When it comes to cleaning bathrooms, our natural inclination is to bleach the daylights out of everything… but have you wondered how the harsh chemicals we use might affect our health, the environment and even the longevity of the surfaces to which they are applied? The good news is there are cleaning hacks that offer alternatives to heavy duty cleaning products:

  1. Toilet – bicarbonate of soda and water. Mix bicarb with water (three parts bicarb to one part water) to cut through dirt and grease, and use neat (it’s slightly abrasive) to scrub away tough stains. A teaspoon of bicarb on a damp cloth can be used on the toilet seat, cistern etc.
  2. Bath – grapefruit/lemon sprinkled with coarse salt. Cut the grapefruit in half, sprinkle it liberally with salt and scrub the grime away.
  3. Tiles – lemon juice. Cut a lemon into two halves and rub the tiles with the flat juicy side, then rinse off with plain water. Stained grouting can be cleaned with a bicarb and water paste, and a toothbrush.
  4. Bathroom mirror – vinegar OR tea. Mix water with some white wine vinegar (half and half) and use a spray bottle and newspaper for a streak free result. A black tea solution also works to clean greasy spots from mirrors (something to do with the tannic acid found in tea).
  5. Showerhead – vinegar. Soak the shower head overnight in white wine vinegar, wipe down residue and it should be clean.
  6. Floor (tiles or laminate) – vinegar. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and stain remover; mix eight teaspoons of vinegar with three litres of hot water and clean as you usually would.

Of course, there are plenty of eco-friendly cleaning products available in stores but there is something deeply satisfying about not relying on a marketing plug or sales pitch.

Check out Mumsmakelists.com and bathroomcity.co.uk for more top tips.

For all your plumbing and installation needs, feel free to contact the team on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk – we’re happy to help.

The squeeze is on. The cost of living is up – we’re even cancelling our TV subscriptions – and we’re doing all we can to save an extra pound. The good news is that being conservative with our water, gas and electricity is also good for the environment!

So, for the sake of our monthly bills and a greener world, have a look at these basic tips on how to save water in your bathroom:

  1. Don’t let taps drip: to limit avoidable water wastage.
  2. Plug first: adjust the temperature of the water as your bath fills rather than running water down the drain as it heats.
  3. Shorter showers: a one-minute reduction in shower time delivers a 10% saving in water usage—a small amount that adds up over a month or year.
  4. Don’t leave water running when not in use: brushing teeth, washing your face or shaving.
  5. Hang towels to dry (outdoors preferably): rather than washing after each use.
  6. Install water saving/eco-friendly shower heads: that give the feeling of high pressure but use less water.
  7. Install a dual flush toilet: which gives you the option of a half flush (when pushing a single button) and a full flush when pushing both buttons.
  8. Check for and fix leaks: even a small drip can be wasteful.
  9. Make a full bath a treat: which means less water and more saving.
  10. Conserve water: and use it to water the plants, clean or even flush the toilet.

Not all of these top tips will be practical in the moment (like upgrading your toilet or shower head) but most of them are habits easily created if we are diligent about changing our behaviour. Small changes make a big difference—especially if we all try!

For all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk

Wholesale prices are up, which means households are paying more for gas and electricity. Although it’s not an ideal time to swap provider, it is important to make sure you are getting the best value for your money (and to swap as and when it makes sense for you). Consumer champion Which? has listed its top energy providers for 2022, based on over 8000 customer surveys and ranked according to the following criteria:

  • Sale of renewable electricity
  • Generating and buying renewable energy
  • Matching customers’ use with renewable power
  • Carbon intense power
  • Green gas
  • Transparency and website clarity

As well as rating the traditional big energy suppliers – British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, SSE and Scottish Power – Which? also investigated growing firms such as Ovo Energy and Octopus Energy as well as other smaller and medium-sized companies, like Utility Warehouse and Shell Energy. Octopus Energy won the Which? Recommended Provider award because of its top-notch service and delivering against the above-stated criteria.

Have a look at the league table below to see how other providers fared (percentage refers to the overall customer score):

1. Octopus Energy – 70%
2. Ovo Energy – 69%
=3. So Energy – 68%
=3. Utility Warehouse – 68%
5. Boost Energy – 66%
6. Utilita – 63%
7. Outfox the Market – 62%
8. Bulb Energy – 60%
9. British Gas – 58%
10. EDF Energy – 56%
=11. Eon – 55%
=11 Sainsbury’s Energy – 55%
=11. Scottish Power – 55%
=11 SSE – 55%
15. Shell Energy – 53%
16. Eon Next 51%

Surveys were conducted in October 2021 and cover everything from statement clarity to value for money. However, it’s important to note that surveys were completed too early to capture most customers’ experiences if their firm went bust. All the collected information is used to compare companies’ approaches to service, including opening hours, accessibility, exit fees and complaints data.

For more a more detailed breakdown of survey results, read “How to choose the best energy supplier” and “Which? energy survey results

Energy bills are going up. A massive increase in the cost of wholesale gas has put pressure on the energy industry and homeowners will bear the costs. This is part of a what has been called a “cost of living crisis” and most of us are expecting 2022 to be a tough year, financially. There are, however, things we can do to mitigate the impending rise in gas and electricity.

One of the biggest energy-consumers in homes is the washing machine. Three factors that massively impact the cost of use are: frequency, wash temperature and load size. Newer model washing machines are likely to have a higher energy rating than older ones, making them less costly to run, but still; there are ways to further put a cap on expenditure. Check out these top tips:

Wash full loads: avoid half loads. Your washing machine will use the same amount of energy no matter how full it is, so washing full loads will mean that you will wash less frequently (and use less energy).

Wash on a lower temperature: lower temperatures use less energy. There has been increased awareness of the advantages of turning to 30 degrees, and if you can get by with a cold wash; do it!

Maintain your machine: to make sure that it is as efficient as possible. You can do this by not overloading the drum—if your wash is too full, water and detergent cannot circulate, the clothes will not move, and you will likely have to wash a second time anyway. Also clean out the machine’s filter every month and don’t forget to empty pockets so random bits don’t get stuck in the pump. A monthly service wash (hot, without clothes) is a good idea, too.

If you need a new machine: go for one that has a top energy rating. Washing machines are rated from A+++ (the most efficient) to D (the least efficient). An A+++ washing machine will be the cheapest-to-run, the most environment-friendly one among other washing machines.

The little things always matter, and do add up when it comes to bigger costs. Creating good washing habits will save you money in the long run.

For more detailed info on the energy increases, visit Nationalworld.com and visit Energysavingtrust.org.uk for more top tips on how to save gas and electricity in your home.

For all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk

Currently, gas heating accounts for 21% of the UK’s carbon emissions. As part of an effort to meet the UK’s commitment to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, the government has allocated £450m in grant funding to help install 90,000 heat pumps over three years.
From next April, households will be offered subsidies of £5,000 to make the switch from a gas boiler to the more eco-friendly heat pump.

A heat pump is an electrically powered device that absorbs heat from the air, ground or water around a building. Most domestic heat pumps will extract heat from the air.

Typically, air-source heat pumps cost quite a lot to install – from between £6,000 and £18,000, depending on the type and the size of your home. They also require a certain amount of outdoor space, and work best in homes that are already energy efficient; anyone living in a poorly insulated property may face bigger bills or colder rooms. In other words, it’s not simply a matter of exchange because no heat pump will present a truly like-for-like solution in terms of space, temperatures, controls and interfaces.

There is also no certainty that heat pumps will be cheaper to run in the long run, which may put homeowners off, even with an installation subsidy.

However, whilst a heap pump may not be a good fit for every home, it may be a good fit for your home; especially if it is a new build! If you are considering a heat pump in your home, start chatting to your heating technician now; commissioning needs time and thought so as to meet the needs of your property and family.

For more detailed information on the pros and cons of heat pumps, visit: Which.co.uk and bbc.co.uk.

For all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

According to 2021’s Pet Population report, it is estimated that 12 million (59% of) households have pets—dogs and cats the most popular, and then rabbits, indoor birds, guinea pigs, hamsters, snakes etcetera. In winter we love to crank the heating but have we stopped to consider our pets—are they too warm, too cold?

It’s important that we keep the temperature of our homes at a setting that is comfortable for our beloved animals. Experts suggest that most pets are content with the normal ambient temperature of our homes, with 18 – 20 ᵒC usually a suitable setting. However, this may not be the same for every animal.

Some things to consider when regulating the temperature of your home for your pets (dogs and cats, especially) are: breed (animals from colder climates, with thicker coats, are better adapted to the chill and may struggle if too warm) and age (older dog and cats often struggle to regulate their own body temperature and may need a warmer environment).

Another top tip is to pay attention to the habits of your pet. Is your dog uncharacteristically restless (too warm?) or perhaps your cat is spending too much time curled up under the radiator (too cold?) —in which case, you may need to adjust the temperature of your home.

For more information on the most pet-friendly temperature at home, read articles from: Property Reporter and Electric Radiators Direct.

For all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

The BBC recently reported that about 15 million households have seen their energy bills rise by 12% since the beginning of October, 2021. Why? There’s been a worldwide squeeze on gas and energy supplies, so: high demand, low supply, which means an increase in price.

Energy regulator Ofgem has allowed a rise in energy price cap, which means that suppliers can charge domestic customers more. And the cap is set to rise again in April.

It’s tough to get a competitive energy deal at the moment as prices are high across the board but there are things we can do to save on bills. Most of us will quickly thing of energy-saving bulbs, closing curtains to keep warmth in and draught-proofing doors, windows and cracks but here are ten other heating hacks that you might not have thought of:

  1. Radiator panels reflect heat from your radiator away from the walls and back into the room. Typically, they’re cheap and easy to install.
  2. Time your heating – programming your boiler to turn the heating on a little earlier – such as 30 minutes before you get up in the morning – but at a lower temperature is cheaper than turning it on just as you need it at a higher temperature.
  3. Do not obstruct radiators with sofas, tables, chairs, curtains or clothing because this stops warm air from circulating in your home.
  4. One less wash a week (dishwasher or washing machine) can save you money. Don’t do half-loads, wait for a full load!
  5. Turning your thermostat down a degree could cut your heating bill by 10%, according to research.
  6. Carpets – the National Energy Foundation, floors account for as much as 10% of heat loss if they’re not insulated.
  7. A chimney balloon limits heat being lost up the chimney in decorative fireplaces. The balloons are made from a special laminate and can be bought from DIY shops.
  8. A floating shelf above a radiator will help deflect heat around the room and stop is rising up the ceiling where it will be wasted.
  9. Cover keyholes with purpose-made discs (for example) to prevent draughts.
  10. Service your boiler – not necessarily a hack BUT an old boiler is likely to be an inefficient boiler if it is not serviced or updated, even.

Remember, all the small bits add up when you’re saving.

For all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Sources:
BBC
Centre for Sustainable Energy
Federation of Master Builders

It’s all about kitchens and bathrooms—fix them up and you’ll add value to your property. This is not new news. But perhaps you’re not aware how much value?

The average house price in the UK (in 2020) was £235,298; research suggests that a kitchen renovation can boost the worth of a property by 10%, which is a massive £23,529.

Renovating a bathroom can add 5% to the value of a property (£11,647) – not quite as much as a kitchen but still worth the spend, depending how much fixing up you have to do.

Property experts suggest the most important kitchen features (in order of value) for new prospective buyers are:

  • Kitchen Island/ Breakfast Bar – supply & fit £600
  • Modern & Spacious Storage Units – supply & fit £4,000
  • Glass Doors (leading to outside) – supply & fit £3,000
  • Good Quality Tiles & Grouting – supply & fit: New Tiles – £35/sq.m. Regrout: £25/hr
  • Durable & Stylish Worktops – supply & fit £250
  • Adequate Lighting – supply & fit £100

Property experts suggest the most important bathroom features (in order of value) for new prospective buyers are:

  • Good Quality Tiles & Grouting – supply & fit: New Tiles – £35/sq.m. Regrout: £25/hr
  • Bathtub – supply & fit £500
  • Electric/Power Shower – supply & fit £100
  • Walk-in-Shower/Wet Room – supply & fit £8,000
  • Sturdy Fixtures – supply & fit £100
  • Neutral Colour Scheme – supply & fit dependent on scale of project
  • Underfloor Heating – supply & fit £100/sq.m

If you are hoping to upscale your kitchen/bathroom on a budget; cleaning the grout on your tiles, painting, replacing fixtures (taps etc.) or adding shelves (rather than entire units) can do the trick.

For all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Source: Tap Warehouse

Three lockdowns have been undeniably tough but isolation has had its advantages. A new study by comparison site Uswitch has revealed that Brits have become more self-sufficient and in the process; more energy efficient. According to the research:

  • 83% of people surveyed said they are living more simply and frugally.
  • 43% of people say they have totally re-evaluated the way they live in the past year, and have become more concerned with sustainable living – saving energy and looking after the planet.
  • 23% have created their own vegetable patch, while 18% say they have started to compost.
  • 49% have switched from jars and packets to making meals from scratch.
  • Around 30% grow their own herbs instead of buying them from a supermarket, and 12% have even started to make their own jams and pickles.
  • 54% said they will try to continue their new sustainable ways of living even as restrictions are lifted.

Why did this happen, you might ask? Well, we had nothing else to do. No distractions – nowhere to go and no people to see, which seems to have given us perspective and created some good habits.

The greenest city as per survey response is Leicester, with 53% of residents saying they have made an effort to become more self-sufficient and energy-efficient. And good news is that 53% of 6-29-year-olds have become more environmentally conscious, compared to 45% of 30-44-year-olds and just 28% of over-60s.

In general, prices are going up (from food and fuel to gas and electricity) and homeowners are being forced to re-evaluate their budgets and make smart decisions that not only save money but save energy. Not only does the survival of our planet depend on it but our own well-being, too.

At AACooper we have the expertise and experience to support you as you make energy-saving decisions for your family and your home.

For all your plumbing and installation needs, feel free to contact the team on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk – we’re happy to help.

Wallpapering a bathroom might sound counterintuitive but it’s absolutely doable and, yes; is even a good idea.

Extravagant wallpaper in small toilet spaces comes highly recommended by design pros (it can liven up a space and because one is only in the toilet sporadically, bold designs do not become tiresome) and there are many ways to use wallpaper creatively in bathrooms: as a border around the ceiling or a mirror, to accent certain areas or walls, or simply wallpaper the entire bathroom (including the ceiling!).

Now, you might be wondering about the whole ‘paper and water’ thing…

It’s true that bathroom wallpaper can be problematic as exposure to moisture can stain the paper or cause it to peel off, even with improved adhesives. There are, however, splashproof wallpapers that are specifically designed for high humidity areas and can even be wiped dry or clean. Here are a couple of quick tips for making wallpaper work well in a bathroom:

  • Vinyl wallpapers are resistant to moisture but choice is limited. If you prefer to use regular wallpaper (which is doable if your bathroom is not very humid) it is probably best to avoid high splash areas (or choose a splash-proof paper). And don’t write of wallpapering your shower – you can buy specialist wallpaper that is designed to be fitted inside the shower and wet areas.
  • Apply the wallpaper to a really well-prepped wall and use an extra strong wallpaper adhesive.
  • Ventilation is key to the durability of your wallpaper; you’ll want to avoid condensation on the wallpaper.

Wallpaper is usually cheaper than tiles, with more character than paint, and versatile in any space. If it appeals to you, go for it!

For all your plumbing and bathroom installation needs, feel free to contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk – we’re happy to help.

Sources: The Spruce and Sophie Robinson