What’s the Green Deal?

Monday 28th January saw the launch of the Green Deal. Its arrival has been long awaited by home owners across the UK who are keen to welcome the scheme and spruce up their properties.  With the focus of transforming properties into more energy efficient places, the Green Deal Scheme will be beneficial to both the environment and property owners across Britain. The process of the scheme will involve a property being surveyed by an accredited Green Deal Advisor, who will have been trained up to government standards. The advisor will then inform the property owner about which Green Deal measures can be taken in order to increase its energy efficiency.

Greg Barker claimed that the Green Deal Scheme will be “the biggest home improvement scheme since the Second World War”; here’s hoping it lives up to its expectations! What is definite is that Britain needs to significantly reduce the carbon emissions it is currently pumping out into the atmosphere. This has prompted the government to set a carbon emissions reduction target of 80% by the year 2050. It appears, then, that Green Deal UK is what is needed to boost the country into taking the essential measures to help achieve this.

Various Green Deal home improvements will be available to property owners, including the installation of Green Deal double glazing, boilers and insulation. Of course, each individual property will have completely differing needs, which is why the role of the Green Deal Assessor is essential to the whole process. Green Deal advice will be informative and personalized to each individual building. After this stage the property owner will be free to choose which installers and providers they want to carry out and finance the work.

This brings us to Green Deal Finance. The Green Deal loan has been devised to avoid home owners having to pay any upfront cost for their home improvements. Any improvements will be paid back through the money the property owner saves on energy bills. Their Green Deal advisor will come up with a Green Deal plan, which will help to calculate the money they will be saving on energy bills. A Green Deal charge will then be added onto their bills, but will never exceed the money they are already saving. This has been referred to as the Green Deal ‘golden rule’.

This allows property owners to significantly increase the value and comfort of their home, whilst simultaneously relieving pressure from the environment, without having to pay the usually unaffordable upfront costs.

Only time will tell whether this scheme will be a winner, but hopefully with enough cooperation it will seriously reshape Britain!


Five Simple Steps to Reducing Your Homeowners Insurance Costs

In order to effectively reduce your homeowners insurance costs you’ll want to take the necessary steps and precautions needed to lower your home’s risk for accidental damage. By using preventative measures to reinforce your home, as well as documenting the quality and range of items you possess, you can be sure that you’ll get the most out of your homeowners insurance plan.

#1 Lessen The Risk Your Insurance Company Takes On Insuring You

In order to reduce your homeowners insurance costs, you’ll want to be sure that you’re taking the proper precautions to reduce your home’s risk of accidental damage. You can ensure that your home is better equipped for natural disasters, fires, and burglaries by preparing in advance for the possibility of their occurrence. Storm shutters, reinforced roofing, and other added features to your home may reduce your homeowners insurance costs. Since many insurance companies will offer you an additional discount of up to 10%, for adding precautionary features, you’ll want to make sure that your home is equipped with fire extinguishers and a reliable alarm system when possible.

#2 Consider Your Homeowners Insurance Deductible Costs and Premiums

You can change your premiums from monthly to annual in order to reduce the various costs and fees that can be associated with your homeowners insurance costs. You can also save a noticeable difference on your bill by speaking with your agent to set up monthly electronic funds transfers. This allows your premium to be automatically deducted from your checking account and saves you money on your monthly bill. The next important step you can take is to increase your deductible amount. By raising this amount, your premiums will be lowered, giving you a reduced annual cost since you’ll be responsible for the out of pocket deductible.

#3 View Your Policy In Detail And Verify Your Important Items

When reviewing your policy and going over your possessions, to make sure that all of your major purchases are insured, you’ll want to review the amount of coverage you have on your items. If certain items are no longer worth what you originally paid for them, you’ll want to be able to reduce the added insurance you took out on them. Also, be sure to check that you still own all the items listed on your homeowners insurance policy. If you’ve given away or sold any of these items you’ll want to cancel the extra insurance coverage to save further money.

#4 Continue To Remain With The Same Insurer

By choosing to stay with the same homeowners insurance company for at least three to five years, you can expect a discount of around 5% off your total policy for your commitment. This discount continues to increase as the years go on and may increase to 10% or more depending on your policy. An exception to this rule is if you feel that your homeowners insurance rates are unreasonable. There are many reliable websites online that allow you to compare many companies at once using an advanced search engine to provide you with policy estimates.

#5 Keep Accurate Records And Proof Of your Property And Possessions

To make the most of your homeowners insurance policy, you’ll want to document the condition of your home and property. This will provide proof of the upkeep of your home and the condition it is in as well as the cost of any landscaping needs that you incur. Make sure you also document the outside of your home in case a storm or other disaster occurs that could seriously damage the structure. Lastly, you should keep an inventory of all important items, including tools and other equipment, so that you’ll be properly reimbursed for your property in case anything detrimental occurs.

Your homeowners insurance plan can work for you, instead of against you, by using these tips to give you full advantage of your policy while also reducing costs. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you realize how much you can save by ensuring the safety and integrity of your home, property, and possessions.

Adam Vaught is an insurant consultant. His experience in the insurance industry spans over 15 years and he enjoys sharing his insights on personal finance blogs.


Update Your Homes Style with Contemporary Modern Lighting

If your home decor is looking a bit antiquated, it’s time to update your look by adding contemporary lighting to your interior design scheme. Contemporary lighting can include trendy additions such as pendant lighting, multi-tiered torchiere floor lamps and stylish, sleek chandeliers and mini chandeliers, all of which come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors to match your existing decor.

 

Pendant Lighting

One of the hottest trends in contemporary design, pendant lights are fixtures that hang from the ceiling and are supported by a chain, a cord or a metal rod. Pendant light fixtures are often designed to feature multiple light shades which are typically constructed of glass, acrylic or fabric, but can also be made of wood and other unusual materials.

Pendant lights can be used for both ambient and task lighting, and come in a variety of trendy, contemporary designs. Some pendant lights are artistically created as functional show-pieces for your room, and can resemble pieces of custom-made sculpture.

 

Chandeliers

When you think of chandeliers, you may automatically picture a huge ornate fixture hung heavily with crystal pendants and worthy of gracing the foyer of a stately manor house. Today’s chandeliers, however, are anything but stately and formal. They can be as casual, glamorous, funky and trendy as you want them to be. For a custom designed look, try a chandelier that’s hung with acrylic disks in shades of white, silver or gold. For a casual effect, consider a wicker or a wrought iron chandelier for your living room or den.

 

Torchieres

Lighting fixtures don’t all have to be suspended from the walls and ceiling. Multi-tiered torchiere floor lamps add a contemporary touch to any design scheme, and come in a wide variety of colors and styles. For a modern, Art Deco-influenced look, try a torchiere with shades of Lalique-inspired frosted glass, or a black and white torchiere with rectangular shades. For a bit of drama, consider a sculpture-like torchiere with hanging round glass balls. Likewise, you can bring in a hint of nostalgia with a 1950s-inspired torchiere made up of colorful cone-shaped lampshades in bright colors.

 

Globe Lights

Globe-shaped glass lighting shades are a hugely popular design trend and are used in pendant lighting, chandeliers and torchiere floor lamps. These round glass shades come in all sizes and colors, from clear and frosted glass to blue, red, pink, yellow, purple, green and even black. For task lighting, try using a clear glass globe for maximum light concentration.

 

Task and Ambient Lighting

Many contemporary light fixtures can be used for both task and ambient lighting. You can also combine a mix of task and ambient lighting by installing several ambient light fixtures near your main source of task lighting; just make sure that your task light has a dimmer switch so that you can bring the lights down to create a bit of atmospheric mood lighting for your room.

By simply updating your lighting fixtures, you’ll be able to achieve the look of an entire room make-over. For maximum energy efficiency, just remember to choose fixtures that use quality LED, CFL and other types of energy-efficient bulbs. You’ll be amazed at how fresh and modern your room will suddenly look thanks to the addition of a few contemporary floor lamps and light fixtures.

 

Nina Marlowe is an interior designer who specializes in lighting. She enjoys writing on the subject, sharing her knowledge on a range of decor blogs. See Lampclick.com for a wide range of lighting.


Interior Trends To Look Out For In 2013

Every year new styles and trends appear, not just in the fashion world but also in the interior design one. Leaving behind the festivities of Christmas and New Year can make January a dull month, but it is the perfect time to get inspired to make some changes to your home. If your resolution this year is to make a change to at least one room in your home, make sure to stick to it as the end result will be well worth it!

Professionals in this area will come together and look for colours, patterns and styles that will dominate the next 12 months. 2013 looks to be bringing a sense of calm to the year, this is reflected hugely in the colour palette that is set to be popular, which will consist of various neutral colours. Experts were heading towards a sense of calm with the colours in 2012 but it has properly arrived this year with beige, creams, browns and greys being the main choices. Whilst some may think these sound lacklustre, they create a sophisticated look and match well with a whole host of other colours. As well as the subtle hues, lemon sorbet is set to be the colour of the year so you will find pops of colour that will match these calmer tones.

Colour adds life to all interior design items and will be reflected in everything from carpet to wallpaper to sofas to lamp shades and more. When it comes to picking flooring and paint, sticking to the neutral palette will create a fresh look within the room and make it appear brighter. Once choosing a cream, brown or grey shade as a base, 2013 is still a time to inject some life into what appears fully calm, by introducing a pop of bold colour. Lime greens, hot pinks and bright oranges are the big colours this year.

It is all about using these bright shades cleverly, so whilst keeping the majority of the room clean and fresh, bring in the bold choices for example with small cushions and vases in the living room and with utensils and tea towels in the kitchen. It will also be helpful if you decide to have a feature wall in the room, picking something with a neutral background that also features the bright colours in a retro or floral pattern on top.

Some other popular trends to watch out for are the addition of gold finishes, graphic wallpaper, grouped mirrors and more. Creating mood boards of your favourite trends will be a great way to combine what is on trend with your personal tastes, and give you a better idea of what you need to go shopping for.


Simple Steps To Make A Welcoming Space For House Guests

For those whose children have flown the nest, or just the lucky ones who have a spare room, decorating and furnishing the guest room can be a lot of fun! A guest room can be multi functional, for some using the room as an office is a great way to make the most of the extra space, or it can double up as a laundry room or even a place for extra storage, keeping rarely used linen, clothes and any other items that have been cluttering up your living space.

Choosing a bed for the guest room is the most important furniture item. A bed that doubles up, as a sofa is an excellent choice if the room is to be used for other purposes.  There are both single and double sofa beds available to buy, comfortable and practical, a fold away bed is a great space saver for a multi functional room.

For those who prefer to have a bed, choose one, which incorporates storage. Ottoman beds are divan beds that have extra storage underneath the mattress, ideal for keeping spare bed linen for when the guests arrive!

Any guest will need somewhere to keep their clothes when they come to stay, but remember they won’t need a lot of space, so a single wardrobe with drawers should suffice.

Imagine a room in a hotel and try to incorporate the same amount of furniture as you would expect to find when staying somewhere as a paying guest. A bedside table with a night-light is essential for guests who enjoy reading before they go to sleep and is also a handy place to keep a jug of water so they don’t have to get up in the night.

Keep the decor neutral and calming. Bold bright colours are jarring to the senses and not particularly restful. The same with any art pieces opt for pictures of natural scenes that are not offensive and give a calming feel to the room.

If the room is also used as an office, make sure there are shelves and drawers in the desk to put files out of sight when visitors are staying.  Adding a vase of fresh cut flowers will also detract the eye from the workspace.

Dress the bed in layers rather than just a duvet. Duvets are fine, but make sure there is extra bedding available, such as a throw and a top sheet for the summer months. The same with pillows, extra cushions on the bed can look pretty and also be used by a guest who perhaps enjoys a read before sleeping.

Finally, make sure the room is well aired and dust free before guests arrive.  Even if the room isn’t used very often, dust will still collect and the room can smell fusty if it has been shut up for long periods. Add a scented diffuser to help banish dust and give the room a clean fresh smell.


Putting the spark into your home – Lighting installation tips [Guest Post]

Having the right lighting can make a world of difference in your home. Perhaps your home office is a bit too dim for reading those vital documents, or maybe your kitchen’s florescent lights are too harsh and are giving you a headache. Being familiar with the different types of lighting will help you solve this problem.

Ceiling Lights: The Centrepiece

In general, ceiling lights act as the main source of lighting in a room. This means that you have a lot of choice in terms of the brightness and intensity of the light. Different types of ceiling lights can really change the mood of a room, ranging from a soft, relaxing glow to a harsh, direct beam for precise work.

One common type of ceiling light is track lighting, which is most commonly found in home offices or craft areas because of it gives off intense light that is good for close work. Here, light bulbs are set into a metal track in a row and the angle of each light can be changed to light up a particular area.

Another common ceiling light is florescent lighting, which consists of long tubular bulbs set into the ceiling. This type is know for both its efficiency and harshness, so it’s often used in places like basements where the mood isn’t so important.

Additionally, recessed lighting features bulbs that are set in alcoves up in the ceiling and usually line the edges of the ceiling to create a softer glow.

Finally, you can also have ceiling fan lights or chandeliers, which give off a softer light as well as blending well with the style of the room.

Other Types of Lighting

To supplement ceiling lights, many people add attractive floor and tabletop lamps when more light is needed, such as for reading or working on projects where precise work is needed like in cooking or sewing. You can find a wide variety of lamps at any furniture store, so you can shop around and choose a style that suits your decoration style.

How to Install

The first step to installing any lighting fixture is to turn off the electricity to the room where you will be working and use a tester to make doubly sure. If you begin working while the power is still on, you could get a nasty electric shock that can land you in the hospital.

Then, the next step is to have the proper tools to get started. You will need a razor and a screwdriver, as well as a stepladder if you need to reach up high. You make sure you have all of the parts that came with the fixture when you purchased it.

To begin, strip the wires on their corresponding markings. Then, install the mounting hardware using your screwdriver and the included screws. Establish an electrical connection by connecting the ground wires using a wire nut. Then screw in the fixture, the bulb and the globe. Test by turning on the power and turning the light on.

To help you, you can also follow the instructions provided with the fixture. Though the basic process is the same, there may be additional steps based on the type of light that you bought. Either way, it’s easy to install a light and the right one can make a world of difference for the ambiance of a room.


Capture The Sun With Modern Double Glazing

With advances in modern technology and continuous scientific innovation often comes great change, double glazing glass is no exception to this. Windows were once purely inventions of necessity; a way to get light into a home however, with modern life there is a need for more modern solutions that carry modern benefits. At first this meant moving from the use of a single glass pane to the use of double glazed windows, the extra glass still allows light to enter but reduces the amount of heat that can escape. Now however, double glazing alone is not enough. Instead a new innovation was needed that focuses on the glass itself rather than purely increasing the quantity (and cost) of glass used in each windows unit.

This latest innovation in glass production involves the use of a special coating to create a low emissivity glass. This coating makes the glass very effective at capturing energy from the sun while at the same time making sure that any internal heat cannot escape through improved thermal insulation. By capturing energy directly from the sun and ensuring that this energy cannot escape, these new windows allow for solar heat gain which means that more often than not the windows actually produce energy rather than simply try to avoid the loss of it.

There are many other ways in which glass has been constantly improved though new production process. One such technique involves creating a glass product that is clearer and contains fewer imperfections than normal glass. This is achieved by using high quality, low iron sand which ultimately creates a far purer form of glass. The benefit of using this glass is that it is effectively more see through than standard glass; more light (and therefore heat) can pass through into the home.

When all of these innovations are put together in one double glazed unit the results are quite incredible. The end product allows increased levels of light and heat into the home while at the same time stopping almost all heat transfer to the outside; the windows go from simply cutting the amount of energy usage to producing small amounts of energy.

When you are thinking about replacing your homes windows make sure that you contact your local double glazing installers in order to find out about the best possible glass products for your home. The installers are very experienced and will always know of the latest glass innovations to ensure that you are always getting the most efficient glass for your windows to help save you money instantly on your energy bills.