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Beware firewood and pellet swindles


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As pellets have become difficult to get this year and prices from my usual suppliers have gone rather high, I looked for alternatives.

I found a company offering pallets of pellets at similar prices to last year, with free delivery - from Haute-Savoie!, so went through their ordering process for a 66 bag pallet.

When it came to payment the only option is to pay by bank transfer to an IBAN and a BIC, and an email arrived shortly repeating these details.

As I always pay for online purchases by PayPal if possible, with Credit Card payments as my second option, I didn't go ahead with the purchase right then.

Today I checked the IBAN and BIC, to find they are for an Irish prepayment card company with an office in Paris.

I also found THIS among other information, and decided to look elsewhere for pellets.

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5 hours ago, Le martin-pêcheur said:

Yes, lots of scammers, spammers and hackers out there - damn them!

Here is a useful site though.

https://www.scamadviser.com

Always worth a look if something seems too good to be true.

Thanks. I put the site address into their system. The analysis, while not saying it is a scam site, was far from reassuring.

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The wood pellet supplier gives the following information on paying by bank transfer (in fact, a payment to an unknown entity, with no possibility of reversal)

Notre paiement sécurisé

Avec SSL

Le paiement par virement bancaire

Vous êtes nombreux à nous avoir fait part de vos réticences à payer par carte bancaire sur internet. C’est pour cette raison que nous avons mis en place le paiement par virement bancaire.

En utilisant le mode de paiement par virement, vous êtes doublement protégé :

1/ Vous n’avez plus à utiliser votre carte bancaire. La transaction se fera directement entre votre banque et la nôtre.

2/ Avec un paiement par virement, nous pouvons vous rembourser aussi facilement qu’un paiement par carte bancaire en cas de problème.

Enfin, c’est aussi rapide qu’un paiement par carte bancaire. Vous recevrez votre produit immédiatement.

Comment payer par virement bancaire ?

Il vous suffira, au moment de la validation de votre panier de choisir le mode de paiement par virement bancaire. Après validation de votre commande vous recevrez les informations du compte bancaire sur lequel vous devrez procéder au paiement votre commande.

Pour plus de facilité de traitement, vous mentionnerez sur votre ordre de virement le numéro de commande.

La commande sera définitivement validée à réception du virement. Vous recevrez alors un mail de confirmation.

A noter

Les produits commandés sont réservés pour une période de 03 jours. Passé ce délai, et sans réception du règlement, les produits seront automatiquement remis en stock et la commande annulée.

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In the past it has been most economical to heat with the pellet stove once the weather gets too cold for our heat pumps to perform efficiently. 

However, as pellet prices have risen this year by up to 90% compared with a hike in electricity prices of around 25% I have decided to rely solely on electricity, using our heat pumps, together with oil filled radiators when necessary, until the price of pellets becomes viable again.

At least I won't have to clean out the pellet stove so often

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11 hours ago, ssomon said:

In the past it has been most economical to heat with the pellet stove once the weather gets too cold for our heat pumps to perform efficiently. 

However, as pellet prices have risen this year by up to 90% compared with a hike in electricity prices of around 25% I have decided to rely solely on electricity, using our heat pumps, together with oil filled radiators when necessary, until the price of pellets becomes viable again.

At least I won't have to clean out the pellet stove so often

At the risk of being accused of thread drift, can I ask at what temperature you have found your heat pumps become inefficient. I know there's plenty of research online but I'd like to hear some real life experience.

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We have two ancient air/air split units, each consuming 890W, one at each end of the house. They came with the house, in 2010, and were installed well before that. Their nominal output (cool/heat) is 9000/9500 BTU/Hr, nominal COP is 3.25. I have replaced many parts during the last 5 years, including new compressors in both, and they still perform well. More modern, larger units, with inverters to vary the compressor speed would perform much better, as would units providing underfloor heating, either air or ground source, but we have what we have.

As with all heat pumps the COP falls with the source temperature, and by the time it drops to 5º outside, the lack of heating is very noticeable. Also, heating stops for a few minutes whenever the units go into defrost mode, which occurs more often as it gets colder.

I have no way of measuring the heat output, but we switch the units off when it is about 8º outside. Possibly the COP has not yet fallen to 1 (the same power out as in), but the units are not providing enough heat for us.

At this point we normally fire up the pellet stove, but given the huge rise in the price of pellets, it is probably more economical to use electric resistance heaters, which are all 100% efficient, for the near future, as all the energy they use is released into the space they occupy.

Calculations in 2008, before we bought the pellet stove, showed that it would cost about 25% less to run then electric resistance heaters. Using very rough calculations, the stove would now cost 25% more, with the inconveniences of that type of heating, so we will use electric resistance heaters this winter when the heat pump outputs fall, probably just in the rooms where we sit still or sleep. Maybe we'll have a mild winter anyway.

 

 

 

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Thanks for sharing that info ssomon.

We are renovating my OH's old family house and not sure how to heat it.

We thought of a pellet stove. But from what I read on the news lately and and from what you said it seems that they are not a very good idea.

Oil is a no, gas is a no, so that leaves electricity....and a wood burner. 

I am not sure a PAC would offer any benfits. 

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I second ALBF, thanks for the info. I'm currently running a wood burner with logs supplied loose in the summer for stacking and seasoning for the following year. However I'm acutely aware that the time is fast approaching when I physically won't be able to spend the summer humping wood around. I've an old oil burner which gets run for a couple of hours a day to take the edge off the house but that's not a long term solution either. I reckon I've got about three years worth of fuel onsite ( both oil and timber ) so need to use that time to come up with an alternative. Unfortunately I think an 8 degree cut off is a little too warm for me.

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Posted (edited)

A PAC - pompe à chaleur - is a heat pump, which is what we use for heating, although the term seems to have come to be used colloquially just for central heating installations in France, where they love acronyms.

Ours are reversible air to air split units, using the outside air and treating the air in the house.

In heating mode this requires the high pressure side of the unit to reach relatively high values in order to adequately heat the air in the house, which are not reached when it gets too cold, but the lower pressures reached in cold weather are able to heat liquid to a temperature sufficient for underfloor heating. Ceiling heating is also possible - Google it.

The best solution for heating, taking into account the current costs of electricity and fuels to burn, is probably a heat pump system with underfloor (or ceiling) heating. This is expensive to buy and install, could make sense with generous subsidies, but won't provide cooling in the summer.

For existing rather than new build houses where summer cooling is necessary, air/air reversible split units, multi-split or individual depending on installation constraints, are a good compromise. These should be inverter units with enough output to satisfy the worst winter condition expected, in which case they should work well down to lower temperatures than 8º. Check the specs for information.

For very cold conditions ground source heat pumps will still work.

 

Edited by ssomon
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Given the location/topography of the house we are renovating renewable energy is the answer.

I know peeps will scoff at this idea, but I would invest in a home wind turbine (or two) to power the electric radiators for the winter.

And in the summer, solar.

It is a 20-30 K investment !

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You'd get no scoffing from me ALBF. If I thought the roof would support it I'd go for solar myself. As for a wind turbine, there used to be a local company who would install a turbine and hydrogen batteries which would kick in when the power failed ( which happens a lot here ). Unfortunately they seem to have disappeared from site as only a French company can. Ground pump is a no go as the house is sitting on rock. The farm up the hill built an enormous barn and covered it with solar panels to feed into the grid. Maybe I'll do that ( without the giving of the electricity to EDF ). I've got the land and it's not much use for anything else.

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It's nice that people think 'renewable energy' is the way forward and in a perfect world it would be. I wonder why these people think so but can't achieve their dream? Sure, they. will blame anyone and everything on why they can't but the bottom line is ; they can't! Always someone els's fault!

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34 minutes ago, DaveLister said:

You'd get no scoffing from me ALBF. If I thought the roof would support it I'd go for solar myself. As for a wind turbine, there used to be a local company who would install a turbine and hydrogen batteries which would kick in when the power failed ( which happens a lot here ). Unfortunately they seem to have disappeared from site as only a French company can. Ground pump is a no go as the house is sitting on rock. The farm up the hill built an enormous barn and covered it with solar panels to feed into the grid. Maybe I'll do that ( without the giving of the electricity to EDF ). I've got the land and it's not much use for anything else.

Maybe, probably maybe not!

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26 minutes ago, Ken said:

It's nice that people think 'renewable energy' is the way forward and in a perfect world it would be. I wonder why these people think so but can't achieve their dream? Sure, they. will blame anyone and everything on why they can't but the bottom line is ; they can't! Always someone els's fault!

Can we have you views in English please....or French if you like. 

Just need to understand what you are trying to say. 

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33 minutes ago, alittlebitfrench said:

Can we have you views in English please....or French if you like. 

Just need to understand what you are trying to say. 

I know it's sometimes difficult to understand everything, ALBF.

Some things are just beyond our ken.

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2 hours ago, Ken said:

It's nice that people think 'renewable energy' is the way forward and in a perfect world it would be. I wonder why these people think so but can't achieve their dream? Sure, they. will blame anyone and everything on why they can't but the bottom line is ; they can't! Always someone els's fault!

That's pretty much on the money Ken. 

As confirmed by this article.

Professor Gordon Hughes has written the following blog describing his experience of sourcing reliable energy supplies to power a remote rural broadband network in Scotland.
 

A couple of abstracts from his paper

"I have written a number of papers on the costs and performance of wind power and other forms of renewable energy. Even serious empirical research provokes responses along the lines that any questioning of the merits of renewable energy amounts to original sin or blasphemy. There is little that I – or anyone – can do to convince those who treat the superiority of renewable energy as an article of faith."

"Still I wonder how much practical experience such commentators have of the reality of relying solely on renewable power in commercial applications. For this reason other readers may be interested in what I have learned as an economist faced with the practical issue of relying upon renewable energy"

"To emphasize the general point: the central challenge of the transition to renewable power is not the generation of electricity. That is the easy part. Rather it is the difficulty and costs of ensuring system reliability that must be addressed. Up to now, all electricity systems depend upon a legacy of investment in storable energy resources, primarily in the form of fossil fuels but with some storage hydro. None of the operators has any real idea of how they will function without being able to call on such backup resources. While scale will permit options that are uneconomic for small operators, the lesson from experience is that the investment and operating costs required to maintain system reliability in electricity systems dependent on intermittent renewables are likely to be very large"

https://ref.org.uk/ref-blog/367-the-reality-of-relying-upon-renewable-power

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11 hours ago, Harnser said:

That's pretty much on the money Ken. 

As confirmed by this article.

Professor Gordon Hughes has written the following blog describing his experience of sourcing reliable energy supplies to power a remote rural broadband network in Scotland.
 

A couple of abstracts from his paper

"I have written a number of papers on the costs and performance of wind power and other forms of renewable energy. Even serious empirical research provokes responses along the lines that any questioning of the merits of renewable energy amounts to original sin or blasphemy. There is little that I – or anyone – can do to convince those who treat the superiority of renewable energy as an article of faith."

"Still I wonder how much practical experience such commentators have of the reality of relying solely on renewable power in commercial applications. For this reason other readers may be interested in what I have learned as an economist faced with the practical issue of relying upon renewable energy"

"To emphasize the general point: the central challenge of the transition to renewable power is not the generation of electricity. That is the easy part. Rather it is the difficulty and costs of ensuring system reliability that must be addressed. Up to now, all electricity systems depend upon a legacy of investment in storable energy resources, primarily in the form of fossil fuels but with some storage hydro. None of the operators has any real idea of how they will function without being able to call on such backup resources. While scale will permit options that are uneconomic for small operators, the lesson from experience is that the investment and operating costs required to maintain system reliability in electricity systems dependent on intermittent renewables are likely to be very large"

https://ref.org.uk/ref-blog/367-the-reality-of-relying-upon-renewable-power

And it will probably be money that eventually changes these peoples opinions. Eco enthusiasts are like children who hide behind their hands so as not to see danger! When it hits their pockets or the lights go off (as Mm borne hinted at this morning!) I think we will hear a lot of crying and finger pointing. Naivety, just a word in a dictionary but ever so valid!

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I think going off grid if you have the ability to do so is the way forward. It is an investment, but so is a swimming pool. You know all those folks who move to France for a big house and a Swiming pool ! 

I think swimming pools are a complete and utter waste of money TBH. A wind turbine/solar is a lot better investment in retirement. A swimming pool won't keep you warm in the winter. Or cook food. 

Free electricity....and no tax to pay. That is the way to do it. 

Did you know that the tax on our Elec and Gas bill costs more than the gas that we use. Go figure.

How can you budget for retirement when you don't what your costs are going to be in the winter in 10 years time ?

So yeah, if I was planning on moving to France today I would allocate a budget to make my new house as 'off-grid' as possible.

Which is what we are doing in affect. 

 

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31 minutes ago, alittlebitfrench said:

I think going off grid if you have the ability to do so is the way forward. It is an investment, but so is a swimming pool. You know all those folks who move to France for a big house and a Swiming pool ! 

I think swimming pools are a complete and utter waste of money TBH. A wind turbine/solar is a lot better investment in retirement. A swimming pool won't keep you warm in the winter. Or cook food. 

Free electricity....and no tax to pay. That is the way to do it. 

Did you know that the tax on our Elec and Gas bill costs more than the gas that we use. Go figure.

How can you budget for retirement when you don't what your costs are going to be in the winter in 10 years time ?

So yeah, if I was planning on moving to France today I would allocate a budget to make my new house as 'off-grid' as possible.

Which is what we are doing in affect. 

 

It's not just the future costs of fuel. It's the availability. I forsee rolling power cuts when demand outstrips supply. Maybe rationing. Currently I keep a supply of fuel for a generator. I'd rather be able to run off solar/wind supplied batteries instead.

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2 hours ago, alittlebitfrench said:

I think going off grid if you have the ability to do so is the way forward. It is an investment, but so is a swimming pool. You know all those folks who move to France for a big house and a Swiming pool ! 

I think swimming pools are a complete and utter waste of money TBH. A wind turbine/solar is a lot better investment in retirement. A swimming pool won't keep you warm in the winter. Or cook food. 

Free electricity....and no tax to pay. That is the way to do it. 

Did you know that the tax on our Elec and Gas bill costs more than the gas that we use. Go figure.

How can you budget for retirement when you don't what your costs are going to be in the winter in 10 years time ?

So yeah, if I was planning on moving to France today I would allocate a budget to make my new house as 'off-grid' as possible.

Which is what we are doing in affect. 

 

If you are young enough and it sounds as if you are, solar and wind may well be an option. It comes back to finances, everything does! You may be able to afford the capital outlay and being young may recuperate that outlay in your lifetime, all things being equal! For the older generation recuperating a possible outlay of around £10,000-£15,000 is almost an impossibility. In other words it is cheaper to stick with increased prices of gas and electricity. An elderly person switching to 'sustanables'  has probably been conned or misled in some way.

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1 hour ago, Ken said:

If you are young enough and it sounds as if you are, solar and wind may well be an option. It comes back to finances, everything does! You may be able to afford the capital outlay and being young may recuperate that outlay in your lifetime, all things being equal! For the older generation recuperating a possible outlay of around £10,000-£15,000 is almost an impossibility. In other words it is cheaper to stick with increased prices of gas and electricity. An elderly person switching to 'sustanables'  has probably been conned or misled in some way.

I agree about it being "pas la peine".  Not only are you unlikely to live long enough to recoup the money but you might well have to move out of your home to somewhere else.

We thought about installing central heating when we moved to our present house and recently considered installing air-conditioning.  In both cases, after working out costs, we decided it just wasn't worth the upheaval, the cost, all the "bazar" of pulling things about, dealing with workmen, cleaning up, making good, the endless-seeming list of activities to disturb our placidity.

Also agree with ALBF about swimming pools.  We looked specifically for places without swimming pools despite immos asking us repeatedly if a pool wasn't on our list of requirements.  The other thing they seemed disappointed about was when we ruled out fireplaces (using any sort of fuel).  Yes, we did live in an old stone house "de beaux volumes" according to the blurp with an inset in the sitting room and a huge Godin wood-burning stove (although it also had electricity) in the kitchen.  Wouldn't want all that dust again and to have to light fires, bring in the wood, etc etc.  THAT was when I decided that we would have a small, modern house with as little work as possible to maintain as possible! And we have never regretted our decision....

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11 minutes ago, menthe said:

I agree about it being "pas la peine".  Not only are you unlikely to live long enough to recoup the money but you might well have to move out of your home to somewhere else.

We thought about installing central heating when we moved to our present house and recently considered installing air-conditioning.  In both cases, after working out costs, we decided it just wasn't worth the upheaval, the cost, all the "bazar" of pulling things about, dealing with workmen, cleaning up, making good, the endless-seeming list of activities to disturb our placidity.

Also agree with ALBF about swimming pools.  We looked specifically for places without swimming pools despite immos asking us repeatedly if a pool wasn't on our list of requirements.  The other thing they seemed disappointed about was when we ruled out fireplaces (using any sort of fuel).  Yes, we did live in an old stone house "de beaux volumes" according to the blurp with an inset in the sitting room and a huge Godin wood-burning stove (although it also had electricity) in the kitchen.  Wouldn't want all that dust again and to have to light fires, bring in the wood, etc etc.  THAT was when I decided that we would have a small, modern house with as little work as possible to maintain as possible! And we have never regretted our decision....

I think you chose very wisely and, given my time again, I would do the same. Water restrictions have meant my pool has been out of action since the 1st of August. Still I can take comfort from all the money I'm saving on the electricity.🙂

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