Homes and Gardens

The Potted Garden Tips

Winter in Your Garden

This month we’ve got two great new gardening projects from The Potted Garden to spruce up your garden for November and December.

Be Bird Aware this Winter

November is maintenance month in the garden, getting everything ready for winter. Clearing leaves and cutting back dead growth is the order of the day. But before you cut back dead seed heads and berries, and start bedding your outside space down for the winter, just spare a thought for some of the garden wildlife that rely on you being just a little bit lazy when it comes to garden maintenance. 

The short winter days mean that the birds are extra active in the daylight hours to ensure they get enough food to survive the cold nights. Scarcity of natural food means that supplementary feeding in addition to what they can find in the garden can really help – so your bird feeding stations are likely to be extra popular. Remember to keep them well topped up or create new ones. 

Fat balls are a particularly good source of calories in winter, when birds use huge amounts of energy to stay warm at night – and you can make a simple feeder by using small terracotta pots packed with fat balls. 

Just follow these simple steps from Gardeners’ World

You will need

Small terracotta pots (11cm in diameter)
Wire (approximately 50cm long)
Wire cutters
Twigs
Secateurs
Fat balls (roughly three per small pot)

And then

1. Use the secateurs to cut a piece of twig that will fit across the base of the pot. Wrap a length of wire around the twig, leaving enough to hang the pot with later.

2. Clean the pots with a weak disinfectant solution and rinse thoroughly. Feed the wire through the drainage hole in the base of the pot, ensuring that the twig fits snugly inside.

3. Turn the pot over and pack the inside tightly with fat balls. Fold the wire and loop it onto a longer piece, hanging from a branch.

4. Hang the feeder singly or group it with others.

So that’s the birds seen to, now for the rest of the garden.  If pots and containers are just part of your outside space then here are some gardening tips for this month from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society)

November tasks          

Clear up fallen leaves – especially from lawns, ponds and beds

Raise containers onto pot feet to prevent waterlogging

Plant tulip bulbs for a spring display next year

Prune roses to prevent wind-rock

Plant out winter bedding

Prepare the greenhouse for winter

Insulate outdoor containers from frost – bubblewrap works well

Stop winter moth damage to fruit trees using grease bands around the trunks

Put out bird food to encourage winter birds into the garden

Use a seasonal bonfire – where this is allowed – to dispose of excess debris unfit for composting

Creative Christmas Containers

In December, give your planters and containers a seasonal makeover and let your garden be part of your Christmas decorations this year.

Revamping old pots is a great way to make the garden more festive. You can also buy terracotta, ceramic or plastic pots – glazed or coloured in red or white – or simply upcycle some household containers.  Painting wooden or terracotta pots to give them a lift or wrapping them in fabric, tinsel or big bows is another way to make a stunning seasonal statement. 

Remember to check that your container has plenty of drainage holes. Waterlogged roots is the number one reason that container plants die in winter so make extra holes if necessary and fill the bottom with stones or broken pottery.  Add multi-purpose compost until the pot is about half full and then get planting.

As an alternative to the traditional red colour scheme of Christmas try mixing white and silver for a clean and stylish look. Put grey-leafed lavender and senecio together with white cyclamen and decorate with strings of silver beads and small LED white lights.

Or go for a beautiful Christmas rose – Helleborus niger – and plant with pale pink or white cyclamen and training ivy around the edges to make the container feel like it’s overflowing.

Water everything in. You may need to top up the soil a bit once you have done that and don’t forget to leave about 3cm between the soil surface and the container lip. This ensures that it doesn’t overflow every time you water it.

If pots and containers are just part of your outside space then here are some gardening tips for December from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society)

Important December Tasks

Check your winter protection structures are still securely in place

Check that greenhouse heaters are working

Insulate outdoor taps and prevent ponds from freezing

Prune open-grown apples and pears (but not those trained against walls)

Prune acers, birches and vines before Christmas to avoid bleeding

Harvest leeks, parsnips, winter cabbage, sprouts and remaining root crops

Deciduous trees and shrubs can still be planted and transplanted

Take hardwood cuttings

Keep mice away from stored produce

Reduce watering of houseplants

Winter Gardening Advice

Prepare Your Garden for the Winter with Oeco Garden Rooms

As the weather starts to change and the nights draw in, now is the time to get your garden ready for the winter.

This time of year is all about creating an easy to maintain outdoor space and to protect your outdoor space from the elements.

Garden specialists Oeco Garden Rooms have put together a handy guide to autumn gardening and how to keep your garden looking great throughout the cooler months.

Cleaning and preparation

Autumn is the time to declutter the garden, getting rid of annual plants and flowers which have died off as well as cleaning and maintaining garden structures such as greenhouses, garden sheds and wooden fences.

Clean the inside and out of the greenhouse with a solution of hot water and disinfectant, removing any plant debris first, and make sure to clean the greenhouse floor and the paths leading up to it. It is worth making sure the greenhouse is well ventilated to dry it thoroughly for a few days after cleaning.

Another good tip is to clean out and wash any plant pots and seed trays that are not in use; this will ensure that you always have spare pots on hand for the spring sowing season.

Dig up any annuals in your borders and add them to the compost heap, you can add in new winter bedding plants such as pansies or wallflowers that will create a colourful focal point to the garden in spring.

Once the borders are tidy spread a layer of compost or bark chips over the top to protect the soil from the winter weather.

Take advantage of any dry days to maintain fences, sheds and other garden structures. Take the time to repair any damage and to paint or stain any wood to help protect it over the winter months and to keep the garden looking well looked after. It is also a good idea to clean any patios and paths now to stop them from becoming slippery during the winter.

Planting winter vegetables

Getting you vegetable patch ready for the coming year means that you will be able to harvest your vegetables even sooner, and there are plenty of varieties to choose from that are hardy enough for the colder weather. Sowing vegetables in the autumn allows you to extend the season, with many of the varieties that can be grown being ready to harvest quicker than spring plantings.

Onions, shallots and garlic are perfect for planting in the colder months, and will virtually look after themselves during the winter. They have a long growing season and won’t be ready till summer, but are well worth the wait.

Winter hardy varieties of Spring onion and peas are also ideal to sow now, and will produce a crop ready to harvest in spring, making them great for salads.

Other winter vegetables that can withstand the winter include broccoli, spring cabbages, kale and parsnips, all of which will have your veg garden producing great food for most of the year.

Lawn care and maintenance

Now is the perfect time to revitalise and prepare your lawn for the coming months. Use a rake to remove of any loose grass clipping and moss, and aerate any high traffic areas by making holes with a garden fork every 4 inches; this will help to improve drainage as the soil may have been compacted during summer use.

To prepare the lawn for the colder months use autumn lawn feed; this will help to protect the grass from the winter weather and will keep the lawn looking green and healthy. If you are thinking of changing your lawn, then autumn is also a great time to lay new turf, as it gives the grass plenty of time to establish before the summer.

Also make sure to trim back any evergreen borders and hedges to keep them healthy and looking nice throughout winter.

Protecting your garden equipment

Before storing your garden equipment away for the winter, ensure that you service any motors so that they are ready for next spring. Any blades such as shears and secateurs should be sharpened and spades, forks and other tools should be thoroughly cleaned.

Rubbing oil onto any metal parts will prevent rust, and wooden handles can be protected with linseed oil to keep them in tip top condition.

For details about Oeco Garden Rooms visit www.oecogardenrooms.co.uk

Go Green by Composting

Create Your Own Compost Heap

In a bid to help reduce the massive amounts of waste that ends up in UK landfills, homeowners are being urged to create their own mini compost heap.

The top gardening buffs who are behind GardenBuildingsDirect.co.uk have researched the best techniques for constructing a successful compost pile, including how to balance nutrients and the ingredients you should always leave out.

Compost is a collection of organic waste made up of food and plants that decomposes over several months before finally turning into ‘humus’ – an extremely nutrient-rich soil.

In addition to helping to eliminate landfill waste, this soil can also be used as an organic fertiliser for your garden.

A spokesperson from the gardening team at GardenBuildingsDirect.co.uk explains “Composting is a great option for families who find that they have more food waste than they know what to do with – plus it’s great for the environment and is one of the most powerful nutrients you can feed your garden with.

“It’s actually possible to do it both indoors and outdoors but opting to compost indoors is a little trickier and will require a little more maintenance. Generally speaking, you only really need three things to start – water, browns and greens.

“Browns refers to tree matter which includes things like dead leaves and twigs, and greens covers grass clippings, food waste and coffee grounds – but you shouldn’t ever put any meat, dairy or bread in your compost as they’ll rot and attract pests.

“It’s also worth noting that finished compost should only be used as an additive in your garden, and not as the sole soil source.”

Choosing a Container

Select a container for your compost and place it in a grassy, relatively shady part of your garden. You should make sure that the container doesn’t have a bottom – the compost heap should be directly touching the ground – and that it’s the right size for you and your family. You want to make sure it fits everything you need to dispose of, but it shouldn’t be too big either.

Making the Base

Pile a few inches of branches and twigs at the bottom to help aerate the pile.

Getting the Balance Right

To have the most success composting, you want an equal balance of nitrogen, carbon, water and air. Nitrogen will be found in the green materials you use, and carbons in the brown matter.

Preparation 

Chop or break up any big chunks of matter before putting them in the container.

Things to include

Some of the best ingredients for a successful compost heap include: dried leaves; grass clippings; manure; fruit; vegetables; peelings; coffee grounds; tea leaves; old wine; used pet bedding (from omnivores only – rabbits and hamsters etc.); dry cat or dog food; dust from sweeping and vacuuming; old herbs and spices; shredded newspaper; receipts; hair (human and pet); toothpicks; and wine corks.

Things to Avoid

Avoid meat, dairy and bread with which rot and attract pests, as well as any high processed foods as they take longer to break down.

Items to Bury

If you are going to be adding new scraps quite regularly, it’s a good idea to bury them under the pile that’s already starting to break down instead of just throwing them on top.

Aerate Your Compost Heap

Around once a week, you should use a spade or shovel to mix the materials around and aerate the pile slightly.

When to Add Water

When you notice the pile is getting a little too dry, you should use water to moisten it slightly. If it’s a particularly hot day you should consider covering your pile so that it retains its moisture.

When it’s Ready to Use

Your compost should be ready to use after a few months.

You will know when it turns a dark brown colour, develops an earthy smell and is warm to the touch, which is a result of all the microbes living inside.

For details about Garden Buildings Direct visit www.gardenbuildingsdirect.co.uk

Wildlife Conservation

Kate Humble is President for Wetland Conservation Charity

Kate Humble, President WWT

Kate Humble has become President of wetland conservation charity, WWT.

At the charity’s annual general meeting she promised to be WWT’s most active and most vocal supporter.

WWT creates and protects wetlands to help wildlife and people to thrive.

Kate’s association with WWT dates back to the early days of Springwatch, when its down-to-earth, friendly approach to conservation struck a chord.

Kate says, “I’m very excited about my next three years as WWT President. It feels as though WWT is on the cusp of something new and amazing. The time has come for the WWT way to become the mainstream.

“WWT’s proactive, hands on approach to conservation appealed to me right from the start, and I’ve learned that the charity brings a ‘can do’ attitude to all aspects of its work.

“I feel very at home with the way WWT engages with the public. They’re determined that wildlife is for everybody to enjoy, and that’s my approach too: in order to work, conservation has to include people.

“My job is simply to make more people aware of the huge amount WWT has to offer. What a lovely job to have!”

The broad range of tasks Kate has already carried out in support of WWT over the years, includes:

Couriering letters from WWT supporters to Antarctica, and posting them from the most southerly post office in the world

Rustling whooper swans on an Icelandic lake

Writing a birdwatching book for people who aren’t birdwatchers, with categories such as waddling birds, tall birds, and noisy white birds

Writing a blog about her new pond

Presenting a YouTube livestream from behind the scenes at the world’s only conservation breeding programme for spoon-billed sandpipers, one of the rarest wetland birds in the world

About WWT

WWT was founded as the Severn Wildfowl Trust in 1946 by the ‘Godfather of Conservation’, Sir Peter Scott. The charity has ten wetland centres and reserves in the UK which a million visitors each year.

Since its early beginnings the charity has been ‘hands on’, tackling conservation challenges by  breeding and replacing wildlife that has been lost and creating new wetland habitats to take the place of those that have been drained and destroyed.

The charity puts people at the heart of its conservation, recognising that humans as well as birds and animals depend on wetlands, and that conservation depends on popular support to succeed.

For more information about WWT click on www.wwt.org.uk

Scandinavian Home Styling

Beat the Winter
Blues Scandi-Style

As the winter kicks in and we start getting shorter days and longer, darker, colder nights, for many Brits it also brings with it the onset of the winter blues.

No stranger to cold, dark winters, Catharina Björkman, Lifestyle Expert at Swedish wood burning stove brand Contura, shares her very own ‘happiness hacks’ to help us beat the blues, Scandi-style.

“There’s no need to despair of the longer, darker nights in winter,” says Catharina. “In Sweden we endure 24 hours of darkness for much of December, so we know a thing or two about tackling the winter blues!

“These tried-and-tested tips will help winter-fearing Brits not only make the most of the season, but also to celebrate all that the winter evenings bring.”

1. Put the kettle on

A cup of tea fixes all manner of woes, however, did you know that there is scientific evidence to back this up? 

Tea is full of natural antioxidants and amino acids which relax and calm the body and has also been shown to reduce mental fatigue and improve memory. Has there ever been a better excuse to put the kettle on?

2. Get your home in order

Home is where the heart is; it’s your own personal haven away from the chaos of the day-to-day. Make it feel like a sanctuary by keeping it clean, tidy and free of clutter. There are countless studies proving that a clean, healthy home coincides with a healthy state of mind

Trust us, you’ll be amazed at how much your mood is lifted simply by bringing order to your home.

3. Pursue ultimate höstmys

‘Höstmys’ is how us Swedes refer to cosiness as the colder, darker months set in and it’s about embracing whatever makes this time of year more bearable for you. So, whether you fancy snuggling up on the sofa and watching back-to-back episodes of your favourite boxset, enjoying glasses of mulled wine with loved ones, layering on the cosy knitwear, or enjoying freshly baked cake and tea, there is no wrong way to embrace höstmys.

4. Get outdoors.

It’s important to spend as much time outdoors as possible, even as the weather gets colder. Not only is the fresh air wonderfully invigorating, it encourages you to exercise in order to warm up!

Spending time outdoors surrounded by nature, whatever the weather, is proven to help you relax and de-stress and can also boost creativity. Add in some light physical exercise and you’ve got a double whammy of benefits to both your mental and physical health.

5. If in doubt, make your own sunshine

Natural light is vital for effective brain and body function, so it’s no surprise that in the darker winter months we can suffer with lower energy levels, lethargy and feeling less motivated.

Studies have shown that the warming, calming glow of a fire reduces blood pressure and stress levels, providing a quick-fix feel-good factor throughout the winter.

In more serious cases, this lack of exposure to natural light can lead to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), so if you find yourself really suffering, consider creating your own sunshine by investing in a ‘light box’ which will provide both mental and physical benefits, including a healthy dose of vitamin D.

6. Find your happy

Whether you prefer playing sports, visiting art galleries or learning new skills, making the time to do the things you love is non-negotiable. You could try a new yoga class or gym group, try your hand at flower arranging or a craft such as knitting or painting.

Whatever your interest is, having a hobby makes us feel good and also benefits our mental health.

7. Relax and indulge

Cooking, baking and sharing food with loved ones is an integral part of Swedish culture, and is especially important throughout the winter months. Both relaxing and indulgent, we love nothing more than bringing friends and family together to enjoy a hearty meal.

Don’t be afraid to ask guests to each bring a dish to take the pressure off!

8. Share the joy

If you’ve followed all the above, you should find yourself positively beaming with joy, but don’t stop there…!

Being generous is proven to have a hugely positive effect on our happiness and wellbeing.

Altruism promotes the release of endorphins which then activates the parts of our brain that are associated with trust, pleasure and social connection.

So, no matter how small an act, be kind, make someone’s day and feel the joy.

For more information visit www.contura.eu

Creative Home Styling

Transform Your Home with Accessories

If you want to refresh your home but aren’t yet ready to embark on a complete redesign, the introduction of some new accessories can provide the ideal solution. Items such as lamps, cushions and rugs are the perfect way to inject instant colour, texture and character into your home.

“The great thing about accessories is that they can be easily changed according to the season,” says Roselind Wilson, Owner and Creative Director of Roselind Wilson Design.

“The addition of a delicate fabric or a pretty, floral print can completely transform the look and feel of a room. Reflect the changing seasons in your home and you’ll see how even just a few small touches can yield big results.”

Mark The Changing Seasons

“Cushions are a really easy way to introduce seasonal colour into your home,” says Roselind. “A beautiful floral paisley pattern is perfect for a fresh seasonal update. We particularly love Zimmer + Rohde’s Portland Paisley linen fabric which we used for a statement cushion in our Hamilton Terrace project. The Indian-inspired pattern features intertwining flowers and leaves in lovely jade and blue tones.”

Also make sure you don’t forget to ‘bring the outside in’ wherever possible. A vase of fresh flowers in a sitting room or a pot of textural succulents in a dining room can be the small change that makes a seriously big difference.

“The choice of flowers is a personal preference, but adding a bright bouquet into an interior scheme is the perfect way to reflect the changing seasons,” says Roselind. “Adding fresh flowers also injects a wonderfully individual touch to a design.”

Play With Texture

“Accessories offer the ideal opportunity to introduce texture into your interior scheme,” says Roselind. “Why not play around with different types of texture to create depth, interest and character? Combining rough and smooth finishes such as leather, woven fabrics and metallics can completely transform your space and provide a much-needed contrast to a neutral scheme. In our experience, the tactile elements in a room such as a chunky woven rug or a luxurious velvet cushion are the ones which make the greatest impact.”

The introduction of a textured rug can create a brilliant foundation upon which the other elements of a room can be built. In the case of Roselind Wilson Design’s Bromptons project, the pale grey, hand-knotted rug anchors the scheme and provides the perfect foundation for the surrounding layers of colour and texture.

Reflect The Latest Interiors Trends

Antique brass is big news in the world of interiors at the moment, but you don’t have to totally revamp your home to make a nod towards trends like this. Just by changing a few key accessories you can update your look easily and affordably.

“A great example is to introduce aged brass light fittings – a really simple update,” explains Roselind. “Or why not reupholster an existing piece of furniture in a tactile velvet with antique brass details as per the beautiful dusky pink ottoman we had made for our Carlton Hill project? The great thing is that when trends move on, as they inevitably do, you can simply change your accessories to create an entirely new look.”

Show Your Personality

The great thing about accessories is that you can afford to be a bit more daring than you might be in other aspects of your interior because they’re so easy to change. Roselind Wilson’s advice? Be brave!

“Make sure you go for bold choices and really grab the chance to express your personality,” says Roselind. “Accessories also offer the chance to experiment with colour, pattern and texture in a more adventurous way than you might in the core elements of your scheme. Contrast is key here.”

For the entrance hall of Roselind Wilson Design’s Bromptons project, the client’s existing pair of ornate bronze vases were turned into two beautiful, bespoke table lamps which link with the striking details of the interior architecture and provide rich layers of colour and texture.

“When it comes to artwork, why not have a constantly evolving display?” suggests Roselind. “You can change the pieces you hang according to your mood or taste, and that way you will always have something new and stimulating to look at.

For the kitchen of our Belsize Park scheme, we designed a ledge display made from Carrara marble which gives the client the chance to vary the artwork they have on show simply by swapping the canvases around. A clean, contemporary solution which the client absolutely loved!”

For more information visit www.roselindwilsondesign.com

Christmas Trees

Pot Grown Norway Spruce Christmas Tree

Send a little potted Norway Spruce to someone special this year. This little Christmas tree comes ready planted in his pot and can be kept indoors throughout the festive season.

This original and traditional British Christmas Tree is grown in the UK and delivered to your door in a pot!

Norway Spruce have much finer needles than its Nordman Fir cousin, Norway Spruce trees tend to lose their needles easily if they get too hot and dry. Keep this little tree in a position away from central heating to avoid needle drop.

Grown in the UK by experienced Christmas Tree farmers, this is the perfect way to support your local business.

The Norway Spruce Christmas Tree is 80cm – 100cm tall. It arrives planted in a plastic pot. Keep it somewhere cool until ready to decorate. Price is £60

Delivered to England, Wales and Scotland addresses

For more information on Tree2MyDoor click on www.tree2mydoor.com

Home Gifts from Sue Ryder

Top Ten Home Gifts from Sue Ryder

With the seasons changing and Christmas just around the corner, it’s never too early to start thinking about festive home accessories and gift ideas for friends and family members.

However, it can be an expensive time of year for some families, and it’s easy for prices to add up when you’re shopping for your nearest and dearest.

Sue Ryder’s Online Shop offers brand new and exclusively sourced products which make the perfect, affordable Christmas gifts, with all proceeds Supporting Sue Ryder’s palliative, neurological and bereavement care.

With many homeware products on sale for under £20, Sue Ryder’s Online Shop is the perfect destination for meaningful gifts and Christmas accessories that won’t put you out of pocket, but will help you to give back to a good cause this festive season.

The perfect gift to kick off the holiday season with, the Light Up Wooden Advent Calendar looks effortlessly stylish but can still be filled with festive treats. 

For details click here

The White LED Star Light will add a touch of cheer to any home all year around, not just at Christmas.

For details click here

For the homeware lover in your life, the HOME Light up signfrom Sue Ryder’s Online Shop is the perfect gift to brighten up cosy corners and mantlepieces.

For details click here 

With red berries, frosted leaves and a glitter coating, the Christmas LED wreath lights are a festively themed gift which will look great on any front door. 

For details click here

For a special way to package the kid’s stockings this year, why not give these Christmas Crates try? The perfect way to store small gifts for all those crafters who enjoy making festive hampers for their friends.

For details click here

If you’re looking for a festive themed gift, the Wooden light up Christmas Tree is a pretty decoration to add a little sparkle to any home.

For details click here

The Festive Fox Door Stop is a versatile gift – it’s perfect for any age and makes the perfect home accessory not just for Christmas, but all year around.

You can also enter the Sixtyplusurfers competition to win your own doorstop on our Competitions & Letters page.

For details click here

A great gift for the grandkids – this Kids Grey Star Stool is an ideal addition to any nursery or playroom. Perfect for relaxing on after a hard days play.

For details click here

The Light Up Wishing Tree is a great gift for the homeware lover in your life. It makes a striking centrepiece and can be decorated however you wish.

For details click here

For an easy way to make your Christmas dinner feel more festive, these table Centre-pieces will help to create the perfect aesthetic.

For details click here

About Sue Ryder Online Shop

As well as offering express delivery and safe and secure payments on their selection of Furniture and Homeware, Sue Ryder’s Online Shop offers free delivery over £50.

The full collection of Christmas gifts and accessories can be found at shop.sueryder.org

Set up in 2013 the Sue Ryder shop has a warehouse based in Northampton, where products are stored and sent from. Sue Ryder Online Shop aims to support the core of Sue Ryder’s work, selling high-quality items and donating 100% of the profits to helping provide person-centred hospice and neurological care.

Founded in 1953, Sue Ryder is a national health and social care charity providing compassionate hospice and neurological care across the UK. It does this throughout its 7 hospices; 5 neurological care centres; community-based services and in people’s own homes.

Sue Ryder offers a range of personalised care, advice, education and support services in local communities to help improve the lives of individuals – including their carers and families – with conditions such as cancer; heart failure; respiratory failure; dementia; acquired brain injury; multiple sclerosis; Huntington’s disease; Parkinson’s disease and Motor Neurone disease.

For details visit www.sueryder.org

Money Saving Ideas

12 Tips to Keep Your Heating Costs Down

Colder days and longer nights mean that many UK householders are turning up their thermostats, but how can you heat the home without losing your shirt?

The money saving team behind PromotionalCodes.org.uk have compiled a list of advice to help keep more cash in your wallet as the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Fuelling the house is one of the largest expenses for UK families according to the Office for National Statistics, so following the guidance below could leave more disposable income to spend on things like Christmas presents.

From closely monitoring your heating temperature to DIY insulation, this easy guide will have you warmer and wealthier in no time at all.

A spokesman for PromotionalCodes.org.uk comments, “Following these little changes could get household costs right down for any UK resident.

“Many of us have accepted that the high cost of heating ours houses is just a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

“There are lots of different tricks we can all use to keep more pounds in our pocket and also enjoy more comfortable homes as winter sets in.”

In no particular order, here are PromotionalCodes.org.uk’s 12 top tips to keep heating costs down this winter:

1. Turn that thermostat down. Every single degree lower could save you several pounds per week. Experts recommend 18°C as an ambient level, rather than a costly 20°C or 25°C.

2. Leave the oven door open after cooking. A box full of toasty 200°C air released into the kitchen will be the perfect remedy to stave off the cold in the evening.

3. Keep a jumper on. Throwing an extra layer down as soon as you get home from work is literally throwing money away. The more clothes you put on, the less the heating will be on and you’ll be saving cold hard cash in no time.

4. Tin foil behind the radiators. Cutting sheets of this kitchen essential to fit behind radiators will work wonders for the temperature of a room. The tin foil will use its scientific properties to reflect hot air back into the room, rather than allowing it to drift away through cold walls.

5. Move your furniture. Blocking a radiator with something like a bulky sofa will not help anyone get warm this winter.

6. Close your curtains. Why let all that cosy hot air seep through cold glass windows, when you can block its escape by simply drawing your curtains or blinds.

7. Draft-proof. Plugging all those little holes around the house will make a big difference to your heating bills. Simple gaffer tape can be used to seal cracks in floors and walls, whilst the bottom of doors could be blocked with old clothes, towels or specifically purchased draft-excluder.

8. Forage for firewood. Any fuel you find in the woods is free and the if your fire burns for longer, the heating will need to be on less and those bills will be smaller.

9. Get a hot water bottle. Sometimes the old ones are the best; using a traditional hot water bottle in bed could lead to a significant reduction in overnight heating bills.

10. Buy a rug. It may sound simple, but you won’t be so cold walking around the house if you cover those wooden or laminate floors with an insulating cotton rug.

11. Open doors. If you have a lovely south facing room that gets loads of direct sun light, it will naturally be the warmest in the house – leaving the door open will allow that heated air to circulate around the house.

12.  Close doors. Yes, both. Once the sun has set, close the door to your living room or bedroom to keep all that cosy air trapped inside.

For more information about Promotional Codes visit www.promotionalcodes.org.uk

Electrical Safety at Home

Save Your Home
And Source The
Right Bright Spark

Many homeowners take their electrics for granted. Faulty electrics can be one of the most dangerous, yet invisible, risks to the home which is why it is imperative to hire qualified, registered contractors who will be able to complete any work to a safe and high standard. 

According to research by NICEIC, the UK’s leading name for registered electricians, as little as 7% of homeowners in the UK would think to check professional accreditation bodies before hiring a tradesperson. Instead, 30% would take their friends word as a justified recommendation.

Aligned to this, a worryingly 57% of homeowners would feel confident enough to have a go at tackling DIY jobs around the house without any prior experience, with 38% admitting they would even dabble in electrics.

Darren Staniforth, technical expert at NICEIC says, “It’s shocking to see that so many homeowners will happily hire an electrician without checking for any professional accreditation. Unfortunately, this is something that we have seen a lot of in recent years, with many taking to social media to ask for help.

“While it’s all well and good asking friends for advice, homeowners need assurance that any tradesperson visiting their home is competent to carry out the work required and that their work has been checked and assessed by a recognised approval body. NICEIC-registered electricians provide the ultimate assurance and peace of mind.”

Top four reasons to hire a registered electrician

1. Cheapest is not always the best

Using an approved tradesperson provides additional assurances that the work will be carried out safely and to the appropriate regulations. You should always get at least three quotes for all work to contrast and compare – but remember, the cheapest is not always the best.

2. Ensuring safety and competence

NICEIC registered electricians are assessed to the highest standards. They undergo a rigorous assessment process, as well as being re-assessed on a regular basis to ensure continued compliance.

3. Compliance with building regulations

Part P of the building regulations requires certain electrical work carried out in the home to be notified to your local building control authority (England and Wales only).

If the homeowner cannot produce the right evidence to prove that the electrical work has been carried out in accordance with the building regulations, then your local building control may insist that the work is re-done at the homeowners cost.

In addition, not having the appropriate certification may cause problems when it comes to selling your home further down the line.

A straightforward way of meeting the requirements is to use an electrician who is registered with a competent person scheme such as NICEIC. They can self-certify the work and notify the local building control department on your behalf.

4. Platinum Promise

All NICEIC registered businesses are covered by the Platinum Promise – a guarantee that protects the homeowner against all non-compliant installation work.

Should any work carried out by a NICEIC registered contractor be found to not comply with the Building Regulations, they can be instructed to return and complete the work to the required standard.

For more information, or to search for a NICEIC registered contractor visit www.niceic.com  

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