Whether a hobby or a necessity, there are some DIY jobs that simply stress us out. Perhaps our new home improvement task ended up taking more time, costing more money or was more difficult than we originally thought, turning something fun into something less fun.

Using the most-searched DIY jobs in the UK (using ‘difficulty queries’ across UK Google), researchers have honed in on the tasks we find the most taxing. Check out the top ten:

  1. Plastering a ceiling
  2. Hanging wallpaper (one wall)
  3. Unblocking drains (using chemicals)
  4. Tiling a bathroom floor
  5. Removing grout from bathroom tiles
  6. Hanging doors
  7. Installing a toilet
  8. Assembling flat pack furniture
  9. Changing a door handle
  10. Installing a power shower

What about which areas in the UK are most stressed about what?

  • Plymouth – Plastering a ceiling
  • Aberdeen – Hanging wallpaper (one wall)
  • London – Unblocking drains (using chemicals)
  • Cardiff – Tiling a bathroom floor
  • Bristol – Removing grout from bathroom tiles
  • Aberdeen – Hanging doors
  • Northampton – Installing a toilet
  • Leeds – Assembling flat pack furniture
  • Norwich – Changing a door handle
  • Liverpool – Installing a power shower

One of the biggest causes of DIY stress is time – often, the longer a job takes to complete, the greater the chance of something going wrong and the more likely we are to get worked up about it.

It’s also interesting that four of the most stressful DIY jobs in the top ten are directly linked to bathroom improvement – tiling a bathroom floor, removing grout from bathroom tiles, installing a toilet and installing a power shower.

The antidote to stress could be to allow for a margin of error. Things may take longer, cost more and we may not get it perfect the first time. Planning is also important – working out a maximum budget and time scale. If you’re still uncertain it might be worth your sanity (and budget) to consult a professional.

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.

Source: Victorianplumbing.co.uk (To find out more about this research, visit Victorianplumbing.co.uk)

Guess what? It is entirely possible to upgrade your bathroom without turning it into a massive DIY project – you can do it in a weekend without overspending. Whether it’s style or functionality you’re after, we have some top tips for you:

  • Accessorise – candles, towels, interesting trinkets (vintage, modern, eclectic) all make a massive difference to the personality of your bathroom. Swap some old accessories with new ones or simply move things around. You could also change fixtures, including towel bars, toilet seats and toilet roll holders.
  • Hang artwork – bathrooms are usually the last space one might think to hang some art but it makes the entire room look more luxurious and interesting, and creates a focal point for the space.
  • Update your lighting/fixtures – brighten or dim your lighting (depending what mood you’re going for), which you can do by exchanging your bulbs. A new light fixture can also change the atmosphere; from something simple and understated to something more dramatic, and vice versa.
  • Increase your shower pressure – a new showerhead really will bring you so much joy! There are many affordable spa-type showerheads available and if you don’t want to spend any money, clean your existing showerhead until it’s shiny and as good as new.
  • Wallpaper – an easy win here. Whether its textures or patterns, a new wall aesthetic can make a space feel very different.
  • Backsplash area – the space behind your basin is usually small and therefore the perfect mini-DIY project when it comes to updating your bathroom. You could tile this area, wallpaper or repaint.
  • Paint – a fresh coat of paint on the wall is an easy way to refresh a bathroom but you could also paint cabinet doors or door handles, or go big and choose a whole new colour.
  • Hang or upgrade your mirror – if you don’t have a mirror in your bathroom, get one. If you do have a mirror, do you need a new one? Or could you shift the old one to a new spot? Mirrors, as well as a practical bathroom necessity, create an illusion of space.
  • Hang a new shower curtain – choose a stylish pattern to emphasise the mood in your bathroom.
  • Repurposed storage – whether it’s a shelf, decorative baskets, a vintage cabinet or modern vanity, think of ways you can remodel your storage; remove doors, repaint, add shelves, have fun with ribbon or material.

They say that change is as good as a holiday. Go for it!

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.

For many of us, energy bills have doubled over the last month and there’s no getting around the fact that the kitchen is one area in the home where energy use is unavoidable. There are state of the art low-energy cooking appliances on the market but there are some simple things we can do to maximise efficiency, reduce waste, and, of course, save money.

Here are some top tips for energy-efficient cooking:

  • The microwave is generally the most efficient way to heat up and cook food (because it’s small and the heat is more focused, thus quicker). Opt for this appliance whenever possible.
  • Use the kettle to boil water quickly and transfer to a pan on the hob for steaming and boiling vegetables or pasta.
  • When boil anything in a pan, only use as much water as is needed to cover the amount of food you’re cooking – one of the most common forms of energy wastage is the energy it takes to boil water you don’t need.
  • Cook as much as possible in the oven in one go to make sure all the space and heat is being used.
  • Keep the oven door closed while you’re cooking. Each time you open the door, the oven loses heat (sometimes as much as 25 degrees) and requires more energy to get back up to temperature.
  • Defrosting food in advance not only typically halves the cooking time but also means that you don’t need to use the energy of a microwave to defrost more quickly.
  • Use glass or ceramic dishes in the oven. They retain heat better than their metal counterparts, making them the most efficient to use in the oven.
  • A fan-assisted or convection oven uses fans to circulate heat around the food as it cooks, making it a more energy-efficient way of cooking because it means the heat doesn’t have to be as high as it would in a conventional oven.
  • When using an electric oven, turn it off ten minutes before the food’s finished cooking. The oven temperature will remain the same so the food will still cook through to completion without the oven using energy.
  • Keep heating rings on an electric hob as clean as possible – any food that sticks to the ring will absorb heat, making it less efficient.

Mostly it’s about being more mindful when cooking and developing good kitchen habits. For some more common-sense cooking tips, visit uSwitch and for detailed info on energy use and spend, a smart meter will tell you how much your appliances cost in pounds and pence accurate to your tariff and the current price of energy, thereby enabling you to monitor which appliance is costing you the most so you can minimise your use of it.

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

With energy prices set to rise in January 2023, heating our homes without spending a fortune is on everyone’s minds as we move into the new year. As far as gas or electric heating, what’s the best option? Let’s have a look:

The difference between gas and electric heating

A gas system consists of a single boiler that heats up water and then pumps it through pipes to radiators throughout the property. It also provides hot water to the kitchen and bathrooms.

Electric heaters don’t require flue or pipework, only a connection to the electric circuit. They don’t burn fuel to generate heat and can be used for both air and water products.

Pros and cons

Gas heating – pros

  • Quick to reach temperature – as long as your system is well-maintained.
  • Easy to repair – the most commonly used system in the UK, with many professionals familiar with systems and expertise to sort our problems.
  • Low ongoing costs – a cheaper energy source than electricity.
  • Tailor to property – large choice when it comes to styles, finishes and colours.

Gas heating – cons

  • High initial cost – a brand new heating system (boilers, multiple radiators, copper piping etc.) plus installation is expensive.
  • Annual maintenance – a boiler and its components need to be checked and maintained by a Gas Safe Registered engineer every 12 months.
  • Less efficient – up to 50% of the heat produced by a boiler can be lost through the pipes.
  • Shorter lifespan – a gas boiler lasts around 15 years before it requires replacing.

Electric heating – pros

  • Easy to install – simple connection to power supply.
  • Low initial cost – no complicated installation work required.
  • Easy to maintain – minimal components to go wrong and you don’t need an annual system check.
  • Highly efficient –100% efficient; every watt of energy used by the heater is converted into heat.
  • Longer life span – expected to last longer than gas heaters.

Electric heating – cons

  • Slow to reach temperature – think about how much quicker water boils on a gas hob as opposed to an electric ring.
  • High ongoing cost – a unit of electricity costs more than a unit of gas.

Cost

Prices are in flux but according to Ofgem Energy Price Guarantee (https://www.checkatrade.com/blog/cost-guides/gas-vs-electric-heat-cost-which-is-cheaper/) that came in on 1 October 2022:

Ongoing

  • Gas heating: 10p/unit
  • Electric heating: 34p/unit

Installation

  • Gas heating: low range – £4,500, high range – £6,000, average – £5,250
  • Electric heating: low range – £3,230, high range – £4,350, average – £3,790

 

*The cost of the installation will depend on the complexity of the size of the property.

For more detailed information about costing and the differences between gas and electric heating, visit Checkatrade.com and traderaradiators.com, and for all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk

Whether your house is on the market or you’re simply wanting to add value, 70% of estate agents have surveyed that an extra bathroom will help sell a home. Professionals cite the perfect bathroom to bedroom ratio as follows:

  • One-bedroom and two-bedroom houses should have one bathroom.
  • Three-bedroom and four-bedroom houses should have two bathrooms.
  • Five-bedroom houses should have three bathrooms.

If you’re thinking about adding a bathroom in a flat or smaller property, you might consider a shower room or extra toilet rather than a full bathroom because space is critical to value. But in a bigger property, full-bathrooms plus a shower room or extra toilet are essential (especially in family homes).

According to the experts at Park & Bailey Real Estates, en-suite bathrooms are a big win and updated bathrooms are hugely attractive to prospective buyers (great motivation for home owners thinking of renovating!).

Another top tip: bathrooms are no longer considered purely functional but rather a space for rest and relaxation, which means that a clean, stylish bathroom can add a significant amount of value to your property.

Essentially, there is no downside to adding a bathroom – for you and those who will be using it, and for any future date when you hope to sell you property for maximum value.

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

Many of us will be on a mission to keep warm on a budget this winter. Research suggests that there are six areas where you are likely to lose the most heat in your home:

  • Cracks in the walls, windows and doors (38% of heat is lost)
  • Basement walls and floors (21%)
  • Framed walls (17%)
  • Poorly insulated windows (16%)
  • Ceilings (5%)
  • Exterior doors (3%).

With this in mind, there are some practical, cost-effective ways to limit drafts and cold from getting into our homes without investing in massive renovations, like new windows, doors and floors.

  • Block your chimney – there are various draught excluders that do this or you could use a waterproof pillow, or inflatable chimney balloon.
  • Purchase a door snake – these come in all shapes and sizes and are great for keeping draughts from coming in under your door.
  • Insulate your letterbox – try insulating film to trap the heat inside.
  • Rearrange your furniture – so as not to block any radiators when you do have the heating on. Place sofas and beds near radiators (to get maximum benefit) but with enough space for heat to circulate through the room.
  • Draught-proof your windows – with self-adhesive foam tape.
  • Keep doors and windows closed – to prevent heat from escaping.
  • Close curtains at 3pm (before sunset) – to keep heat inside. Keep your curtains open during the day to allow the sun to warm up your home.
  • Heavyweight curtains – will help keep the heat inside.
  • Candles – might not heat up an entire room but they will certainly do their bit to making it feel warmer.
  • Hot water bottles – will heat up your bed and even sitting with one during the day will keep you warm!
  • Cover the keyholes – especially on doors that you don’t typically lock/unlock.
  • Layer up – blankets and jumpers will help to keep you warm indoors.

When you are using your heating this winter, make sure you are getting the best value for your money! Choose your ideal temperature, set timers and make sure your boiler has been serviced (this should happen every 12 months). Defective boilers can increase your heating bill as they need to work harder to get your home to optimum temperature.

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

A new report by British Gas has revealed that UK homeowners could save an average of £147 per year if certain appliances were turned off standby.

As we head into a recession, many of us are finding ways to cut costs, especially energy costs. Even with the Truss energy bill bailout, severe increases are expected and yet, according to research, almost one in five (16%) Brits are unaware that many household appliances use up electricity.

Only 44% of respondents occasionally switch appliances off, and over one in three (35%) said they wish they’d known devices were costing them money whilst on standby.

Every device that remains plugged in continues to draw power from the mains, adding to your energy bill. Have a look at the below list of devices and how much they cost to keep on standby per year:

  • Television – £24.61
  • Set top box/satellite – £23.10
  • Modem/internet router – £18.89
  • Microwave – £16.37
  • Games Console – £12.17
  • Computer – £11.22
  • Shower – £9.80
  • Smart speakers/smart home devices – £8.94
  • Dishwasher – £6.86
  • Tumble dryer – £4.79
  • Washing machine – £4.73
  • Printer – £3.81
  • Mobile device charger – £1.26

Top tip: switch them off.

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

With the cost-of-living crisis in full swing and (further) energy price hikes set for October 2022, most of us will be considering ways to save money and cut costs in bills and spending. The instillation of a smart meter in your home may help you do just that.

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter measures how much gas and electricity you use in your home. It uses advanced technology to give you real-time updates with increased accuracy, and when installed, will replace your old energy meter.

SMETS1 is the name for the first generation of smart meters and SMETS2 refers to the second, most recent, generation of the technology.

What are the advantages?

  • Increased accuracy – the smart meter clocks exactly how much energy you use, and where you’re using it.
  • No more estimated bills – your monthly payments will be precise, rather than an estimate made on assumed usage.
  • No more monthly meter readings – your electricity provider receives accurate meter readings straight from your smart meter.
  • Money saving – smart meters are a tool that you can use to facilitate changed behaviour and different habits. If, for example, you notice that your bills increase when you use certain appliances, you can make adjustments.
  • Helps the environment – if you do make changes to lessen your energy consumption, this will reduce your carbon footprint, which will have a positive impact on the environment.
  • Free installation.
  • Access to better energy deals – many suppliers favour smart meters and offer exclusive tariffs to homes with smart meters.

What are the disadvantages?

  • Reducing bills requires action – smart meters will not reduce bills alone; it is simply a tool. You must: a) pay attention to your smart meter readings, and b) make adjustments to the way you consume energy, to save money.
  • Tech fallibility – as with most tech, smart meters are not immune to glitches. If your smart meter ceases to work, readings will simply revert to your original meter. This can be annoying (and extra admin) but not the end of the world.

The government has been on a mission since 2020, to offer each household across the country a smart meter in an effort to cut their energy bills and carbon emissions. Individuals are, however, under no obligation to accept a smart meter. To find out more about smart meters, visit simpleenergyadvice.org.uk.

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

Oh, it’s tempting to just do it yourself—save some cash; do the tiling, replace the toilet, hook up the new shower. According to a new survey by Water Regs UK, you may end up spending more money in the long run.

Over 2,000 people across the UK were asked which home maintenance jobs they or a family member or friend had attempted, only to end up calling out a professional to fix the problem—plumbers came out tops!

Almost a fifth (18%) of those surveyed said that they had called in a plumbing professional to complete a DIY job they had tried to do themselves.

The survey compared a range of typical jobs that are carried out in UK homes and recorded how many people have tried but failed to complete the jobs themselves. Whilst plumbers were the most called upon trade, electricians (15%) and plasterers (10%) were next on the list, followed by roofers and tilers.

It might seem like the best option at the time but sometimes trying to fix a problem in your bathroom yourself can make it worse. If this is the case, it’s important not to panic and call the first number you find but be sure that you check credentials, and call an accredited plumber!

The internet is full of bathroom hack jobs and you want to be sure that installers are committed to quality working standards.

The Watersafe register is the only one in the UK supported by all water companies and the drinking water regulators. All WaterSafe approved plumbers are trained in the Water Fittings Regulations and Byelaws, which help prevent the risk of contamination of drinking water from poor plumbing practices and sub-standard fittings and products.

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.

You’ve just moved, renovated or you’re looking to sell, and are wondering how you can accessorise your home beyond family photos and the occasional bits and bobs. Here’s a list of ten top items that will or spruce up any room:

  1. Plants – there’s something calming about bringing the outdoors inside. Plants look great in any room and there are many that grow beautifully indoors. Choose a stylish pot or vessel to accentuate your greenery.
  2. Art – although we’d all love to own a limited-edition piece, art doesn’t have to be pricey to look amazing. Choose something, whether it’s a child’s drawing, a poster, painting or sculpture, that tells a story. Thoughtful placement and a great frame will add personality to any room.
  3. Candles – not only create atmosphere but look and smell great!
  4. Lamps – can be decorative pieces in their own right as well as harbingers of softer light.
  5. Books – on a shelf, coffee table or any other surface (right!?) make a home homely and showcase your interests and personality.
  6. Mirrors – are known to create an illusion of space. They also look nice.
  7. Clocks – add character to a space when chosen for decorative value as well as functionality.
  8. Pinboards – are lots of fun because they can be adapted to mood and style; add photos, postcards, favourite phrases etc. to add personality to a space.
  9. Knickknacks – the trick with knickknacks is to know when to stop but even so, don’t be afraid to showcase your collectibles here and there; small things add to the overall feel in a room.
  10. Decorative vessels – interesting bowls, vases, trinket boxes etc. look stunning in a cabinet or on a sideboard.

The most important thing when accessorising your home, whether it’s with more or less, is to reflect you and your family – your interests and experiences will bring a uniqueness to your home, which makes it warm and inviting.

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