How to cut your electricity bill in 2018 – TIP TIPS!

According to new figures by energy regulator Ofgem, 57 per cent of households are on their energy supplier’s standard variable tariff, meaning they’re overpaying by £300 a year – as reported by Telegraph.co.uk. This is not OK…but with a little bit of time and effort, money can be saved! Check out these top money-saving tips:

Compare the market – shop around for the best deal! Just because you’ve been with a certain provider for a long time, it doesn’t mean that you’re getting the best deal.

Invest in a smart thermostat – controlled by an app your phone, turning off the heating when you’re not home and switching it back on again just before you return could save you loads.

Energy-saving bulbs – LEDs use 90 per cent less energy than traditional bulbs and last for 25,000 hours on average, compared to just 1,000 hours for an old-style bulb. It’s a no-brainer.

Monitor your energy use – smart meters are great because they communicate directly with your energy supplier, meter readings are instantly sent digitally as you use it, which ensure more accurate energy bills.

Consider energy upgrades and installations – the government, keen to encourage energy-efficient upgrades, offers grants for boiler upgrades, insulation, solar panels, grounds source heat pumps and draught-proof windows and doors. CLICK HERE (https://www.gov.uk/energy-grants-calculator) for more information.

Choose energy-efficient white goods – look out for A, A+ or A++ energy ratings on fridges, TVs or washing machines before you buy.

These are just some simple ideas of how you can ensure that you are not overcharged on your electricity bill this year; for more handy tips, read “New year: How to cut your electricity bill” and “Is your home energy-efficient?”.

For more information on all your heating needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

How to avoid heating and plumbing problems in your home this Christmas

Christmas is poking its festive head around the corner and amidst all the fun and excitement is the perhaps slim but nonetheless present possibility of your heating or plumbing giving in at the very last, inconvenient second – especially if you have a house full of guests and Christmas lunch to prepare.

There are some things you can do to do avoid any problems to do with heating, hot water or drainage! Have a look:

Heating

  • Check your boiler. British Gas has revealed that more than a third of households have not checked that their central heating is working properly, and four in ten have not had their boiler serviced in preparation for winter. Maintaining your boiler is the first ad best way to avoid heating problems.
  • Bleed your radiators. This will ensure they are working properly. If your radiators have cold spots at the top, this means you have air in the system; bleeding them will return them to good working order.
  • Seal your home by making sure all of your windows and doors seal properly to stop warm air escaping. Most DIY stores will sell ‘draught exterminators’ if you’re having problems keeping cold air out.
  • Wrap your water tank to conserve hot water; materials can be purchased from most DIY stores and help to conserve heat and save you money.
  • Insulate your pipes. This will stop them from bursting; a very real treat in freezing temperatures. Use lagging, which can be bought cheaply from most DIY shops.

Plumbing

  • Check your drains. Clear your drains of debris at the point at which they enter the ground. This involves checking your gullies for autumnal leaves and twigs in order to ensure that they don’t restrict water flow at any point.
  • Wait ten to 15 minutes between showers (especially applicable if you have a house full of guests). This gives your drains a bit of breathing space to clear properly, and helps avoid any cumulative backing up. It’ll also help your boiler maintain water temperature.
  • Fit strainers to your sink and shower plugholes. They’ll help catch a lot of the soap, hair, food debris and other muck that would otherwise go into your drains and potentially cause build-ups and blockages there.
  • Don’t flush things like disposable wipes, sanitary products, cotton buds or dental floss down the loo. These kinds of objects don’t disintegrate or dissolve like loo paper, and are a major cause of blocked and clogged drains, both at home and in the wider sewerage network.
  • Avoid pouring cooking oil, fat, and other food grease down your kitchen sink. Oils, fat and grease, although liquid while hot, cool and congeal quickly, and can clog your drains and slow the rate of drainage significantly.

For more hints and tips on how to avoid disturbing your plumber or heating engineer during his Christmas dinner, read “Avoid Christmas heating disasters at home with these top tips” on Idealhome.co.uk, and “Avoid plumbing problems and heating headaches this Christmas!” on Xpplumbers.com.

And have a very merry Christmas…from the team at AA Cooper!

For more information on all your plumbing needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Leaving household products on standby costs!

Even with the best of intentions, many of us leave our TVs, lights and computers on when we’re not using them…and it costs! But we probably knew that already. What we might not know is that even when our appliances are on standby (so not really off), they’re using energy and costing money.

The types of appliances that might operate on standby in our homes are a washing machine or dishwasher that is still on after the cycle, anything that has a display that is always on (like a microwave) and anything with a remote control.

But the appliances that suck the most energy are those that include a black box power supply, often called a ‘vampire’, between the appliance and the plug. The black box is responsible for converting AC electricity into DC electricity and the sensors and circuitry inside this box need to monitor what is happening with the device more or less constantly. This uses varying amounts of power, depending on what type of appliance it is, how old it is and the way it has been designed. The point, however: you pay for it.

Experts say that it’s not a single appliance left on standby that is a problem but rather the cumulative effect of many appliances left on. So, for example; a computer display in full use uses up 65 watts (68p per month) but still uses 12 watts when in sleep mode (10p per month). When off it uses 0.8 watts (1p per month). In and of itself, this is not a great amount but if you’re leaving, say, 50 appliances on standby; each one could add up to £3/year but altogether that’d make £150/year. This is a lot, especially when the cost can be avoided!

The solution: turn your appliances off at the plug.

In the UK, 15 per cent of domestic electricity is attributed to appliances on standby. Visit Draftlogioc.com for a list of the power consumption of typical household appliance, and for more energy-related information, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Source: Energysavingsecrets.co.uk – Does Having Appliances on Standby Use Power?

Top tips for setting up a home-based business

Thinking of starting a home-based business? Here are a couple of things you might like to
consider before you take the plunge:

  • Are you suited to working from home – are you self-motivated, disciplined,
    independent and can you be accountable to both yourself and your clients and
    customers?
  • Are your goals realistic – it takes time and dedication to create a successful business?
  • Have you worked out your finances – how much money you need to start up and what
    you need to earn to make things work?

If you’re secure in your answers to the aforementioned questions you’ll need to do two
things: define your business identity and set up your work space.

A business identity requires a name and logo, a website (even if you, yourself are the
business) and a clear sense of purpose.

And then your work space…for a homeowner, moving work into an everyday living space is a
big deal and has to be thought about quite carefully. Primarily, you’ll need a comfortable
place to work that is away from distractions, helping with focus and productivity. These
things will all depend on what type work you’re doing – photographers or dentists and
chiropractors will require a whole different home context from a writer or a designer.

Other than the nature of the space you’ll need to make your business succeed in the home
environment, you’ll need to reflect on the prospective energy requirements of your work and
whether you r home has the infrastructure to support the technological needs of your business
(speedy wi-fi, for example). From there, you can think about clever ways to cut costs; like
energy saving bulbs, tuning off appliances at the sockets etc.

Working from home is a wonderful thing; it’s challenging and not without its own unique
stresses but if you’ve done your research and planned accordingly, you’re off to a great start!

For more advice on energy usage or home refurbishments, contact the team at AACooper
01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Source: bbc.co.uk – “Setting up your own home business”

Ten ways to keep your home warm this winter

Winter’s on its way but that doesn’t mean that you have to succumb to the cold – certainly not in your own home. There are some really simple ways to keep the inside of your house toasty and warm. Check out these ten top tips from Britishgas.co.uk:

1.     Heat your home, not your walls – with some easy foil insulation. Cover a thin sheet of card with tinfoil and place it behind your radiators; it’ll reflect the heat back into your rooms, warming them faster and helping them retain heat.

2.     Pipe lagging (insulating hot water pipes with foam tubes) – keeps the water inside your pipes hotter for longer.

3.     Bleed your radiators – by releasing the trapped air at the top of the radiator you’ll be able to increase its efficiency.

4.     Get your boiler serviced – so that it will last longer end work more efficiently.

5.     Close the curtains – lots of warmth escapes through the windows in your home; keeping your curtains closed will trap some of the heat inside as opposed to letting it out.

6.     Heat the house with the oven – once you’ve cooked dinner leave the oven door open; the warmth will infiltrate your kitchen and slowly, the rest of your home.

7.     Roll out a carpet – if you’ve got wooden floors, putting down a carpet will cover up cracks and gaps and stop heat from escaping.

8.     Use insulation creatively –by using spray foam to insulate any cracks and gaps in your walls.

9.     Draught proof your home – if your home is draughty, patch it up! This will save you money (and keep you warm) in the long run.

10.  Figure out your ideal temperature – usually between 18 and 21 degrees. Then use your thermostat when necessary, to keep that temperature constant.

For more energy-related information, contact the team at AACooper
01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

For more details on any of the aforementioned advice, read “10 easy tricks to keep your house warm this winter” on Britishgas.co.uk

Top remodelling projects for homeowners

If there’s cash to spare, what home owner doesn’t love to invest in a little DIY project around the house? That wall you’ve been meaning to paint or that cupboard that needs a lick of varnish…or how about an entire room?

According to the National Association of Home Builders’ Remodelling Market Index report covering the first quarter of 2017, bathroom renovations, which previously held the number one spot on the ‘top remodelling project’ list, have been bumped down the list by none other than…(drum roll)…kitchens.

The other categories trailed kitchens and baths by a substantial margin yet whole house remodelling was cited as a common project by 53 percent of remodelers, room additions by 46 percent, and window or door replacement by 36 percent, so these all qualify as relatively popular projects.
Check it:

• Kitchen remodeling: 81%
• Bathroom remodeling: 80%
• Whole-house remodeling: 53%
• Room additions: 45%
• Windows/door replacement: 36%
• Finished basement: 27%
• Repairing property damage: 27%
• Decks: 25%
• Bathroom additions: 24%
• Roofing: 23%
• Enclosed/added porch: 23%
• Handyman services: 22%
• Siding: 19%
• Second story additions: 16%
• Enclosed/added garage: 12%
• Historic preservation: 9%
• Finished attic: 7%

Historically, kitchen and bathrooms have consistently ranked as the two most common types of remodelling projects since the inception of NAHB’s RMI survey in 2001. All those toilets, tiles, baths ad sinks – sat on, stood on…so much food and feet; remodelling seems inevitable!

For more information on all your plumbing needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk

Source: Eyeonhousing.org – “Remodeling in 2016: Kitchens Reclaim Top Spot from Baths”

How to tell if there’s a water leak on your property

Is there a water leak on your property? Perhaps your bill is higher than usual – in which case, you may have a leaky pipe or appliance. Other common signs that you might have a leak on your home or business premises are:

  • Your water pressure is reduced to a weak trickle.
  • You might have a swamp for a front lawn.
  • There are worrying new soft patches and depressions in the ground. Your lawn might be looking much healthier in some areas than others, despite your efforts at watering evenly.
  • The outside paving, bricks or concrete around your house are damp and unstable.
  • There are damp patches inside your property.
  • You’ve noticed a constant noise of flowing water coming from the pipes in your home or business.

It’s not always easy to tell if there’s a leak but you can do an initial check yourself by following these steps (if you’re on a water meter):

  • Turn off all the taps in the house and make sure there is no water being used.
  • Write down your current meter reading.
  • Take a second reading after a few hours, making sure no water has been used in the meantime.
  • Check the meter reading again. If the reading is higher, this means there could be a leak in your home.

If, after doing the checks, there’s a strong possibility that there is a water leak on your property, you’ll need to contact a plumber immediately. Leaks that are not tended to can damage buildings, foundations, and landscaping, and can result in a mega water bill! (In the case of water leaking from a pipe outside your home; contact your water supplier to have the pipe repaired.)

If you suspect faulty plumbing; contact the team at AA Cooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk. AA Cooper offers free consultation and no-obligation quotes, and we will take your problem seriously, no matter how minor you think it might be.

Sources: Mottplumbing.com.au – “How to Spot the Common Signs of a Water Leak” and Watersafe.org.uk – “How do I know if I have a leak in or around my home or business”.

Why fixing small leaks is important to the environment

Faulty plumbing can be the cause of some major pollution – one poorly connected piece of pipe in your home could result in waste water from toilets, showers and washing machines flowing into rivers and seas. Andrew Broadbent, chair of the National Misconnections Group, explains the effect a minor misconnection could have on the environment:

“Sewage and wastewater from toilets, baths, showers, dishwashers, washing machines and sinks should go straight into the sewers. From there it flows safely to wastewater treatment works where it is cleaned and recycled back into our rivers and seas. However, sometimes these appliances can be wrongly plumbed into surface water drains –separate pipes which should only collect rainwater (from roofs). Not only are these misconnections illegal, but they can result in chemicals, sanitary items and faecal matter flowing directly into our water environment and even harming our health and wildlife.”

No one wants live or holiday near dirty, smelly water, or to destroy nature in order to save a few bucks. The burden of responsibility (legally) is on you, as homeowner, to make sure that you’ve hired a qualified, accredited plumbing business that has the knowhow to connect waste pipes properly.

Homeowners also need to be proactive in ensuring that their property does not become part of the pollution problem; this means keeping a look out for leaky taps, toilets and radiators. Tell-tale signs are loss of pressure, rust, water stains on the walls, floors or carpets, or mould on ceilings and walls Underground leaks outside can sometimes be identified by patches of lush or dead grass.

It’s true that one little leak is not going to do too much damage; it’s the build-up of pollution over time that will have a serious impact on the environment…but imagine if we all ignored the signs of misconnected pipes. Fixing even a small leak will not only save you money in the long run, it will also save our earth.

If you suspect faulty plumbing; contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk. AACooper offers free consultation and no-obligation quotes, and we will take your problem seriously, no matter how minor you think it might be.

Source: Watersage.org.uk – “How Poor Plumbing is Causing Pollution”

Top Tips when it comes to starting a bathroom refurbishment

Once you’ve made the decision to refurb your bathroom, you’ll need to figure out whether you’re going to do it yourself, project manage other traders to fit your bathroom, or get a bathroom specialist to design and then see it through to completion for you. The experts at Home Owners Alliance has some great advice when it comes to starting a refurbishment project; here are some top tips that you might like to consider:

  • The type of bathroom you want – a practical family bathroom, en-suite, wet room or full-on home spa and personal sanctuary – as well as how much money you plan to spend, are factors that will help you decide who will fit your bathroom.
  • If it’s a fairly straightforward refurb, you might consider doing it yourself, which can save you up to 60 per cent of the cost! But before you decide to take on the project, do consider the time and difficulty of the job, and always get a professional in when it comes to gas or electric.
  • If you have a tradesman fitting your bathroom then buying the goods yourself – with their approval – can help to reduce the cost dramatically.
  • Whether buying the products yourself or getting someone in, it’s worth looking at the guarantees, especially for things such as grouting or sealant, which are costly to replace if they spring a leak. Look for lifetime or ten-year-plus warranties.
  • When deciding what your bathroom will look like, it’s better to start with a blank canvas to create a space that enhances your lifestyle, as opposed to using your existing bathroom as a template.
  • When it comes to practicalities it is important to consider what constitutes a realistic time-frame. Bathrooms can take between one and three weeks to complete (sometimes longer), and depending on the size of your house the work could be rather intrusive. It might be a good idea to wait until you go on holiday or even stay with friends or relatives.

For more advice on bathroom refurbishments, contact the team contact AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

What homeowners value most when hiring tradespeople

Whether you’re looking for a tradesperson to tile your bathroom, fix your boiler or install a heating system there’s one thing that homeowner’s value above all else – punctuality! Punctuality is the single most desirable quality that homeowners look for in a tradesperson, according to new research by Plentific.com.  There’s nothing more frustrating than taking a day off work only to wait…and wait…and wait – and then be let down at the last minute.

Homeowners also like to know what’s going on; communication and organisation are top priorities when looking to get building, plumbing or engineering done around the house; 78 per cent of homeowners are more likely to hire someone who sends through a professional quote and 69 per cent prefer a tradesperson who creates a solid schedule.

Appearance is not that important for homeowners, which ranked somewhere near at the bottom of the ‘essentials’ table, with a modern, clean and professional looking van only influencing 47 per cent of homeowners, and a branded uniform influencing just 22 per cent. Age, last on the list, is also irrelevant when it comes to hiring!

Spokesperson for Plentific, Stephen Jury, said: “To improve the odds of hiring, tradespeople should focus more on their schedule, process and attitude before spending their well-earned money on appearances!”

As a homeowner, the biggest compliment you can offer a tradesperson who embodies all of the aforementioned characteristics is to recommend his/her services. At AA Cooper we offer free consultation and no-obligation quotes, and we pride ourselves on being punctual.  For more information, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Source: hvpmag.co.uk – “punctuality is ‘most influential’ when hiring tradespeople”