5 Quick Tricks To Save Money On Heating This Year

Winter can do a number on your household budget. You can’t predict how cold the weather will get, and with that comes uncertainty about your energy budget. All you know is that it’s going to go up, and it’s an unpleasant surprise every year. You don’t have to be held hostage by the weather. There are ways to save money even when the mercury plummets without having to freeze in your own home. Check out these quick tips for saving money in the winter.

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#1 Buy a Low Flow Shower Head

Low flow shower heads use less water and as a result, use less hot water, sparing your hot water tank. One thing you can do is also insulate your water tank and reduce the temperature by a couple of degrees. This will also help reduce “standby loss,” where you heat water you don’t use for hours.

#2 Do Furnace Maintenance

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Every year, you should give your furnace a quick inspection and cleaning to prevent a breakdown caused by wear and tear. You may not know when to repair your furnace, but when it’s broken, it’s already too late. You can find furnace maintenance guides online that will help you through the process if you want to do it yourself, but you can also call in an expert if you suspect your furnace is having trouble.

If it’s a central air furnace that makes rumbling noises, if you feel cold air coming out of your vents when the heat should be on, or if the furnace runs in short cycles of no longer than three minutes, you should call a furnace technician. Check with your furnace company, too. If you rent your furnace, you may get access to 24/7 furnace repairs.

#3 Leave Open the Oven Door After Using

Winter also happens to have a lot of holidays that involve baking and roasting for long periods of time. If you don’t have to worry about dogs or small children, one way you can add to the heat in your home is leaving the oven door open after baking. It can spare your furnace some effort.

#4 Close Vents Not in Use

Do you have a guest room where no one is staying anytime soon? Close the vents in that room and save on heating. You can cut a couple hundred square feet off your heating footprint and save money, as that heat will simply go to other rooms instead.

#5 Insulate the Attic

Heat rises, so an improperly insulated attic can be a major cause of heat loss in your home. Insulate the attic by covering up the entry with plastic and weather stripping, or even old blankets if you have no other options.

Saving money isn’t hard if you know what to do and how to prepare for the lower temperatures, and remember, there are always small things you can do to help reduce the bills. Just remember, sometimes you need to pay upfront for savings down the road.

Like paying for attic insulation, certain appliances can cost money upfront, but they save you money down the road. Paying to add attic insulation isn’t an immediate saving. Another great example is to get a low energy water dispenser. Also, it’s important to note that Energy Star rated appliances also make a big difference!

Not only will these tricks help you save on your energy bills, they will also make your home feel more comfortable all season long.

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Bathroom Upgrades That Are Well Worth the Money

People often spend a lot of money upgrading the various rooms in their home. Whether it’s adding new kitchen appliances, putting new furniture into your living room or swapping out your bed for a more lavish one, there are plenty of big renovations that you can perform in order to make your home feel a lot nicer and more luxurious.

However, few people remember that their bathroom is one of the most-used rooms in their home and neglect to renovate it or spend a lot less money on the bathroom than other rooms in the home. So in this article, we’re going to be talking about a couple of bathroom upgrades that are well worth the investment in both time and money.

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More Storage Options

The bathroom might not be the first place we think of to add more storage, but you’d be surprised how useful an extra drawer or cupboard can be. Whether it’s replacing your current bathroom basin units with something that contains extra storage, or simply just adding a couple of shelves around the perimeter of the room, there are plenty of ways to add a bit of extra storage to your bathroom at a very low price.

This is a very easy project to undertake and can typically be done by yourself unless you’re doing a replacement of the bathroom basin. In this case, you may need to hire someone to help you such as a contractor, but a DIY-savvy neighbour or friend can also help because it’s not the most stressful or demanding of renovations.

Improving the Lighting

Lighting can be a huge factor when it comes to having a good bathroom. This is because many bathrooms typically use a single lighting fixture that is protected from steam and moisture, but it can result in rather dark and gloomy rooms. As a result, you may want to consider changing the lighting fixtures to add a bit more style while also letting in more light. This is especially important if the bathroom you’re renovating doesn’t have a large window to let light into the room, and it can add a lot of comfort if your bathroom feels a bit too dark.

Adding lights may require electrical knowledge, especially if you’re planning on adding extra lights to a room. As a result, you’ll want to hire a competent electrician to help you perform the work so that you don’t risk harming yourself while trying to install it. There are plenty of different lights that you can add to your bathroom but do keep in mind that if you have a small bathroom you should pick lights or fixtures that can withstand the moisture of a bathroom.

Separating the Shower

A lot of bathrooms will often have a mixed shower and bath. These are very common especially in smaller apartments that try to save space, but if you’re able to separate the two, then it can be a fantastic renovation to perform. First, you’ll need to make sure that your bathroom has enough space for a separate dedicated shower. This might be possible in most bathrooms, but for an ensuite this might be a challenging renovation due to the lack of space. However, it does a lot of style to your bathroom, makes it look a lot more luxurious and helps to make your bathroom functional by separating the two.

Of course, separating the shower from the bath isn’t something you can do over a weekend and will require a lot of money and contractors to help you. It’s going to be one of the more expensive renovations that you can perform, but it’s certainly well worth the money if you’re able to afford it and have the time to renovate your bathroom. While a simple bathtub and shower combination can save a lot of space, it’s just not as luxurious and enjoyable as having them separated.

Wet Room Upgrade

For a contemporary bathroom upgrade, consider a wet room. These are bathrooms that don’t care if you splash water everywhere because everything can be washed and cleaned easily, and there’s a drainage system where you can easily flush everything through that’s built into the floor. This means you don’t need to worry about stepping out of the shower and getting the carpets wet, it means your entire bathroom can prevent leakages and it also adds a lot of style and luxury to your bathroom.

However, you need to ensure that your bathroom is relatively large before considering a wetroom. This is because splashing from the shower or bath could create excess moisture that will make toilet rolls and hand towels wet if they’re too close, and this could create an unpleasant experience for you. In addition, a wet room upgrade isn’t cheap. You need to tile them from floor to ceiling and if you’re going for a completely sealed room with a drain, then your home needs to be able to suit the renovation.

New Tiles

Be it floor tiles that you want to replace or wall tiles that are far too dirty and stained to be presentable, new tiles can be a wonderful renovation that could uplift your bathroom and make it stand out. There are plenty of tile choices to pick from and it’s a relatively inexpensive renovation to make. You’ll have access to a fresh set of tiles that are clean, pristine and look fantastic. You can change up the styles if you want to and the new tiles will be much more hard-wearing and last you another couple of years.

Replacing tiles isn’t very difficult, but it can be time-consuming and we’d definitely recommend that you at least find someone to help you install the tiles or else it’ll take a long time. Removing tiles can also be quite messy and take a bit of your time, so it’s not a quick afternoon renovation and it may take a weekend or more to complete a full tile swap in your bathroom.

3 Areas Of Self Improvement To Focus On

If you are someone who is keen to always be improving, then you might be aware that it is often best to do so in as many different regions of your life as possible. However, there are a few parts of your life which are generally particularly important to focus on, in that as long as you are improving them you will be able to say that you are improving your life in general. In this article, we are going to take a look at just three areas of self improvement which you might want to focus on most of all. As long as you are working on these three things, you can easily say that you are making a lot of big changes in your life, and that you are that much more likely to succeed in all the ways you would like to succeed.

Wealth

First of all, you need to make sure that you are focused on wealth to at least a degree which is comfortable to you. Money is not important or a priority to everyone, but we all need to at least make sure that we are not going to be in poverty and that we can live as comfortably as possible. With that in mind, it is clearly a good idea to try and improve your relationship towards money in such a way that you can increase your wealth, and that is something which is worth thinking about early on in any self improvement journey. Generally this will mean that you need to look at your attitude towards wealth, work out what needs changing, and do so – and in that way, you should be able to improve your wealth potential greatly in a short period of time.

Mind

Your mind is one of the most important tools you are ever going to have. As such, it is important that you do what you can to look after it as well as you can. There are many ways in which you should be trying to take care of your mind, and one of the most important is to work on improving your cognition as best as possible. You can do this by using brain training games, finding a natural remedy for learning retention, and by ensuring that you are focused on improving your health in general so that your brain has more of a chance to work at its fullest capacity. Look after your mind, and you are really looking after yourself on the whole, so be sure not to overlook this if you can help it.

Body

The body being the temple of the mind, it is clearly important to look after it if you want to look after your mind – and that is important for mostly everything in life, so clearly this is something that should be a priority. Make sure therefore that you are getting all the exercise that you could possibly need, and that you are treating your body as well as you would like it to be treated. That means focusing on what you put in it, how you use it and so on. This makes a huge difference to your life on the whole.

My skin and Me

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Achieving the perfect skin complexion is easier said than done when it can take a lot of abuse from other elements such as sun and smoking. Skin neglect can cause dryness, dullness, wrinkles, uneven skin tone and slackening skin. So if you think your skin is in need of some improvement then keep reading and follow the conversation using the hashtag #MySkinAndMe.

Dehydrated skin

Dehydrated skin can be pain when it is not treated in the correct manner. It can cause tight, flaky patches of skin that can be quite uncomfortable. The reason behind dry skin is the lack of oil that keeps it moisturized. So here are a few tips to prevent this from happening.

  • Wash your face every night with warm water. It is important the temperature of the water is lukewarm because if it is too hot then it can remove necessary oils from your skin and cause dryness.
  • Use a gentle cleanser that can be found from places such as the Sarah chapman skin care range.
  • Drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin- the recommended glasses of water to drink a day would be between 6 and 8.
  • Eat lots of water based foods such as berries, water melons, cucumbers and tomatoes to achieve a healthy glow.
  • Apply honey to your skin to remove any dry areas. The perfect way to achieve this is by leaving the honey on your face for 5 minutes and rinsing it off with warm water. This natural remedy is great for holding and maintaining moisture.

Dull skin

Have you ever felt like your skin isn’t looking bright and radiant instead grey and flat? Then this could mean you are experiencing dull skin. It is important that you take the necessary steps to help recover a radiant glow.

  • Use an exfoliator as it is an important part to a good skin routine. The reason being is that it makes your skin smoother because the old skin cells are removed from the top. It helps stop signs of aging because when the dead skin cells are removed it reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles.  Also, its scrubs away flaky skin to enable your skin to look and feel fresh and bright.
  • Stress is a part of life everyone has to face but it is important that we learn to manage it. The reason being is that is can affect the appearance of your skin because it causes your body to make more hormones which makes your skin produce more oil. Oily skin is more prone to achne and other skin related problems. So it always important to think of ways to reduce pressure if you’re feeling particularly tense.
  • Sleep deprivation can affect the moisture levels in your skin which can make your completion look less growly and youthful. Therefore it is always important to get 8 hours of sleep every night to keep a healthy glow.

Wrinkles

Wrinkles happen when the skin gets thinner, less elastic and drier. It is a part of growing older but how can we manage it from happening earlier in life? Here are a few tips on how to do so.

  • Avoid excessive amounts of sunlight and always use sun screen when you’re out and about. This is because too much sun light on the skin can allow UV rays to damage and kill skin cells.
  • Smoking contains carbon monoxide and this can block the blood supply that keeps skin tissue from looking healthy. It is important to give up this habit because it not only poorly affects your skin but your health also.  

Slackening skin

Slackening skin is when the skins structure breaks down and starts to sag and hang. So here are a few tips to prevent skin from stretching and handing out of place.

  • Sticking to a balanced diet so you don’t have an excessive amount of weight gain which will cause the skin to stretch.
  • Have enough vitamin C as this produces collagen and elastin which gives your skin strength to stretch and bounce back.
  • Exercise regularly to keep muscles tight so it can help skin be more firm and taught.

Make your garden fit for a jungle queen – create your own tropical paradise

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With our weather forecasts being so up and down lately – it can be difficult to hold onto that Summer feeling all Summer long! Many of us jump on an airplane in search of sunnier climates and our well-earned break away from it all. But have you ever thought about bringing the holiday to you?

If your garden space is looking a little lacklustre or you want to bring a little of the tropics into your own backyard, then read on for tips on how to create your very own tropical paradise.

What to plant

Your main objective is to recreate a tropical paradise that you can enjoy all year round. Even if the weather looks out of place! To do this, you’re going to need to plant the right flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees. You can make a start with palm trees from The Tree Center. To give your tropical garden a more authentic look, remember that density is key. In a traditional garden, we like to have space around our plants and shrubs; those rules don’t apply here!

Choose plants that will give a variation of heights and depths. That includes towering palms, and ground covering plants. Try to have a good variation of leaf shapes and colours too. Once you have decided on your garden design and what will go where, make sure everything is planted in Springtime so that their roots have chance to set in!

Maintenance

Having a tropical garden is going to take a lot of love and care. So, bare this in mind before you begin. During the winter months, bring in the plants that are sensitive to the lower temperatures and for those that are too large you’ll need to invest in some horticultural fleeces to protect them from the elements.

Lighting

Lighting is key when it comes to any garden setting. So, your tropical paradise should be no different. Tiki lights are the obvious choice! They’ll look great dotted around the garden or at places of interest like the BBQ or seating area. If flames aren’t your thing, then stick with solar powered lights instead. These twinkling away amongst the shrubbery will give your tropical garden a magical feel.

A soothing soundtrack

No tropical paradise would be complete without some kind of water feature, right? A cascading waterfall might be a little ambitious for your back yard, but a small pond fed with a miniature waterfall would not only look great but will provide the perfect background sound.

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If you’re creating a pond or water feature, why not make it a habitat too? Koi fish would be the perfect addition to any tropical garden pond, they’ll give the place a little entertainment too!

A fire pit

The perfect place to sit, chat, relax and top up those drinks after an afternoon of BBQ with friends and family. Make sure you find a place that’s safe and spacious enough to accommodate your fire pit. Place a couple of benches around it and voila!

Penthouse Fit for any Fashionista

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It isn’t very often that a penthouse apartment in the middle of Mayfair becomes available. Nor the apartment of a beloved global fashion designer. When both of these combine, then you know you have something special on your hands.

The former penthouse of Alexander McQueen, CBE and four time British designer of the year is currently on sale in London’s lavish Mayfair for a cool £6 million. Now I’m sure most of us could simply use the change we find down the back of the sofa to pay for this… but there are people who unfortunately aren’t so lucky. This doesn’t mean however that we can’t have the opportunity to enjoy the views and charms of this property.

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The penthouse is a duplex, set across two floors, with the top floor leading out onto a 700sq.ft rooftop terrace. If this hasn’t made you want it already I don’t know what will, especially when you consider the glorious summer weather we are enjoying! Inside through the French windows, there is a humongous dining room that joins onto the large terrace before leading down a spiral staircase onto the lower floor. An open fire and state of the art entertainment systems provide a great area for entertaining in the reception room while the bespoke kitchen with breakfast bar and wine cooler that will make you not want to cook for fear of making a mess. Wine doesn’t have to go in the food anyway!

The focus of the home is the corridor that has been turned into a catwalk that spreads the entire width of the apartment. Flanked by mirrors and portraits of McQueen himself the area has become a homage to the opulent style and flamboyant nature of the shows he curated during his lifetime. The ensuite bedrooms include vast walk in wardrobes with plenty of space to perfect an inspiring outfit before an evening in London’s top restaurants.

Located in Dunraven Street, very close to the Mayfair Estate Agents selling the property, it benefits from the calm oasis that certain areas of Mayfair can provide and is only a 3 minute walk from Hyde Park. With historic connections to the Royal Family and fashion royalty, this property is sure to turn heads on the market.

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Adding Personality To A Blank Canvas Home

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Getting your first home is a massive deal. And for a lot of us, practical considerations have to come before ideal features when getting on to the property ladder. More and more of us are getting our start in life in a new-build – and that brings many benefits, from less maintenance to strong financing deals. There’s only one consideration – and that’s that a lot of new build flats and houses can be a bit featureless. Built en masse and with designs shaped more by accountants and architects, most new built homes are lacking in the depth and personality enjoyed by older buildings. The good news is, there are plenty of ways that you can inject a little bit of life back into these blank canvas homes…

Know Your Style

First off, take the time to understand what your taste is when it comes to interiors. Don’t just rely on decorating magazines to tell you what the latest trends are, and dictate what you should want. Be proactive in seeking out your personal taste. Use an app like Polyvore to create interior mood boards, featuring pictures that inspire you, colours and textures you like, and images of furniture styles. You don’t have to rush into a decision – take your time to get to know the space and understand how you use it before committing to one scheme. Although you can style each room slightly differently, try to stick to tones within the same colour palette. This will tie the spaces together and give a sense of harmony to your home. And rather than impulse buying items for the home, always refer back to your mood board before making a purchase to create a cohesive look where everything sits together well.

Liven It Up

Even if your background colours are neutrals, you can liven up the scheme by layering in colour and pattern. Check out Graham and Brown for some beautiful, bold designs that manage to be both timeless and very contemporary at the same time. Adding just a little touch is really enough, and means that it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Patterned throws and rugs can also add extra dimension and texture, giving sparkle to a more minimal room.

Select a Statement Piece

Choosing a bold focal point for a room can really add impact. Whether it be a statement cluster light or some interesting furniture, the right choice can completely change a room. Check out Old Charm Furniture for some great pieces. The right chair placed in a corner, a beautiful lamp or just the right side table can do a lot to make your space less generic. You just need a handful of out of the ordinary items that do the heavy-lifting design wise.  

Add In Artwork

What you choose to hang on the walls can do a lot to steer your decorating scheme away from ‘vanilla’. A single large, bold print or a collection of framed images grouped together can be transformative. Link different pictures together with a shared colour scheme or thematic influence. In no time at all, you’ll have a beautiful space!