Simple solutions for reducing your summer home energy use

Simple solutions for reducing your summer home energy use

The heat of summer is fast approaching, and many people are already preparing for long days in the garden, family trips to the beach, and shopping for new seasonal clothes. Most people look forward to the warmer months of the year – due largely to the increased daylight and more opportunities for outdoor activity.

Summer doesn’t come without its drawbacks, though. Especially if you’re a home-owner, summer can be frustratingly hot, requiring you to use more energy to stay cool. The result: more expensive energy and utility costs. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the reality permanently.

Many home-owners aren’t aware of simple solutions they can take to minimise energy usage around the home during the hottest months of the year. To help our readers out, we’re going to look at a few simple changes anybody can make to reduce how much energy is used – and wasted – during the summer.

Grey buttoned sofa in front of white curtains

Install reflective curtains

One of the biggest ways homes absorb heat during the summer is through the windows. Whether it be due to dark curtains or no curtains at all, heat and light enter, get absorbed, and ultimately increase the ambient temperature. This results in your air conditioning having to run that much more to compensate.

Through the use of made to measure curtains, you can ensure that your windows are properly framed without excessive overhang or exposed areas where light can enter. By purchasing made to measure curtains that are either directly reflective or made with a white lining, you’ll reflect that excess heat back and away from the home.

Some estimates suggest that utilising white plastic-backed curtains can reduce home heat intake during the summer by as much as one-third. That’s a lot of heat that your home can be guarded against with the right curtain selection.

Nest Thermostatcredit

Purchase a smart thermostat

We all love to have control over our heating and cooling preferences, but what if you’re currently wasting tons of energy during the summer because of those preferences? Nobody wants to wake up or come home from work to a hot house, so if you have an air conditioning system installed, it can be tempting to leave it running.

Fortunately, technology has given us affordable options in this regard. There are many unique programmable and/or smart thermostats on the market to help home-owners manage cooling (and heating) schedules in the home during all hours of the day.

Smart thermostats can be used to access the thermostat from anywhere using a mobile device. Some even can detect when you’re nearing the house and will automatically kick on in advance of your arrival. Programmable thermostats are a much more budget-friendly option (many are available for as little as £25) that accomplish most of what a smart thermostat does but doesn’t allow for remote interaction.

Black metal oscillating fan on a vintage sideboard

Increase in-home ventilation

Especially during the summer, the air in our homes can become stagnant and humid, making even relatively mild temperatures feel miserable. Without a great ventilation system – as well as auxiliary ventilation options – the home can feel like a nightmare both day and night.

One easy and cheap way to improve ventilation in the home during the summer is to add a variety of fans to the home. Whether they be traditional box fans, ceiling fans or desk fans is entirely up to you, but most options are easy to set up and inexpensive for a seasonal solution.

The reason more ventilation is a great idea for saving energy is that proper ventilation via fans can allow you to raise the thermostat by 2ºC without any reduction in comfort.

Smoking screw-in light bulb

Remove unnecessary heat sources

There are many sources of heat around the home that can add to energy costs during the summer months. While not every source of heat can be eliminated, you can improve the situation and minimise how much heat is being generated from inside the home.

Traditional light bulbs, for instance, give off quite a bit of heat. By investing in LED variants, you’ll use a fraction of the energy and emit virtually no heat whatsoever. Many people love to cook during the summer months, but energy-savvy home-owners know that using the stove (instead of the oven) is a better choice, as it emits far less heat when preparing meals.

Even the heat from your water heater can add up over time. Many people turn down the thermostats on water heaters to reduce overall energy consumption, but a secondary effect is that it will also emit less ambient heat into the air.

With summer fast approaching, you want to be ready to deal with the heat. However, you shouldn’t have to spend tons of money on cooling costs to maintain a comfortable climate. With these tips, you can drastically reduce the cost of cooling your home with relatively little work or investment – and these investments will continue to produce results year after year!


The moving-in check list: 5 things to do after moving into your new home

The moving-in check list: 5 things to do after moving into your new home

Moving into your new home will be an incredibly exciting time, as it will mark a new era in your life. Yet, there’ll be things you’ll need to do to freshen up the space and put your own stamp on the property. For a smooth transition, have a look at these five things to do after moving into your new home.

Wet & dry vacuum cleaner

  1. Clean the carpets

Does your new property feature the previous owner’s carpets? While they might look in perfect condition, they could be housing dirt, stains and odours. Make the property feel brand-new by turning to professional carpet cleaners to eradicate stains and smells. For instance, Technicare can remove pet stains and unpleasant aromas from a carpet, so the house feels like your home.

Rafters in a loft space

  1. Review your crawlspaces

It’s hard to take a thorough look at a property during a viewing, which is why you should carefully review all the crawlspaces across the home as soon as you move in. This means getting into the attic or basement to check for potential problems such as mould, pest infestations or leaks. You can then make the essential repairs or install a vapour barrier within a space. By doing so, you can prevent bigger household problems occurring in the future.

Water stop cock

  1. Identify the mains water shut-off valve

If you weren’t informed during a viewing, you should identify the location of the main water shut-off valve, which you’ll need to know if there was ever a water leak the home. It could be located in an underground box with a removable lid within your garden, or it could be attached to your exterior wall. Only ever turn off the water in the event of an emergency.

Smoke alarm

  1. Check or replace smoke and CO detectors

Every home in the UK must have a working smoke detector which can save your life in the event of a fire. In addition to smoke detectors, a CO detector can also identify a carbon monoxide leak within the home. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, as it’s invisible and has no odour. If your home features smoke and CO detectors, it’s important to check they’re both in full working order to ensure the health and safety of your family. If they’re not functioning or appear faulty, you should immediately replace the alarms and regularly check they’re operative.

Wall-mounted burglar alarm

  1. Install wireless alarms onto your windows & doors

It’s important for both you and your family to feel immediately safe and secure in your new home. As well as checking the smoke and CO detectors, you should also install wireless alarms to your windows and doors. The small devices will be activated if a person attempts to open a door or window, meaning they can deter a burglar from trespassing in your home. It will provide you and your family some peace of mind that you’re all safe and secure in your new property.


Exterior design considerations for a good-looking home

Exterior design considerations for a good-looking home

The outside of your home is the first sight that people are greeted with when they arrive for a visit. Not only that, but a good-looking home can also add to the resale value should you ever decide to move. So, naturally, you want to keep the exterior of your home looking as good as the interior. Here are some exterior design considerations to keep in mind to be sure that your home’s exterior is always looking good.

Bautex insulated concrete blockscredit

Build with insulated concrete blocks

When it comes to the overall construction of your home, insulated concrete blocks are something that can not only increase the design aesthetic, but also the overall structural integrity of your home. These lightweight insulated concrete blocks are made with a mix of composite materials that make for faster and more energy-efficient home construction. Because of how easy they are to use for construction projects, they can be used to create eye-catching design elements like columns or sleek modern fronts.

Barricade house wrapcredit

Protect with house wrap

Before you can use something like insulated concrete bricks to create the exterior walls of your home, you need to put up the protective weather lining that will separate it from the inside of the home. That is where something called house wrap comes into play. This is that paper-like lining you see on houses that are still under construction and are not yet covered by siding. Don’t be fooled though, this super durable house wrap is stronger than paper, and will help protect your insulation from damaging air infiltration and weather. It’s an essential part of the home construction, so you want to be sure to go with the best!

House clad with fibre cement sidings

Check out fibre cement siding

While some people may like the look of insulated concrete bricks once they’ve been painted, others prefer the more clean and traditional look of siding. Fibre cement siding provides that traditional look while offering more durability than other types of siding. Like their wood and vinyl counterparts, this fibre cement siding will not warp, the colour will not fade, the weather will not penetrate it, and they’re even fire resistant. Another great feature of fibre cement siding? It is virtually maintenance-free, which means less housework for you!

House clad with steel log sidings

Consider steel log siding

If the traditional look of siding is not your cup of tea, then why not consider something a little more rustic looking? Steel log siding is another beautiful and durable option available that can turn your home into a modern-day log cabin. But, unlike traditional wood log siding, steel log siding is virtually maintenance-free and the paint is resistant to all sorts of damage including cracking and fading, so it will look new for years to come with little work on your part.

Laminated roofing shingles

Top off with laminated roofing shingles

Your choice of siding is not the only thing to keep in mind when it comes to exterior design considerations for your home. Your roofing option is another big part, as it can really tie your whole home’s look together. Laminated roofing shingles, can provide a durable and classic look to any home. New design methods make laminated roofing shingles an incredibly long-lasting option that has multiple layers built in, to ensure the utmost protection for your home.

While you can update your landscaping and other outdoor areas, your home itself is still the focal point of the exterior. It’s what people will see first, and therefore it’s important that you keep it looking good. Hopefully, these design considerations will help you when building your home, so it becomes the talk of the neighbourhood!


What is dry rot and how can you prevent it?

What is dry rot and how can you prevent it?

Dry rot has the potential to ruin any wooden structure. You’ve probably heard of dry rot even if you’ve never encountered it. However, you might not know exactly what it is, how to spot it, or how to treat it. Given how common dry rot is, and how much damage it can do if left unchecked, it’s worth understanding exactly what it is and how you can prevent it.

Wood with dry rot

Identifying dry rot

Also known as ‘brown rot’, dry rot is caused by fungi and leads to wood decay. Where dry rot occurs, these fungi break down cellulose and hemicellulose, both of which are important for giving wood its strength and resilience. When these components are depleted, the wood will become brittle and take on a ‘blocky’ appearance.

The fungi responsible for dry rot like a damp environment, so where you have wooden structures and damp there’s a danger of dry rot forming. Some types of wood are more susceptible than others. For dry rot to break out, the moisture content needs to rise in excess of 20%. In most cases, dry rot can be treated by removing the source of the moisture, as well as any wood that’s already been affected.

Dry rot fungus growing on wood

How does it spread?

As with other types of fungus, those responsible for dry rot spread via the spores that they produce. When these spores are released, they become airborne and are easily spread owing to their tiny size and weight. This means that dry rot tends to spread as far as the ideal conditions for dry rot exist.

There are three common sources of the moisture that allows dry rot to spread. The first is due to the wood not being correctly kiln-dried prior to being used for construction, a process which would usually reduce the moisture content to make it more resistant to rotting. The other two common causes are exposure to highly humid conditions and exposure to large volumes of water.

Serpula Lacrymans, the fungus that causes dry rot


If dry rot does take hold then you have a number of different treatment options. Epoxy treatments will kill the rot and also reinforce the structure of the wood, they involve filling in channels with an epoxy resin. Commercial antifreeze has sometimes been used as a treatment for wood rot, as it’s effective at killing the fungus responsible, as well as preventing dry rot forming in the future.

If you encounter a particularly serious outbreak then you might want to hire a professional service to remove it.

Wood with dry rot


Preventing dry rot is pretty simple. As you may have guessed, it’s mostly a case of ensuring that moisture and damp aren’t allowed to accumulate around any wooden structures on your property. Whenever you paint wood, make sure that you prime it first, as this will prevent moisture becoming trapped underneath the paint and leading to dry rot breaking out.

Keeping the issue at bay is a case of keeping any wood and wooden structures on your property away from excessive moisture. If you can do this, then you should be able to remain free of the condition.


How to reduce the cost of buying a home

How to reduce the cost of buying a home

Are you considering moving to a new house but aren’t keen on the costs that come with it? If the answer is yes, you might be pleased to know that just because buying a house can be expensive; it doesn’t necessarily have to be. The truth is that you can buy property without it breaking the bank, it’s just a case of taking steps to minimize the amount that needs to be spent.

When you invest in property, whether it’s to live in or to rent out to make a profit from, there’s usually a range of fees that come with the purchase. In addition to a variety of other costs. However, just because these costs can be high, they don’t have to be. Want to reduce the cost of buying a home? Below is a list of useful tips that it is worth implementing in your property purchasing search, to help reduce your buying costs.

House shaped from £20 notes

Take out a 95% mortgage

One of the most significant costs that comes with purchasing property is the cost of the deposit. To be accepted for a mortgage loan, usually a 25% deposit is required, sometimes even more than that. This is a lot of money and can be one of the highest costs associated with buying property. However, the good news is that there are 95% mortgages that you can consider taking out. These are mortgages where you only need a five percent deposit, rather than a 25% one. Not all mortgage companies offer these types of mortgages and not everyone is eligible for them, but if you take the time to do your research and shop around, you may be able to successfully apply for this kind of mortgage and save yourself thousands.

Mortgage document

Save on the cost of fees

Another high cost that is associated with purchasing property is the cost of covering the fees that come with buying a property. These can run into thousands and are usually incredibly high in price. However, there are steps that you can take to reduce the cost of these. One of these steps is by using the Open Listings websites to house hunt, make offers online, and securing a 50% commission refund. Believe it or not, there are lots of websites that offer a range of deals for buyers, helping to save money on the cost of property fees. Take the time to do your research, and you’re sure to come across some incredible deals.

Moving cardboard boxes

Move out of your old home & into your new one

The moving costs that come with purchasing a new home can also be high. Instead of renting out a moving van and professional movers, consider moving yourself out of your old home and into your new one. The process may take longer and be more stressful, but if it reduces the cost of moving to somewhere new, surely it is worthwhile?

Buying a new home is always going to be costly. However, it doesn’t have to be overly expensive.


4 tips when looking for your next home

4 tips when looking for your next home

Have you ever thought about getting your own place but are afraid of taking this big step? It’s likely that you’re hesitant due to the responsibilities that this involves or the money that you’d have to invest. Here you’ll find 5 tips that you may find very useful in the quest to find your new home.

Monthly budget

Establish your budget

Often, we get excited about getting new things and we forget about the limits to our purchasing power. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to us over-extending ourselves and getting into debt. It’s vital to take care with this because you don’t want to be worrying about losing your new home. The best way to avoid falling into arrears is to work out an affordable monthly budget and select a mortgage plan that fits your payment capacity.

North West England road map

Location, location, location

One of the most important things when it comes to choosing a house is the location. Why? Well, because it will be the starting point of all of your daily activities. You have to take into consideration that from home, you’ll be going to work, taking your kids to and from school and their recreational activities, visiting family, going shopping, socialising with friends etc. If things aren’t within easy reach, you don’t want to be spending long periods of time travelling from one to another. Be sure to keep all of these geographical things in mind when property searching.

House plans

Size, design and layout

Whether you have a large budget or small, decide upon a home that will fit your and your family’s needs for many years to come. Choose a house that works for everyone on a practical level and makes daily living enjoyable. If you’re planning to start a family or having an ageing parent move in at some point, find a house that you can expand into when necessary. If you’re going to be working from home, you’ll need a quiet space where you can remove yourself from day-to-day distractions during your 9 to 5. If you or a family member has mobility issues, a single level property is most practical.

Estate agent

Get professional help

You’ll come across a whole world of options on your quest to acquire the perfect place. You’ll likely find the process a little bit overwhelming at times. Luckily, there are people that can help make your life easier. Estate agents have the experience, knowledge and skills to assist you in your search. You should do a lot of research before selecting the agent with whom you want to work. Fortunately, there are many companies like that have a list of agents near your chosen location.


How to build your dream house

How to build your dream house

The idea of being able to create a place where you can live and enjoy your life is something that everyone has thought about from a young age. However, being able to make that dream come true is very rarely a simple process. It takes time, a lot of saving up and a great deal of thought. Even though this is probably one of the most time-consuming, stressful and expensive projects of your life, the end result is definitely worth all the sleepless nights.

In order to be able to keep your sanity throughout the process, you can find a few useful tips in the following short-list. Building a house is a project that will allow you to discover who you are, what you like and how you want to live.

Calculator and accounts

Establish your budget

The budget for your home is one of the primary sources of conflict in this process. Being able to make a list of all the things you can afford can help you a lot to understand the following steps. Moreover, you can then find out whether you need to save up more money in order to be able to add certain things to the list. A builder or architect will be able to tell you what you can acquire with the money that you already own. Generally, you should consider the cost of the land, the cost of construction, other fees and taxes and furniture and décor.

Solar panels on the roof of a house

Think about your home needs

Consider your lifestyle and think about all the aspects that could facilitate living in your dream home. Moreover, make sure you only add aspects that will make your life comfortable from all points of view. Even though it might seem difficult, try to draw a clear line between your wants versus your needs. A good way of making an investment that you’ll be able to benefit from in the future would be by including innovative technology in the plan. San Diego home solar power is a good example in this case. Solar power systems can be integrated to most house types, allowing you to reduce electricity costs and help protect the environment.

House plans

Create a house design

Once you establish your real needs, it’s time to get even closer to your dream. Although the architect is the one who usually puts together a house plan, you need to be involved in this process as well. Make sure you choose a design that fits your tastes, budget and future plans or ideas. For example: a home office, a gym and a playroom or a nursery for your future kids. Make sure you discuss everything with your designer and suggest changes if needed.

Welcome to our home painted sign

Move in and enjoy

After endless months of building your dream home, the day will arrive when you’ll finally be able to move in. You’ve worked hard for it, so you should enjoy every second that you spend in your new place to the maximum. Invite your family and friends over and celebrate!