Sustainable Living – Repair don’t Replace!

We live in a decidedly throwaway culture. When household products are damaged or break, our first instinct is often the toss them out with the trash and find replacement versions. However, this approach is bad news for the environment and it can dent your finances too.

Next time one of your possessions breaks or if you notice that certain items around your home are starting to show signs of wear and tear, try taking a different stance. Rather than getting rid of the items, have a go at getting them fixed. Specialist buildings and contents repair companies like Hometech-UK offer fast and effective services that can restore items to their former selves in no time.

Whether you need to repair a scratched worktop, a damaged flood, a chipped bath or anything else, experts like this are on hand to help.

Reducing landfill

Like lots of people, you might not put much thought into what happens to your rubbish when it is taken away on lorries. However, every item that you chuck out has to end up somewhere. Most rubbish ends up in landfill. Indeed, each year the UK disposes of around 57 million tonnes of waste into landfill. It should come as no surprise then that Britain has been dubbed the ‘dustbin of Europe’.

By repairing goods in your property rather than binning them, you can do your bit to cut waste.
rubbish tip

Conserving resources

Of course, it’s not only the problem of landfill that has to be considered. Usually when people throw out household products, these items have to be replaced. In turn, this means using more of the planet’s natural resources. As the global population rises and consumer expectations increase, more and more of the Earth’s finite resources are being used up.

By restoring household items instead of replacing them, you can help to lower pressures on these resources.

Lowering global warming

By lowering demand for new household goods, you can also help to do your bit to reduce global warming. It usually takes far less energy to repair items than it does to replace them. In turn, this helps to drive down emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2 that are contributing to an increase in global temperatures.

Boost your budget
As well as having a clean conscience about the environment, repairing household products rather than replacing them can boost your finances. It is cheaper to fix worktops, floors, bathroom suites and other items than it is to buy brand new versions.


A Revolutionary Idea for Redesigning or Decorating Your Home

Decorating and re-furnishing my home has never been my thing. I’m not that great at it, if I’m completely honest. And, if we are being honest, I do feel insanely jealous when I walk into one of my friend’s homes and everything looks beautiful and matched and complementary. Oh, and clean; Phoebe gets her sticky fingers/snot/puke all over everything. It’s like she’s on some sort of infant dirty protest, though she gets fed, bathed and has an endless supply of toys available, so what she’s got to complain about I can’t imagine!

But, I have come across a revolutionary tool for helping in this area. True it’s not going to enhance your ability to sniff out the right curtains that match the right rug that match the right cushions that match the right coffee table etcetera, etcetera, but it does make life a lot easier when it comes to arranging furniture, buying pieces that are the right size and checking your room still works if you have a move-around and the baby isn’t going to get trapped in a metre squared corner between a bookcase, sofa and wall.

The apartment from Big Bag theory! (Steve's uber-geeky fave TV programme)
The apartment from Big Bang Theory! (Steve’s uber-geeky fave TV programme)

And knowing that a piece of furniture will fit into a room is only the beginning! Knowing that you can still get access to electrical sockets, doors and windows is where full planning is really useful. What happens if you buy all of your lovely new furniture and it just doesn’t look right? This is where stress levels can increase and arguments can occur.

You can now spare yourself and your family this stress with the Home by Me software.

My best friend from uni introduced me to it. She and her fiancée have just bought a brand new house (lucky buggers!) and are desperate to get everything Just Right. So, she’s been using this software to plan every room in meticulous detail, and she raves about it! She’s also one of those people who have that sixth sense of knowing what colours schemes will work and what furniture and accessories work well together. Damn her!

It’s incredibly sadistic of me but part of me – a miniscule part, in fact – can’t wait to see how their perfectly designed home fairs when the kids come along! (Cue evil laugh!)

The downstairs floor of our house!
The downstairs floor of our house!

So What is Home By Me?

Basically this software helps you to design whatever room you want to focus on by playing around with the layout of your furniture etcetera, allowing you to choose exactly the right furniture, in the right size, for your room.

What Do I Like About It?

The Home by Me software has a wealth of features which make designing a room or home as easy as possible. After taking some measurements (WARNING: basic numeracy skills required! For an English teacher, that normally isn’t good news, but even I can use a tape measure and do basic adding and subtraction!), you are able to create an accurate plan of your entire home, room by room. The software allows for multi-level plans which means you can easily switch from one floor to another as well as room to room. Great fun!

For anyone with anything fancy in their home, you can add pillars, casings and bay windows as well as electrical, gas and water points – the sort of stuff you forget to consider in your initial redecorating plans! You can even take into account the position of any radiators, which was where Steve and I fell down when we moved into our first home!

Start with a floor plan and the rest will come!
Start with a floor plan and the rest will come!

After creating your floor plan, it is easy to drag and drop the furniture from the catalogue straight to where you want it. The dropdown menus are really clearly and logically arranged by room – it’s like designing a computer-based doll’s house! The 2 dimensional view shows whether an item will fit where you want it to, whereas the 3 dimensional view shows you how the room will look once finished. Simples!

After furnishing your home on the plans, the summary section shows you the details of your project. The room by room summary gives you all of the specifications of the rooms including floor space and wall dimensions. This information can make decorating and flooring your rooms extra easy as you do not have to measure again. You will also get a summary of the products you’ve selected in a shopping list format, making your purchases easy and hassle free!


Would I Recommend It?

Absolutely! Besides making life a heck of a lot easier when it comes to redesigning a home, it’s also heaps of fun, and it makes you think about things that might otherwise not have been considered until it’s too late, like the position of light sockets and radiators etcetera.

It’s totally free, so there’s zero harm in giving it a try!

Amazing Ways to Save Energy and Money on Lighting This Winter

During the winter, we all find ourselves using more energy. The days are shorter and colder, so we turn on the lights and heating to compensate. Of course, we can’t be expected to sit in the cold and dark just to save energy. There are lots of ways you can stay warm while still saving some energy, but what about the lights? It’s easy to put on a jumper instead of turning the heating on, but it’s not so easy to squint in the dark for a bit longer before you turn the light on. We all need to see what we’re doing, so we need to find ways of saving energy and money on lighting without imposing a blackout on our homes. Luckily, there are several ways you can stop your lighting causing your energy bill to skyrocket.

2121199879_368de2e724_zTerren in Virginia

Dimmer Switches

You don’t want to sit in the dark in the mornings and evenings, but you don’t have to make everything as bright as possible either. A lower light is suitable for doing lots of things, including eating meals and watching television. Plus, a harsh, bright light isn’t very nice when you get up in the morning. You can install dimmer switches in your home so you can adjust the lighting level to a suitable one for your needs.

Energy-efficient Light

Once upon a time, energy-efficient lights weren’t very good. They took a long time to come on, and when they did they weren’t very bright. That’s all changed now, and it’s easy to replace all the light bulbs in your home with green alternatives. If you use a light bulb for more than half an hour a day, it’s economical to replace it with an energy-saving bulb. Look at LED and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs from and similar suppliers. You’ll find a range of lights that look great and save you money.

Turn It Off

It may seem like a no-brainer, but turning off lights when you don’t need them is one of the best ways of saving energy. If you’re not in the room for long periods of time, there’s no need to have the light on. Don’t flick lights on and off every time you walk in or out of the room, but don’t leave them on when they aren’t necessary either.

Avoid Christmas Lights

Everyone wants to make their home look good for Christmas, but try not to go overboard with Christmas lights. If you want to hand them outside, use solar powered lights that will charge during the day. You can also use battery-powered lights. If you want to have lights that plug in, try to limit yourself and look for ones that use LED lights.


It may seem a little old-fashioned, but lighting up a room with candles is more energy-efficient that turning all the lights on. Candles can provide a surprising amount of light and heat, and they can smell great too. Instead of decorating with electric lights, get the candles out.

11434581806_b7dea8e623_zPhoto by scott1346

The Dangers of uPVC Doors

It was at the end of the 1980’s that saw the rise in properties being fitted with uPVC doors and windows. Although this change from traditional wood-based externals doors and windows began with large building developers, today over 85% of domestic properties have uPVC fittings as part of their exterior. The rise in popularity of this unsustainable material was largely down to its promotion as a low-maintenance or no-maintenance material, however this negligible claim is offset by uPVC’s non-environmental production and inability to naturally decompose. This means that both the production and destruction of uPVC results in dangerous chemical emissions that are equally dangerous and hazardous to humans, animals and nature.


Whilst their original promotion, as a cheap and secure alternative to traditionally expensive wooden products, was somewhat true in regards to uPVC. As of today, competitive prices set by suppliers of classic wooden doors means that there is literally no reason to use this toxic material. For example, Todd Doors produces a selection of high-quality oak front-doors for as low as under £100 pounds. These doors are as sturdy and easy to maintain as their uPVC alternative and now retail at round the same price – you can visit the external doors page here for more information.

One of Todd Doors’ interesting designs


Although uPVC can last up to 35 years, within this time cracks can still form within its surface, these lesions often having algal growth within them. The material can also become brittle along with quickly losing their glossy look and clean appeal. Whilst they can be painted over, which will somewhat correct the superficial damage, uPVC doors are still not as close to maintenance-free as manufacturers would suggest. However, these aesthetic issues aside, it is when these doors are disposed of that the problems really begin for not just the owner but the environment as well.


Within the UK, uPVC usually ends up in a landfills or is incinerated. Whilst landfills’s negative effects on the wildlife surrounding them is well publicised, even if the uPVC material is incinerated the contaminated ash released through this process is even more damaging to the ozone layer. Whilst modern incinerators operate within EU restrictions and control, an accidental fire or mismanagement of procedure can cause the release of toxic fumes which are incredibly hazardous to those who breath them in.


Timber, on the other hand, when properly maintained, can last over 100 years. Moreover, these economically friendly frames can be easily mended at a low cost. Whilst it cannot be denied that, in order for your wooden door to remain in top condition, it will need to be treated between every 4 to 8 years, it a testament to the durability of this material that many historic homes and classic buildings still have their original doors and windows, centuries after they were built. This durability aside, timber is also easy, and environmentally friendly, to recycle and reuse. This natural material can be easily turned into nature friendly bio-fuel and will effortlessly decompose back into the earth.

This article is provided by Agents of Drive Blog.


Creative Uses for Dome Shelters and Shipping Containers

When you combine shipping containers and dome shelters together, you come up with an extremely versatile storage and workspace solution, that is also highly mobile. By placing shipping containers parallel to each other, you can add a steel framework between the shipping containers and cover this with Polyethylene. This gives you an area which is protected from both the sun and rain, and can be used for a wide variety of purposes.

  • Mobile Workshop
  • Hobby Area
  • Outdoor Storage Area
  • Relaxation Area


Dome Shelter Workshops

The great thing about a dome shelter from Port Container Shelters is that they are easily transported anywhere, and they can be set up relatively quickly, depending on the size. The larger dome shelters can handle large vehicles or multiple smaller ones, so make an ideal outside workshop. All of your equipment can be stored securely in the shipping containers at night, and then used as needed during the day. There are many additional features that you can purchase with your dome shelter such as doors, printed logos, top rail systems and also fixed lights. When the job is complete, you can easily pack up your shipping containers and dome shelter, and move on to your next destination.



The Perfect Hobby Area

There are many people whose hobbies seem to take over the life, as well as all of their free space! Utilising a dome shelter with shipping containers gives you the perfect outside area for your hobby, no matter what it is.

  • Gardening
  • Car Restoration and Repair
  • DIY
  • Sculpting
  • Pottery

There are many different hobbies which could use such an area, and compared to a permanent structure they are much more cost effective. As the structure is also classed as temporary, you will not need to gain planning permission before the structure is erected. From a potting shed to a car restoration garage, with all of the secure storage space, as well as protection from the elements, this could be the perfect solution for your hobby!


the wonder of combining shipping containers with dome shelters

Outdoor Storage Area

We all seem to use as much storage area as we have, which means additional space is always a bonus. You can easily use a couple of shipping containers with a dome shelter as an outdoor storage area. Anything of value which needs secure storage can be put into the shipping containers. To build a permanent feature will require a lot more investment, as well as also requiring planning permission. You can even connect two shipping containers to make yourself a temporary parking garage which can be securely locked.

shipping contas

A Place to Relax

As well as creating a good place for storage, you can also make yourself a pleasant area where you can relax out of the elements. You can have yourself some comfortable seating and tables where you can read a book or entertain friends. You could even have a Jacuzzi installed which you could use even when it is raining. If you have animals that spend most of their time outside, you could use this as a place for them. For the more social of people, you could even set yourself up a bar and get yourself a pool table. The possibilities really are endless, and the only limitation is your own imagination. Just be careful if you have a BBQ as you would not want to melt the Polyethylene Waterproof roof!



Should I Install Renewable Energy At Home?

The way we consume energy is changing. We are already searching for alternative fuel sources. Many homes and companies are already fitting renewable energy mechanisms. Our reliance on traditional electricity is slowly coming to an end. The effects of global warming are now beyond dispute. We know that fossil fuels harm our planet and we need an alternative. In addition to that, they are running out. We cannot use them forever.

The change is coming from big businesses, new forms of transport and governments. They are enforcing rules and abiding to new regulations. It will slowly change the way we live. However, there are small things we can all do at home too. It’s often difficult to see how we can make a difference on such a small scale. However, every little helps. Especially if everyone starts chipping in. So what do you need to know to make the switch to renewable energy in the home?

Your current energy usage

Before you install a renewable energy system, you need to know how much your home consumes. Each renewable energy mechanism comes in different sizes and powers. You need to find one that can cope with the day to day consumption of your property. The best way to do this is to conduct a load analysis and calculate your current costs. This will also highlight any areas where you are overusing electricity. It will show you where you are leaving appliances on for too long, or misusing the energy. Find out where you can cut back and you may be able to afford a smaller renewable system.

Codes and regulations

The installment of renewable energy sources in the home is subject to a strict set of codes. These rules and regulations differ from state to state and country to country. Speak to your local authority and builders about what this entails for your area. Every new installation is subject to electrical inspections and building codes. It must comply to all usual planning regulations. It’s a complex business and best left in the hands of professionals.

What type of system should I use?

There are a number of different solutions for the home. A standalone system is one that relies solely on the renewable energy source to power the home. On the other hand, you can sometimes remain connected to the grid. In this case you can sell back any excess electricity you generate to the energy companies. In the case that you don’t produce enough from your system, you can top it up from the grid.

When it comes to deciding which energy system is best, it depends on your area. Solar panels, wind turbines and biomass generators are amongst the most popular choices. Do plenty of research and read some solid advice on choosing solar panels. In many cases a hybrid solar/wind system will be the most efficient system. It will make use of the sun in the summer, but the wind turbine will be more effective in winter.

Installing renewable energy systems into your home is a really forward-thinking plan. You would be wise to consider it. They will save you money on monthly energy bills and you are contributing to the planet’s well being.

7083596231_b34001968a_zPhoto credit

This article was provided by The Wigley Family Blog

The History of the Bike

Steve and I are cycle-fiends. We’ve decided in the approaching winter months it is going to replace kayaking and become “our thing”. Only when it’s not raining, of course.

Cycling in China
Cycling in China

We like to cycle around new cities on holiday, mountain bike, and cycle with Phoebe in tow along the canal near our house. It’s my fave form of fitness as, unlike on a treadmill, you actually feel like you’re going somewhere!

Cycling in Barcelona
Cycling in Barcelona

Bikes are one of those items that have become ingrained in human life and you can’t go far without bumping into one – sometimes literally. Have you ever thought about the history of the bike? Where it came from, and what did early bikes look like? Well, if you have, see the infographic below and you might get some answers.

A Gumtree graphic - The history of the bike

The History of the Bike is a graphic produced by

The Time For Electric Bikes Is NOW

With the New Year fast approaching, we will start getting geared up for a host of people saying “New Year, New Me” and saying a lot of things they are going to give up in hope of a healthier lifestyle.

Usually, we would condone this from our social media timelines, but this year there is one product that could make us join in – the electric bike. Seen everywhere in London, electric bikes are the future of transport and can cut down huge amounts on emissions.

Sunstar electric bike

Not only are electric bikes great for staying fit, but they will save you a fortune on fuel costs to and from work too – some of the bikes even have a range of up to 50 miles. Saving money and doing your bit for the environment in the process is a no-brainer really.

What’s more is electric bikes can be enjoyed all year round too, so during the summer, you can enjoy seeing new things you wouldn’t necessary appreciate stuck in traffic and during the wintery months you can mess around in the mud – if you opt for the electric mountain bike of course.

A couple of years ago, when electric bikes started making their way into the mainstream, they looked hideous. Now, they look like any other bike you can buy on the market. In fact, some are even smarter than a lot of the bikes on the market.

So, if there was one thing that you should give up for the New Year, it should be using your car for the daily commute. Of course, if you live miles and miles away from your work and don’t fancy being Bradley Wiggins during the Tour De France each day, then you could opt for an electric car, but if you live up to 50 miles all-round away, give an electric bike a chance.

Your Biggest Defense Against High Energy Bills: 5 Energy and Money Saving Tips

Now more than ever, folks are looking for extra ways to save on their home energy bills. From doubling up on blankets and sweaters in the winter to using electric fans and adding extra insulation in the summer, there are scads of tips and tricks that homeowners can use to reduce their energy bills. Opting for more energy-efficient forms of heating such as a heat pump installation might also be something to consider too. Visiting somewhere like could be a good starting point for this!

Here are five of the best.

1. Carry out a home energy audit

Before you start making any tweaks to your home energy ecosystem on your own, it’s a good idea to run a home energy audit. Many local companies will offer this service at little to no cost, and there are even online tools to help you carry out an audit on your own. Once you have a comprehensive energy audit in hand, you’ll be able to direct your attention to the areas of your home that need it most. If you have noticed that your air conditioning unit is not working to full capacity, you may need to get it looked at as this can drive up your energy bills by working overtime. There are some highly recommended AC Service in Broward County that can be looked into, otherwise, it would be best to check your local area for professionals that can come to your home to see how they can help you.

2. Utilize small appliances

Photo by Sharyn Morrow
Photo by Sharyn Morrow

Large appliances like ovens and countertop ranges tend to pull a tremendous amount of electricity in order to operate. Instead of turning to your oven or stove to cook and reheat meals, try to use smaller appliances like microwaves or toaster ovens. These smaller appliances use far less energy and can usually perform just as well as their larger counterparts.

3. Switch to LED bulbs

You’ve probably already heard some of the buzz surrounding LED lighting. LED bulbs, while more expensive than traditional incandescents or fluorescents, have an incredibly long lifespan and are highly efficient. If you have the budget to invest in new LED bulbs for your home, then the return on investment is well worth the cost. Or, if you’re on a limited budget, simply replace bulbs with LED alternatives one-at-a-time as your old bulbs burn out.

4. Set your water heater to its optimal temperature

Photo by Steven Depolo
Photo by Steven Depolo

Your home’s water heater is probably an appliance probably you haven’t adjusted since it was installed. However, letting it run unchecked can run up your bill unnecessarily. If your water heater is set above 120 degrees fahrenheit, then you’re likely wasting energy. 120 degrees fahrenheit is the perfect temperature to provide water as hot as you’ll ever need (while also warding off nasty bacteria) without wasting energy.

5. Don’t forget your windows

One of the biggest sources of energy savings of all is probably hiding right underneath your nose – your windows.

Your windows are the number one part of your home that can increase energy savings. Whether you’re fortifying existing windows to prevent leaks or replacing your home’s windows with more energy efficient alternatives altogether, giving a little extra attention to this linchpin in home energy savings can go a long way toward lowering your energy bills.

No matter the season, ensuring that your windows are up to snuff can pay you back big time in the long run. And in addition to installing quality, energy efficient windows, or repairing your existing ones, there are several other window-centric energy savings strategies you can use to keep your home comfortable and keep your wallet a little fatter.

Find out how to make sure energy costs aren’t slipping out through your windows in the graphic below.


Graphic provided courtesy of Purely Shutters: How to Stop Energy Costs from Sneaking out Your Windows

Do Pets and Clean Homes Go Together?

Many people wonder if it’s genuinely possible to maintain a clean house when you have pets around. While it’s likely you won’t have to clean up after fish all the time, having a dog or a cat is certainly something that troubles homeowners who would rather not have fur strewn across floors and carpets.

Bess and Tilly fighting

We’re certainly not going to get rid of our animals as a result of this dilemma, although can be forgiven for feeling that way on occasion if we constantly have to clean up after our animals at a noticeably troublesome rate. So what exactly can you do to prevent your animals from affecting the cleanliness of your home?

Your pets are always going to leave fur lying around as well as a dander, while there’s also the chance of a potential “accident”. The first thing you need to know when adopting a pet is that you are probably going to have to commit more time to your cleaning schedule.

Let’s look at dogs for starters. There are some breeds of dog that shed quite a lot of hair, such as border collies, while Schnauzers and Labradors have smoother, shorter fur and thus create less of a mess with their fur. In most cases, the dog breeds that shed their fur do it twice a year, so you can keep note of how often it occurs this way.

When we notice that dogs are leaving fur behind, we tend to grab the vacuum cleaner instantaneously to get rid of it. Whilst the vacuum is certainly an effective way of getting rid of dog fur, too much and you can end up blocking the vacuum. Try and moderate your use of the vacuum when cleaning a home with pets and inspect the vacuum every now and then for blockages.

In truth, you can minimise the amount of work you need to do by focusing more on your dog instead of the cleaning up afterwards. Proper grooming is an excellent way of keeping on top of your dogs shed hair and any vet would suggest that you groom your pet a few times a week. You can collect any loose hair on the brush and prevent it from reaching the floor.

With cats, grooming is actually quite important. They tend to look after themselves a lot more than dogs. However, cats can suffer from certain health problems as a result of their hair. Hairballs and constipation are commonly associated with cats that look after themselves instead of their owner grooming them.

cat licking

You can prevent the risk of hair building up on floors and carpets even more by making sure you brush your pet outside. It’s not likely that you’ll be forced to groom your pet indoors at any time due to weather conditions, so you should be able to do this all year round. This is also recommended for keeping your home lean when visitors enter who might have allergies to pets. This is why many pet owners also have air conditioning installed (check out ac maintenance in Moines or wherever you are based if your unit isn’t working efficiently) to keep their indoor air as clean as possible. This is also a good idea in regards to keeping your pet cool, as hot pets tend to shed hair more than cooler ones.

There are also a range of differing tools that are best suited to specific breeds of dog or cat that make the grooming process more efficient. You can learn about these grooming tools from your vet.

A lot of pet owners wonder if it’s a good idea to bathe their dogs or cats at all to assist the grooming process. Cats certainly don’t need to be bathed as they tend to wash themselves, whereas dogs need the odd bath to make sure there isn’t any dirt in their fur.

dog bath

However, dogs should only be bathed once a month at most as you can interfere with the natural oils produced by the skin otherwise. Some cats may need bathing on occasion if they are old or incapable cleaning themselves.

The next thing to consider is the number of pets you have in your household. If there are a number of dogs or cats in one property, the amount of fur you have to deal with will increase. What’s more, having certain breeds with longer coats, such as Persian cats or Husky’s, will mean that fur will build up much faster throughout the home. If you fit one of these categories, you should probably check your air filters every now and then depending on the amount of hair your pets shed.

If you’re finding the hair-cleaning process too much of an issue, there are alternatives to simply adjusting your approach to cleaning. You can change the layout of your property entirely to suit your cleaning regime.

This could incorporate taking up your carpets and replacing them with wooden flooring (to stop dander from clinging to fabrics and causing allergic reactions), switching upholstery to leather and introducing a room for the dogs or cats to sleep in regularly. Additionally, to make sure dander doesn’t get into the air and cause problems for those with respiratory issues, you could also get an Air Handler to make sure there is a constant flow of air through the house. This would ensure that pet dander doesn’t remain stagnant in the air, improving air quality.

So there you have it. If you take these helpful cleaning tips and guidelines on board when looking after your animals, you’ll probably find that having a cat or a dog really isn’t as demanding as you might think.

If we’re going to provide our pets with a new home, we need to make sure we’re looking out for them as much as our own belongings, so the biggest tip of all would be to make sure you’re prepared to make any changes the day you decide having a new furry friend in your life is necessary.

Alana Burton has a young family and has 2 cats and is aware of the best ways to keep a home clean when there are children plus pets to consider. As a writer she covers relevant issues for Apple Clean, carpet, curtain and upholstery cleaners in the south-east.

This article was provided by Island Blogging.

Solar Energy – Is it the Answer to Our Potential Energy Crisis?

Solar energy is a renewable energy source, which means we should be doing our utmost to make it as accessible as possible. When you think about it, solar energy is what keeps us and the rest of the earth’s plant and animal species alive. There are even investment opportunities that websites such as delve into, as it has become a massive part of life as more and more people adopt it.

There’s no doubting the fact that we have done quite a lot in recent years to utilise the energy provided by the sun. For instance, the largest solar power plant in the world covers over 1000 acres and is based in the sun-soaked Mojave Desert, California.

The solar power plant in Mojave Desert, California
The solar power plant in Mojave Desert, California

Solar energy is quite easy to collect, it’s completely free, it will last forever and it can be accessible to areas where power grids would be far too expensive to build. However, there are also plenty of disadvantages that should be taken into account when considering solar power.

Here is a collection of advantages and disadvantages associated with solar power that might help you decide whether or not it has the properties required to become the most predominant energy source in the future.


  • Solar energy is free. As long as you have a solar collector, such as a solar panel, you can collect as much of energy from the sun as you like and use it to provide power for your home. You can find any type of Wholesale solar Equipment Supplier according to what style of system you prefer.

solar panels

  • There are plenty of devices out there that don’t require significant amounts of energy to be used, such as a calculator. Solar power is more than capable of providing the energy these types of devices require to work efficiently.
  • Solar energy is likely to last forever. Oil reserves are expected to be entirely spent in the coming decades, so it’s essential that we have some form of energy available to us once that occurs. Solar power could become a widespread source of power at some stage in the future as we begin to run out of other types of fuel.
  • Some types of fuel, particularly oil, cause pollution and damage the ozone layer. Solar power does not cause pollution and can be used consistently without posing a threat to the atmosphere.
  • Solar power stations or sites can be placed anywhere on the map where sunlight is present. They don’t require a grid extension and completely negate the expense of having to carry out this kind of work.


  • The sun isn’t always out of course, which means that solar power will only be available during the daytime. You then have to consider the seasons and the fact that it’s certainly not always sunny during the winter.
A slight problem with solar energy...
A slight problem with solar energy…
  • Whilst solar energy is free in theory, you have to remember that it could cost billions to build a global range of solar power plants. Thankfully, the price of this manufacturing job has started to decrease, although it will still cost you to get hold of your own solar panel.
  • Conventional power stations are far superior to that of solar power stations, which would also cost quite a lot to build.
  • Whilst solar power plants can be placed anywhere where sunlight is present, they can’t necessarily be placed in areas where land is scarce. They need to be tightly packed together in numbers to allow enough electricity to power all of them at once.
  • Solar power can be used at night but they require storage batteries that collect solar energy during the day. These batteries are heavy and expensive and tend to need replacing every now and then.
  • Solar panels can cause certain parts of the world to look a lot less appealing, especially if they begin turning up all over the place. You may find that many land owners will oppose the idea of having solar power plants built anywhere near their land.

When you way up the pros and cons of this type of energy source, you might find that your opinion on the matter has changed somewhat. However, there’s no denying the fact that solar power could be an essential tool in the near future and is probably a better alternative to other forms of energy we are currently using far more regularly. In fact, as the US offers tax credits to those using solar power, via the federal solar tax credit, many users of other types of energy are swayed by this factor. Being encouraged to use solar power by the idea of money returns is a good marketing technique in order to get the US to use more green energy.

If you’re keen to get stuck in with this renewable form of energy, don’t be afraid to pursue some of the latest products powered by solar energy. In addition, you can cut your energy bills by getting hold of some solar panels. They may be costly upfront but solar panels can help provide your home with electricity without the need for bills.

There are a number of other products that are powered by solar energy you can get hold of. These include fans, cookers, lanterns, tents, backpacks and more. Most of these products are associated with the outdoors, so if you’re a keen walker or enjoy the idea of camping every now and then, these solar powered products might be able to provide you with that essential source of energy you need during your trip.

There are a number of questions to consider if you’re still not certain about solar power. Think about your personal opinion on the renewable energy source, whether or not it could be the answer to the world’s energy crisis, its effect on the environment and devices that could potentially be powered by solar energy in the future.

Mike James is a former heating engineer with an interest in greener sources of electricity. He writes about energy sources and supplies for BSW Heating, solar panel installation specialists.

The Growing Trend of Forest Schools

Recently more schools throughout the country have taken steps to earn the ‘Forest School’ status as Forest Schools have been increasing in popularity due to their fresh approach to hands on learning. With attitudes towards environmental awareness constantly being highlighted it is certainly a step in the right direction as far as education is concerned to see more of these forest schools popping up throughout the country.

What are Forest Schools?
Forest Schools are schools that offer equal learning experiences for all children in order to help them to develop key life skills such as self-esteem and confidence in public speaking and acting. These are established through hands-on learning activities that occur in a natural forest or woodland environment which also helps to teach children about the local environment while at the same time helping them to build on these key life skills.

What Happens in a Forest School?
As well as providing a stimulating and engaging environment in which the children can learn, a forest school needs to meet a certain criteria of basic needs for all children enrolled in these schools. Warmth and appropriate clothing must be provided for the children as well as a secure learning environment in which the children can feel safe at all times. Children must also be provided with clean water and hot drinks as well as healthy snacks and meals where necessary.



The school site is often explored and in an introductory session is established to agree on both physical and behavioural boundaries during sessions. Children are taught to familiarise themselves with the local area and the route taken to reach that area either on foot or by bus.

A fully constructed site shelter is needed to provide security for children during cold, windy or wet days and the site can include a variety of features depending on what sort of activities and lessons you would like to cover with the children. Forest Schools can range from the bare minimum to a fully constructed shelter with a cosy, covered area complete with fire pit and wooden benches for the pupils to sit around.

In some cases it can be beneficial to get the pupils involved in building a suitable shelter for their lessons. You start to build on teamwork in group exercises and can also educate pupils on how to build an appropriate shelter in a wooded area while at the same time providing useful information about the local plants and wildlife in a realistic and engaging environment.


How can a School apply to become a Forest School?
In order to successfully set up a Forest School, the school must have a Qualified Practitioner which can be achieved by any teacher willing to complete the training process and consolidation as set out by the Forest Schools Website. With the help of a Forest Schools Practitioner you can then start setting up the Forest School.

You will also need an appropriate site in which to run the forest school. Generally on the school’s own grounds is acceptable but if you can work out a deal with a local woodland or forest group this could also be a good idea.

You can also obtain funding for your new Forest School from local authorities and local councils if you are having trouble with creating an acceptable shelter and gathering materials for the Forest School. Applying for funding can be a tedious process but if it provides you with the supplies you need to create an exciting environment for children it will be well worth the effort.

What does the Future Hold for Forest Schools?
As Forest Schools are flexible, providing an exciting new insight into how children and pupils of all abilities grow and learn, Forest Schools may be the way to go within the new few years. We are forever learning more and more about how to properly provide for our youth and it is becoming more apparent that a single learning style is not suited to all children.

Forest Schools provide an opportunity to improve life skills such as teamwork, working in a group and working in a new and sometimes challenging environment. Plus by applying lessons to a new environment and a new set of challenges, children can start to view problems in a different light and could pick things up quicker than in a generic classroom environment.

All in all Forest Schools are a welcome change to everyday classroom lessons, tests, homework assignments and schedules. By incorporating wildlife and an engaging setting into learning and teaching, children could be more motivated and inspired to explore their imaginative, creative and innovative sides, giving children more opportunities to grow as individuals while at the same time gaining important life and educational skills.

As a mother of a young family, Alana Burton is very interested in the wider range of educational options available for different types of schooling and lessons. She writes about her finds and interests for Bloo House, an independent school in Esher, Surrey offering an altogether unique learning environment.

What Parents Need To Know About Bed Wetting

About 15 percent of children over 3 years old struggle with bed wetting, otherwise known as enuresis. The majority of them deal with primary enuresis, meaning that children haven’t developed bladder control at night, accidents occur at least twice a month, and they are not triggered by stressful situations.

Flickr Creative Commons
Flickr Creative Commons

Facts About Bed Wetting

It’s important for parents to know all the facts so they can help their child and get the best treatment options, including a bed wetting alarm.

  • Bed wetting is not your child’s fault and often occurs because they are such sound sleepers and can’t wake themselves to go to the bathroom.
  • Only around five percent of primary nocturnal enuresis has an underlying medical or emotional reason. Secondary nocturnal enuresis involves emotional stressors like a parents’ divorce or a recent move, and involves no accidents for six months and starting up again.
  • Bed wetting often runs in families. If both parents struggled with bed-wetting, there’s around a 75% percent chance your child will too, while if only one parent did, there’s still around a 40 % chance your child may wet the bed too. If neither parent had issues, this lowers the likelihood to around 15 percent.
  • Researchers have identified that certain genes, ENUR1 and ENUR2, affect nighttime enuresis and how often your children needs to urinate and how easily they can be awakened.
Image from Flickr Creative Commons
Image from Flickr Creative Commons

Tips For Dealing With Bed Wetting

  • Reassure your child that this is not their fault and avoid criticizing or teasing them. Avoid using punishments as that will only make them more nervous but do praise them if they successfully have a dry night.
  • Encourage your child to drink fluids earlier in the day and limit fluids later in the day, especially water before bedtime, and caffeinated beverages. These increase the amount of urine produced, making more nighttime trips to the bathroom.
  • Remind your child to use the bathroom right before bedtime.
  • Try waking your child once or twice during the night to empty their bladder.

Treatments For Bed Wetting

Early intervention is important as enuresis can become expensive with extra loads of laundry, as well as disposable training pants. Medications are also costly and sometimes ineffective, and your child may become embarrassed to attend sleepovers or camp-outs because of their issue.

Therefore, a new idea known as a bed wetting alarm has become popular. They are among one of the safer treatments and children that use them are around 12 times more likely to stay dry throughout the night than those who don’t use them. These alarms feature a moisture sensor that is placed by your child’s underwear and can detect the first sign of wetness. It signals a lightweight alarm which can be clipped to the shoulder or collar on their pajamas. Depending on what works best for your child, you can choose a rapid succession of beeps or sounds or melodies to be played on the bed wetting alarm.

At the beginning, you will probably have to awaken with your child and have to almost sleep-walk them to the bathroom, but it will get easier. If you try this method, it’s beneficial to attempt it over summer vacation or a long winter break as it takes several weeks to learn a new habit and even longer until it becomes routine.

Shipping Container Living and Workspaces: Here’s Why You Should Try It

We all love our homes no matter how humble they may be. The idea of a home is somewhere to just be as comfortable as you can, a haven that reflects your personality, your taste, and your character. The same can go for an office, and both can tell just as much about you as the way you dress. Now imagine the impression you would make if you invited someone to your ultra-chic modified container home or office.


Shipping container architecture has been booming as architects, homeowners, and office workers alike reinvent the style of these highly modifiable units. The result? Head-turning, comfortable, affordable, and environment friendly architecture that can be customised to suit anyone’s style. They do not have to be just used for accommodation as there are many other uses for a modified shipping container.


Affordability is by far the biggest incentive if you’re considering a shipping container home or office. Used shipping containers are widely available, and they’re super simple to turn into a home or office for very little cost compared to a brick-and-mortar building.

Easy to Build and Use

While a modification unit might just look like a steel box, they are extremely easy to modify into a comfortable home or office. With the right ideas, you can come up with a host of designs for your new space. Best of all, you can add more shipping containers to make as big a house or office as you wish. Adding doors, windows, and even staircases is simple too.

Quick to Set Up

This is another big plus of shipping containers. On average, a container takes a few short months to be ready for you to move into. Changes and container conversions can be made off-site, so when the container is delivered to your site it could be ready to use after a few adjustments and final tweaks. Imagine seeing your full-fledged home rolling down the street on the back of a truck!

Room For Imagination

A modification container allows your imagination to run free. You can construct exactly the dream home or office you’ve always wanted. You just need the shipping container design and a company to put your ideas to work.

shipping contas
Something a bit extraordinary made out of something so ordinary!


Easily Available

Here’s another great thing about shipping containers — you can get them where you need them. There are companies all over that offer new or second-hand shipping containers and who can deliver your container right to where you want it. You just need to make sure your chosen site has space for the delivery truck to conveniently offload the container.

Environment Friendly

Besides being cost effective and easy to put your personal stamp on, using a modified container from Port Container Services for establishing your living or working space, you’ll be doing something good for the environment. You can find both used and brand new containers easily that can be used as your new home or office, without worrying about the impact of new materials on the environment.

If you choose to use a shipping container for your home or office, you are actually promoting environmental conservation. How? Well, you recycle the steel being used. Also, you reduce the energy and raw materials in making new homes.

Your Very Own Style

But despite all the above mentioned facts, the best benefit of using a shipping container for your home or office space is that you can freely design it so that it suits your needs and wants. In fact, the very essence of shipping container architecture is to put a personal statement in your living/office space in a cheap, easy way.

As you can see, there are plenty of advantages of using modified shipping containers for homes or offices.


Phoebe has clearly inherited her appetite from me. And her sweet tooth. And it may be too early to tell for definite yet, but possibly her podgy hips and ass as well. What can I say, I’m a giver?

No, I won't eat that green crap!
No, I won’t eat that green crap!

Whenever the word food is mentioned, we often recall our favourite dish which makes our mouths to salivate. Food is essential to the growth and development of our body systems. It is a source of energy, in addition to boosting our immune system. Taking into account the importance of food in our lives and the fact that most of us usually have a minimum of three meals a day, it is an essential need that we can’t afford to ignore.

A newly born baby is a bundle of joy, he or she cries and even laughs gracefully. Most importantly we as parents have come to learn to respond to their cries, knowing when they are hungry. Just as food is important to us adults, it is vital for the baby. Why is this so?

Yes, I’d like my main with a side of Salmonella please…

a)      The lifecycle development– Infancy-Childhood is the initial and most critical postnatal stage of development. Every baby needs nutrients which are acquired from food. Any deficiency of particular nutrients could easily lead to immune system deficiencies which might pose a potential risk to the baby’s health for the rest of their lives.

b)      Babys digestive system– a baby’s digestive system is more efficient than that of an adult. Nutrients are absorbed faster into the body as the baby needs those nutrients for development.

c)      Baby’s body organs – infancy is a critical stage in the development of the baby’s body organs. The kidneys, the brain and other organs are not yet fully before birth and usually develop fully during infancy.

d)      The babys appetite– did you that babies and children in general, consume more food on pound-for-pound basis than adults? Due to this, they are exposed to more different types of foods and chemical substances contained in those particular foods. As a result, this pose a greater potential risk to the health and development of the baby.

organic food
Good food, just look for the scary baby face!


Organic food is vital for the development of the baby as it provides nutrients that are found naturally in the environment; unlike the modified and some synthetically processed foods. Here are some of the benefits of organic foods:

i.            Higher nutritional levels– organic food has much higher nutritional benefits unlike the processed and synthetically produced foods. A combination of different types of organic foods provide essential nutritional benefits including proteins, fibres and carbohydrates which are vital for the baby’s growth.

ii.            Organic Farming– a major concern when it comes to organic foods is its source. Organic farming entails growing of different crops naturally with minimal use of pesticides and chemically synthesized fertilizers.

Such chemicals when used in large volumes pose a great potential risk to our health. This is more so when you consider the numerous types available for different crops. Chances are that we consume cocktails of these chemicals unknowingly which might cause potential health risk to the baby as their kidneys aren’t yet fully formed meaning that these chemical substances will circulate their body for a longer period of time.

iii.            No additives– additives such as monosodium glutamate, aspartame, brilliant blue, and quinolone yellow have a more potent effect on nerve cells than each on its own. The beauty with organic food is that it contains no additives.

iv.            Going Organic– this greatly benefits the environment as the process of growing crops naturally doesn’t interfere the natural environment. As a matter of fact, it works together maintaining the ecological balance.


If you’re a perspective parent, the best advice I can give you is to not invest too much money into baby clothes for your newborn. When your baby’s born you’ll be given enough clothes to clothe half of Africa (not a bad place to send them once they’ve been outgrown, FYI!), so it’s not worth buying too many. But still, little kids grow before you can blink your eyes twice, so you’ll usually have no option but to keep getting bigger clothes for them. Then again, you can always turn those outgrown baby onesies into a cute baby clothes quilt that your little one can use as a warm blanket for a few years at least.

clothes for kids
Our little snowball!

Anyway, once the initial excitement and overwhelming involvement of your nearest and dearest dies down, and the gifts stop flowing in quite so quickly (and this WILL happen), when buying clothes for your baby or toddler, it’s well worth considering organic baby clothes, and I’ll explain why…

Love them or hate them, babies will always have a special place in our lives. Even if you are yet to become a parent, a baby is a gift that you ought to cherish. There has been a sharp increase in the number of baby clothes especially those being shipped from oversees. The availability of clothes locally has given us, especially we mums, numerous varieties to choose from.

My husband was perplexed the other day when we went out to buy baby clothes for Phoebe. He was surprised to see the variety on offer – endless colours, styles and textures. He even confessed that he wished we would just go to the good old days when we were growing up as the variety then was limited.

No expecting parents should ever buy clothes - you get given a mountain when your kid's born!
No expecting parents should ever buy clothes – you get given a mountain when your kid’s born!

When you enter a baby shop looking for your baby’s or toddler’s clothing, what do you look for? Do you prefer a piece that has a particular texture and colour, or do you just pick those pieces that are your baby’s size?

The former is definitely the way to go. This might sound cliché, but all of us want the best for our kids, even if it means forfeiting some of our own needs so that they don’t lack anything. This spirit should be replicated when it comes to buying clothes for your baby.

Always opt for organic clothes, preferably clothes made out of organic cotton. Take time when you are shopping around to check which baby shop offers these types of clothes in large volumes. This will enable you to have an easier time when it comes to browsing through the sizes and different colours on offer.

Here is the good news, the cotton acreage is growing worldwide, and this is as a result of the witty designers who are embracing organic cotton, making more appealing clothes that increase the demand and awareness of natural textiles. In the near future, every baby shop and fashion shops will have all-natural textile clothes just for you.

girls clothes

Synthetic clothes are currently, cheaply available compared to the organic clothes. As a result, most parents opt for the synthetic type than the more expensive organic clothes. The synthetic types pose several risks to your child’s health, including:
• Skin rushes
• Itchy allergic reactions

The main reason for these effects is the poor porous fibres that synthetic clothes have compared to the organic ones. As a result, heat accumulates which results into the skin rushes. Some of the synthetic material can cause allergies which might pose a threat to the life of your child.

Your baby or toddler’s health should come first. Therefore, ensure that the outfits you get for him or her are organic and safe. It will be a worthwhile investment which you will live to be grateful for.

All You Need to Know about the Feed-in-Tariff Programme

How the FIT works and how it can benefit you

If you may have noticed, in recent years, the UK government has been stepping up its drive for energy efficiency. As a matter of fact, there are many different schemes in place that encourage consumers to rely more on renewable energy – and one of the more popular schemes is the Feed-in-Tariff.

What is the Feed-in-Tariff?

Simply put, the Feed-in-Tariff programme is a programme that was launched in April of 2010 as a replacement for government grants in order to give consumers an incentive when they opt for renewable energy technologies. Technologies which allow consumers to qualify for the FIT include solar energy systems or PV systems, wind turbine systems, anaerobic digesters, hydroelectricity, and micro-combined power and heat.

Image attributed to Derek Mayes/ under Google Images
Image attributed to Derek Mayes/ under Google Images

The Department for Energy and Climate Change, or DECC, is the bureau in charge of the scheme’s policies, while Ofgem is the one in charge of administering the scheme.

When you qualify for the scheme, there are two ways in which you can receive the FIT benefits: one is through the Generation Tariff, and the other is through the Export Tariff.

How the Generation and Export Tariffs work

The generation tariff is the payment you will receive from your energy supplier for the amount of electricity or kWh you produce and use. The payments for the generation tariff continue for up to twenty years, and are also index-linked. The tariff rate you can expect to receive varies depending on the renewable technology you opt for. There are different generation tariff rates for solar panel systems, for wind turbine systems, and the like.

The export tariff, on the other hand, is the payment you can expect to receive from the energy supplier for the electricity you produce but do not use. In effect, you are ‘selling’ your electricity back to the supplier. For this, there is a standard amount of 4.77 pence per kilowatt hour regardless of what kind of renewable technology you have.

Of course, another benefit when you opt for renewable technology is the savings you get from your energy bill as well.  Since you will be producing your own electricity, your electrical consumption from your supplier will be reduced, thus resulting in a lower energy bill. Again, the amount of savings you have will depend on the technology you have.

How to register for the Feed-in-Tariff

First of all, you should choose an installer who is MCS-accredited. Once your system has been installed, the installer will then register you with the MCS’ database and present you with a certificate which confirms your compliance with the MCS.  Afterwards, the installer can then help you register for the Feed-in-Tariff. All you have to do is fill in an application form, present your certificate with the MCS, and present the Energy Performance Certificate which proves that your home has an efficiency rating of D or higher.

With these requirements, the energy supplier will then check your installation on the MCS database, confirm your registration and eligibility as well as the date when you are eligible for the FIT payments, and add you to the Central FIT register of Ofgem. The supplier will also make arrangements with you on when you must provide your meter readings as well as when you can receive your FIT payment.

You can always learn more about how to benefit from the government’s Feed-in-Tariff programme by speaking to energy efficiency experts at npower. With the right renewable technology in your home, you can start benefiting from the FIT.