As we've now hit October and the weather has started to well and truly take a turn for the worse, we're all going to start turning up the dial on the central heating controls and as I have credit crunchitis I'm predicting an impending sky high fuel bill and quite possibly a broken boiler.
It seems that whenever Christmas draws near I can expect a visit not only from Santa, but also from a boiler repairman - at least for the previous two winters anyway. Last winter our household had finally had enough so we took out a boiler maintenance plan. You can read my British Gas HomeCare review
in our brand new "boilers
" section of the site.
If you've got a temperamental boiler the HomeCare plans are pretty reasonable value. We chose the Homecare 100
plan, which happens to be the cheapest of the range, but according to British Gas the most popular boiler cover plan is the HomeCare 200
. We've listed the full range of British Gas HomeCare
plans so take a look and see what you think. You won't appreciate the piece of mind it gives you by having a reputable boiler maintenance plan unless you've had to deal with a (number) of cowboy engineers tutting loudly over a broken appliance while you stand freezing cold in your kitchen...
For the less serious boiler problems we have put together a boiler troubleshooting
page to help diagnose and potentially remedy the more common faults, which may occur with your boiler. However, please note that we cannot more strongly recommend that you seek professional advice if you encounter a problem with your boiler. They are extremely dangerous pieces of equipment that CORGI registered engineers should maintain on your behalf.
Finally, if your boiler is beyond repair we've written guides on what types of boiler you should consider buying
as well as the aspects that should be taken into account when you are seeking to have your new boiler installed
HYmini Portable Wind Powered Charger
Forget having a flat battery because the Hymini portable wind powered charger is able to charge a multitude of devices such as iPods, mobile phones, cameras, and most other portable electronic devices on the market today solely by harnessing wind power.
The novel aspect of the HYmini charger is that it is wind powered which is in contrast to the numerous solar powered chargers on the market. Based on the typical weather in the UK, the HYmini device should be a particularly appealing device!
The HYmini portable wind powered charger currently comes in three attractive colours and accessories such as bike straps, or bespoke adaptors can be purchases as necessary.
It is only necessary to have a light breeze to begin charging via the HYmini so if you are out and about during the day you can be charging your electrical gadget simply by walking or riding. Alternatively, leaving the HYmini charger out of an evening should produce a full charge ready for the next day’s activities. As a useful backup, you are also able to plug the HYmini charger directly into the mains electricity if required.
Contained in your HYmini portable wind powered charger pack you will get the following items:
- 1 x HYmini Portable power bank
- USB transfer cable and 6 connectors for Nokia / Motorola / Sony Ericsson / Samsung / LG
- AC/DC power adaptor and wall plug
The HYmini is a perfect choice if you are an outdoors person and is the ideal camping companion.
Christmas Eco Gifts For All The Family
As you are no doubt aware Christmas is looming large, which usually means the buying of a large selection of consumer goods for members of family that will never use them.
Well fear no more because you could actually buy a gift that would be used regularly and what's more it would be eco-friendly. There are a number of retailers that are going green, but two that I could recommend as having a wide range of eco-friendly items available are Ethical Homeware
and Nigel's Eco Store
I'm usually a sucker for gadgets myself so I'd be delighted with most of the gadgets on offer at these two shops. In particular, a Sun Jar
or Moon Jar
and/or Glow Brick
would be a very popular addition to my household. Take a look and buy yourself or your loved one an eco gift for Christmas.
I would definitely say that the Wattson is one of my top energy conservation products of the year so far and it is a device that any eco-conscious householder should consider buying. Simplistically, the Wattson is a device that will tell you how much energy your domestic appliances are using, both in Watts and £'s spent.
The Wattson consists of two parts. The first is a very stylish white arch display unit, which has dimensions of 17 x 10.4 x 5.6cm, and secondly an electricity monitor that will act as a sensor and broadcaster of energy usage data. To install the Wattson you would need to clip the sensor to the two wires that run between your electricity meter and the fuse box. This will then send the information back to the main unit, which will display not only the energy currently being used in watts or pounds, but also the energy being used by individual electrical appliances. The reading can be displayed on the unit numerically or you can choose to have an ambient light read out. In other words, the more electricity being used, the brighter the ambient light will shine.
Connectivity is also a strong point of the Wattson. In order to use the device you will not need to worry about trailing wires around the house because it functions wirelessly. Also the Wattson stores energy consumption data, which can be downloaded onto your computer via the USB port whereupon historical data usage patterns can be generated. A fun element is that you can compare your home electricity usage patterns with other Wattson users and share tips on energy efficiency.
I can find literally no negative points that can be discussed in relation to the Wattson. It is stylishly designed, it will help to reduce energy consumption, it can act as an educational device for children, it is wireless and you can generate electricity usage reports. The designers at Diy Kyoto have really produced a peerless product that deserves to have pride of place in everyone’s home. The standard priced Wattson is £125 or you can choose to opt for a more eco-friendly bamboo clad Wattson for £350. Go order yourself one at www.nigelsecostore.com
Disclaimer - No references to Sherlock Holmes (such as "elementary my dear wattson") were made during the course of this post.
Recycling Guide For Householders
Recycling domestic waste is an important aspect of environmental living, but it is often not straightforward as to what can be recycled, what can't be recycled and how we should go about recycling. This guide will help illustrate how you should go about recycling your waste.
There are three main types of domestic waste that are commonly recyclable, these are: paper, plastic, and glass. There are specific checklists that you should be aware of when attempting to recycle waste or old items in each of these categories, as you will be given the option to sort your recyclable items into specific recycle bins. It is essential that you understand what should and should not be included in each recycle bin.Recycling Paper
- It sounds obvious, but if you are recycling paper, it should solely be paper. This means removing any extraneous items that maybe included in the paper package such as staples, sticky tape, plastic windows or metal binders. If any of these are left on the paper, it is likely that the batch will not be recycled and/or will cause the recycling machinery problems.
- Laminated paper or cardboard boxes (unless they are well flattened) should not be included in paper recycling.
- If paper food boxes or napkins are to be included ensure that they are clean and do not contain discarded food or grease.
- Paper that has been used for faxes or till receipts are not usually able to be recycled so do not include this type of paper
There are over 50 different types of plastic used in various types of packages so it can be very difficult to ascertain which type of plastic can be recycled and which can't. If you aren't sure, you should check the plastic packages for a recycling logo, which will contain numbering applying to a category of plastic.
The table below displays the relevant plastic recycling categories by "number", "category of plastic" and "typical packaging" it is used in
1 - PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) = Waterproof packaging
2 - HDPE (high density polyethylene) = Milk, detergent, oil bottles, plastic bags
3 - PVC (polyvinyl chloride) = Food wrap, vegetable oil bottles, bubble wrap
4 - LDPE (low density polyethylene) = Plastic bags, shrink wrap, garment bags
5 - PP (polypropylene) = Most bottle tops, some food wrap
6 - PS (polystyrene) = Throwaway utensils, meat packaging
7 - Other (mixed plastics) = No recycling potential so must be landfilled
Information courtesy of the Society of the Plastics Industry (SDI).
You should note that not all of the categories of plastic can be recycled. As a rule of thumb you will be able to recycle plastic that falls under category 1, 2 and 4 and to a limited extent category 6.
Also, bottle tops are often made from different material to the bottle itself, so it is advisable to remove bottle tops prior to recycling.Recycling Glass
- Only glass should be recycled - make sure that any metal caps or bottle tops are removed.
- It is likely that you will be taking glass bottles to a bottle bank. This will involve you separating the glass into different coloured glass, e.g. brown, green, etc.
- Do not attempt to recycle glass kitchenware as this is created to withstand high temperatures so they will not melt at the same temperature as standard glass bottles.
- Glass is recycled at very high temperatures so it is not necessary to ensure that glass bottles are free from grease.
- DO NOT under any circumstances recycle light bulbs in standard glass recycling bins. It is important that light bulbs are recycled separately as they can contain dangerous contaminants that need to be disposed of safely.
Home Energy Efficiency Grants
Good news! We have recently updated our home energy grants
section for our readers in the UK to encompass over 40 separate home energy efficiency grants.
The grants are categorised into the following sections for your convenience -
- Electrical appliances
- Energy efficient Light Bulbs
- Home Insulation (Cavity Wall Insulation)
- Home Insulation (Loft Insulation and Draught Proofing)
- Renewable energy
A number of utilities companies are even offering free installation of insulation for home owners. Perhaps it isn't the time of the year in which you would normally associate insulating one's home over in the UK, however, some of the grants are only available until the end of this month so try to get your claim in as soon as possible.