it. I’ll ask about paper bricks, my cousins husband tries most things, but it may be with wood all around they haven’t tried them. Sounds a good idea though. Turn all the hot air in the newspapers into real hot air.

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    #30550

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps
    Forumite Points: 2,750

    If you do put in a Wood-burner and look to use ‘free’ wood then please ensure you set up a proper wood drying area. I have an anti-social near neighbour who uses ‘free’ but improperly dried wood and during cold winter foggy mornings regularly pollutes the neighbourhood with extremely high quantities of VOCs and turns the whole neighbourhood into a coughing zone.

    I’m looking forward to 2022 when I can take out a clean-air enforcement order on him!

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    #30551

    The Duke
    Moderator
    @sgb101
    Forumite Points: 2,134

    I know what you mean Ed. In my village most /or alot) houses have either coal or wood fires. I notice it’s getting cold as they all seem to start using the fires around the same time, and the smoke hangs really low, you can taste it. You get use to it after a week, and don’t notice it.

    My FiL has two fires, and he has a lean to on the back of his large shed, that has a lots of wind pass thoug it. he keeps his wood there. He still has the original coal number bunker into the side of his house, and uses that for coal. But that’s his emergency back up. He gets a relively small bag dropped of about every 2 years.

    Now he is retired (or ment to be) he has a gardening round to keep himself for being bored, he does about 3 slow days a week, and will pick up a few garden clearances along the way. The clearances he likes as they usally give him a few weeks worth of wood. So he like to say he gets paid twice.

    The rest of the wood he burns comes out of the houses the family has refitted. And anyone that’s in the pub and mentions wood or decorationing, he likes to ask can he come and look at what they are chucking away.

    The older he has got the more self sufficient he is becoming. He loves his pv cells, he cot his just before the government rebate got slashed. So it pays him back quite well. In the two summer quarters he ends up up, and the bit he was paid in the summer covers his winter overages.  Still saying that it’s a big investment. That is going to take prnaly ten years to pay back, before his ele teiciry is trully free. He is probably close to the ten years actully.

    His aims was to rid them self’s of most bills before they retired. So if the wort ever happened they would still have heat and light, and of course their home. He keeps threatening to start growing food, but he is yet too.

    I’d love to of got pv when he did, but we had the house surveid and because of the mountain cover it just wasn’t worth it.

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    #30555

    Richard
    Participant
    @sawboman
    Forumite Points: 1,744

    I am slightly in a position like that of the unfortunates on those USN boats. I went to bed at 05:00 this morning after driving through much of the night and spending yesterday dealing with issues arising from my wife’s health. So sorry if I ramble a bit.
    The use of mashed paper ‘bricks’ has been popular from time to time during my life time, yet it has never really caught on. In every case the issues turned out to be the huge amount of labour required to mash and press the paper into bricks, their short burn life if they were not compressed enough and the very hard work collecting enough paper to make them viable for more than a day a year. In theory burning messy/contaminated paper that is not suited to main paper stream recycling would be sound, but in turn if can result in adverse pollution issues.
    Dry well seasoned hard wood can answer many of those issues, whether consumed as logs or chipped and dried into pellets, but wet resinous wood is a real killer. Just look at the result of countless bonfires in autumn.
    Since almost everyone has personal profiles that are largely or completely uniquely theirs, no one set up will meet everyone’s needs. For example, last night, we were out of the house for a period that almost perfectly aligned with the off time of our boiler. Having had seen the problems with combie installation used by others. I rejected all proposals suggesting their use to replace our 25 year old boiler, in practice no one proposed them due to their incomparability issues. A combie would require extensive plumbing and electrical rework, the new one was a slip in replacement that ensures the hot water header is kept filled with hot water. The key persuader was that the present set up is fully compatible with both the size of the building and crucially the showers in the bathrooms. I freely accept that this is my personal situation and applicable only to me. We are almost constantly set up with consistent, unchanging demand profiles so a thermostat coupled with bog standard TRVs and a ‘bog standard’ style ‘programmer’. Set up 4 years ago when the boiler and programmer were replaced, it has never been reset. I am considering replacing the 27 year old thermostat as I suspect that the ‘builder grade’ item is on the cusp of its sell by date. Improved room stats sound attractive, but costs and annual battery changes for around 20 radiators do not!
    I upgraded the roof insulation 15 years or so back, though a few areas could perhaps do with an upgrade and the whole roof might justify a further upgrade. However, the cost upwards of £300 plus a barely double digit per annum saving looks unattractive, as does the work to clear the loft ready for any upgrade. Medical issues play a major part in our DIY, usage and demand profiles.
    Like Steve solar panels look unlikely to yield any real net financial benefit to us as the roof profile faces east, west with a chopped up segment, (dormer style windows)facing south, with another fuller segment facing due north. Once again a personal set of issues breaks the one size fits all approach. The amortisation period was likely to exceed any maintenance free period, always suggesting a negative return profile. Life expectancy of the occupants is yet another key personal profile issue.

     

     

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    #30557

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps
    Forumite Points: 2,750

    The law and design has now changed what is possible with a combi boiler. For example they can now be hung on a partition wall, and with the exception of the condensate drain they can be a shoe-in for older boilers. Too late for you Richard, but if you are in the market for a new boiler it may be worth a double-check.

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    #30558

    Richard
    Participant
    @sawboman
    Forumite Points: 1,744

    There were no constraints about the boiler hanging, just other issues with showers, plumbing layout, additional power for possible flash heater shower pumps, etc. Additionally the problems others encountered with water demand in a multi tap situation where if one uses hot water and another starts a demand flowing then all taps suffer, etc. we can run appliances, showers and or baths simultaneously as and when needed.

    The new boiler’s condensate pipe was an issue a year or two back as the installed drain arrangement allowed condensate drips to freeze and build up due to sluggish flow. I sorted that out in the minus 10 degrees cold weather; cutting the installed outlet pipe and substituting a 45 degree down pipe to the drain. Since then, no more problems. I could have re-engineered an internal drain, but it would have needed difficult carpentry to the kitchen cabinets.

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    #30574

    wasbit
    Participant
    @wasbit
    Forumite Points: 481

    I had a wall mounted press for making paper bricks but it was nearly a 3 month, full time job making enough to last the winter. In addition they don’t give out the same amount of heat as wood.

    --
    Regards
    wasbit

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    #30584

    The Duke
    Moderator
    @sgb101
    Forumite Points: 2,134

    My FiL used a hand full of press’s.

    He sheads a) mail and junk as it comes in, then dumps it in a on old black buin of water. Then once a week he fishes out enough pulp to fill his 5presses, he also adds old cooking oil to the press, then leaves them pressing themselves for the week untill he takes them out and put under his lean too to fully air dry. And he refills them. He never runs out of pulp mixture.

    Hes has never complained about less heat. For him it’s free heat from zero effort. (well about 7 mins worth a week), he has springs attached to his hand presses, so he doesnt have to hand press the, he just comes back every Sunday and frills them. In the summer I think he does it twise a week, as his ahead gets hot, so they are solid in a few days.

    He does often complain of too much heat of some hard woods. Thou I couldn’t tell you which, I can’t tell one from the other.

     

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    #30592

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 2,431

    During my early years living at home in an NCB estate house with coal fires, my dad received free coal every month as part of his job*. He would ‘volunteer’ me from childhood to join him in shoveling coal into the coal house: as we reached almost overflow, adding another plank to the barrier which kept the coal inside. By the time I was about 12 I could heave a pan shovel right up and over the top barrier. That gave me a build like my dad and brothers, we all had Ricketts, so great upper bodies and bendy legs!

    Dad decided to make his own firelighters and kindling from whatever he could “borrow” at the pit. He borrowed a cheese slicer, like a paper guillotine, from the local Co Op, who were throwing it out. My big bro repaired it, dad put sides on it to make a rectangle. Dad borrowed regular amounts of sawdust from the colliery joinery shop, and paraffin from some other pit workshop. He half- pressed the sawdust in the home made press, added paraffin, stirred it and pressed it down hard. He made several of these things at once, showed me how to do it, convinced me it was fun and gave me the job permanently. It took me a few years to understand what a clever, devious, fun guy my dad was! The fire lighters worked very well.

    The problem with living in our particular colliery village during the coal – burning years, was that the village was on 3 hills and we lived in the valley, the Dale. Consequently, I must have been breathing in pollution for all my younger life. When driving into the village from any of the entrance roads, it was always a descent. looking down in winter, the village was wreathed in smoke from all the chimneys and the huge colliery boilers. How we all survived from kids, I don’t know! But we did.

    *Dad would always slip the NCB delivery lads a few quid to get more coal, which we I shoveled into a bunker we made between us.

    “If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.”
    ― Philip K. Dick, legendary SF writer.

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