We all know the detrimental effects that fossil fuels have on the environment. They are pollutants, they are expensive and most importantly, they’re non-renewable. In other words, they are running out. For a long time now, we’ve been aware that an alternative energy source needs to be found, if we’re going to keep heating our homes and powering them for generations to come. The Australian government have recognised this too, and have pledged that by 2020, a fifth of Australia’s energy will come from renewable sources.
That’s where solar power comes in – the sun is infinitely renewable and it’s a powerful energy source, so innovations have been developed to try and capture it. The most popular way to do this is with solar panels on the roof of your house. Precision Roofing explains that it catches the sunlight and turn it into domestic energy..
But there are pitfalls to solar panels – they are large and unsightly, require careful positioning and alignment and something as simple as a tree growing in the wrong direction can overshadow them and stop them working altogether. Most importantly, they are weather-dependant so can only work in direct sunlight. Not so good for overcast or rainy days!
Luckily, there’s an alternative that’s going to help overcome all these problems and provide the environmentally friendly hot water homes need. The heat pump uses energy from the air and coverts it into water-heating energy using a refrigerant and a compressor. It’s clean, efficient energy that comes from the sun without the problems of solar panels. In addition to choosing this kind of efficient, environmentally-friendly water heater, monitoring your water usage with a flow meter can also help in conserving water and energy.
The all-year performance is also great for the environment too. If you can heat your water on even the cloudiest of days, there’s no need for the large batteries or back-up generators that solar panels often need. As well as cutting your energy bills and saving on specialist equipment, heat pumps provide a long-term solution to energy problems. If everyone had one, the effect on the environment would be incredible. Not to mention the savings! No wonder the Australian government are offering rebates for anyone who purchases one.
By now, you’re probably convinced that heat pumps are the way forward for renewable energy sources. So, how do you choose the right one? There are lots of models on the market, but only one – the Hydrotherm – has all the features that make it both energy efficient and eco-friendly. It’s the only one to use an environmentally-friendly refrigerant called R410a, which contains no bromine or chlorine, so doesn’t deplete the ozone layer. It also requires no electrical booster, unlike some of the other models. The parts are also tough and long-lasting, so there’s no clogging up landfill sites with old bits of machinery. And it’s all independently tested, so you’re not just believing the hype. If none of that sets your mind at rest, how about the 15-year tank warranty?
The Hydrotherm also comes with a programmable timer, so you can set it to only be on when you need it. The all-in-one design includes acoustic dampening, so there’s no risk of noise pollution either. It’s the same decibel level as an air-conditioning unit, so barely noticeable. So, no noise pollution, ozone depletion or “disposable” parts? Almost sounds too good to be true!
But it is true and it’s available to buy now for an affordable price, with installation causing minimal disruption. The energy savings are so great that, on average, it only takes two years to recoup the cost. Plus, you know that you’re helping the environment and ensuring the inheritance of your children! What are you waiting for? Change your boiler over to a Hydrotherm!
Many of us are returning to carpets after a fling with other types of flooring and there can be a number of reasons behind the switch. Whether it is down to comfort, noise, insulation properties or just the look of a carpet, these factors all help us choose the perfect new carpet. Here are a few tips from the Leicester Carpet Cleaning company (www.carpetcleaningleicestershire.co.uk) on how to use that inspiration in making a choice.
When you are choosing a new carpet, obviously the cost is going to be high on the list of deciding factors. Getting the best carpet for your money is the aim and there are three factors that influence the quality of the carpet and as a result of that, how long it will last – the density or thickness, the fibres used to make it and the way it is put together.
Carpet density is how thick the carpet is and as a rule, the thicker a carpet is the longer it will stand up before it is crushed by use. Oddly enough, the thicker the carpet the less soft it will be, though this isn’t a black and white issue. This means that it may be that a thinner carpet has a softer feel and is more suitable for the room you are buying for.
The material or fibre used in the carpet is also crucial for a range of reasons. Wool is the most expensive option generally and also among the most durable and stain resistant. That isn’t to say that you will never need to use carpet cleaning companies just because you have a wool carpet but it is more resistant to lesser stains. Nylon is also very durable and recommended for high traffic areas while polyester carpets are among the best for the budget.
The Look of It
As well as practical considerations, the look of the carpet is also important. If you buy a carpet that clashes with the other major elements in the room, you are never going to feel happy with it. Before you buy a carpet, make a quick assessment of the room. For example, cool colours of pastel and neutral shades work well to make a small room seem bigger while browns and rusts warm the room up. If you have furniture that has a big pattern to it, then go for a solid coloured carpet to work with it or vice versa. Finally, if you plan to sell the house in the near future, consider a neutral shade and feel, as this will appeal to a buyer to help with the sale.
Caring for Your Carpet
Many carpets will come with ideas or instructions about how to care for it and following these instructions will help keep the carpet in top form and make it last as long as possible. Using the right cleaning products is important and a regular complete professional clean also adds to the longevity of the carpet, allowing you to get the best from your carpet for the longest period of time.
If you are planning to install the beautiful timber flooring homes love, you can rest assured that you are investing in a highly rewarding feature that will not only enhance the beauty but also the value of your property. You must, however, get it installed correctly to reap the benefits of your investment both aesthetically and financially. It pays to read up on some how-tos of wood floor installation; here are some basics.
Gluing the floor on concrete
Whether you have a concrete sub-floor or a wooden one, one of the ways you can install your solid wood floor is by gluing it down using a special wood floor adhesive.
Let’s consider a concrete sub-floor first; one of the key preparations for this is to measure the level of moisture it may have. You are good to go if the moisture content is below 4 per cent. If not, you must ideally allow the moisture content to drop further by leaving it for a few days. It is also good practice to put down a barrier sheet to contain this moisture and keep it from creeping up. You must also clear away any debris, dirt, grease etc and level the sub-floor by eliminating any bumps and filling up cracks. Your sub-floor is now ready for installation.
Gluing the floor on wood
When installing on top of a wooden sub-floor, it is best to first install a plywood base board of a depth of ½ inch. This will give your finished floor a nice even surface to sit upon.
Your finished floor will be expanding and shrinking considerably with changes in seasons, temperatures and humidity levels inside your home. For this reason, make sure you give it space to move by leaving a 10 mm gap all around the perimeter of the floor in every room and also in the doorways. You can do this easily by investing in a flooring kit; you will find installation spacers in there that do the job perfectly. You can cover up the gap in the end using skirting.
Installation with nails
Another way of installing your solid wood floors is by using the nail-down method. This works on both wooden and concrete sub-floors and is one of the oldest ways of installing wood floors. As with all concrete sub-floors, you need to run through the routine moisture level check before beginning work; it is imperative that you first put down a damp proof membrane. The battens used to install the floor must be at least 40mm deep and placed at 450mm intervals.
Wooden sub-floors must also be sturdy, level, clean and in good condition before installation can commence. Chip wood sub-floors cannot tolerate this method of installation so under no circumstances must you attempt to nail your solid wood floor on top of chip wood. It is good practice to secure any loose floorboards to avoid creaking; you could also lay down a polyfoam underlay to reduce noise. You must also leave a 10mm gap all around the floor’s edge to allow for expansion.
Using an underlay
If you have a concrete sub-floor, you can also install your solid wood floor using an adhesive underlay. The premise is simple: prepare the concrete sub-floor for installation in the usual manner, spread on a damp proof membrane, lay down the underlay with the sticky side up and then put down the final wood floor.
Some things to keep in mind…
It is best to learn as much about wood floors installation as possible before attempting to do it yourself. Keep an open mind about the methods of installation and, if possible, get a second opinion from an expert about what techniques will work best for your flooring situation. The more information you have, the less likely you are to make avoidable mistakes and the better your end result will be.
If you do your homework thoroughly, installing a solid wood floor can be a rather straightforward process indeed. Just make sure you do not skimp on any steps and take your time doing the job properly. You will be enjoying a beautifully laid floor in no time at all.
If you’re new to the idea of home automation, you might think it’s the kind of thing that belongs in large, expensive properties. But the truth is that any home can be automated and made more comfortable – although you might not want to go to the same lengths as the guy in this video, but it shows you what’s possible whatever the size of your property.
Where once home automation appeared only in the world of Sci-Fi or futuristic films, they are today a feature in many homes. With the increasing popularity of home automation systems offered by industry leading companies, resulting in an ever growing market, automating your home is now more accessible than ever.
If you’re considering a home automation system, then you may be overwhelmed by the sheer scope of options in terms of what you can control and the number of different systems that are out there.
What is a home automation system?
A home automation system involves technology that controls security, music, lighting or HVAC (Heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems to either increase your home security, improve a person’s comfort or provide convenience in day to day life.
What do you want to control?
Whilst all manner of home automation systems exist, before you start to look at what’s available you should decide on what it is that the want to control. If you start to look around at all that’s on the market, the chances are that you’ll make an impulse purchase, and end up with something you don’t need.
Home automation systems can, amongst other things, control:
- Lighting – Systems that control lighting can be as basic as automatically switching on and off certain lights at set times, to as advanced as a complete lighting system that allows you to select moods such as ‘ambient lighting’.
- HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) – A HVAC system can completely automate your houses temperature and ventilation control. You can additionally set rooms to be of different temperatures. Perfect for those that like to be warmer in the day but cooler in the night.
- Security – A home automated security system can provide a wide range of features. From being able to unlock doors from another country to let your house sitter in, to being able to view CCTV images direct from your mobile device.
- Music – Music systems can involve the installing of a complete music system throughout your house, allowing you to set rooms to certain music genres.
What kind of technology should you choose?
Home automation systems encompass all manner of technologies. With the main technologies being:
- Wireless/RF (Radio Frequency) – Wireless home automation, whilst being a relatively new technology on the market, are becoming increasingly popular.
- X10 Compatibility – X10 technology, whilst being the oldest for of home automation, is the most popular technology in use today.
- Powerline – Powerline is a general term that means a device that is able to control various home automation features throughout your home, via your houses electrical system.
You can also find systems that may have elements of both.
What kind of interface do you want?
Once you’ve decided what you want to control, and what technology you want to control it with, you’re ready to start looking at all the market has to offer.
When deciding what type of interface you wish to work with it is vital to keep in mind how comfortable you are with technology. It is pointless to chose one of the most impressive and futuristic interfaces if you don’t know how to operate a mobile phone.
There are a wide range of interfaces available, ranging from the simplistic to the frighteningly complicated. Therefore there is something to suit everyone’s needs.
Additionally, you can always start out with a simple product (something that controls only your lighting, for example) and then you can move onto something more complex for your other requirements.
This guide should have given you an idea of the types of home automation systems on the market, however if you’re still unsure then the best advice is to do extensive research and become accustomed to the various products and technologies that are applicable to your needs.
Damp is one of the problems that can sneak up on you and cause significant damage before the homeowner realises what is going on. Damp is most common in older buildings and there are some types that have tell tale signs while others are more stealthy. Here we look at the type and causes of damp.
Types of Damp
A good London damp proofing specialist will advise you that there are three main types of damp, caused by different situations and having different symptoms. By far the most common type is condensation – this is caused by moist air condensing onto walls and happens most often in the winter. This is because the walls are colder than the air inside the house is and can be made worse if the house doesn’t have good ventilation or if the heating comes on and off.
Rising damp is the type caused by ground water moving up a wall. Walls often let a bit of water in naturally but a damp-proof course is the barrier that stops it becoming a problem. This course is normally either a horizontal or vertical plastic or slate strip inside the wall. But if the wall doesn’t have this or it has been damaged, then larger amounts of water get in and causes damp.
Finally, penetrating damp is caused by water getting into walls and can occur anywhere around a building. It is a horizontal movement, rather than a vertical one as in rising damp, and is normally caused by some kind of structural problem within the house. This could be anything from a problem with the roofing to faulty guttering. As well as causing problems on walls, it can even cause rotting roof timbers and damage to structural elements of the house.
Damp proofing experts like Crown Preservation are specialists whenit comes to dealing with all these problems, but how do you know if you actually have a problem in the first place?
Symptoms of Damp
Condensation can be easily spotted by the tell tale drops of water on windows as well as by the dark patches of mould that may behind appearing. Mould also has a bad smell that people notice when walking into a room and can cause damage to painting or wallpaper as well as rotting wood.
Rising damp causes crumbling or stained plaster as well as making wallpaper and paint peel off. Sometimes it even creates a mark on the walls that looks like the room has been flooded to a certain point, called a tide mark.
Penetrating damp creates patches on walls, floors or ceiling that show where the water is getting in. This type of damp is most common in older buildings that don’t have cavity walls, as this measure often prevents the problem.
Dealing with Damp
The different kinds of damp all have their own ways of dealing with them and this is where a professional comes in. Some people can sort a damp problem themselves but to be sure that you have deal with the entire problem, it is often best to get an expert in to check the extend of the problem. You may see a single crack in the wall and blame it for the problem but the cause could be wider than you can see. So while investigations can be carried out yourself, to be sure the menace won’t return, a professional may be the best solution.