NO ONE’S going to argue that is doesn’t get pretty cold here in Aberdeenshire.
In fact the lowest recorded temperature in Aberdeen was nearly minus twenty which is enough to force anyone to wear a hat. Here in Europe’s Oil Capital we have been the power house for warm British homes for nearly 40 years but recently that has changed. Whilst North Sea gas looks to become less of a feature over the next few decades which gas will be more important – fracking or Argon? Companies like Safestyle UK think that the future for warmer homes lies in heat conservation rather than generation.
Fracking gas or shale gas is still natural gas but the strength of negative feeling around it is significant. In the USA customers are currently enjoying a dip in the price of natural gas for their homes which is known as theFracking Gas Bubble. Experts are wondering when that bubble will burst. Shale gas is extracted differently to North Sea Gas.
Whilst drilling is still involved, North Sea Gas tends to come out under its own steam, whereas shale gas needs a lot of help to get to the surface. Once the required depth has been reached the extraction company will pump in large amounts of water and chemicals to force the gas up into the collectors. It is a far more intensive form of gas extraction and the real depth of controversy lies with the possible side effects from poor adhering to government guidelines.
Recently Blackpool suffered a series of earth tremors as a result of a fracking operation which understandable had local residents extremely concerned. In Chesterfield a test facility was overrun by demonstrators. Shale gas is likely to grow in use although it remains to be seen if public confidence will change. One factor that will affect this will be the price of foreign gas imports.
So where on earth does Argon fit into this equation? Argon is an inert gas that naturally occurs in the air. It doesn’t smell of anything. It doesn’t burn. In fact it is often known as the “lazy gas”. How will this help us live in warmer homes?
Over the last couple of decades we have been getting quite a taste for warmer houses. Many people these days would prefer not to throw on a cardie if they’re feeling a little chilly. The average temperature of a centrally heated home has changed from a finger numbing 14 degrees to a slightly Mediterranean 18 degrees and that requires heating. But with bills not simply creeping up but actually skyrocketing how do we maintain our flip flops lifestyle with dwindling and controversial gas supplies? The answer is Argon.
Although double glazing was invented by the Romans they missed out on a crucial feature that massively reduces the amount of heat lost through a window. It is the pocket that lies between the two panes of glass.
These days, modern, energy efficient double glazing is produced in state of the art factories that manufacture sealed units of glass with a sandwiched layer of Argon gas. These factories are more like something that NASA would use rather than your local glazier.
Argon is a very dry gas and this is important because moisture acts as a medium to help the transfer of heat from one pane of glass to the other. If you ever see condensation between the panes in a double glazing unit then you should be concerned because the Argon has leaked out and been replaced with damp air.
Argon also doesn’t transfer heat as effectively as the other gasses in the atmosphere which makes it a perfect insulating material.
So when it comes to keeping a warm home the trick is to strike the best possible balance between the gas you use to get it warm, compared with the as you use to keep it warm.
Buying the best possible energy efficient replacement double glazing is essential to lowering your reliance on gas central heating and so it may be that in the future the most important “heating” gas for the home is the one that you can’t burn – Argon.