Peter Kruger's blog

The Conservatory Industry and the Importance of Remaining Relevant

13th April 2012

No one should have been too surprised by the government’s plan to force householders to fully insulate their house before going ahead with other home improvements – such as conservatories and extensions. But there is no reason why a conservatory manufacturer or installer, or for that matter the industry as a whole, needs to roll over and play dead.

Photovoltaics Bubbling Away Nicely at Ecobuild

23rd March 2012

Travelling back and forth between Cambridgeshire and California during the Dot Com era I experienced, first hand, the emergence of the century’s first bubble market. So perhaps it was not just the unseasonable warm weather during this week’s Ecobuild that made me feel that, rather than arriving at Excel centre, the Docklands Light Railway had somehow transported me back to San Jose.

The Secondary Glazing and Conservatory Sector – Shrinking Panes

12th March 2012

A recent article in The Economist countered the old ‘small is beautiful’ argument pointing out that, while true on some levels, small companies tend to fall down in two areas; profit and job creation. The article points to the high proportion of small companies, those with less than 50 employees, within the troubled Mediterranean economies.

We have a lot of small companies in the UK. The secondary glazing industry is dominated by small traders – two family members with bags of tools waiting for dad to pop his clogs so they can start fighting over who inherits the van. Even within the larger building services companies secondary glazing is often carried out by small autonomous business units employing contract labour.

‘Trimming’ The Energy Bills In Spring With Passive Solar Sourced Energy

2nd March 2012

We are into Spring and approaching the time of year when what I call ‘trimming’ occurs. Rather than supplementing heating the house requires the passive solar energy acts as a complete central heating solution. This means the number of weeks in the year when any conventional - that is to say carbon based - energy is required is trimmed down. During the Autumn the conventional heating in the house was left off for six weeks longer than it was in surrounding houses – this spring we are looking for a similar early switch off period.

Passive Solar Energy Reaches Peak Performance

24th February 2012

That should have been yesterday - if the measure was the maximum energy output per day for the year to date. The temperature in the solar chimney got up to over 60 degrees C and air was coming into the house at around 45 degrees C. The house heated up to 25 degrees C and the thermostatically controlled fan ran for eight hours – two hours after sunset as the wall in the chimney heated up well above the temperature in the house. However, the outside temperature was high for the time of year – 17 degrees C – so not that much of a challenge. It is not often that in February thoughts turn to storing heat. But last weekend the system performed far more impressive feats...

Does The Home Improvement Industry Really Need Another Exhibition?

24th February 2012

The argument for the proliferation of IT exhibitions has always been that the industry is fast moving and constantly evolving. New technologies and changes in direction need to be communicated to a rapidly expanding customer base. The double-glazing and conservatory industry on the other hand is more staid. So why hold a new industry event? Here's why...

Just Where Do You Find The Energy These Days?

9th February 2012

A month ago I pulled a hamstring and am still having to forego my weekly ten mile run. With the help of a physio I am at least able to spend some time on a cross-trainer. Anyone familiar with gym equipment understands that running on the spot gives you plenty of time to think – in my case pondering how warm a room gets after you have been exercising in it for any length of time. In fact if you use equipment in a gym you usually do so under a hefty jet of cool air from a crude air conditioning system. Here, I think, the makers of cross-trainers and rowing machines are missing out on a trick. If exercise machines were fitted with generators gym operators would have access to as much carbon free electricity as is generated by a medium sized wind turbine. It would probably also be worth their while recovering some of the heat from the warm air they currently throw out into the atmosphere.

But gyms are not the only off beat energy sources.

A Free Delivery Of Oil With Every Conservatory

3rd February 2012

After March, when feed in tariffs linked to solar PV installations are scaled back, the renewable energy market will experience something of a readjustment. Possibly a more level playing field will emerge. Companies providing a wide range of other renewable energy generation and energy conservation products may get a chance to play in the next round. The question is: will the secondary glazing and conservatory industry be in a position to win prizes in this new game?

Conservatory Industry Must Think Outside the Box Rather Than Crawl Inside One

26th January 2012

Not sure when the idea of ‘thinking outside the box’ reached the UK - the term has been in use in the US since 1969 - but it is often easy said than done. Most companies are constantly innovating: diversification, or thinking outside the box, only becomes necessary when the market for a product or service goes into steep decline. Unfortunately, at the first hint of a drop in sales companies tend to focus on their knitting rather than looking for pastures new. This is a natural reaction and is, during the current downturn in the market for home improvements, quite widespread. The situation is made worst by the bravado of competitors determined to put a brave face on the situation and talk up their business. This leaves everyone feeling they are the only ones having a tough time – not a frame of mind that encourages people to be inventive.

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