Price Points: Heated throws

Selection of heated throws | H is for Home

In an earlier Price Points post we compared a trio of electric blankets. Sometimes you want warming up before you actually go to bed. This is where heated throws come into the spotlight.

Working from home like we do, I spend hours at a time sitting at a computer. In the colder months, instead of turning the heating on to warm up the entire house, or going to the lengths of getting the wood-burner started, simply clicking on a throw is a better option. Not only does it get you warm quicker, it’s cheap to run – one model claims to cost as little as a penny a day.

The three that we’ve short-listed are all around the same dimensions – double bed blanket size. They’re also all machined washable (essential if you’re a snacker and tip tea down yourself like I do!). All these heated throws look as though they’d do a decent job of keeping you warm. However, I think the faux Alaskan husky example would be so snuggly and soft – like curling up with a real husky… without any of the doggy smell!

  1. Luxurious monogram heated electric throw/overblanket, large size, 180cm x 130cm: £34.99, eBay
  2. Homefront electric heated throw / over blanket in chocolate (160 x 120cm) easy to use digital control – machine washable – ultra soft, cosy finish: £44.95, Amazon
  3. Dreamland Relaxwell deluxe faux fur heated throw, Alaskan husky: £99.99, John Lewis

3 Ways to decide if you need residential air conditioning repair or a new system

3 Ways to decide if you need residential air conditioning repair or a new system

It’s really frustrating when your air conditioner breaks down in the middle of a hot summer afternoon as countless people who it has happened to can attest. The first thing to do, of course, is to call in repair services. However, in some cases, the air conditioning system is beyond repair and the home-owner will need to replace it. It can be a dilemma making the decision between having it repaired or shelling out and buying a new air conditioning system. Choosing between the two can be confusing especially when you don’t have technical knowledge of how these systems work. Often, people opt for the wrong one – costing them much more than necessary.

To determine whether you should have your air conditioning repaired or invest in a new one, consider the following factors:

Air conditioning unit

  1. Age of the unit

This is the first factor you need to consider. Age greatly affects the performance of your air conditioning system. Air conditioning units often come with a longevity recommendation. When your air conditioning has a 15-year mark and it’s only 10 years old, you may opt for repair services like air conditioning repair in McKinney. However, if it’s nearing the 15-year mark, a replacement may be the best decision. Trying to repair a unit way past its recommended year of service can be a false economy, costing you more in the long run.

Air conditioning maintenance

  1. Cost of repair and replacement

Air conditioning repair may sound cheaper than having to buy a new one, but this isn’t always the case. Some repair costs, including service charges and buying spare parts could add up and may cost you more than a new unit. In a case like this, opt for a replacement. Or, when the need to repair seems to occur more often than the usual, the total cost can be overwhelming. Hence, replacement is the wiser thing to do. Be practical on this one and look at it over the long term.

Air conditioning repair

  1. Energy efficiency

There are a lot of contributing factors when it comes to energy efficiency. First is the working condition of your unit. If the unit doesn’t produce as much cold air as it used to even after series of repairs, it’s probably time to buy a new one. Energy efficiency is also about your electricity bill. If you notice your bill is starting to sky-rocket over time and the air conditioning is the only possible suspect, invest in a new one. Finally, consider your space and the traffic in the area. If an additional person or persons are using the room or if the space became bigger due to home improvement projects, it’s may time to buy a new one. However, if the above cases are not among your current situation, you might consider repairing it first.

When you opt for air conditioning repair, make sure you hire the best repair service firm. If you decide to buy a new one, find the unit that is right size and output for your needs. Also, check for the Energy Star label that proves that the unit is energy efficient.

[disclosure*]

How to keep your heating oil costs as low as possible

How to keep your heating oil costs as low as possiblecredit

For many home-owners, the winter months are a worrying time. They worry about how much they’ll need to pay for heating oil. Fortunately, there are several ways to keep the cost of heating your home down, which is why we’ve written this post.

Buy from commercial sellers

Instead of automatically buying from your local domestic oil company, try commercial fuel suppliers as well. Many of them are happy to sell to domestic customers, as well as business owners. Usually, their prices are very competitive.

Buy your oil early

When possible, buy your heating oil early. Buying before the rush is the best way to avoid paying more than you need to.

However, you need to bear in mind that the cost of heating oil fluctuates throughout the year. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that buying your oil in the summer actually doesn’t work out to be cheaper.

However, most years, this approach does work. Because demand is lower during the warmer months the cost of heating oil usually dips during the summer.

Oil tank maintenancecredit

Look after your boiler

It is also worth having your boiler serviced during the summer. Many heating engineers are not so busy then. As a result, many self-employed engineers offer a discount to those customers who have their boilers serviced during the warmer months.

Having your boiler serviced on a regular basis will also save you money. This is because a properly maintained boiler works more efficiently. It’s also less likely to break down and need replacing.

Not to mention the fact that an unserviced boiler represents a safety hazard. Every year, hundreds of people die because they breathe in carbon monoxide emitted by a faulty boiler. Dozens more die in boiler explosions. In most of these cases, it turns out that the boiler involved hasn’t been properly maintained.

Don’t overheat your home

An awful lot of home-owners waste heating oil by keeping their home too hot. Studies show that if you turn your thermostat down by one degree every couple of weeks, most people will not notice the difference – at least not at first. Often, by the time they do realise that the house is cooler, the thermostat has already been turned down by four or five degrees, which significantly reduces the amount of oil that’s being consumed. Typically, for every degree you reduce your thermostat by, you save 1 or 2% on your fuel bill.

Basement oil tankcredit

Keep the heat inside your property

The other step you need to take is to insulate and draught-proof your home. It doesn’t take long to do, and it’s a job that many people can do themselves. You can find out more about how to insulate a house from this page. The information in this article will prove especially helpful for those who are living on a tight budget.

Buying your heating oil at the right time and shopping around for the best price are both important. However, it’s being careful not to consume too much fuel and making the best use of the heat that you generate that makes the biggest difference, and keeps your costs down.

[disclosure*]

Tasteful heating solutions for the kitchen

flames in a kitchen range

Modern kitchens can often feel cold and draughty. As the kitchen is the heart of the home, it’s fundamental to make it a place where all the family will enjoy spending time. A number of heating solutions for individual styles are now available to create a warming and welcoming environment.

Whether you prefer traditional rustic stoves or the contemporary minimalism offered from underfloor heating, there are numerous possibilities for any kitchen. These six alternatives are hand-picked to exude optimal style whilst also producing a cosy atmosphere.

Kitchen with vertical wall radiator

Column radiators

Radiators are by far the most common means to heat the home. The great variety in column radiators allows you to choose a style to fit into any space in the house. This is particularly important in the kitchen.

Column radiators exude style and classic charm. Highly versatile as either a beautiful period feature for traditional décor or a more contemporary interpretation with tall vertical columns. The robust structure creates a characteristic focal feature for the home and is a great decorative alternative to the standard panel radiator.

Available in a variety of sizes and heights, the column radiator can act as a focal point for any room as they’re highly attractive in design. These elegant radiators are also designed to be as high-performing as they are attractive.

Kitchen with plinth heater

Plinth heaters

A plinth heater is a perfect option for home-owners seeking a minimal and uncluttered kitchen. Not only are these heaters economical on space, they also save your feet from a chilly floor. They fit into the base of a kitchen unit and produce instant heat once switched on. Plinth heaters are most effective when placed in areas where you often stand. These heaters are great for heating your floor and are a cheaper alternative to underfloor heating.

Underfloor heatingcredit

Underfloor heating

Underfloor heating is often considered a luxurious item that costs a great deal to power. However, through innovative developments it is now achievable to heat efficiently with a modern system. The general overall heat emission from the floor creates an even temperature making it a highly efficient alternative. As it warms the entire area from the ground up, underfloor heating eradicates that unpleasant experience of stepping onto a cold floor during winter. The almost invisible feature of heated floors makes it ideal for kitchens with limited space or for those wanting minimalist design.

There are two types of underfloor heating; wet system which uses pipes to circulate hot water from your central heating, and electric which uses heating mats placed onto the sub-floor.

Range cooker in a kitchen

Traditional cookers

Aga or Rayburn stoves are iconic features of the country kitchen but in recent years they’ve been slowly making their way into suburban households. This style of cooker is an investment piece for your home that creates a real design statement. Whether you want to bake meringues in the warming draw or cook some chips in the oven, a stove provides you with the means to do so.

Once lit, these stoves generally need to be kept on at all times during winter to prevent damage from constant temperature changes. Some people chose to have them off during the course of the summer so you would need a separate cooker during this time.

Multi-fuel stove

Stoves

Get toasty with a hearty fire from your wood burner or electric stove in your kitchen. These popular burners are a great way to efficiently heat your home and create a beautiful design feature for any room. Available in traditional wood burning or multi fuel stoves as well as electric, stoves have become an accessible accessory for any home.

You may assume that multi fuel stoves are only found in large houses in the country. However, modern developments such as clean burn technology mean these contemporary stoves are now easier than ever to use and maintain. The multi fuel stove offers a choice of fuels so you have the options of wood, coal and paper, giving you more control over your heat output.

Electric stoves provide a similar cosy atmosphere with an understated fireside ambiance ideal for those with kitchens that have limited space. A stove will definitely add the wow factor to your home.

[disclosure*]

5 things you should know BEFORE installing underfloor heating

Aerial view of a sofa on a wooden floor

Wave goodbye to radiators and hello to more space and a warm home for less! Underfloor heating is a great choice and if you’re thinking of taking the leap to luxurious warm floors, these are the five things you need to know…

#1 It provides a constant temperature across the home or in individual rooms

Feet in orange & blue spotted socks on a wooden floor

The great thing about underfloor heating is its flexibility. Therefore, it sometimes pays to spend the extra money to get a professional supplier and installation company to not only fit the system but design it for you in the first place.

With central heating, the boiler fires up and sends heat through to all the radiators on the system, unless you switch the radiators off in certain rooms (if you can) or lower the temperature of the radiator with its thermostatic valve.

This gives you some flexibility, but not a lot. Underfloor heating is completely different. You can create single zone underfloor heating areas so that the important rooms in the house are heated when you need them to be but other rooms can enjoy a lower level of heat.

The ability to control your heating at every point of day and night means you save money as well as having a more comfortably heated home.

#2 It’s best fitted with high thermal conductivity flooring

Child playing with a toy digger on a wooden floor

Sounds a mouthful, doesn’t it?! But what does it mean?

It means to get the best from your underfloor heating system, you need a top layer of flooring that’s incredibly efficient in grabbing hold of the heat and keeping hold of it.

This means the system doesn’t need to work as hard. There are many flooring options – wood, laminate, ceramic tile, polished concrete and carpet – that work well with underfloor heating.

It’s true to say that some options work better than others. Polished concrete floors are a great conductor and retainer of heat. Ceramic tiles also work well and some wood flooring solutions are also a great fit.

It’s possible to use carpet but it must be of a low TOG rating to allow heat through it and into the room. However, even then, it’s not so great at hanging on to the heat.

#3 A smart thermostat adds more flexibility & sophistication

Nest smart thermostat

Although we think of underfloor heating as a modern invention, it’s been around for some time. The Romans used ‘fire under the floor’ to heat their bath houses.

Modern day underfloor heating is more sophisticated and flexible but to get even more out of the system, a smart thermostat is a must.

If you have a multi-zone system, you can set different temperatures in different rooms with a few taps of your smart phone – and alter it throughout the day.

Underfloor heating response time is slower than the boiler and radiator approach but that doesn’t mean it’s at a disadvantage. It just means that you plan your heating to fit with your activities from day to day. For that, you need the tools to set the heat of the system as and when.

#4 Correct installation is key

High-gloss kitchen floor
That’s why getting a professional and expert in all thing underfloor heating should install your system, even if they don’t design it.

Wet or water underfloor heating works by a series of pipe loops being laid in the sub floor and hot water circulating through them to heat the floor.

It’s an incredibly simple, yet effective system. But, this doesn’t mean that things can’t go wrong when it’s being installed. Discovering that you have a leaking pipe when you’ve already laid the floor isn’t the opportune time to try and repair it.

All wet underfloor heating systems should be pressure tested BEFORE you start pouring high conductivity screed or laying insulation boards to protect the pipes. Once laid, the system will function without a hitch for years to come.

#5 Underfloor heating is a system that you’ll love!

Kitchen diner with wooden floorboard floor

Underfloor heating isn’t for everyone. If you like dry, hot heat that leaves your house stuffy, then underfloor heating isn’t for you.

If you prefer an ambient, constant temperature, as well as a luxuriously warm floor underfoot, then underfloor heating is for you.

However, you’ll need to have some patience. With some installation processes, the screed must dry thoroughly before the heat can be switched on because if you dry out liquid concrete too quickly it cracks. That means the floor isn’t as structurally sound as it should be, leading to problems further down the line. In other words, you may have to wait a week or two before the big switch on.

Underfloor heating suits any property and isn’t as expensive to fit as you’d think either. A proven technology, more and more people are realising the benefits of underfloor heating – why not you?

Underfloor Heating Trade Supplies understands the simplicity of underfloor heating but the amazing benefits it brings to any space, from a single room in a home to multi-zone systems in commercial premises.

[disclosure*]

How do cast iron radiators work?

Modern bathroom with pair of cast iron radiators beneath windowscredit

***Article supplied by AEL Heating Limited***

If you’re considering installing cast iron radiators in your home, and deliberating the pros and cons of old and new systems, then you may be interested to get the low down on how cast iron radiators work.

If they’re installed and functioning properly, cast iron radiators can be incredibly effective for heating areas, even large rooms. The downside is that they can be bigger in size than their modern radiator counterparts, so you should always bear this in mind. However, that doesn’t negate from the fact that they’re stylish, efficient and affordable too.

Industrial loft apartment with wall of under-window radiatorscredit

The power of steam

Having been around since the mid-1800s, cast iron radiators have played a vital role in heating homes and businesses throughout the world and come in a variety of different styles and designs. But despite their shape, size or style, the principles behind the way they work are the same – steam power.

By converting water into steam, cast iron radiators will then transfer this heat into the atmosphere through radiation and convection. Although, despite the name ‘radiator’, more of the heat is transferred through convection – where warm air rises and cold air sinks – than through radiation.

The steam system requires a hot water boiler that will be the heart of your heating system; continuously heating the water to convert it into steam. The water boiler uses a heating element inside that brings the water to boiling point to generate steam. This steam is then forced up through the pipes into the radiators by sheer pressure, to transmit heat without the need of a pump.

As the steam passes through the radiators and pipes, it will naturally cool down and turn back into water condensation. But this is all put to good use, as the condensation from the cooled steam travels back down to the water boiler, where it is reheated to create more steam to recirculate through the pipes and radiators.

Small cast iron radiator under circular windowcredit

The technical side

Of course, the steam process sounds relatively simple, particularly when you consider the modern day radiator designs, with their water filled radiators that heat the water, and use a pump to circulate it through the system. However, underneath the exterior of these sturdy cast iron radiators are a series of individual sections that are connected by valves and seals that allow the steam to pass into the radiators, pressurise to retain the heat so it can be emitted into the air in the room, and then allow the cooled condensation to flow back down to the central water boiler.

These valves play a vital role in ensuring the cast iron radiator heating system functions efficiently, as small holes in the seals, or cracks in the metalwork can cause leaks and loss of pressure. This results in steam will escaping into the atmosphere, rather than heating the system.

Detail of gold coloured cast iron radiatorcredit

The reality of cast iron radiators

Having been used in homes and businesses for well over 150 years, there is a lot to be said for the effectiveness and efficiency of using cast iron radiators to heat areas. Although, you should be aware that these steam systems takes longer to heat than a more modern water baseboard system as they need to reach boiling point to create steam, rather than just reaching an optimal water temperature. Thus they may consume more energy in the water heating process, but that being said, the amount of heat that is passed through convection into the atmosphere is often much greater and lasts much longer too.

[disclosure*]