Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.
Q I’ve recently had a double glazed conservatory built to extend my home into the garden. I’m really pleased with the quality of construction, but I have one query. On cold damp mornings the conservatory windows mist up, rather like the windscreen on a car. I’ve asked the builder about this and he says it’s perfectly normal, but my neighbour’s conservatories don’t seem to suffer from the same problem. Can you advise please?
A The condensation on the outside is to be expected if the glazing is doing its job of retarding the loss of heat from the inside of the conservatory to the outside glass window pane.
It certainly doesn’t indicate that your windows are inferior in quality to those of your neighbours. In fact just the opposite as it demonstrates your windows have far better thermal insulation characteristics than theirs.
Your windows are obviously keeping much more of the heat inside your home, so there is less of it escaping through the glass to evaporate the dew.
Your builder was completely on the ball. The greater the efficiency of the glazing, the more the dew will form on the outside of your windows.
It may be one of life’s little irritations, but it certainly doesn’t indicate poor quality, so I hope I’ve been able to put your mind at rest.
Q I understand from your recent column that the government tariff for solar energy generation has been reduced. Does this mean that firms that offer free solar panel installations will withdraw these offers and how much can I save on electricity costs?
A It’s highly unlikely, but some may well withdraw from the business altogether. Firms who pay to install panels on your roof are in effect renting your roof space in exchange for taking the government feed in tariff, but you get to use the electricity generated.
According to the independent Energy Savings Trust, any electricity savings are currently estimated to be about £90 a year, much less than many companies claim. These savings will clearly be eroded if, as seems likely, the electricity utilities decide to increase their prices again in the near future.
Because of falling profit margins, I suspect the number of firms offering completely free panel installations will become few and far between. It’s likely that most who decide to remain in the business will make some form of initial installation charge to offset the 50 per cent reduction in the feed in tariff.
Q A delivery van reversed into the front of my car as I was about to pull away from a garage forecourt. The car is getting long in the tooth and only worth about £1,500 but the firm who owned the van will not cover the full cost of the repairs which is in the region of £2,000. Can you advise where I stand please?
A Sadly I don’t think you’re going to get very far with any claim against the firm to cover the full cost of repairs that amount to more than the car is worth.
The reason is a legal one I’m afraid. As far as the law is concerned, the repair will put your car in a better condition than existed before the accident, and therefore any repair costs in excess of £1,500 will be down to you.
Richard Thomson is a former trading standards officer with many years experience. If you have a question, e-mail him at email@example.com and wherever possible he will try to provide practical assistance. Unfortunately he cannot guarantee to respond to every letter or e-mail. Richard Thomson welcomes letters from readers on consumer issues. Replies are intended to give general help or advice, not a complete statement of law.