A robotic vacuum with a camera cleans whilst the owners sit on a sof

Your letters

Send your letters to The Editor, E&T, Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage, Herts SG1 2AY, UK, or to engtechletters@theiet.org. We reserve the right to edit letters and to use submissions in any other format.

Leave energy saving to consumers

I watch with interest and often amazement the proposals emanating from the EU regulators and others concerning energy saving. We have recently seen a restriction introduced on the power consumption of domestic vacuum cleaners and I now understand attention is being directed towards other domestic electrical equipment.

In the case of kettles, remembering schoolboy physics, it takes a certain amount of energy to raise the temperature of a given volume of water by a given number of degrees, so how can restricting the rate at which the energy is supplied lead to a saving of energy? The best option is in the hands of the consumer to only heat the amount of water actually required.

Toasters? A lower temperature with an extended time period is more likely to lead to drying out of the bread slice rather than a nice surface browning. Perhaps this will save energy as we abandon our toasters in favour of discarding bread that is not at its pristine newness.

EurIng P Newell CEng MIET
Isle of Wight

Who needs smart meters?

As a retired metering engineer with one of the major energy companies, I am extremely concerned that Ofgem and others associated with the UK smart metering programme may be forcing the supply companies to supply monitoring devices to all end-users of energy without serious thought as to who will take the trouble to use them.

Some years ago, I did extensive research that involved installing monitors in dwellings then explaining the ways in which energy could be saved based on my findings. Following this exercise, I asked if anyone would like to retain the monitors – very few took up the offer. My conclusion was that after the hike in energy charges, customers really had strained the limits to energy savings.

What proof have the Department of Energy and Ofgem got that the majority of customers will pay any attention to the information provided on the monitors after the initial installation?

Taking all those on benefits, will these groups be the slightest bit interested in energy monitoring? What of the fraudulent users who bypass the meter? Ofgem's answer would surely be that a smart meter will show signal interference, but it is very unlikely that the energy supplier would be able to disconnect the supply if the illegal user is on benefits, or has an urgent need for heating but is not in a position to pay. The revenue protection officer will take the offender down to the benefits office, which in turn will issue a cheque made out to the supplier for the estimated amount of energy used. I know this for a fact, because it is what we did on a regular basis.

Of the other energy users, say twenty million households, my estimate would be that less than one or two per cent would ever consult their monitors. Let customers decide whether they need a monitor. In the majority of cases, a simple app will suffice and is more likely to be looked at than a separate monitoring device.

David Le Clercq MIET

Looks odd but solves hearing problem

I’m not deaf like Neil Muir (Letters, September) but at the age of 69 I have found with advancing years that the world in general seems to have become a very noisy place, and that certain mid-range frequencies and percussive noise have become unpleasant to the point of causing physical pain. I play a lot of classical music, and for the last three years or so have found it essential to wear ear plugs which are not really satisfactory musically and mean that ordinary speech such as what the conductor is saying in rehearsals becomes very difficult to hear.

Conventional hearing aids don’t solve the problem. Trying to think logically about what to do, I reasoned that the world of shooting has solved the problem of percussive noise by developing electronic ear defenders. The specification of some digital models looked particularly promising, and with the electronics off the item is simply a very effective ear defender.

On the model I have, the volume of ambient sound can then be adjusted in five steps from off to a level amplified considerably above ambient, but with the sound from the speakers always limited to a maximum of 82dB(A), which is lower than many similar products. One can sometimes hear a bit of clipping but I don’t find it troublesome.

Of course, it does look a bit odd to turn up to play classical music wearing ear defenders, but I’ve decided I don’t mind – particularly as so many people wear similar products these days. I find it completely comfortable playing in music groups; the washing-up problem is solved and, although I have yet to try out a long train journey, I am certain that there will be a huge improvement.

I rather think that the effort to make modern hearing aids so small as to be virtually invisible has inhibited the development of more sophisticated circuitry that can cope with the variety of different hearing needs that people actually suffer. The electronic ear defenders have been a revelation to me and cost only about £150, which is a lot less than many conventional hearing aids.

Nigel Morgan MIET
By email

One solution to money going down the drain

Being on a water meter and having a bathroom sink with a long run-off, like Donald Webb (Letters, September), I was frustrated at seeing money going down the plughole while waiting for the water to get hot. I employed a simple piece of high-tech engineering called an electric kettle, which I keep upstairs to boil two litres, just enough for a shave.

Ernest Davies EngTech MIET
By email

Legislating for status

To stoke that long-burning fire on the subject of engineers’ status, E&T readers may wish to note and indeed respond to the UK Department for Business Innovation & Skills’ current consultation on plans to revise the EU Directive on Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (www.gov.uk/government/consultations/).

The Directive aims to facilitate free movement of professionals within the EU and specifically relates to two mutual recognition procedures.

The automatic recognition procedure is limited to seven professions (doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, architects, vets, and pharmacists), which are referred to as the sectoral professions, and is based on minimum training requirements.

The general system is based on a case-by-case assessment of professional qualifications; teachers, engineers, and the majority of other professions would fall under this category. In the case of certain professions in crafts, commerce and industry, recognition is based on professional experience.

The impact assessment indicates that the regulatory cost associated with the Engineering Council (and CEng status) is much lower than the General Medical Council, but is also less than half that for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists. I leave you to interpret how this reflects on engineers’ status

Steve Argent FIET

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