Ten tips on to keep your home cool in hot weather

Keeping cool in sweltering heat might be as simple as turning on the air conditioning but it’s worth remembering that cranking up the AC to arctic temperatures is going to eat into your electricity bill. Also, we live in England – put your hand up if you have air con in your house…hmmm, not many of you (go figure). That said, our great British summers can be truly hot and it’s awful trying so sleep or relax in the furnace of a boiling house. The good news is that there are things that you can do to keep your home cool (before switching on the air con if you have it):

  • Shut windows and pull down the blinds/close the curtains first thing in the morning before it starts to get hotter outside. Open them for ventilation when it is getting cooler during the evening but only if the temperature outside is cooler than inside.
  • Turn off electronics. Computers, TVs and other electronics generate heat when sitting idle or even when turned off , so unplug devices at the wall when not in use.
  • Don’t run appliances (like dishwashers or washing machines) during the day; save these activities for the night.
  • Turn a hot water bottle into an ice pack by filling it with water and putting it in the freezer.
  • Cotton and linen sheets are breathable so cooler to sleep on/in.
  • Turn the lights off – light bulbs (even if they’re environmentally friendly) give off heat, so switch them off (who needs ‘em in summer anyway, when the days are lovely and long).
  • Hanging a wet sheet in front of an open window will help bring down the room’s temperature.
  • Have shade in your garden; in the form of trees and shrubs or perhaps a shady swing, garden umbrella or porch cover.
  • If you’re having a shower to rid yourself of sticky, sweat-soaked skin; keep it on cool because steam hangs about and makes a room hotter.
  • Fans use much less energy than AC – just remember to turn the fan off when you exit the room, as its effect is pointless if you’re not there to feel it.

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

Sources: Mirror.co.uk – “Ways to keep your home and room cool in a heatwave so you can relax and fall asleep easily”; 1millionwomen.com – “How To Keep Your House Cool During A Heatwave”

Top tips for hiring the best boiler engineers

According to new research by consumer association Which?, 75 per cent of home owners trust central heating engineers. This is great news! Especially considering the fact that the survey revealed that four in 10 (38 per cent) of respondents do not trust builders and roofers when employing them for the first time, making these trades the least trusted for domestic building work and repairs.

The rankings from the Which? Trusted Traders survey revealed that Electricians are the most trusted of the traders, clocking 80 per cent of the vote, with central heating engineers a close second (75 per cent), followed by plumbers (73 per cent).

When asked about their biggest worries when hiring a tradesperson, home owners listed their top concern as the tradesperson not turning up at the agreed time, which was cited by 62 per cent of respondents. Poor workmanship was cited as a foremost concern by 55 per cent of home owners and 46 per cent voiced concern about being ripped off.

So, here’s the question: although we do trust our electricians and plumbers mostly, how can we be secure in the fact that we’ll get the best service possible? Which? has some good ideas about how to hire the best boiler engineer for the job you need done:

  • Check that the heating engineer is listed in the Gas Safe Register and also check what type of gas-related work he/she are qualified to undertake before hiring.
  • Get at least three quotes – heating engineers should be able to tell you about the price for a call-out. Be aware though, that additional costs depend on the nature of the problem and any parts required. You might also be charged for travel and parking costs.
  • Good central heating engineers will usually want to see your system before they give you a quote for anything other than a simple job.
  • The best boiler engineers explain what they’ll check, repair or install before they start working and show you what they’ve done afterwards.

And one final tip: keep the paperwork your boiler engineer gives you – you might need this in the event of any future problems, plus most boilers will have a warranty of at least 12 months.
For all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Sources: hvpmag.co.uk – “75% of consumers trust central heating engineers, according to Which?”; Trustedtraders.which.co.uk – “How to hire: boiler engineers”

Are you paying too much for your energy use?

Do you know who supplies your energy? According to a new survey commissioned by Bulb Energy, more than a quarter of households do not know if they are on the most expensive standard variable tariffs (SVTs) for gas and electricity and around one in 20 do not know who supplies their energy.

Most surprising about these stats is that this figure rises to 53 per cent in the 18 to 24-year-old age group – supposedly the most ‘tech savvy’ demographic. But there is a mitigating reason for this lack of savvy: 18 to 24-year-olds are likely renting rather than owning property and thus easily fall trap to the mistaken belief they’re unable to switch, or inheriting prepayment meters at properties that often carry restrictions on switching.

The research also suggests that 44 per cent of households are confused over whether they have switched away from SVT tariffs.

The point: chances are that many of us are paying too much for gas and electricity; complicated tariffs and hard-to-understand bills the primary culprits. Whilst it’s a relief to know that we are not alone in being overcharged, it’s also important that we do something about it. Know who your supplier is and change supplier f you feel you are paying too much. Outside of giving your provider a call to find out what’s what, price comparison sites are a good place to start your journey to a fair energy tariff.

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

Push Button showers: one of the trendiest new bathroom features this year

One of the trendiest bathroom design features so far this year is the ‘Push-Button’ shower, which, as the name suggests, allows complete shower controllability at the mere push of button. Yes, really! In fact, a new 2018 report on the UK shower market from MTW Research has found that the digital showers market continues to gain share in spite of the prospect of Brexit, which has, reportedly, had an effect on the UK shower market in general; dampening performance.

The high pressure digital shower market does, however, represent the fastest paced growth sector in 2018. The concealed mixing valve sector is outperforming the general showers market with double digit growth forecast to 2022, complementing the trend toward frameless shower enclosures, low profile trays and the wet room market – all features that would complement a super-swank push button shower in your newly revamped ultra-mod bathroom, right?

This cutting edge technology that enables the functionality of Push-Button showers, enables you to precisely control the flow of the water as well as the temperature, with start/stop activation and on/off flow controls. Depending on the brand or model (single, twin or triple valve) of your shower, you’ll be able to direct water flow from dedicated outlets such as overhead shower, body jets and the hand-held shower.

Again, depending on brand and valve, the shower valves work from as low as 1-bar water pressure and concealed installation maximises space for small or compact bathrooms – perfect for small, inner-city apartments. Shower settings can also be controlled from your smartphone and valves are designed for thermostatic control and safety, performance and durability.

If you’re thinking about a bathroom revamp this year, AACooper will be able to assist with all your plumbing needs. For any questions or information, contact the team on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Source: hpmmag.co.uk – “SHOWERING ‘AT THE PUSH OF A BUTTON’”; SHOWER MARKET SHUNS BREXIT BLIP IN 2018

How to know if your loo is leaking and what to do?

Did you know…toilets are the cause of one of the most common leaks in the home, with around 1 in ten homes and businesses having a leaky loo. According to stats quoted by the pros at Watersafe.org.uk, toilet leaking clean water from the cistern to the pan can waste up to 400 litres of water a day (that’s five full bath tubs) and add around £300 a year to your water bill if left unfixed.

Nobody wants to waste money on a leaky loo, right? But what happens if you don’t know that water is trickling out? The sound of a constant drip at the back of the toilet pan is an obvious sign that something’s not right but some leaks are silent and easy to miss. If you’re suspicious, there are things you can do to figure it out:

Firstly, your local water supplier will be able to provide you with leak detection strips at no cost.

Alternatively:

  • Half an hour after a flush, wipe the back of the pan dry with toilet tissue.
  • Place a new, dry sheet of toilet tissue across the back of the pan.
  • Leave it in place for up to three hours without using the toilet, or overnight.
  • If the paper is wet or torn in the morning – you have a leaky loo.

The next step is to turn off all water at the stop tap (sometimes called stop cocks or stop valves), which controls the water entering your home and is often sited under the kitchen sink but it depends on where the service point enters the property. Sometimes you will have an additional stop valve in your loft or airing cupboard. (A top tip by Watersafe is to find these stop valves and label them before any plumbing emergencies occur.) The next step is to call your local plumber to fix the leak!

Check out “Leaks” at Watersafe.org.uk for more information and for all your plumbing needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Ten Top Home Design Trends for 2018

A new year is always a great time for change – new beginnings…a fresh coat of paint on the walls, those kitchen cupboards you’ve been dying to install or that freestanding bath that would look so perfect in your en suite. Exciting! Except remodelling; it can be such a stress; invasive, expensive and time-consuming, and yet so worth it at the end – right? If you need a little push toward realising your home-owner’s dreams, have a look at these ten top design trends for 2018:

1. Bolder colours around the home

Grey may still be the neutral of choice for many interiors but colour is set to be bolder this year – with navy, violet and emerald key colours for both walls and furniture pieces. Warm greys paired with camel, rust, tobacco and brown-blacks, as well as earthy reds and yellows are also trending, and the classic white typically used in kitchens is likely to be replaced with warm wood tones (mahogany) and neutrals (greys and blues).

2. No more white sinks

The rustic home decor trend that was in vogue last year will continue to flourish – think concrete, stone, copper and granite composite sinks (nothing white or stainless steel) in darker hues of grey, bronze or black. Trough and bucket sinks will also be popular in 2018.

3. Floral, botanical and tropical prints

Small-scale flower and botanical prints (like out of an artist’s sketchbook or forager’s handbook) are trendy this season, as are pineapples (yes, pineapples – in motif and accessory form), palm leaves, lush greens, exotic birds and carnival brights.

4. Vintage lighting

In fact, vintage everything – as well as sconces, lanterns, pendants, chandeliers, other retro-chic fixtures around the house are also hot this season.

5. ‘Less is more’ bedrooms

Modern, minimalist furnishings are trending in bedrooms, with soothing, neutral colour palettes and soft fabrics favoured by homeowners.

6. Metallic accents

Metallic finishes (rose gold, brass and copper, specifically) will add a touch of sophistication as well as an earthy hue to any room in your home.

7. Concrete accents

A versatile, accessible material, concrete is a hit in homes this season. Used on floors and counter tops, concrete is also great on all sorts of hardscaping surfaces and even as an accent on home accessories including pendant lighting and furniture.

8. Dark woods

Dark wood furniture will complement the season’s retro trends.

9. Wallpaper…but not

Forget subway or hexagon tiles in your bathroom; contemporary tiles that look like wood, concrete, resin, fabric or even wallpaper are the must-haves of 2018.

10. 70s chic

The decade to re-emerge in home design this year is the 70s, with its velvet and geometric patterns, warm palettes, funky textures and abstract silhouettes – don’t be shy!

Sources: Independent.co.uk – “TEN HOME DESIGN TRENDS TO EXPECT IN 2018”; Idealhome.co.uk – “Home decor trends 2018 – we predict the key looks for interiors”; Huffingtonpost.com – “18 HOME DESIGN TRENDS FOR 2018”

If you’re thinking about a bathroom or kitchen revamp this year, AACooper will be able to assist with all your plumbing needs. For any questions or information, contact the team on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

How to cut your electricity bill in 2018 – TOP 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”