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MAD Blog Awards 2011

Posts Tagged ‘Eco easy’

Can you believe there are just over 50 days to go before Christmas – hasn’t this year just flown by?

‘But don’t panic Mr Mainwaring’, to get you prepared for the big day, we will be bringing you a lots of easy green Christmas tips and advice, gorgeous recipes, craft ideas, product reviews and green news which are guaranteed to give you a warm festive glow, whilst keeping pounds in your pocket.

We’ll be covering all of the essentials, Christmas food, presents, decorating and parties, there will also be exclusive discount codes for your Christmas shopping, plus a chance to win a beautiful, eco-friendly handcrafted table in our monthly competition.

So, without further ado, let’s go …

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Here at Easy Green Towers we frequently get asked to try new gadgets that claim to save money and the environment. Quite often we aren’t convinced and politely decline. However, when the AlertMe Smart Energy Monitor landed on our desk we were intrigued and wanted to give it a go.

The AlertMe is an energy monitor with a difference. Instead of just connecting to your electricity supply, it also connects to your computer so it can record all sorts of facts and figures about your electricity usage and you can access this from any computer or smart phone.

Setting up the AlertMe was really easy. There are three main pieces of kit, a meter transmitter, a hub that plugs into your computer modem and an In Home Display which shows you how much electricity you are using, how much you have used and the temperature. No electricians are needed and it took me 5 minutes to set up. The computer then cleverly finds all the bits you have connected and you are good to go. The only tricky part was working out the cost of electricity per kilowatt hour (kWh). I pay one rate for the first 250 kW hours and another for any others used after that. I ended up looking at a years worth of bills and working out the average cost per kW hour over the last year.

Once the system was set up the kids and I raced around the house turning everything on and off to see the effect that it had on the In Home Display. The display shows energy use as bars that increase in number and change colour as usage goes up. It also shows how much you are currently using as pence or kW and how much you have used that day. I thought I was already quite conservative in my electricity use, but having the numbers clearly displayed really makes you think about switching the lights on, or boiling a full kettle. The kids, who are only young, got the concept immediately and have been much better at turning off lights since we have been using the AlertMe system. The on-line historical data is fascinating and is going to be the subject of another blog post to do it justice. If you want to see what it looks like click here to see a demo.

The big question is have I reduced my electricity costs? At the moment I can’t say yes or no because I have only been using the meter for a month and I haven’t had an electricity bill yet. However, I can categorically say it really does make the whole family think about the electricity we use and that has got to be a good thing.

The lovely people at Alert Me have given us an Alert Me Smart Energy kit worth £49.99 to give away. Details of how you can win*, will be coming soon on our competition page, so do keep your eyes peeled.

Don’t forget, for up to date details on this competition and more, sign up to our newsletter (sign up box in top left hand corner of this page)

*Commences 1st November, ends 30 November 2011.

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Love it or hate it, laundry is a task that us busy parents have to face on a daily basis. As well as being time-consuming, it is also energy-zapping, costly on our bills and the environment. But maybe, it doesn’t have to be this way?

For my At Home column this week, I have been looking at how we can reduce our washing and workload when it comes to laundry, as well as saving money and being kinder to the environment.

To find out what my top ten energy and money saving tips are, hop over to the article here and take a look. Oh and a message to my mum, really, you don’t have to do that anymore :))

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Did you know that the average home loses up to 26 per cent of its heat through an un-insulated roof? A properly insulated loft prevents the heat from escaping and can reduce energy bills by as much as £175 per year*, whilst instantly boosting a property’s green credentials. Installing your own loft insulation is one popular job which can be completed in a day, no matter how amateur your DIY skills.

Here, energy saving advice website thinkinsulation.com proves just how simple it is to install loft insulation with a five-step plan.

1. Prepare – Before you start, work out how much insulation you’re going to need by measuring the loft space and the required depth by putting a ruler or tape measure down the side of the joists. Make sure you take into account any existing insulation. The government recommends installing insulation to a minimum depth of 270mm to ensure optimal performance. Don’t forget to measure the size of loft hatch, check that the loft is properly ventilated and consider pipes and wires within the space to ensure there are no potential dangers.

2. Dress for the job and make sure you have all the tools – As lofts can be dusty places before you begin it is best to cover your skin by wearing long sleeve clothing, gloves and a mask. Ensure you have the correct tools to hand – you’ll need a flat wooden board that you can lay across the joists and kneel on when laying insulation. Don’t forget to make sure you have a sharp utensil such as a large bladed knife available to cut the insulation blanket or loft roll to size if required.

3. Start Insulating – Now you’re ready to begin insulating! Start at the corner furthest away from the loft hatch ensuring that the wall plate is covered and work towards the centre of the loft. Tuck the ends of the roll into the eaves but don’t completely block them. You will need to lay a base layer to a depth of 100mm between the joists and leave an air gap of at least 5cm at the eaves (between the insulation and the roof felt) to ensure that there is sufficient airflow across the loft space to prevent condensation forming.

4. Layer Up – Once you’ve laid the initial layer of insulation (100mm), you’ll need to lay an additional layer (170mm) to give a total depth of at least 270mm. This second layer should be laid at right angles at the joists – this is called ‘cross layering’ and really makes a difference to the overall thermal performance. At this stage take extra care, working across the loft, it’s also important to remember that you will be covering joists, so be careful not to lose your footing as you go!

5. Review your work – Once the insulation is laid stand back and critique your job. Make sure that electric cables are lifted up and placed on top of the insulation and that recessed lights have a minimum 75mm clear airspace all around them to prevent them from overheating. If you have a water tank in the loft make sure that there isn’t any insulation underneath it – instead wrap around an insulated tank jacket around it.

*Based on an un-insulated loft being insulated to a depth of 270mm

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Around half of heat loss in a typical home is through the walls and loft. To put that into context: the amount of heat lost in homes annually through un-insulated lofts and cavity walls is enough pay for 1.7million families gas bills for a year. By taking back control and insulating you can minimise the heat loss of your home.

Why insulate your home?

It’s simple: the better insulated your home is, the less energy you need to keep it warm – and the more money you’ll save in the long run.

When it’s cold outside, a well insulated, draught proofed house keeps warmth inside, to heat your home efficiently. This equals: lower bills, less waste; and for the environment: less carbon dioxide (CO2) one of the biggest causes of climate change. Insulation can also help prevent condensation on walls and ceilings and gives your home a more even temperature, all year round.

So, when it comes to insulation and draught proofing, the real question is: why not? In fact, insulation is so cost effective that it will soon be paying for itself over and over again, with payback starting much quicker than you might imagine. Insulating unfilled cavity walls now typically pays for itself in around 2 years, while topping up your loft insulation to the recommended depth of 270mm typically pays for itself within 6 years.

How does insulation work?

Heat loss occurs because heat naturally flows from hot objects or areas to colder ones. During winter, when your house is warmer than the air outside, heat will flow out of the house through poorly insulated solid surfaces such as walls, roofs and windows.

Properly installed insulation will create a barrier between the inside and outside of your home that will reduce the amount of heat being lost and keep more of it inside your home. This will help save you money on your heating bills, because your heating system won’t have to keep switching on to replace the lost heat and keep your rooms at a comfortable temperature.

What is the most effective form of home insulation?

Loft & cavity wall insulation are two of the most effective types. Around half of heat loss in a typical home is through the walls and loft, so it’s worth checking whether your walls and loft (if you have one) are insulated.

Cavity wall insulation is a fantastic way to significantly reduce the amount of energy you need to heat your home and could save you around £135 a year on your fuel bills.

Insulating your loft could save you around £175 per year on your energy bills if you don’t have any insulation there at the moment. If everyone in the UK topped up their loft insulation to 270mm, around £930m would be saved each year!

If you have solid walls you can either insulate them with external or internal insulation, saving you around £475 a year on your energy bills. Insulating beneath floorboards will reduce heating bills and improve the comfort of your home. You could save around £60 a year by insulating your floors. Gaps and cracks around floors and skirting boards are easy to fill yourself using a tube of sealant – reducing heating bills by around a further £25 a year.

Draught proofing works by blocking any gaps around windows, doors, walls and floors where warm air can escape from the room or the house. With fewer draughts, you’ll need less energy to keep your home warm – so draught proofing measures could save you around £30 a year on your heating bills. In most cases, draught proofing can be managed with ease by a competent DIY-er.
Won’t it take a long time – and make a lot of mess?

No, insulating your home doesn’t have to mean turning it upside down. It can take professional installers just a few hours to install cavity wall or loft insulation – with no mess and little fuss. And if you’re a competent DIY-er, you could even install loft insulation yourself.

What kind of savings should I expect?

LOFT INSULATION               Loft insulation (0 – 270mm)             Loft insulation (50 – 270mm)
Annual saving per year (£)            Around £175                                                       Around £25
Installed cost (£)                              Around £250                                                       Around £250
DIY cost                                               £50 – £350                                                          £50 – £350
CO 2 saving per year                        Around 730kg                                                    Around 110kg

CAVITY WALL

Annual saving (£)                                  Installed cost £                                  Annual CO2 saving
Around £135                                         Around £250                                            Around 550kg

The Energy Saving Trust is the UK’s leading impartial organisation helping people save energy and reduce carbon emissions. We do this by providing expert insight and knowledge about energy saving, supporting people to take action, helping localauthorities and communities to save energy and providing quality assurance for good, services and installers.

Call your local Energy Saving Trust advice centre for free impartial advice: 0800 512 012

For more about the Energy Saving Trust’s visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

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