April, 2013

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5 Tips for Building an Eco-Friendly House

Nowadays our society as a whole is becoming more and more conscious of the importance of sustainability and environmental responsibility. While there are many steps we can take in our daily lives to help reduce our carbon footprint, building an eco-friendly home is one of the major approaches we can use to reduce our demand on global resources throughout our daily lives.

Here are a few basic tips for building a more eco-friendly home.

Use Recycled and Renewable Materials

During planning and construction, give some thought to the materials you’re going to use for the build and consider their impact on the earth’s resources. In order to make your build as environmentally friendly as possible you should aim to use materials that are either recycled or come from a renewable source. Using salvaged bricks, steel or timber is a cheaper and more eco-friendly approach to sourcing construction materials.

Bamboo and cork are great examples of renewable construction materials and are highly cost-effective. Bamboo is resistant to rot, fire, insects and water and can be harvested every 5-7 years, compared with wood from trees that take anywhere from 15-100 years to grow. Cork is a great material for flooring, it’s comfortable, durable, non toxic, resistant to fire and insects, insulates your home and the cork tree actually needs to have its bark harvested regularly or the tree will perish.

Building an Eco-Friendly House

Source Materials Locally

To reduce the carbon footprint of your build, try to source your building resources as locally as possible. This goes for both construction material and labour, of course. This will help boost the local economy and reduce the resources required to transport the materials to the build site. Reducing transportation distances, costs and man hours will also help you to keep costs down.

Solar Power

Solar power is an ideal approach to creating an eco-friendly home and reducing both the carbon footprint of your household and the cost of keeping your home running throughout the year. Solar power helps create an energy efficient house, keeping your electricity bills lower and your demand on energy resources minimal.

An increasing number of houses are installing solar power for heating and electricity, including hot water systems.

Cooling and Heating

Keeping the home cool in summer and warm in winter contributes to a large part of any household’s energy usage. By taking measures to reduce the dependency to electricity for temperature regulation in the home, you can reduce your carbon footprint as well as your electricity bills.

Insulation in the ceiling and walls should be present in every household and helps to regulate the inside temperature of the house. For two storey house plans you should also insulate between levels. Double glazed windows and doors are also highly effective in doing this. Even if you do choose to use air conditioning, insulation and double glazing will both help to greatly reduce the power needed to maintain the desired temperature inside the home.

Planting shade trees around the home is a simple and natural way to shade your home and windows from the sun, keeping the summer heat at a more manageable level.

You might even like to investigate alternative low-energy methods of heating during winter. For example, some homes are equipped with under-floor or in-wall heating that uses hot water, heated and circulated by systems that run off the heat of the home’s fire place.

Lighting

Most Australian building codes now require the use of fluorescent or LED lighting to reduce household energy consumption. When building your home, try to take advantage of the energy efficiency and cost effectiveness of LED lighting. You should only need to change an LED bulb every 25 years or so, and they consume a fraction of the energy required to power a halogen light.

If you’ve ticked all these boxes then you’re already well on your way to an eco-friendly household. There are plenty more ways to reduce your impact on the earth so keep researching and take any steps you can to save energy

4 Ways to Keep Your Conservatory Warm Throughout the Year

During the summer months, a conservatory is amazing – it’s the perfect place to relax in the golden warmth of the sunlight shining through the glass. You can sit there, lean back in your extra comfy recliner, and just admire your garden surroundings as you bask in the June sun. You can even entertain guests in there: a lovely, home cooked dinner as the sun begins to set is a great way to spend your evening.

Classic Conservatory

However, in the cold, grisly months that bridge the old year and the new, your conservatory might become a bit of a no man’s land: the chill in the air comes straight through into your poorly insulated glass house and takes up residence, threatening any intruders with its icy grip.

We are here to tell you how you can fight back against the White Queen! Reclaim your beautifully glazed territory by keeping it warm through winter! Our Heat Guru is here to tell you how:

1. Use Thermally Insulated Glass

One of the easiest ways to ensure that all that lovely warmth remains firmly inside your glass walled haven is to install thermally insulated glass in the roof of your conservatory. You can either do this when you initially build the conservatory (which is, of course, the easier and cheaper method), or you can replace the standard glass at a later date.

Insulated glass is designed to trap as much heat as possible inside the room. Because heat rises, it will escape through the roof first; this is why it’s most important to install the thermally insulated glass up there.

2. Install Under-Floor Heating

If you love walking around on bare feet, under-floor heating is the thing for you. We are willing to bet that your conservatory floor reaches sub-arctic temperatures in the winter months, making it a nightmare for your sockless leg-ends.

The solution is under-floor heating: though it’s not cheap, it’s definitely worth it, as your feet will be in heaven!

3. Get a Conservatory Heater

Now that less heat is escaping through the roof and the floor is nice and cosy underfoot, you may feel like your conservatory is just perfect, but when you’re in the depths of December you may still get a little chilly.

The perfect remedy to this is a simple heater. You can install a proper conservatory heater or go the inexpensive route and get your average plug-in one – the choice is yours! Just flick it on when you’re in need of a quick heat boost.

4. Fit Some Conservatory Blinds

This is the simplest and arguably cheapest solution, so if you haven’t already got some conservatory blinds, now is the time to get them! First and foremost, they look great alongside your conservatory furniture from 2furnish, but they are also fantastic for locking in the warmth.

The blinds are designed so that they fit snugly to the window, which stops the heat from escaping through the gaps. You can even invest in special solar-reflective blinds – these get rid of excess heat in summer but keep it all in during winter!

How Hard Water Can Affect Your Plumbing

Any professional plumber will tell you that hard water can cause major problems with plumbing lines, appliances, and plumbing fixtures. Hard water is loaded with minerals and the calcium and magnesium that it contains leaves your water smelling like rotten eggs and your tubs and sinks stained with rust. It also causes a major build-up of minerals. Even though hard water affects your plumbing, it will not be harmful to your health even though it seems bad. If hard water is present, then your plumbing could be severely damaged by mineral deposits that form. These deposits are also called lime deposits, and they produce a coating that blocks your drains and pipes. Water flow will be incredibly restricted by these deposits, and if you let the problem go too long, then you could end up having to replace all of the lines in your home.

The Effects of Hard Water on Appliances

The bad thing about the minerals in hard water is that they can accumulate in any appliances that use water, such as dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators that have ice makers, hot water dispensers, kettles, and even hot water heaters. Sometimes it is hard to tell that your appliance is being harmed until it is so bad that you have to have repairs made. Hard water can seriously damage your appliances, because it clogs them up. Even though hard water is not associated with major medical problems, it could possibly intensify skin conditions. Most of these problems can be prevented if you install a water softener, but issues can still occur sometimes even if you have a water softener.

Learning How to Tell If You Have Hard Water

If your water is extremely hard, then you will need to call a professional plumber to try to come up with a solution to fix the problem. You will know that it is hard simply by looking at whether or not there is rust present in your sink or tub. You can also tell by looking at your laundry. When you wash a load of clothes, minerals will react with the detergent that you use, and this will create a sticky residue. This residue will get on the fabric of your clothing, and it will cause the fabric to fade, to have an orange tint from the rust, and it will also cause the fabric to be scratchy. A plumber will be able to help.

If you have any further questions about hard or soft water, or any other plumbing related issue, please contact one of our friendly team. They would be more than happy to help. You can find us at: www.ppbs.co.uk

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