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.

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!

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!

Essential Considerations Homeowners Need to Keep in Mind

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Owning a home is a big step in your life, and one of the most important things you are ever likely to do. Being in a position to own your own property is something that really sets you up well for the future and allows you to look after your family moving forward. Not everyone is lucky enough to be in a position in life where they actually get to become a homeowner, and this why it’s so important.

If you are ever likely to get to that position, you need to make sure you think about what matters. All homeowners need to take measures to look after their home and ensure they preserve their asset for the future. There are plenty of essentials that homeowners need to think about, both for the present and for the future. If you are a homeowner, it’s likely you will have these things on your mind.

Are You Planning to Sell Any Time Soon?

Think about what the long-term future of your home is likely to be. Did you buy it with the intention of selling somewhere down the line? As an investment home, is it in a good position to sell, and what sort of time frame did you put on it? With this in mind, you also have to understand what the market is doing as well. If the housing market is bad, it may not be the right time to sell, and this is something to keep in mind when making your decision. Keep an eye on what the market is doing because this can have a huge impact on what happens to your home.

You Need to Meet Mortgage Payments Every Month

Every month you are going to need to pay a minimum amount toward your mortgage. This is something that needs to be done without fail every single month. Failure to meet mortgage payments will result in the house being repossessed, and your credit rating will be shot. You need to keep this in mind when you first consider buying a home, and you can use a home loan calculator to determine how much you will need to pay each month based on the amount of money you loan, and the repayment terms. Keeping a handle on this is so important because it will help you keep your home and ensure you don’t fall into financial difficulty.

Renovations are Key

Renovations play a massive role in the life of any homeowner. They are essential for the upkeep of the property, and can also go a long way toward making the home better as well. There are lots of different home renovations that might be necessary in order to improve the home. You should learn some basic DIY skills and help you make repairs and renovations in the home on a much simpler basis. These are sometimes a practical necessity, but other times they are simply a case of making the property more aesthetically pleasing.

Extending Could Add Value

The favorite buzzword for so many homeowners these days is – extension. If you can extend your home, you will be well-placed to enjoy the added space and value this brings with it. So, you need to think about the best way of enjoying a successful and stress-free extension. Consider what is involved in making an extension, and how you can go about adding more value to the property. A lot of people like to go conservatories or orangeries as a way of adding good value. But, if you have the option, a loft conversion is definitely a fantastic choice for extending the home in the best possible way.

You Need a Top Security System

Home security is regularly something all of us take for granted, and this is sometimes a bit of a problem. We just naturally assume that our homes are protected and looked after and that this will happen by default, but that’s not the case. Instead, we need to think about what we can do to make the home safer and more secure. This means perhaps looking at the locks you currently have, as well as things like double glazing as well. You also need to look at getting a top security system fitted for the home because this will ensure extra security and protection for you and your family moving forward.

Make Sure Your Home is Healthier

A healthy home is a happy home, and this is something homeowners need to keep in mind. See, the fact of the matter is that we can all do a lot more to make our homes healthier and protect the environment as a result. Turning your home into an eco-friendly haven is actually much more doable than you might think these days. That is why you need to make sure you look for as many ways as possible of going greener. Your home can become healthier with a few changes, such as a focus on recycling, and the addition of some plants. Every little helps when it comes time to look after the environment.

What Should You Do With That Spare Room?

Having a spare room in your property presents a wealth of opportunity for moving forward and improving both life and home at the same time. Now, there are a lot of things you might consider doing with your spare room these days, it’s entirely up to you. Among the best options might be to turn it into a home gym, make it your office, or even rent it out to a lodger. A spare room offers all kinds of opportunity, and this is something that counts for a lot when exploring your opportunities as a homeowner.

As you can see, these are just a few of the essential things that homeowners need to think about on a daily basis. There is a lot involved in running and maintaining a home, and there are a lot of things that can affect your home and your life. These are considerations that play a big role in the way the business works, and it’s important to be sure that you are caring for the property as much as possible.

5 Ways To Turn Your Kitchen Into A Social Space

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Not so long ago, the kitchen used to be a place where meals were prepared, and that was pretty much it. However, more recently it’s purposed has evolved into one that’s more social, and it’s become somewhere that families like to gather in the morning, have dinner in the evening, and entertain guests. Of course, there are still those that would rather skip breakfast and eat other meals in front of the TV, but these people are few and far between. If you want your kitchen to become more of a social space, then here are five things that you can do.

  1. Enhance The Natural Light

No one wants to spend time in a dark room. You feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable, and, of course, can’t see where anything is. Because of this, you need to make your kitchen feel as bright and light as you can. A great place to start is by opening your blinds and letting the sun shine through the windows. You should also consider incorporating lighter colours into the room, as these reflect light and make the room seem brighter.

  1. Add A Dining Area

Rather than have a separate room for your dining area, you should add one to your kitchen. This way, guests and other family members have somewhere to sit while you’re cooking or cleaning, so you can keep up a conversation with them, even when you’re doing something else. You may think that your kitchen is small, but you’d be surprised at just how many people you can accommodate if you plan the room right.

  1. Build Yourself A Bar

You may not have space in your kitchen for a dining table, but you may have room for a breakfast bar and some modern bar furniture. This way your family and guests still have somewhere to sit, so there’s no excuse not to chat to you while you’re hard at work. If you already have a kitchen island, this could easily serve as a breakfast bar, which means that you wouldn’t have to take up any extra space.

  1. Include A TV

Whether you like it or not, a television can really make or break a social space. After all, your kids aren’t going to want to sit in the kitchen with you, if their favourite cartoon is on in the living room. Because of this, you might want to consider including a TV in your kitchen, and maybe add a comfortable sofa too. This also benefits you, as it means that you don’t have to miss out on any good shows either.

  1. Go For An Open Plan

If you’re already considering adding a dining and lounge area to your kitchen, then why not go all out and create an open plan. Of course, it will require some planning and money, but removing the walls between the rooms downstairs can really open up the space. This will also mean that you don’t have to try to cram too much into one room. An open plan is great for families, as you can all do your own thing in your own areas, while still being able to chat with one another.

If you want to transform your kitchen into a social space, then the advice above should help you out.

Creating A Luxurious Bathroom

You do not need to spend a lot of money in order to create a luxurious feel in your bathroom. There are various ways that you can make your bathroom look expensive without splashing your cash. With that in mind, read on to discover some of the best ways to create a luxurious feel in your bathroom.

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Accessorise carefully

To create a lavish and opulent feel in any room, you need to accessorise with care. It is the finer details that matter when creating an expensive vibe. Luxury bathroom mirrors are a good place to start when looking for the perfect glamorous accessories. Not only can you get mirrors in some of the most stunning designs today, but a large bathroom mirror will lighten up a small bathroom making it appear bigger and much more luxurious.

Get rid of clutter

One of the most important things you need to do when attempting to create a luxurious bathroom is get rid of clutter. After all, there is nothing luxurious about having shampoo bottles and magazines spread across your bathroom. You should make sure that all of your products are neatly tucked away in your bathroom cabinet. If you cannot find a place for something, then it needs to be thrown into the bin or rehomed.

Bring the outdoors in

The most expensive bathrooms make sure to include the outdoors as a design element. There are a number of different ways that you can do this. Of course, the most obvious way of bringing the outdoors in is to invest in a house plant for your bathroom. Not only will this look beautiful, but it will be soothing and it will boost the air flow in the bathroom as well. You can also invest in artwork that depicts plants as well. This approach is not only elegant and luxurious but it will give your bathroom Feng Shui benefits too.

Add some little touches

You should add some small touches to your bathroom to create a comfortable and lavish vibe. For example, you could invest in a plush bathrobe and some comfortable slippers and hang them on the back of the bathroom door so that you can get snug and cosy as soon as you get out of the shower. Another little lavish accessory that will only cost you a few pounds is a bathtub tray, which is great for placing your book and a glass of wine on while you’re soaking in the tub.

Choose a simple colour palette

The final thing you need to do is make sure you select a simple colour palette. Neutral colour palettes work best in bathrooms because they have a relaxing and serene feel to them. They create that desired spa vibe that you are hoping to achieve. This does not mean that your bathroom has to be boring, though, as you can play around with different textures to create that five-star, high-end feel.

As you can see, it does not require a lot of energy or money in order to create a luxurious bathroom!