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Kevin McClouds top 5 green tips

As more and more homeowners begin to make the subtle shift towards eco living, many “off the shelf” products now make it even easier to make your home eco-friendly. With the upcoming Grand Designs Live exhibition being held in Birmingham at the NEC, Kevin McCloud reveals his 5 top tips towards making your home greener!

Getting Started

  • How do I get started? If your wondering what to do and what not to do in your quest to becoming the leading eco-warrior on your street, start by grabbing yourself a copy of Little Book of One Planet Living by Alastair Sawday. This book cleverley demonstrates how eco living can provide more choice and not less, whilst giving a key insight into sustainability and reusing everyday materials.

Reduce your energy usage

  • In order to green your home, the primary objective is to reduce the amount of energy it consumes. A simple, cheap and effective way to get started is to to go around every door and window sealing off any draughts. You can purchase  many different vareities from your local DIY store, and the results can be simply astonishing.

Use planet friendly products

  • Insulate, insulate and insulate! Double insulatation in the attic area is crucial in reducing heat loss from your home. Heat rises when inside a building, so be sure to keep it inside your building to reduce your overall energy bills. Ecowool is made from recycled plastic bottles, whilst Blackwool is made from Welsh sheepswool. Great planet friendly alternatives to the usual stuff!

Utilise an electricity monitor

  • Cut your overall energy consumption by fitting an electricity monitor – You’ll be surprised which devices in your home drink the most juice! Standby switches are useful to electronics such as TV’s, and if you looking to change supplier head towards Ecotricity or Good Energy. Aerator taps in your kitchen and bathroom will save you water, along with varible flush toilet cisterns.

Keep the heat in

  • Thick curtains or shutters for your windows will keep heat in and cold out. Even poorly fitted, cheap shutters can have a dramatic effect towards keeping heat inside your home, whilst offering increased security also.

Head over to Grand Designs Live this October 2010 – Will you be going?

Source: Grand Designs Live

De-clutter your Cloakroom!

The cloakroom is easily one of the most neglected spaces in the home, quickly becoming host to store all unnecessary clutter from around the home, despite the fact that it almost always has great potential for a second bathroom. One way to take advantage of this space is to transform it into a downstairs toilet and washroom or mini bathroom. Here’s a few great options worth considering:

  • Under Stairs Cloakroom –  Simplicity is the key – It’s important to not over clutter the area. Small wash basins safe space both visually and practically. Combining a large wall mirror with bright Matt colours can provide a sense of openness. Utilising a heated towel rail is great way to keep the area feeling warm in the winter, whilst providing an attractive feature.
  • Cloakroom – If your lucky enough to have a larger space to work with, it may the case that you want to create a second bathroom in your home for guests and friends alike. Incorporating a second shower is a great idea if you have a large family. With so many 900 x 900 shower designs and smaller available on the market, your bound to find something that works for you. In addition to the added convenience, a second shower is guaranteed to add extra value to your home.

A cloakroom bathroom solution makes the most of a small space, with stylish and contemporary detail adding a touch of glamour and practicality to any home. With complete solutions starting from as little as £1000, it’s a great investment for any homeowner that’s guaranteed to provide long term rewards.

Increase your energy levels!

With winter continuing strong and snow falling all around the UK,  it’s important to not let your energy levels dip throughout the day. By maintaining certain aspects of your day to day life, you can ensure you feel good from morning until night. Below are a few of our top tips towards feeling great;

  • Drink plenty of water – Two-thirds of the body is made from water, so it makes sense to ensure you’re well hydrated throughout the day. Joints, eyes and the digestive system are the first to benefit as the body works constantly to flush out toxins and other unwanted materials. Although we receive a lot of water from the food we eat, it is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, in many cases between 6 – 8 glasses. In you are participating in heavy exercise, sauna use, or similar you obviously need to compensate for increased water loss. If you feel that you are struggling to concentrate, thirsty or have dark coloured strong-smelling urine, there is a strong chance you may be dehydrated.
  • Eat well –  The importance of what we eat and when we eat can have a huge impact on how we feel throughout the day. Supplements should not be needed if you manage to maintain a healthy balanced diet, providing you’re fit and healthy, but sometimes individuals do not get the recommended daily vitamin intake. Vitamin C is important for maintaining a strong immune system.
  • Exercise – When we do exercise, our bodies release endorphins, boosting metabolic rates and increasing our overall energy levels. One of the worst things an individual can do is avoid exercise when they are feeling tired.
  • Sleep – The amount of sleep required can vary from person to person, with factors such as age and activity levels coming into play. The common requirement for most is between 7 – 8 hours per day, even though many of us fail to get even this. Try to familiarise your body with a routine, by going to bed a similar time each night. A good tip is to take a bath before bed allowing your mind to switch off from work or exercise. Ensure your bedroom is at the right temperature free from light, noise and other stimulants such as TV or computers.
  • Relax – Stress and anxiety can cause fatigue on our bodies without us even knowing about it. Taking as little as 10 minutes of each day to clear your mind and relax the body can have substantial benefits on your health long term. Along with relaxing in the bath, utilise other means of relaxation such as having a massage or using a personal infrared sauna. All can help contribute in giving yourself a chance to relax.

Flawless floors – Tips for bathroom flooring

When designing a complete bathroom renovation it’s important to choose the correct materials for your floor and walls – Here are a few things to consider before you buy.

Tiles are by far the most practical solution, as they are easy to clean and can withstand the damp steam filled environment a bathroom can produce. With many different sizes and styles now available there is something to suit all needs from working within a tight budget, to achieving ultimate 5-star hotel luxury.

For that classic spa look, working with natural materials such as stone or slate is highly recommended. Tiling the walls and floor with the same design will offer a more streamlined look.

If spacing is limited and your bathroom is compact, it is better to choose the largest tile you can afford. A larger designed tile will visibly stretch the space, making the room appear larger and less cluttered.

For maximum glamour, try to utilise highly reflective mosaic tiles along with ultra-chic metallics. As you can imagine luxury like this does not come cheap, so if you can’t do all the walls in your bathroom consider using them on a feature wall or in an alcove to add extra glitz.

Making your home Greener!

There are a few changes you can make to your home that will save you money and help protect the environment at the same time. Study the following options to see if there is room for improvement in your home.

Insulate your home

Up to 40 percent of the heat that is lost in the home is through the roof and surrounding walls. This percentage can be reduced significantly by installing simple loft insulation costing between £200 to £300, resulting in an average saving of £150 per year. Cavity wall insulation prices start from £130 with an average saving of £100 a year. Obvious improvements such as double glazing will also reduce heat loss through the windows.

Reducing your water usage

At present, homes across the UK can use up to 1000 litres of water per day. One option is to install a water meter along with low-flush toilets. You can also take advantage of rainwater, by installing a harvesting system which can reduce your water consumption by as much as half whilst being used with toilets, washing machines and gardening. Systems such as this can start from £3500.

Generate your own Energy

Photovoltaic (PC) Cells or solar panels as we know them, operate by capturing solar radiation and converting it into electricity. An average home with a south facing roof could potentially generate half of its own needed energy using these cells. Systems vary in prices but are expected to be paid back within at least ten years. Wind turbines are also an option, but only effective in certain locations. It is important to carry out a wind assessment beforehand – Prices for wind turbines start from £1000.

Make small change around the home

Lighting in the home accounts for around 15 per cent of your annual electricity bill, so it is important to change over to energy saving bulbs throughout your home. Each bulb can save up to £7 per year! Installing an efficient condensing boiler is expected to save £150+ per year, whilst investing in a jacket and lagging for your hot water cylinder and pipes will pay itself back within one year of installation.

Sources: Homebuilding & Renovating magazine – June 2008

Bronze age sauna discovered.

A newly discovered roundhouse and sauna has been discovered on a Cumbria Farm in Somerset England: March 2009.

The roundhouse measured 56 feet (17) in diameter, which was one of the largest roundhouses to be unearthed in Britain, and is estimated to be an impressive 3,000 years old.
Archaeologists uncovering the site found a large mound of burned stones, which suggests a sauna may have once stood there. A wide range of Roman artefacts were also found including shears, brooches, three Iron Age spearheads, loom weights, vast amounts of pottery and two skeletons.

Steven Membury, a historic environment officer at Somerset County Council, said: “We think the site began about 2,500 BC with ritual use around a spring where the burned stones were found”

“The idea that the stone indicate ‘sweat houses’ is just one theory”

We can tell that the huge roundhouse burned down but we think we have one surviving post which we will be able to carbon date”

For the full story, please visit the following link: Bronze Age Sauna