Category Archives: Updates

How to go green in your home

The world is at a turning point: fossil fuel stores are beginning to run out; global pollution levels are at a record high; the ice caps are melting, causing widespread flooding; and many other global issues are forcing a worldwide restructuring. Unfortunately reversing and slowing the changes that we have already caused to our planet is a long and drawn out process that requires the participation of everyone worldwide. It is not going to be easy, but we all need to do our bit. Implementing slight changes to your household eco-friendliness is the first step towards change, which you’ll find out how to do in this article. Plus, not only will you help the environment, but it will also save you money in the long run.

Switch to LED bulbs

Lighting is a huge part of the average household electricity bill. This term is not just limited to your spatial lights, such as in the living room, but also in your fridge, your extractor fan, your bedside light and the other mini light bulbs you find dotted around your house. If you are in an older house, you will generally find that if you’ve not switched anything, you will still be installed with incandescent-style bulbs, which are highly inefficient in comparison to today’s technology.

It is estimated that the average household electricity bill in the UK is made up of 25% electricity, which is a huge number, and should not be this high. Switching to LED bulbs will reduce your consumption between 75-90%, which will therefore drastically reduce your overall bill amount. According to the Telegraph, by switching just 10 bulbs in your house to LEDs, each with a 60W output that was switched on for an average of 10 hours per day, you would save £240 per year.

Switch to a renewable energy tariff

As the world energy crisis continues to get worse, energy companies worldwide are being forced into stricter regulations and given shorter deadlines to reach renewable generation targets. One of the trends that has emerged in the UK is the green energy tariff. This originally started with just electricity but has now expanded to the gas markets also. It basically means that if you purchase one of these tariffs, your usage amount will be directly removed from that company’s fossil fuel generation/purchase efforts and be generated through renewable methods, such as: hydro; wind; solar; and geothermal.

Sometimes these tariffs can be a little more expensive than the cheapest on the market, but if you have never switched before, there is a 99% chance that you will still be making quite a large saving. If you are with a Big Six supplier and have never switched, meaning you’ll be on a variable tariff, your savings, based on average usage, would amount to upwards of £200 per year.

Generate your own electricity

This tip will not be appropriate for everyone reading this, as the initial outlay of solar panels can be quite hefty. But, if you do have some money that you could invest into solar panels, read on!

Solar panels can be bought in varying degrees, from a tiny bit of generation to removing all reliance on your energy supplier completely. Obviously the more electricity that you want to generate, the more it’s going to cost you in the initial investment. After that, however, your ROI will be higher, the more you generate.

If you wanted to remove all need for your energy supplier, thus generating 100% of your own electricity, you would probably be looking at paying around £6,000-8,000 to start with, with a £2,500 battery storage system for low-light and night time scenarios. This would see a return on investment after about 18 years, doubling that investment in the following 18.

Increase your insulation

Whether it be your expensive, proper insulation for your floor, roof or walls, or whether you simply hang thicker curtains or rugs, all insulation in your home is important. Having good temperature retention in your home will do wonders for your energy bills and will mean that you don’t have to waste as much gas and electricity in controlling the temperature of your house. You don’t need to spend thousands of pounds to increase the insulation level of your home, but it is obviously recommended to have ‘comprehensive’ insulation fitted.

It is estimated that following percentages of heat loss occur in their corresponding areas. It is thus worth prioritising accordingly:

Roof – 25%
Walls – 35%
Windows and doors 25%
Floor – 15%

Brexit and Copyright: Are Your Ideas Safe?

If you work in design, you might be a bit more concerned about Brexit than other people. Anti-Copying in Design, the trade body set up to protect the intellectual property of designers, has raised concerns that vital business law stopping people copying original designs will be scrapped.

Did McDonald, the founder of the organization has cautioned the government that if they don’t either keep the existing legislation or have new laws ready to seamlessly take the place of EU protections the design industry, which currently contributes 71.7 million pounds to the UK economy, could be at serious risk of losing ownership of the ideas and designs that make it so successful.

“EU design laws protect the individual character of designs in terms of shape, texture, colours, ornamentation and materials, while UK rights only protect shape.” Did explains. Losing these protections would put British designers at a severe disadvantage to their European counterparts, at a time when we need them to be at their best and help boost our economy in the wake of leaving the European Union.

Anti-Copying in Design offers free initial legal advice to their members to help them navigate the complexities of protecting their intellectual property. Once a designer has signed up, they can also put a ACID logo on their website which helps to deter potential copyright thieves. The lawyers who work with ACID explain that seeing the logo makes a potential copyright infringer realise the designer is aware of the law surrounding copyright theft, and has the support necessary to defend their rights.

While some underestimate the risk of copyright infringement to small designers, ACID has documented and helped to fight many cases where a small business has met with a supermarket or other big supplier, only to later find copies of their products for sale in stores. When your main income is your unique ideas and designs, you stand to lose everything if people can reproduce them without any fees or punishments. At a time when the UK needs to reinforce it’ internal economy, this is a bigger issue than any individual designer being inconvenienced.

McDonald has visited Downing Street to explain that if designers don’t receive more legal protection, 25% of sales could be lost across the UK. This is an issue that affects us all: that could be a non-trival portion of our post Brexit economy.

Top Tips for Managing Your Money Better

Managing your money, and doing it well, is an important aspect of your life. After all, how well you manage your money can influence every other aspect of your life, such as where you live and what type of car you drive. Mismanagement of your finances can seriously impact your life, and the lives of your family. Managing your money isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Here are a few tips to help you do just that, and improve your finances.

Create a Budget

The very first step to taking full control of your finances is to create a budget. While it sounds time consuming (and possibly boring), knowing how much you have coming in versus how much you have going out is essential. If you are married, make sure that you combine your finances. After all, every bill and expenditure you have belongs to both of you.

In order to create your budget, create a list of how much you spend on fixed items, such as mortgage or rent, car insurance and your cell phone. Then list out how much you want to devote monthly to flexible expenditures, such as groceries. Don’t forget to allot a section of your budget for savings. After you make your budget, make sure that you stick to it. Otherwise, your effort will be for nothing.

Track Your Spending

As a part of developing your budget, track your spending. Write down everything that you buy and how much you spend on it. This will help you to better set your limits for each section of your budget. Tracking your spending also helps to keep you accountable, and will help you to curb impulse buying, which would otherwise throw your budget completely out of balance.

Pay Bills on Time

You already know that paying your bills is important. What is also important is to pay them on time. Many companies will tack on interest charges, late fees and other penalties if you are even one day late with your payment. Paying your bills on time will help to avoid unnecessarily spending extra money. Pay more than the minimum balance to help pay down debts faster if you can. If you find it difficult to keep track of which bills are due when, record the dates in a calendar, or sign up for automatic payments online.

Avoid Using Credit Cards

It’s always tempting to use your credit card, especially when it comes to impulse purchases. However, if you don’t pay your credit card balance in full every month, you wind up paying interest on your total balance as well. If you find that you are unable to pay off the full balance, don’t use your credit card. You should avoid using it at least until the balance is paid off. Don’t carry your credit cards with you when you go out to avoid temptation. You may also want to consider calling up your credit card company and finding out if they can give you a lower interest rate, which will then help to lower your payments.

Consolidate Debt

If you have a large amount of credit card debt you may want to consider getting an installment loan.  Most credit cards have high interest rates and you can literally be wasting money on interest.  When you get an installment loan with a much lower interest rate this will allow you to apply more of your payment to the principal.  You can find various companies like to get an installment loan online.

Build an Emergency Fund

Having some form of savings is important. An emergency fund that you contribute to every month will allow you to have extra money in case something comes up. Having the money set aside in case your car breaks down or you need to replace something within your home will help you to avoid using your credit card, and sinking deep into debt. Then you won’t have to spend months, or even years, paying back the expense.

Sell What You Don’t Need

Take a look around your home. How much of the things you see in a given room do you no longer use? Maybe you have a gaming system, some movies or even some furniture that is just sitting there, taking up space. If you have things that you no longer use, and they don’t add any value to your life, sell them. You can then take the money you make from what you sell and add it to a savings account or invest it.

Managing your finances doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Once you are able to start managing your money, you will be surprised to find out how much simpler other parts of your life are. You may also find that you have enough money left over to do something you’ve always wanted to.