Everybody loves receiving flowers. They brighten homes, positively impact your mood and generally add a touch of life to any room. But sadly, they always die. There’s nothing you can do about it, other than purchasing plastic plants. And let’s be honest, those just don’t cut it. But, there could be a sinister reason behind the premature death of your flowers – and the key to saving them could be in your air conditioning.
Why Clean Indoor Air is Essential in All Homes
We’ve all heard of the term “canary in a coalmine”, coming from the days of mining where they would bring a small bird into the mine to measure when the air gets too toxic. When the canary dies, the miners knew that it was time to get out of there quickly.
Plants are similar in this way. They’re more sensitive to air quality than humans are. They don’t have the biological systems we do to filter toxins and other pollutants from the good stuff we need – obviously. Thus, if plants are dying quickly, it could be due to the low air quality in your home.
Don’t be alarmed! This doesn’t mean that because your plants don’t live long that your air is toxic. It means that it’s not as fresh as it could be. Simple steps can be taken to make a huge difference to your indoor air quality. This can help you avoid irritating asthma or hay fever symptoms that may aggravate you on occasion.
Chemicals in our home that we use for a huge range of things can have a negative impact on our health. Cleaning and cooking products, aerosols and other factors can make a difference to what we’re breathing in.
We spend a lot of time indoors, and we want to make sure that we’re getting the best kind of air for the best health. Indoor plants can help create cleaner indoor air (as they produce pure oxygen). If you make a great environment for them to thrive in, they’ll help you out too!
Consider what the best options are for your unique home to optimise clean indoor air. These methods don’t have to be expense, so look into it and find the best solution to help you breathe better air.
You may want to consider implementing the method you decide on in your office as well. Anywhere where a lot of people spend time breathing the air needs to be a clean and healthy environment. Making the best choices will help everyone feel, look and work there best.
If you’re looking to strengthen your home security, you might very well consider the benefits of a burglar alarm. With the wide range of burglar alarms to choose from, it’s easy to find an effective solution for any property.
Whatever your security setup, a burglar alarm is always a wise investment, and this article takes a look at some of the reasons why.
Many burglaries are opportunistic, carried out by thieves who spot vulnerable properties. A burglar alarm on your home immediately tells burglars that you have considered and taken positive action towards your home security. Criminals do not want to draw attention to themselves, and a burglar alarm presents an effective obstacle to achieving this.
Some people opt for dummy alarm boxes – non-functional boxes which resemble real alarms. They can be effective for lower risk areas, but many burglars will be able to spot the difference between dummy alarms and the real deal. Having a functional burglar alarm installed is both a reliable deterrent and an effective response should a break-in occur.
A burglar alarm could save you money
Homeowners could benefit from reduced insurance premiums if they install a burglar alarm on their property. Homes with an operational burglar alarm are seen as a lower liability than those without. Lack of a burglar alarm suggests to your insurance company that your home is fundamentally less secure, and thus more prone to unlawful entry.
A burglar alarm could be a quick and easy way to lower your premiums due to the added layer of security. To see if you can get a discount on your policy, check with your home insurance provider.
Secure your valuables
The heart of any security system is the protection of your belongings. We all have things we need to keep safe, whether we live in a small cottage out in the countryside or Buckingham Palace in London. A burglar alarm system is designed to safeguard your valuables. If a burglar does gain access into your home, by breaking a window or kicking a door down, for example, the burglar alarm will offer an immediate response.
Burglars thrive on going about their business undetected. A burglar alarm sounding off alerts you, your neighbours and, depending on the system, the police, to a break-in. This eliminates the element of surprise and forces the intruder to react. The typical response is to flee the scene, thus keeping your belongings safe and sound inside your home.
A burglar alarm communicates to thieves that they have been identified, taking control of the situation out of their hands. Not having an alarm means they have no reason to prematurely flee, leaving them with much more time to examine, locate and steal your most prized possessions.
A range of home alarms to suit your needs
Technology and security have seen rapid development over the years, and now there are a range of alarm systems available to cater to all kinds of requirements.
Bells-only alarms are usually installed on homes which are lower risk. These systems will sound the alarm as soon as a break-in occurs, but are not monitored.
Monitored alarms benefit from constant connection to an outside security company. When the alarm goes off, someone from the company will contact you to make sure everything is in check and to ask for a password which you would have set up when the system was installed. In cases where there is no response or password given, the authorities are called in to deal with the potential break-in.
Wireless systems and wired systems are the two main choices for home security. Wireless systems make it easy to accommodate extra sensors and are typically cheaper overall compared to a wired alarm. Wireless alarms can also be taken to a new home should you move house, and are much quicker and easier to install.
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your home. It’s where you gather with your family to cook and chat to each other about your day. You spend so much time in there that it is important to make it a welcoming environment and lighting contributes to that considerably. Here are the best types of lighting for kitchens, and where to place them to create the perfect environment.
You can find track lighting in many different shapes and sizes. It makes an ideal base for you to hang pendant lighting or spotlights from. You can position the lights in different places on the track, allowing some lights to create an atmosphere and others to provide focus for tasks. Track lighting can be curved or straight, and looks great with a stainless steel finish.
Under cabinet Lighting
Under cabinet lighting is one of the most ideal forms of task lighting that you can buy for your kitchen. You can place the lights underneath wall cabinets above your work surface, to provide better lighting for chopping and cooking. You can get the lights as a strip, or as small discs which can be recessed or left on the surface. If you purchase LED undercabinet lighting, you will hardly ever need to replace the bulbs, making them a great cost effective lighting solution.
Pendant lights hang from the ceiling, and are much more decorative than traditional ceiling lights. They make a great lighting solution for areas of the kitchen where you perform tasks, as well as areas where you socialise. For that reason, interior designers often place LED pendant lights over islands and dining spaces. You can use smaller pendant lights under 12 inches in small spaces, so that they don’t overwhelm the room.
In kitchens, wall lighting fixtures usually take the form of a sconce. The sconces usually match whatever form of ceiling light you have; be it a pendant or a chandelier. Sconces work well on a tiled backsplash or by a piece of art.
If you would prefer your kitchen lighting to be more functional than decorative, then recessed lighting is the best way to go. Recessed lighting is installed within the ceiling with some trim around it, and is ideal for lighting up the whole kitchen. You can also use it as accent lighting above seating areas, but pendant lighting tends to look better for this from a decorative perspective.
Top Tips for Perfect Kitchen Lighting:
- Zone your lighting according to its use – task (cooking/working), mood and dining (ambient) and decorative (feature). Try to have elements of all three.
- Consider dimmable lights for more flexibility.
- Put direct lighting anywhere where you will be preparing or cooking food. Recessed lighting will look tidier in these areas, and undercabinet lighting can really help when you’re trying to find a particular utensil or ingredient.
- Try not to have too many ceiling fixtures, as they can look cluttered.
Planning effective lighting for your kitchen doesn’t have to be difficult. Try to use a mixture of styles to create the best effect. Above all, kitchen lighting should look good and be functional too.
Landfill sites represent a blight on human history, with waste festering in piles buried underground. This is a temporary solution to our waste problem which can no longer be allowed to go on.
But with more and more waste being produced each day, what can we do to stem the tide of waste entering landfill sites? For the sake of the environment, let’s take a look at ways in which you can reduce household waste from ending up at a landfill site.
Common household waste
Plenty of the things you have in your household waste can be recycled. Rather than throwing them into your normal bin, invest in a divided bin.
The following materials can all be recycled with ease, either through council services, skip hire or local bins in your community:
- Garden waste
- WEEE items
You’ll need to check that items like plastic are recyclable by looking for the universal recycling symbol, which is three arrows creating a triangle. This can usually be found on the bottom or side of an item.
WEEE items can often be recycled at specific locations, but if the item is in good working order, you might consider selling it online or giving it away for free online using sites such as freecycle.org.
Visit your local tip
When it comes to those items you can’t put in your council bin collection, it might be worth visiting your local tip to dispose of waste. This is great for larger garden waste and any waste from DIY projects such as rubble and wood.
If you’ve got metal you need to dispose of, try your local scrap metal merchants; you might find that you get a little bit of cash for your old car parts and any other bulky metal items. Should you need help knowing where to put your waste, most tips have staff you can ask first.
Donate old clothes
Most people simply throw out their old clothes in the bin, but this can be avoided if you collect up enough clothes to take to your local charity shop. If your clothes are in good condition the charity might make some money.
If you know your clothes are beyond use, you can always simply donate them as raw materials at a local clothing bank. Local collections also happen door-to-door with free bags provided.
Be smarter with your food
In the UK, we waste so much food that in 2015 we threw away 4.4 million tonnes of it, costing billions of pounds. These items are more likely to be biodegradable, but get added into a cycle of waste which needs to be broken.
By cooking only what you need, you avoid throwing large amounts of food away. If you cook something and don’t finish it, it’s a good idea to pot up your leftovers as they can often make extra portions to save for another day. You might find you need to change your shopping habits in order to avoid fresh fruit and vegetables deteriorating before you get a chance to use them. If you have anything you think might be close to an expiry date, try to use it up and avoid the wastage.
Protecting virgin materials
There is an added bonus to all your recycling, as it means fewer virgin materials will be used up in the production of clothes and household goods. This is due to a lack of demand for raw materials if we recycle what we already have instead of sending it to landfill sites.
Another positive effect of this type of thinking is that less energy is spent in cultivating those raw materials – so it’s a double win for the environment!
Rain gutters are an essential, but often overlooked feature of our homes. A good quality guttering system will help to protect our roofs, windows and doors, and even our home’s foundation. In contrast, a poor guttering system could result in damage to these important attributes. This could range from minor cosmetic damage, to serious issues that are costly and more difficult to treat. In order for guttering to do its job, which is essentially to channel rainwater, it is crucial that we don’t neglect our gutters; even the most high quality guttering systems can fail if they’re neglected.
Invest in proper protection
Taking care of your guttering needn’t be complicated or time consuming. Gutter protectors work year round to keep your guttering system running smoothly. There are various types of gutter protection on the market, ranging from porcupine gutter brushes, to mesh and plastic gutter protection. Most popular guttering manufacturers such as brett martin guttering, specifically design gutter protection, with their own guttering systems in mind. If you can get your hands on gutter protection made by your guttering manufacturer, then we suggest opting for this; however if you can’t, gutter protection from most trusted manufacturers should be fine.
What does Gutter protection do?
* Keeps out rodents and pests
Unfortunately, Guttering makes it easy for rodents like rats and mice to access our attics, while birds see guttering as a great place to make their nests. Gutter protection systems make it difficult for wildlife to nest in and climb across drainpipes, and keeps rodent problems at bay.
Prevents the collection of leaves and debris
Over time organic materials like twigs and leaves begin to collect in our gutters, thus preventing proper drainage of rainwater and forcing it to channel elsewhere or overflow. This can result in roof damage, roof leaks, water stains on walls, damage to our windows and doors, and damage to the ground below!
* Prevents Ice damage
Gutter protection makes it very difficult for ice to form during sub zero temperatures, ice can be damaging to our guttering system as trapped water causes gutters to expand, resulting in cracks over time and in turn shortening the lifespan of our gutters. Frozen water can also cause blockage of essential water channels, again making it easy for water to channel where we don’t want it, and overflow.
* Low maintenance
Gutter guards work all year round so you don’t have to. You will not need to clean or perform repairs on your gutters as often as you would on non protected guttering.
Smart meters are in the process of being rolled out by energy providers and suppliers to homes across the country. Smart Meters are a type of advanced gas and electricity meter. They are constant communication with your energy supplier, sending information automatically without you needing to send quarterly readings. Smart energy meters can end estimated billing and have paved the way for a variety of new price plans.
Smart energy meters in themselves can’t tell you much about your home energy usage; to do this, they come with an energy monitor which you can use to check how you are using energy in your home. You can find out more about smart meters here.
By 2020, the government is committed to smart meters being installed in every home. The government (and energy providers) claim that smart meters can make our energy bills cheaper, end estimated billing and encourage us all to use energy more efficiently. But is this true and will that shiny new smart meter be all it is cracked up to be?
Rolling out smart energy meters
The roll out of smart meters across the country is the biggest IT infrastructure project in UK history. It is a project involving the government and the UK energy industry which will affect your home and your money. As it is rolled out across the country, there is no opt-out and it is a project which will cost energy consumers and/ or taxpayers across the country.
Smart meters – Advantages
- More accurate bills, no more estimated billing
- Monitor your energy usage in real time. See where and how your electricity.
- Allow for better energy tariffs to be introduced in the future.
- Better energy unit pricing.
- They encourage more efficient energy usage in the home.
- Feed in tariffs can sell energy back into the grid in a much easier way – great for home with solar panels, etc.
Smart meters – disadvantages
- Security and hacking issues. There are questions with regards to who else can have access to your smart meter’s data. How is your data stored? To manage this consumer data, the government has set up the Data Communication Company (DOC).
- Costs to consumer, energy providers and the taxpayer.
- There are concerns that radio waves from the meter to your monitor may be unsafe.
Is your smart meter really free?
Smart energy meters offer consumers undeniable benefits and the government and energy industry insist that they will save consumers time and money. But there are still questions about the cost, effectiveness and technical feasibility of the roll out.
In a recent documentary, ITV’s Chris Choi had the following to say with regard to the energy industry and government’s claims:
“Their argument is that there is no up-front cost. To me this would be like a restaurant saying its meals are free because it doesn’t charge you as soon as you walk in!”
Chris Choi – ITV/ Tonight
Will you really save money?
Will installing a smart meter save you money? This depends on your homes energy usage, energy supplier and energy tariff. So far, there is no concrete evidence that a smart meter is guaranteed to cut your energy bills. What we do know is that smart energy meters encourage you to track your energy usage on a daily and even hourly basis. Knowing where and how you are using energy helps consumers to reduce their overall energy usage.
What is the current situation and what future for smart meters?
Smart meters have been piloted across large parts of the EU. Other countries such as the USA have rolled out smart meters to millions of customers across various states, there is still some debate on both sides over their effectiveness. There is also a continuing debate in both the EU and USA, as to their effectiveness in changing consumer usage patterns with some studies showing larger consumer changes than others. It still remains to be seen if smart energy meters cut usage on a large enough scale.
In the UK the chances are that you will either already have a smart energy meter installed or will have one installed in the next couple of years. If you engage with the process and the technology which is installed in your home, you have the chance to make good savings on your energy bills, but to do so your energy usage and habits will need to change.
Your roof is one of the most important investments to make when building a new property, and though they typically have a long lifespan, the materials exposed to the elements can face damage throughout the year. Maintaining your roof is the simplest way to avoid expensive repair costs in the future.
Whether it’s summer, or the middle of winter, a bit of attention to the state of your roof can go a long way. The tips below can be actioned on any roof shape or design. Check out these top tips to keeping your roof in great condition all year round.
Keep gutters clean
One of the best ways to keep your roof in great condition is to maintain the gutters and drainpipes at all times. Autumn and winter can be especially damaging to neglected gutters, with leaves and debris quickly blocking them. A blocked gutter can cause water to back up and freeze in the winter, damaging the roof and the walls of your building. Hire a professional to clear the gutters to ensure no blockages occur throughout the year.
Hire a professional maintenance company
Cleaning and repairing a roof yourself can be dangerous, and can only lead to more costs later down the line if your roof suffers from further damage. Hiring a professional roof maintenance service is the safest and most effective way to keep your roof up to standard.
Prevent ice dams forming
This can happen when heat inside your home melts ice or snow on the roof, and causes it to run down to the edges. When it then refreezes, this creates a blockage that can cause leaks and damage to your interior walls. Keeping your attic cool and ventilated is the best way to prevent heat escaping out the roof.
Check the inside
Checking the inside of your roof via the loft is an important part of ensuring it’s in good condition. If the paint on your ceiling is raised or bubbling in areas, this could be a sign of water damage from your roof. Likewise, damp spots or dark or browning spots could be an indication that water if leaking through your roof.
A clean roof will ensure any chance of damage is reduced. Moss and mould can be rife on the top of your roof, as it is often exposed to varying temperatures and moisture. Keeping your roof free of moss and any debris that falls onto it will reduce the likelihood of water being stored on the surface and causing damage to the structure. Always use a professional to ensure the job is done properly and safely.
Survey the surrounding area
One of the biggest causes of damage to your roof is surrounding structures and trees potentially falling on it. Be sure to trim back any trees on your property that have grown over the roof, eliminating the risk of a heavy branch falling on your roof and causing damage or blockages.