The Ultimate Guide To Convert Your Home Into A Smart Home

Smartphones are fast becoming a reality these days. With more and more brands and companies launching a variety of different smart lighting systems, speakers, sensors, it is easier than ever to convert your home into a smart home. If you have no prior experience in creating a smart home, it can be a confusing task to choose the right kind of devices. Moreover, you might not even know the solutions available to convert your home into a smart home. That is why it is vital to first understand how to transform your home into a smart home.

If you’re worried about the expenses, there are many ways in which you can create a smart home within your budget. It will allow you to control the various aspects of your home without having to spend a significant amount of money.

Moreover, the products available these days are becoming more and more affordable. As a result, it is easier to build a smart home. We will today list a step-by-step guide which will allow you to convert your home into a smart home.

  1. Smart lighting

Lighting systems are the best way to control the appearance of your home. Moreover, when you opt for a smart lighting system, you can easily control the ambiance of the house with the help of a Wi-Fi connection. Most of them offer a mobile application through which, you can efficiently manage the entire lighting system. Every light on the lighting system connects to the central hub.

Therefore, controlling it is easier than ever. When you’re looking at the individual bulbs which you can buy and integrate with the Wi-Fi connection at home, you can opt for the ones from TP-Link and LIFX. These products are not only compatible with the Wi-Fi connection, but many of them work along with Bluetooth as well.

Some of the other well-known companies who sell such smart bulbs include Philips Hue, Sengled Element. These, however, can be controlled by Zigbee signals which in turn work along with the Wi-Fi signal. Ultimately, A router can control them. You can manage these with the help of the app on your smartphone. The app will work on any Android-based device. As a result, programming the light according to the theme selected in the app is not a problem at all.

In case, you want to automate your existing lighting system you can change the switches and replaced them with smart switches and cameras. You can use smartphone applications to control them. Some of the companies which sell the smart switches are TP-LINK, Ecobee, Leviton, etc. these switches are directly controllable through Wi-Fi. It will not require a central hub. That is why; you can save a significant amount of money by going for the switches. If you want a centralized system, you can go with Noon Home’s system. It is comparatively expensive, but it allows you to have complete control over the lighting system. Thus, when it comes to smart lighting, there are a wide variety of options available.

  1. Smart speakers

Smart speakers play a significant role in a smart-home. You can control the various functions of the house using the voice commands. As a result, they work as an assistant to control every aspect of your home. You can go with the Google home speaker or the Amazon Echo speaker. The choice is entirely up to you. If you want a single speaker to control the various options, you can go with Amazon Echo speaker.

On the other hand, if you’re going to create a series of such points in your home, you can go with the Google home series. Google series works on the fact that you can install multiple speakers throughout your home and one in each room to control every aspect of your home. That is why, if you want to create a network of smart devices, Google home is the perfect option for you.

Google home is controlled using Google assistant. Amazon Echo devices are controlled using Amazon Alexa. Even Lenovo sells quick display series which work using Google home.

Lenovo is not alone, which is integrating these devices along with its offerings. Various other device manufacturers are doing the same. That is why, when you want to incorporate the smart speakers in your home, it is easier to do so. You can create the entire ecosystem of smart devices and control TVs, lights, thermostats, and a variety of other functions of your home with the help of these speakers.

  1. Smart thermostats

Climate control systems in our home consume the maximum amount of energy. Moreover, when the weather is at extremes, they make sure that the ambiance in your home is entirely comfortable. These days, people are using Usave.co.uk for energy comparison and choosing the right energy supplier. You can go a step further and save even more energy with the help of smart thermostats. These ensure that you can easily control the ambiance of your home. These thermostats have a predictive system which means that they can set the temperature of the house conveniently and on their own.

When you look at the basic working of these thermostats, they require you to set up sensors everywhere in your home. They control the temperature precisely in the part of the house where you are present. They also keep the rest of the home like the passageways at a comfortable temperature. However, precise control is in the area in which the individuals are present. Hence, there is a significant amount of energy saving. Thus, when you want to control the temperature of your home efficiently, smart thermostats are the perfect option.

  1. Home Security Cameras

When converting your home into a smart one, it is also essential to make it more secure. The smart-homes are easy to secure as they rely on sensors and devices rather than individuals. It is even more affordable as compared to hiring security guards. The best tool which you have got to handle the security of your home in a smarter way is the smart camera. With the help of the smart-camera, it is easier to monitor your home.

Moreover, when there is any unusual activity in your home, you can get alert easily. Also, the smart cameras which we are speaking about are not just helpful for detecting intrusions or burglary, but also can help you in monitoring your children and pets. They are multipurpose which means that you can use them for the application which you prefer.

Some of the options which you have when it comes to smart cameras are:

  • Ring
  • Netatmo
  • Maximum

The advantage of smart cameras is that they incorporate lights and a variety of different motion sensors into the security system. They also integrate the doorbell so that you can easily monitor the entry and exit points of your home. You can communicate with the individuals at the entrance and exit points without having to open the door at all. You can do so remotely as well. As a result, you can control the access to your home remotely or from your smartphone without any problem.

The motion sensors ensure that you get an alert whenever there is unusual activity in the monitored area. As a result, you always get alerts about any intrusion or unfriendly individuals even before they enter your home. The smart cameras are easy to install and do not require any unique fixtures which ensures that you can make the security of your home smarter by merely installing these cameras and connecting them with the Wi-Fi system.

  1. Smart audio systems

The multi-room audio systems ensure that you can get that you get entertainment in every room. There are options to choose from like:

  • Sonos
  • Yamaha
  • HEOS

These are self-contained speakers. You can keep them in every room and connect them with the Wi-Fi. They will help you to stream the music. Moreover, they can stream music from a variety of different services like Spotify. You can also select the tracks through your smartphone.

The difference between the speakers and something like Amazon Echo or Google home systems is that these speakers have a much better audio quality. They are not just for listening to commands, but actually up the entertainment quotient. Moreover, they can be integrated with TV and enhance your music watching experience. You can control them with the help of the tablet or the smartphone without any problem.

When speaking about something like Sonos, it works with the help of Amazon Alexa digital assistant. As a result, you can integrate it into your smartphone without any problem. Thus, when looking up the entertainment question and make your entertainment devices smarter, these are the speakers which you should choose.

  1. Smart sensors

The sensors play the role of eyes and ears in any smart-home system. Without sensors, it will be challenging to control the functions of a smart-home. The smart sensors ensure that they detect motion inside and outside the home. Inside the house, they correct the climate control system to make the ambiance more habitable. Also, they can switch on and off the lights depending on whether a room is vacant or not. Hence, it becomes easier for you to automate the climate control system.

Additionally, some of the sensors are used for smoke detection as well. The smoke detection sensors alert the smartphone numbers which you input as well. You can authorize a contact to get an alert with the help of the smart sensors. As a result, whenever there is a problem at your home, the authorized contacts will get an instant alert as well. When those contacts get a warning, they can act accordingly and arrange for the emergency services to reach your home as well. The sensors are not just available for fire detection.

There are the sensors which monitor the air quality of your home as well. These sensors, especially monitor the carbon monoxide levels. Accordingly, it instructs the climate control system to filter the air or the air purifier to activate. The more the number of sensors the more precisely each smart device can operate.

Also, there are smart smoke alarms available. The Nest Protect is such a smoke alarm system. It has emergency lights as well to show you the way out. Moreover, it sends an alert to your contacts as well. When it comes to sensors, they can accomplish a wide variety of factors. It is wise to use such sensors in your home to make your home smarter and safer.

  1. Smart irrigation system

Technology is available to automate every system of your home. That is why, if you’re worried about manually doing the lawn and garden irrigation, you don’t need to worry anymore. The smart irrigation systems can automatically detect the moisture in your lawn or your garden. As a result, they can use the irrigation devices to ensure that you can water the garden or backyard. They also take into account the type of plants which you have.

Moreover, if you do not want to automate them, you can control them through your app. You can install duplicators or sprinkle indicators. When you manage them with the help of the app, they will start and stop according to your commands. As a result, without having to control the irrigation devices manually, you can efficiently manage your garden or your lawn. When you do that, you can be sure that the plants or the garden will always be in proper condition.

The advantage of smartphone app control is that even when traveling, you can water your lawn as well as your garden without any problem. It will ensure that you don’t need to hire anyone else to take care of the lawn or garden irrigation.

Final Words

So, when it comes to converting your home into a smart-home, these are the seven steps which you need to follow. Each of the above steps deals with a different system. With the help of these seven smart home systems, it is easier than ever to automate various aspects of your home.

You can control them from your mobile application as well which will ensure that you can customize each element of your home remotely. In the process, you can also save a significant amount of resources and utilities. With smart-systems becoming more and more affordable, now there is no reason why you should not convert your home into a smart-home.

Environmental Considerations When Using Drum Heaters

For people in the colder parts of the world, temperatures can become an issue. Sometimes, you might need to keep your liquids, water or fuel at the normal room temperature. The main use of drum heaters is that they work as storages that keep their content at a certain temperature.

Barrel heaters are especially needed if their content loses its nature and benefits due to a drop or a rise in the temperature. It is a cheap solution for maintaining high energy without paying for its cost, in addition you are reducing the pollution since the energy is being recycled within the system. So, what do you need to consider when you are using drum heaters? That is what we are going to tackle.

Harsh weather

Harsh environmental conditions, especially the low temperature of the cold months, might push the need to use a heater for your drums to avoid causing them any damages to keep them in ultimate condition. Buying good drum heater jackets will keep you away from breaking the bank just to save your desired content. They don’t only keep your drums at the required temperature, they also save and lower the viscosity of the fluids so you wouldn’t need to replace them as often and more importantly, they protect them from freezing in harsh cold environment conditions.

Energy saving

Electrical insulated heating jackets offer more protection from cold or freezing due to the extra layer of insulation they have. With heat loss kept at minimum, the heating jackets offer more energy saving options which make their power consumption drop automatically, this also translates to cost of operation drop. What’s even more positive about these jackets is that they are normally designed to cover the whole containers, thus you are more likely to be saved from any energy loss.

Using some types of barrel heaters that do not cover the whole drum might waste energy as they naturally get hot. Due to thermodynamics basics, the heat will start dissipating from the higher-temperature surface to the cold atmosphere. That is why when using the right type of heater for your needs, make sure that it will cover the whole container you have so you don’t waste any energy.

Saving space = saving energy

An extra step to save money and time is to place your drums in a closed space. Open spaces make it harder to maintain your drums at desired temperatures. Putting your drums and barrels in an enclosed space will ensure that no energy is wasted to the atmosphere and manage heat escape.

Choose the one that works best for you

When you are first buying the heater, it is always a good step to buy one that is flexible. Drum heaters are really simple on the design side, however, using one that does not fit may create more of a problem than it solves. Buying a good drum heater that is adjustable or can fit any type of container you have, is always a smart idea to save you from the headache and wasting your money.

Newly-Launched Inventions That Can Help Homeowners Save Energy

Domestic energy efficiency has advanced a long way over the last few decades. Despite our overall energy consumption increasing by just over a third since 1980, on average our homes consume around 10% less overall. How can this be the case when we have so many more electrical appliances? Back in 1980, not many homes had more than a single TV, and computers and mobile phones were essentially non-existent. Yet somehow they used more electricity!

The answer to this question comes down to one simple principle. Energy efficiency. Government regulations and technical advances led by the private sector have resulted in appliances that are simply more sustainable. Throw in a better public understanding of the importance of reducing carbon emissions, and also the use of money expert comparison sites to track the expense of powering a home, and it the picture becomes a little clearer.

Expect to see this trend, become ever more prevalent in the near future, as sustainability has become a huge industry sector that continues to rapidly expand.

Here’s a selection of the most recent technologies that are already helping homeowners save money that we can expect to become common place over the coming years.

1. Smart Homes

At first glance, you may wonder what the point is in buying a new domestic appliance that is advertised as ‘internet connected/ready’. After all, who is going to need a web compatible refrigerator or air conditioning unit? It is increasingly common for newly released appliances to boast this feature because in the coming years, our homes are going to be much more connected than at present. Being able to monitor and control energy expenditure remotely via smartphone is a tech that is already with us – but these are still the early days.

The next big step forward is going to be the implementation of wireless sensors throughout the home. These will connect all the appliances in the home to a centralized control panel which will automatically instruct how they interact with the energy supply.

For instance, appliances not in use, but on ‘standby’ mode will be entirely disconnected from the power supply when nobody is at home. Heating and air conditioning use will be precisely measured according to the ambient temperature. Just these two examples – and there are many more in the pipeline – are set to shave a considerable amount of household energy consumption in the very near future.

2. Next Generation Home Insulation

The US Industrial Science & Technology Network takes the approach that heating and cooling costs can best be reduced by simply developing superior insulation. While still at the development stage, these are promised to be far more efficient at preventing heat from escaping.

As may be expected, they are also going to be environmentally sound and most likely comprised of recycled foam materials. Should these be proven to work, there is a very good chance they will become the industry norm for new build and redeveloped housing in the years to come.

3. Reflective Roofing Materials

While insulation is ideal for maintaining an ambient temperature what about those who live in warmer climes? Everyone knows how expensive it is to run air conditioning 24 hours a day, but there have been considerable recent advances in reflective rooftop materials. Currently, these work by using special pigments that are coated onto the roof in order to reflect sunlight and heat.

The next generation in development will use fluorescent pigments that look likely to be up to four times more efficient. So for those who reside in areas where effective air conditioning is essential around the year, these new materials may well be an absolute godsend.

4. Magnetocaloric Refrigerators

A fridge powered by magnets? Close, but not quite. Refrigeration technology has barely changed or advanced since they were first introduced. Modern fridges still rely on vapor compression, which unfortunately requires chemical coolants that are notoriously bad for the environment.

Next generation models are going to be able to make use of water-based coolants that make use of the magnetocaloric effect. In layperson’s terms, this is the use of magnets to alter the magnetic field which can provide an extremely energy efficient cooling effect. Expect this to become commonplace in the coming years, thanks to their potential in enormously reducing energy expenditure and carbon emissions.

5. Much More Efficient Heat Pumps

Considerable progress has been made by the US Building Technologies Office in developing heat pumps that essentially move heat throughout the home. There are three models in design that promise to considerably reduce expenditure on heating while also significantly reduce carbon emissions. Standard gas boilers/furnaces are notoriously expensive and inefficient.

  • A low-cost gas-based heating pump could massively increase efficiency and result in lowering heating costs by a staggering 45%.
  • Multiple function fuel based pumps designed for domestic use can still save an estimated 30% with the added bonus of also providing more efficient water heating.
  • Natural gas based heating pumps connected with air conditioners aim to use a very low emission boiler to cater for all domestic needs regardless of the season. Of all three options, this is the most complete package and the one most likely to become widespread in the coming years.

These styles of heat pumps are also going to be used to significantly reduce the energy used by clothes drying machines. General Electric has been already near completing their first gas pump compatible dryer. This is intended to reduce the energy consumption of perhaps the least efficient appliance in the home by up to 60%.

6. Even Better LED Lighting

Energy saving lighting may have become the accepted norm in many households, and the good news is that it is set to become even better. At present these are up to 85% more efficient than old fashioned incandescent bulbs, but the next generation – scheduled for a few years time – promise to double their efficiency. An improvement up to 230 lumens (from the current 115) is forecast.

8% of all electricity consumption in the USA are due to lighting homes and businesses. Having that figure will make for a huge national saving and reduction of energy costs across the board. (Source:https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=99&t=3)

7. Advanced Window Insulation

While still in development this may not sound like a huge advance, but could well result in enormous net energy savings down the line. Using microprocessors and sensors to measure sunlight and radiant heat, these are going to automatically provide shading to assist with providing ideal natural lighting and also assist with heating. Expect these to be integrated with the general smart home system outlined above in due course.

Final Thoughts

So there we have seven of the most exciting and interesting developments that we can expect to see in the home over the coming years. While some are already in production while others are just passing the prototype phase, the future is looking positive in terms of reducing emissions and better managing energy consumption. Energy efficiency is here to stay and these developments will likely only be the tip of the iceberg compared to what we can look forward to over coming decades.

Easy Ways to Make Your Business Energy Efficient

Nowadays, smart business owners are taking steps towards making their company more efficient in every way. By establishing more efficient processes, these businesses are capable of getting more done in a shorter amount of time, and they’re also saving money along the way. But, beyond helping their employees perform better, business pros are also working on implementing tools and strategies for becoming increasingly more energy efficient so that their business can be greener and so that they can save money on their energy bill.

If you are ready to take your basic eco-friendly office to the next level, keep reading for some helpful information on how to become more energy efficient at work.

Make the Switch to Laptops

Desktop computers that are always plugged in are always consuming some level of energy, even when they are turned off. Unless you have all of your electronics plugged into a power strip that is turned off at the end of every workday, those devices will continue draining energy, and you will see it on your energy bill. For this reason, a lot of businesses are opting to make the switch to using laptops rather than desktops.

Laptops only need to be plugged in when they are in need of a charge; the rest of the time, they use a built-in battery to function. This can help you save quite a bit of money on your energy bill, and it can also help you save much-needed space because laptops are smaller than desktop computers with separate monitors. This is one of the easiest ways to make your office more energy efficient, and your employees will likely welcome the change to laptops as well.

Purchase Products Having Energy Star Seal

Another way to save money on your energy bill while making your office more energy efficient is by switching to Energy Star appliances and office products that will use up far less energy than their counterparts. Properly dispose of old appliances, such as your office’s refrigerator and microwave, and replace them with Energy Star appliances so that you can start to save money and allocate it towards more important aspects of your day-to-day operations.

Beyond appliances, office products like printers, scanners, copiers, and computers can also come with the Energy Star seal, so be sure to stick with those as well. Because you use these products every day, and for hours on end, making the switch to energy efficient office equipment is wise.

Get Smart About Lighting

Another way to become more energy efficient at work is by focusing on the lighting throughout your office. It is important to replace outdated light bulbs that are less efficient than modern options. So, for example, you could replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs, which do not contain the harmful mercury that compact fluorescent light bulbs contain. Beyond that, you can check to see if there are any light fixtures that you do not really need to have in place after all. Plus, simply turning the lights off when you leave a room can be a great way to save money really easily.

You can even opt to install light fixtures that use sensors to determine when there are people in a room, thereby allowing the lights to turn on and off automatically. And, finally, whenever possible, take advantage of natural light during the day so that you can rely less upon artificial, energy-consuming light.

Keep Your Staff Comfortable, but Save Money Too

What temperature is your office thermostat currently set to? Do you think that you can maybe tweak the temperature a bit so that you could save money, while also keeping everyone comfortable? Many times, office thermostats are set at temperatures that end up costing the business a lot of money. Small changes in temperature can make a big difference in your energy savings, but your staff are not likely to notice the changes because they will still feel comfortable while they work.

For example, you can save money during the summer by setting the thermostat to 78-80°F. When the workday is over, you can allow the office to reach 80°F because no one will be there anyway, so you don’t need to bother keeping the air conditioner going. In the winter, on the other hand, you can keep your thermostat set anywhere from 65-68°F, and you can let it drop to 60°F overnight when no one is in the office. Go ahead and change the temperature setting by a degree or two for a month to see how much you can save.

Conclusion

It is pretty clear to see that it is very important to become more energy efficient at work. The first step involves setting up an eco-friendly office. But, once you have set the foundation, you can go even further by becoming energy efficient for the planet and for your bottom line.

Biomass Cogeneration Systems

Biomass fuels are typically used most efficiently and beneficially when generating both power and heat through biomass cogeneration systems (also known as combined heat and power or CHP system). Biomass conversion technologies transform a variety of wastes into heat, electricity and biofuels by employing a host of strategies. Conversion routes are generally thermochemical or biochemical, but may also include chemical and physical.

The simplest way is to burn the biomass in a furnace, exploiting the heat generated to produce steam in a boiler, which is then used to drive a steam turbine. Advanced biomass conversion technologies include biomass integrated gasification combined cycle (BIGCC) systems, cofiring (with coal or gas), pyrolysis and second generation biofuels.

Biomass Cogeneration Systems

A typical biomass cogeneration (or biomass cogen) system provides:

  • Distributed generation of electrical and/or mechanical power.
  • Waste-heat recovery for heating, cooling, or process applications.
  • Seamless system integration for a variety of technologies, thermal applications, and fuel types into existing building infrastructure.

Biomass cogeneration systems consist of a number of individual components—prime mover (heat engine), generator, heat recovery, and electrical interconnection—configured into an integrated whole. The type of equipment that drives the overall system (i.e., the prime mover) typically identifies the CHP unit.

Prime Movers

Prime movers for biomass cogeneration units include reciprocating engines, combustion or gas turbines, steam turbines, microturbines, and fuel cells. These prime movers are capable of burning a variety of fuels, including natural gas, coal, oil, and alternative fuels to produce shaft power or mechanical energy.

Key Components

A biomass-fueled cogeneration facility is an integrated power system comprised of three major components:

  • Biomass receiving and feedstock preparation.
  • Energy conversion – Conversion of the biomass into steam for direct combustion systems or into biogas for the gasification systems.
  • Power and heat production – Conversion of the steam or syngas or biogas into electric power and process steam or hot water

Feedstock for Biomass Cogeneration Plants

The lowest cost forms of biomass for cogeneration plants are residues. Residues are the organic byproducts of food, fiber, and forest production, such as sawdust, rice husks, wheat straw, corn stalks, and sugarcane bagasse. Forest residues and wood wastes represent a large potential resource for energy production and include forest residues, forest thinnings, and primary mill residues.

combined-heat-and-power

Energy crops are perennial grasses and trees grown through traditional agricultural practices that are produced primarily to be used as feedstocks for energy generation, e.g. hybrid poplars, hybrid willows, and switchgrass. Animal manure can be digested anaerobically to produce biogas in large agricultural farms and dairies.

To turn a biomass resource into productive heat and/or electricity requires a number of steps and considerations, most notably evaluating the availability of suitable biomass resources; determining the economics of collection, storage, and transportation; and evaluating available technology options for converting biomass into useful heat or electricity.

Biomass Gasification Power Systems

Biomass gasification power systems have followed two divergent pathways, which are a function of the scale of operations. At sizes much less than 1MW, the preferred technology combination today is a moving bed gasifier and ICE combination, while at scales much larger than 10 MW, the combination is of a fluidized bed gasifier and a gas turbine.

Larger scale units than 25 MW would justify the use of a combined cycle, as is the practice with natural gas fired gas turbine stations. In the future it is anticipated that extremely efficient gasification based power systems would be based on a combined cycle that incorporates a fuel cell, gas turbine  and possibly a Rankine bottoming cycle.

Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle

The most attractive means of utilising a biomass gasifier for power generation is to integrate the gasification process into a gas turbine combined cycle power plant. This will normally require a gasifier capable of producing a gas with heat content close to 19 MJ/Nm3. A close integration of the two parts of the plant can lead to significant efficiency gains.

The gas from the gasifier must first be cleaned to remove impurities such as alkali metals that might damage the gas turbine. The clean gas is fed into the combustor of the gas turbine where it is burned, generating a flow of hot gas which drives the turbine, generating electricity.

Hot exhaust gases from the turbine are then utilised to generate steam in a heat recovery steam generator. The steam drives a steam turbine, producing more power. Low grade waste heat from the steam generator exhaust can be used within the plant, to dry the biomass fuel before it is fed into the gasifier or to preheat the fuel before entry into the gasifier reactor vessel.

Schematic of integrated biomass gasification combined cycle

The gas-fired combined cycle power plant has become one of the most popular configurations for power generation in regions of the world where natural gas is available. The integration of a combined cycle power plant with a coal gasifier is now considered a potentially attractive means of burning coal cleanly in the future.

Biomass Fuel Cell Power Plant

Another potential use for the combustible gas from a biomass gasification plant is as fuel for a fuel cell power plant. Modern high temperature fuel cells are capable of operating with hydrogen, methane and carbon monoxide. Thus product gas from a biomass gasifier could become a suitable fuel.

As with the integrated biomass gasification combined cycle plant, a fuel cell plant would offer high efficiency. A future high temperature fuel cell burning biomass might be able to achieve greater than 50% efficiency.

Paying Less for Your Energy: A Handful of Practical Tips

There is little doubt that energy bills are a big drain on your finances, what with the Big Six energy providers hiking their prices recently, with two of them doing it twice within a year! What is one to do? Toe their line or search for the best and cheapest energy tariffs? Of course, you will save a pretty packet if you search for the cheapest energy rates. Find below certain practical tips that will enable you to find the right energy deal and save on money.

Avoid standard variable rate tariff

You need to be careful when your fixed tariff deal ends, for it is then that your energy provider will nudge you towards standard variable rate tariff. Their reason for doing so is simple, that is, to make money. These variable rate tariffs are expensive. According to the figures of previous year obtained from First Utility, will escalate your energy bill by an average of £262 annually. Not only are these variable rate tariffs expensive, but they also provide leeway for your energy supplier to hike costs.

The way out of this is to search for smaller suppliers that offer the best-buy tables and better services. You can do this by manually researching lists of energy suppliers or using online comparison sites. Spending time doing manual research can pay dividends as you can often find deals not apparent on switching sites, however the latter are much faster to use.

Power tip: When using switching sites, always check the box that says something like ‘include plans that require switching directly though the supplier’ as this will reveal even cheaper deals.

Today, the minnows are giving a run for money to the Big Six energy providers. These suppliers offer you a choice of long-term fix and even variable rate that are well under £1,000. Opting for a fixed rate tariff will give you a secure price on each unit of electricity for a set period, whereas variable rate tariff, where the price can fluctuate up and down.

So, to get the full price advantage don’t stick to your original supplier, but switch to a smaller one. It will certainly help in saving cash.

To fix or not to fix

In the past, variable rate tariffs tended to be cheaper, but this trend has changed. Today, the cheapest rates are offered on one-year fixes. Opting for it will save you money. This is because this type fixes the rate you pay for each unit of electricity, usually for a 12- to 18-month period.

The latest trend is to opt for two-year fixed deals. Whether it is one-year or two-year fixed deals, the idea is to avoid expensive variable standard tariffs. It needs to be noted that fixed deals are slightly more than the cheapest deals, if you are going in for long-term security. However, it certainly does not mean that you pay a fixed amount and be done away with it. It will still depend upon the amount of energy consumed, only the tariff per unit is somewhat reduced.

You need to be careful about some fixed deals that charge exit fees if you decide to leave early. Also, there is no guarantee that a fixed deal is the best long-term option, but if you want to give certainty over bills, this is the best choice.

Benefits of energy switching

Your local energy suppliers are the real beneficiary since they tend to charge more for electricity from people living in their vicinity. This is because they build a monopoly in the region and dictate the energy rates.

To break the stranglehold of your local energy supplier, you will do well to explore the possibility of moving away. This switching will certainly save you money. Of course, finding the cheapest supplier will primarily depend upon where you live. A little search will not only help you find cheap suppliers but also help you in comparing prices to find the best price.

If you are scared that switching from your current energy supplier will attract a penalty, if you decide to leave before the term expires, it will still be worth it. So, accept the penalty and you will still end up saving big.

Cutting your energy bills

If you are still in two minds regarding switching to a smaller energy supplier, you can still limit your energy bill in the following ways:

  • Ask for return of credited money: If you are paying a set amount by direct debit pay each month for gas and electricity, it will be a good idea to ask for a return of money during summer and spring. You may get it back with interest.
  • Save energy: Change the way you use your gas and electricity. This will reduce usage and save money.
  • Pay online: This could cut more than £10 off your annual bills.

Conclusion

Switching energy supplier is a big decision. However, if your current supplier is offering cheaper tariff than what you are currently using, it is wise to switch to it, rather than opt for a new energy supplier. You still end up saving money.

Looking for Cheap Business Electricity? Tips to Get the Best Tariffs

Every business person knows that making a profit from an enterprise is not easy. Reducing expenses is among the best ways to ensure profitability. However, it requires identification of all your costs and expenses. One area of concern for most businesses is the ever-rising cost of electricity. Indeed, cheap business electricity is a factor that can make or break your business. We guide you through some of the best techniques that’ll help you to get the best electricity tariffs for your business.

Compare the prices

The electricity sector has many suppliers. Each one of them is in it to make money. The competition is stiff, and so every supplier continually looks for the best ways to beat the competition.

Also, the tariffs differ among different industry players. Hence, you should endeavor to compare the prices among various suppliers. In case you get another provider with the best deal, it’s time to switch.

Know when your contract ends

When the electricity contract expires, and you are not aware, it can automatically renew because such a contract requires formal termination. The worst case scenario is where the contract rolls-over to higher prices. Knowing when your contract ends provides you with the perfect opportunity to switch suppliers.

Consider using a broker

The process of finding the electricity supplier with the most competitive tariffs is tedious and time-consuming. As a business owner you have many other essential engagements hence it would be better to use an electricity broker.

Brokers deeply understand electricity matters. They know all the suppliers and the tariffs they offer. They may also know the secrets of the trade that you might not be aware of. To crown it all,brokers in most cases will not charge you for their service as they get a fee from the electricity partner you choose.

Discuss with your supplier

When your contract ends, it provides you with a stellar opportunity for negotiating with your current supplier for tariff reduction. Most suppliers won’t want to lose you as their customer, and so they may be willing to listen to you.

Even where you have a quote from other electricity suppliers or also using a broker, it does cost you anything to try and negotiate with your current supplier. When you call them, let them know that you are considering switching if they do not lower the tariffs. Also, at the time of contract renewal, you get the opportunity to request for discounts.

Change Tariffs

Many people don’t even know their existing electricity plan. It is an excellent idea to look at your electricity bill or contract to discover your plan. Your tariff could be based on a flat-rate, or it could vary depending on the amount of usage.

It is also possible that your tariff depends on the time of usage. Selecting the best tariff can enable you to save a lot in electricity bills. Negotiating with your supplier for a customized tariff is another excellent strategy for reducing your business electricity.

Why Going Green is the Best Thing You Can Do for Your Community

college-greenAs we go about our daily lives, it’s always a good idea to think about how we can contribute to the community we belong to in tangible and appreciable ways. Improving our communities from the inside not only allows us to make things easier and more convenient for ourselves, but also for the people we meet and rely upon in our day-to-day. Besides this, it also helps us think of other people’s needs rather than just our own—an essential need if we’re to live happy and productive lives. One of the best ways of improving our communities is, of course, going green: the act of adopting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. This means taking active steps to minimize our carbon footprint and reducing waste.

It doesn’t have to start out big—we can start with the smaller things, and work our way up from there. Instead of buying new printer ink cartridges, for example, we can try using compatible ink cartridges instead. These are ink cartridges that are made the same way as new printer ink cartridges, but cost way less to make than branded ones. Instead of throwing away our old or obsolete electronics and electrical goods, we can look into getting them repaired. Another example of that is to refurbish old drones instead of buying new.

By taking up these eco-friendly practices, our communities will become cleaner, more energy-efficient, and much healthier places to live in, alongside other very practical and tangible benefits that everyone will appreciate.

Not convinced? Well, hopefully listing out those benefits in full below will convince you. Read on as we go through all the biggest reasons why going green is the best thing you can do for your community.

A healthier community

Enacting green and eco-friendly practices in your community will have the immediate effect of making it healthier for the individuals who live in it, enabling them to live longer, happier, and more productive lives. This can be considered as the most important benefit, seeing as we can tie so many health conditions and diseases to having an environmentally-negligent lifestyle. By going green, you can avoid these potential risks from taking hold in your community.

For example, recycling and minimizing trash or garbage helps makes your immediate surroundings cleaner and more attractive to look at. This causes disease-carrying pests such as insects and rodents to be driven away from your community, which then results in less people catching those diseases.

Another example is having the vehicles in your community switch to more eco-friendly fuel types will result in cleaner and healthier air, as well as reduce the chances of children and the elderly from getting respiratory diseases. These and a whole lot more are attainable by going green.

Savings on utility bills and other expenses

One of the main tenets of going green is to be conservative when it comes to the usage of utilities, such as electricity, gas, water, and so on. It goes without saying that using too much of these obviously strains the environment.

For example, the excessive and unnecessary use of electricity when it’s clearly not needed increases the power demand from power plants, which in turn increases the amount of fuel being used to supply that energy. This uses up our remaining fossil fuels at an alarming rate, while also depositing more pollutants into the atmosphere and environment. The same goes for gas and other utilities.

By being smarter and more conscious about using these precious resources in our homes, we can reduce the impact we have on the environment by quite a large degree. It will help ease the strain our environment is currently experiencing in providing us these resources and ensure that they don’t run out as quickly as they would have if we continued being unnecessarily wasteful with our usage.

Besides this, conserving energy and resources also helps us save on our utility bills. Obviously, the less power, water, and gas we use in our day-to-day, the less we’ll be charged when our monthly bills come in. Up to 20% of expanses per household, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, are saved, especially if we adopt changes such as using solar panels rather than relying on our electrical grid. This is a huge chunk of money no matter how you slice it!

Durable and stronger homes and and structures

Let’s not mince words about it: eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious “green” products are more expensive than the brands that have an easier time fitting into our budget. However, we must consider that the former is also much more durable than the latter, which will inevitably result in a lot of savings in the long run.

This can be seen the most in construction building materials, especially those involved in the building and repair of homes. For example, recycled decking, which is made from recycled plastic and wooden fibers, have been tested to last five times longer than traditional decking.

Bamboo, a self-sustaining perennial grass that can grow up to three feet in 24 hours, is lighter than most building materials and yet has greater compressive strength than brick and concrete. The best part about it is that it grows faster than it can be harvested, meaning that there’s no danger of running out of it anytime soon, no matter how extensively it’s used.

By creating your community’s homes and structures using these eco-friendly materials, you can help save the environment while also ensuring that the homes and shelters will last for as long as they’re needed.

A self-sufficient community

It’s a fact of life that we have to rely on big companies to get us the modern conveniences and essentials we need to get through the day. However, by going green, we can help reduce our reliance on them and become more independent in our lives.

For example, taking the initiative to install solar panels in every home in your community will allow it to become less dependent on the power that companies provide you with electricity. With enough time, your community will be generating enough excess power that the same company will be paying you for that excess. There’s also the fact that if something goes wrong with the power plant, your community won’t be subjected to the same annoying and disruptive blackout that other surrounding neighborhoods will be, as you’ll have enough solar power to last you the entire time.

Let’s say you’re not quite at that level yet, in terms of going green. How about supporting your local markets rather than your nearby supermarket? By doing so, you ensure that the food-growing sector of your community continues to earn a living while also retaining the ability to keep growing natural and organic produce. Doing so also cuts down on harmful emissions, as you won’t have to travel by car just to get the fresh food you need. Your community retains its independence while helping the environment.

Conclusion

There are many ways to improve one’s community from the inside, with one of the major and more effective ones being able to adopt eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious practices. By doing so, not only does the community benefit hugely in the end in terms of health, sustainability, and independence from big companies, but the environment as well.

A Guide On HVAC System Repair

hvac-repairHVAC maintenance and HVAC repair sometimes become necessary in certain situations. This is especially the case during hot summers. A malfunctioning unit can not only reduce comfort in the house, but also set the homeowner back large sums of money due to inefficiency.

Heating Service Repair

Like with other domestic appliances, there are several things which could go wrong within a HVAC unit. Some of these problems occur more frequently than others. It’s possible to fix some issues without having to call an air conditioning expert.

If the house starts becoming unbearably hot, the first thing to check would be the thermostats. Older units can be accidentally switched from cool to off, especially when bumped into. Their digital counterparts are also affected when the battery starts losing power.

If lowering the thermostat fails to make the unit turn on, it could be due to a blown fuse or a tripped breaker. If this is reset or the fuse replaced and the problem still persists, it’s advisable to contact an electrician. Outdoor units that run constantly also tend to freeze up. This can be rectified by turning the unit off for some hours to let it thaw.

DIY A/C Repair

Not many homeowners can undertake such a task on their own. This is because the expertise and equipment involved are usually advanced, which brings in the need for a trained specialist. Nevertheless, there are several things that one could check on their own to enhance the performance of their unit.

If the compressor fails to turn on, the breaker and fuse would be the components to check. A running unit that isn’t cooling could be due to low refrigerant level. This would require professional help to replenish. The condenser coils on both sides should also be checked to see if they’re dry. If this is the case, one would need to brush and vacuum them. One can do this at least twice each summer.

Hiring Expert HVAC Technicians

At best, the things that a typical homeowner can do on their own are limited. Typically, an issue will be too complex for even well-acquainted individuals to handle. Once it’s established that the hitch is outside an individual’s scope, there are several things one needs to consider before hiring an expert.

Ideally, a HVAC unit should be repaired before the summer season starts. This is because technicians get quite busy as the hot season progresses. This high demand makes it hard to schedule an appointment.

It would thus be prudent to call a furnace contractor in Brownsburg Indiana before the season starts. Typically, one is likely to land a convenient appointment time, and could even save some money. One will also be prepared for high temperatures that could occur later on in the season.