Archive | April, 2013

Let’s grab some rays!

25 Apr

Solar energy as the name suggests is energy obtained directly from the sun. We use the heat from the sun to dry the washing on the line, grow crops and have a very nice holiday – but what about the opportunities that solar provides in terms of power?

Let’s look at a few solar facts that might surprise you

  • The Sun is 150 million kilometres away but just the tiny fraction of the Sun’s energy that hits the Earth is enough to meet all our power needs
  • Every minute, enough energy arrives at the Earth to meet our demands for a whole year
  • Only about half of the incoming solar energy actually reached the Earth’s surface. It is reflected back out in to space or absorbed by clouds and oceans.

So with this abundant energy available why do we worry about energy efficiency and conservation?

The simple answer is we need to be able to harness that energy. The tricky question is how do we go about it?

There are three main ways we can harness that solar energy

Solar cells that convert light directly in to electricity. A really simple but effective use of this is the humble calculator. Satellites run on energy from solar cells, providing us with many everyday essentials such as telephones, navigation, weather forecasting, the internet and TV channels.

Solar water heating where energy from the sun is used to heat water in glass panels on your roof. This means you reduce the amount of gas or electricity used to heat the water in your home, thereby saving on your energy bills. This system works better in areas with a sunny climate.

Solar panels can be fitted to south facing roofs. These can be expensive to install but the government can pay you for any extra energy you produce and feed back into the National Grid.

023

So summing up what we know about solar energy, it seems too good not to take advantage of. After all it is free, clean, waste free and renewable.  However, it has its limitations. It is no good at night and it can be expensive to set up the equipment needed to harness the energy. The amount of energy that can be harnessed depends on the distance from the equator.

Here in the UK, with our cloudy skies and dull weather, technology is starting to make the use of solar energy more viable.

Health and Safety Series: Personal Protective Equipment for FENSA Fitters

25 Apr

You may be surprised to hear that the subject of this blog, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), is considered by some to be rather controversial. However here at FENSA we believe anything that strives to improve the safety and wellbeing of our FENSA Fitters must be a good thing.

There is no doubt that PPE protects workers from injury. It is very important for those in the Fenestration industry as often individuals are working on their own and there may be a delay in help arriving in the event of an accident or mishap.

Let’s see what the Health and Safety Executive says about PPE:

‘all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him or her against one or more risks to his or her health or safety’, e.g., safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.’

Obviously some, if not all, of these safety features can apply to Fitters in the process of installing windows.

052

Safety Boots – These are essential and should include safety features such as steel toe caps, heat resistance, and be water repellent. Just dropping a heavy tool on your foot can cause a major injury and prevent you carrying on working.

Safety Hemet – Although an unpopular piece of safety equipment, the safety helmet could be considered the most important to protect you if something heavy falls and and strikes you on the head.

Gloves – Protecting your hands is important, although gloves can also be unpopular because they can make working in some situations clumsy and difficult.

High Vis – Being highly visible on a building site can help prevent you being crushed by heavy moving vehicles and High Vis jackets also provide welcome weather proofing and warmth.

Eye Protection – This may seem at first to be rather excessive until you consider the damage that could be done by a shard of glass piercing your eye, while you are knocking out old windows.

shutterstock_62011948 PPE

No matter how careful you are, the unexpected sometimes happens or somebody else could make a mistake. PPE is designed to be a barrier between you and the hazards you come across every day in the course of your working day.

Without PPE that defence is not there and you are more likely to be injured.

Choose comfortable PPE that is suitable for the job at hand so you are more likely to wear it, and stay safe.

Girl Power in the Fenestration Industry

23 Apr

It may surprise you to know that there are currently over 200,000 women working in the construction industry and that number is slowly increasing. Well that is good news as there is still a lack of skilled manual workers. But that figure is quite low when you consider there are over two million people working in the construction industry. So that 200,000 is just 1% of the work force.

016

We decided to do some research and see if we could find some possible reasons for this relatively low figure.

Traditionally construction has been seen as a predominantly male environment and ‘not a place for women’. Women do not feel the industry is ‘female friendly’ and the very fact there are few women in the industry can also be very off putting.

A recent Equal Opportunities Commission report found 80% of school-age girls said they would be interested in learning to do a non-traditional job but only 12% were interested in construction.

092

However things are moving forward and the opportunities are there for women to be involved in construction with apprenticeships, learning on the job or by going to university and entering construction at graduate level.  Once the skills are learnt there is the attractive prospect of the freedom to start a business themselves.

The construction industry is always evolving and improving with initiatives such as the Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS) which has resulted in less on-site accidents and improved competencies. To date some 1,756,519 people have a CSCS card.

This coupled with more training opportunities has seen an increase in the number of women studying for a future within construction.

shutterstock_49063246

Are you a female FENSA Fitter? We would love to share your story – just let us know below…

The FIT Show – A quick update!

15 Apr

Well, the FIT Show is almost upon us. Over 170 exhibitors have made their preparations, stands have been designed and put together, seminars and talks organised.  An immense amount of work has been done by people determined to make the show a well-deserved success.

Fit show logo

By now you all know what will be on offer, new products to view, seminars and clinics to attend, competitions to enter, even a free drink and Danish! So if you want to learn more about window energy ratings or how to become a Green Deal installer you can just attend our free seminars. Or come and speak to us at our Stand 2-280

shutterstock_110485376 discussion

With so much happening around you, it may be easy to lose track of time so we will be putting updates and times of events on our social media. So if you have a smart phone or similar device, keep it handy and follow @FENSA_windows!

This is your show. The only trade show dedicated to the window, door and conservatory industry.

countdown fit show

Take full advantage of it and take away as much as you can; knowledge, information, training, inspiration, ideas and new contacts and friends.

Let us know what you think. We value your opinions.