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.
Bed bugs have been on the increase lately, especially in larger cities, and can wreak havoc on even the most beautifully improved homes. This increased risk of bed bugs puts us more at risk of bites, and other health problems that are related to having an infestation in your home. Most people that suffer from a bed bug bite don’t have any reaction to it. But there are those that are incredibly allergic to them, which results in serious rashes and sometimes even blisters.
This is why it’s so important to control bed bug infestations when they occur. Bed bugs are resistant to a lot of pesticides, and may have been hidden in your home for a while before you’ve noticed their presence. Keeping up a consistent vacuuming regime will definitely help get rid of eggs and bugs hidden around your home, but what about if the bugs are hiding in your mattress?
Empire Pest Control have given us this great infographic on what to do if you find bed bugs in your mattress, and how to dispose of the mattress if you feel like you have no other choice.
The best treatment options for bed bugs is using heat. Bed bugs hate extreme temperatures, so exposing them to a lot of heat will kill them in every stage of life. A professional cleaning service will be able to offer you steam cleaning on your upholstery and household fabrics, which will get rid of the bed bugs effectively.
Bedding, pillow covers, duvets etc must be washed immediately, and then put on to tumble dry on a high heat. If you have delicate fabrics, such as silk, then have them professionally cleaned.
To treat a mattress properly, you must get the help of a professional pest controller. Empire Pest Control use heat treatment to kill bed bugs instantly. It’s a great non-toxic option that is safe for your whole family.
The common question of “how to move home?” is asked by many a house mover.
Simon Long Removals’ interactive timeline of how to move home documents the essential stage of planning involved throughout the entire home removals process, from 2 months before your move to the days following your home move.
Below you will find attached an infographic version of this interactive timeline, with the stage of a house move outlined as:
- What to do 2 months before your home move
- Researching removals companies
- Spring cleaning your home
- Organising all of your moving documentation
- What to do 1 month before your home move
- Booking your removal company
- Ordering any packing materials
- Emptying freezers & larders
- Measuring furniture
- Informing the relevant parties of an address change
- What to do 2 weeks before your home move
- Start packing
- Arrange time off from work
- Contact utility providers
- What to do on the day of your home move
- Get your kids and pets out of the house
- Keep your survival box and all important documents in a safe place
- Give the house a final check
- What to do post home move
- Celebrate / Relax
Gardens can easily attract attention because they often sit in front of properties. This means they play a great role in boosting your home’s value as well as its appeal. Keeping your garden in top shape, however, requires time, effort and money. If you are on a tight budget, this can pose a big challenge.
Fortunately, you don’t always have to burn holes in your wallet just to build and maintain an expensive-looking garden. In case you are wondering how, these few tricks can give you a clearer idea.
If there is an area in your garden that requires extensive and expensive renovation, you can use screening as a temporary solution. Apart from that it hides the unpleasant areas of your garden, it also enhances privacy.
Screening doesn’t have to involve building additional fences and tall walls. In fact, plants can work just as great. Bamboo, for example, can add height and make you fee closer to nature. In case you are looking for planters and boxers, you can try boxwood. For additional height, try to choose containers that are tall and slender.
Build better storage
The more gardening tools you have, the messier your lawn looks. This is particularly true if you don’t have any decent storage built. Aside from being unattractive, such clutter can also render your garden looking cheap and neglected- even if you didn’t mean it that way.
Instead of keeping your tools just about every part of your garden, it’s a good idea to pick a dedicated space for them. There are tons of DIY storage you can do or, if budget permits, you can purchase one from your local shop. Just make sure that the storage you will be buying or building will make it easier for you to access your tools. You wouldn’t want a storage that’s really neat-looking but is a bit hard to get tools from.
Get synthetic grass
Getting an artificial lawn for your garden can take guts, especially if you’ve been used to natural grass for so long. You’ll have to deal with the installation costs and the side comments from your nosy neighbors.
Despite these adjustments, synthetic turf isn’t all that bad. In fact, it’s convenient, cost-efficient and friendly to the environment. It doesn’t require constant maintenance as well which means you can forget about mowing every weekend.
There are synthetic gardens perfect for urban areas so you won’t have to worry even if you live in the big cities. These gardens usually come drainage holes that can prevent water from accumulating in areas where it shouldn’t be. You also get to choose the shape and size of the blades so you can get natural looking grass for your garden all year.
You don’t always have to spend a huge amount of cash just to make your garden look expensive. If you have old pieces of furniture, you can upcycle them to save money.
Old wooden table and chairs, for example, can be buffed, painted and polished to give them a new look and feel. You can even turn your kid’s old bicycle as a planter and place it near your garden’s entrance. You can also make a small pond using old tires. Broken benches can be turned into swings while your old drawers can be used to house your vegetable gardens.
The nice thing about upcycling is that there’s virtually no limit as to what you can create. You also have a lot of control in terms of design and color. You’ll be less likely to throw out valuable items, too.
Choosing the right windows for your home is more than just a matter of choosing the right size. With quality windows, you could massively reduce your energy bills through increased insulation, and you can also effectively block out outside noise when you’re relaxing at home.
The two most popular choices of windows are double glazing and secondary glazing: in this article we take a look at which one’s better.
Double glazing is composed of two panes of glass with a gap in between them, creating a barrier that effectively insulates your home against the outside elements. The gap between the two panes can either be a vacuum, or is occasionally filled with inert gas such as Argon, which boosts the windows insulative properties.
Secondary glazing is installed via a supplementary pane of glass that is installed on the inside of an existing single-glazed window. The gap between the two panes is therefore larger with secondary glazing, and the supplementary panel is detachable in some way in order to allow the user to open both windows and access the inside panes for cleaning.
So which is better?
Double glazing is the more expensive option, as it requires a new window and must be fitted professionally to ensure a secure fit. Secondary glazing is cheaper as it requires only one additional window pane and can infact be installed yourself, although a poor installation job will incur more costs to fix it later down the line, so this should only be attempted if you have experience in glass fitting.
Secondary glazing is more effective at sound proofing your home against the outside noise as the larger gap between the two window panes creates a more effective sound barrier. Double glazing does reduce sound pollution, but not quite as effectively.
Double glazing is much more effective at insulating a property than secondary glazing due to the stable barrier the fixed gap between two window panes provides. Secondary glazing can be less effective because of the larger gap between window panes and the second pane being removable.
There are no planning permission regulations stopping you from having double glazing or secondary glazing. However, if you are in a listed building, there may be different rules that apply in order to maintain the building’s history. Check with your local planning authority if you are not sure.
Your windows are a big part of your home’s exterior, so regardless of their efficiency, you’ll want them to look good. Double glazing will require a complete window replacement, so if you have a period property with a distinctive look, double glazing can damage the aesthetics of the building. Secondary glazing is a popular choice for this reason, as it isn’t visible from the outside.