Given the opportunities presented by a big empty box of a building that needed to be made habitable and comfortable we decided early on to embrace what new technology seemed useful and affordable within our budget. Nowadays this often means energy saving devices which embrace emerging technology.
So, we built in
a lift * *
underfloor central heating *
energy efficient glazing where allowed
rainwater harvesting * *
a catalytic flueless gas fire
heat recovery ventillation *
computer wiring to most rooms*
balanced flue gas boiler * *
low energy lighting*
burglar alarm * *
All this is fine and dandy - when it works. Most are so useful that you don't half miss them when they break down.
Almost all of these things have at their core a computer - or computer like circuitry - hugely vulnerable to malfunction, much as your desktop computer. These are the ones with asterisks on the list. Often you just need to turn them off, have a cup of tea, then turn them on again. Re-boot them in other words. Those with two asterisks come with recommendations for periodic 'servicing'.
All in all we have come to realise that we have bought ourselves a lot of trouble and expense to keep this stuff running, let alone the capital and opportunity costs. If we indulged in all the service contracts we would be a good deal out of pocket.
Things came to a crunch a week or so ago when the rainwater harvesting system stopped working. The suppliers Kingspan Envireau wanted £292.96p plus V.A.T. to come and have a look at it. I have to say that they had been very helpful in the past with telephone advice and parts. Not this time though. £300 odd charge- take it or leave it. My pleading that it would pay me to abandon the system and switch to mains water cut no ice. It had been a similar story with the lift a few months ago. No more friendly telephone advice from Evo Lifts.
Well, the internet came to the rescue in both cases.
For the rainwater, I got in touch with the trade body and explained the dilemma. Within a couple of days the problem (with an ultra sound sensor) had been diagnosed and put right at a fraction of Kingspan's price. All credit to the UK Rainwater Harvesting Asssociation and to Edward Daykin at www.ecoserve-uk.com
The lift was fixed, again at a fraction of Evo's call out charge, by local firm Foulds Lifts of Colne