4 Signs Your House Needs Awnings

Awnings are becoming more and more popular around the world: this due to changes in aesthetics tastes, the warmer temperatures all around, and more of a desire to enjoy time in the garden and the patio of homes. If you’re one of those homeowners who are thinking about installing an awning in your home, you shouldn’t rush things – are you sure you want to invest money in an awning? In this article, we’ve compiled a list of signs that clearly demonstrate you need to install awnings in your home.

#1 Strong Sunlight Regularly Prevents You From Enjoying Your Garden

Strong sunlight can be really annoying when you want to spend time outdoors in your patio and garden: it makes you feel hot, to sweat, and might even give you a sunburn. If you’re living in a particularly hot area, you might not even be able to go outside to enjoy your garden during noon hours.

By installing an awning like the ones offered by this company https://shades-awnings.co.uk/products/awnings you’ll be able to ensure you have adequate protection from sunlight. You can spend the afternoons in your garden completely shaded without any worries about sunburns or too much heat.

#2 You Regularly Have to Postpone Family/Friend Gatherings Due to Rainy Weather

Raining is an equally large problem as too much sunlight is. If you live in a place with constant rain throughout the year, it’ll make it impossible for you to enjoy grilling, partying, or even relaxing outside in the garden with your friends and family.

Although awnings can’t fully block heavy rain, if it is just a drizzle, awnings are more than capable of keeping things dry. This makes them an excellent choice in places with continuous rain like most of the UK and the US coasts.

#3 There is Too Much Natural Lighting Inside the House

Are you annoyed by the copious amount of sunlight that enters from the windows, doors every day? Have you tried blocking them with curtains without much success? Do you want a permanent solution that gives you complete control over the amount of sunlight in your house?

If any of these describe your situation, then you will have a lot of use for an awning. By installing a retractable awning for example, you’ll be able to control how much sunlight gets through your patio/balcony/etc. with a simple click of a button. The amount of control it gives you over natural lighting in your home is unparalleled.

#4 You Feel Like Your House’s Exterior Design is Becoming Stale

Do you want to make some changes to the exterior of your home and are sick of the repetitive design? Do you want a piece of equipment that’s both inexpensive and easy to install that’s capable of completely transforming how your home looks? Do you want easily reversible changes if you decide to change your mind?

Well, in these cases, you’ll love retractable awnings. They’ll change the way the exterior of your home looks, can be easily retracted (which minimizes their appearance, and they’re inexpensive and easy to install. If you want a household item to help you transform the way your house looks, you should definitely look into awnings.

Easy broadband fixes you can do

When your broadband goes down, your life could be affected in multiple ways. You may not be able to complete tasks if you’re working from home, you may not be able to complete university work if you are a student, or you may simply not be able to take part in planned social activities like e-meetups with friends. When this happens, you may find yourself thinking about whether you should have spent more time researching the best broadband deals – see cable.co.uk for ideas. You could also be thinking about quick fixes that could get you back online fast…

Check social media and the news

Major broadband providers typically garner much commentary across social media and news outlets. If you have noticed that your access to the internet has been denied, it’s always worth checking the social media accounts run by your provider, or searching your provider’s name for any message board comments or mentions in the local or national news. This will take seconds, and could save you the wasted time and effort of further investigation where you discover that the problem is being dealt with and your service should be back up soon.

Hardware and software checks (to isolate the issue)

If your phone and laptop can connect to your wireless broadband, but your tablet cannot, the issue is likely down to either a hardware or software fault with the tablet – for example, perhaps the tablet is damaged in some way, or perhaps you have installed new security software that could be blocking access to broadband.

Likewise, if all of your devices are reporting the same issue, you can be more or less certain of ruling out issues with your devices and instead you should focus on the router…

Check all connections and reboot your router

Checking to see if any cables have come loose and turning your router off and on again may sound like basic advice but you’d be surprised how often a simple fix like this can resolve the situation. Be sure to leave your router unplugged for at least 30 seconds before attempting to re-establish a connection.

Connect via ethernet (if you can)

If you still cannot connect to your router wirelessly, connect your laptop (or any other device with an ethernet connection) to the router via an ethernet cable. If your device is now able to access the internet, the issue may be with the wireless abilities of the router – you should contact your provider to discuss the issue.

Your provider will be able to assist you further

Broadband providers are used to calls about denied access. There are many reasons that could be affecting your device’s ability to connect to a particular router (e.g. certain software updates may be causing issues for many customers, which is likely to be known to the provider). Where the issue appears to be a poor service with little information as to when you could expect normal service to return, you may wish to ask about a refund. This could also be a good time to consider switching to a different provider.

How to raise the value of your home with lawn care

Just like in dating, buying a property is sometimes love at first sight, meaning first impressions are incredibly important.

As several surveys have shown, lush green lawns can have a big impact on increasing the “kerb appeal” of a home, and making it more attractive to potential buyers. That’s why most real estate agents will suggest not just revamping your kitchens and bathrooms, but making sure your lawn is well-presented.

Real estate agents claim that an attractive lawn boosts the look and feel of the property, adds relaxation appeal, and is particularly appealing as a  safe playing area for families with children.

With the market cooling off, adding value to your home by revamping the lawn is possibly one of the easiest things you can do with the most return on your investment.

Simple regular lawn care like mowing or controlling weeds, can recover around 267% of the cost at the point of sale, according to a US study by the National Association of Realtors.

If you are thinking about revamping your lawn to prepare for a property sale then here are some tips:

  1. Lay fresh turf if the lawn is past the point of no return, but bear in mind a new lawn will take a few weeks to take root, and will require lots of watering during this time.
  2. Mow some stripes into your lawn for that regal look. You won’t be able to do this with a standard hover mower, but it will be worth it to make your property look valuable.
  3. Speak to your local real estate agent to get a sense of whether buyers in your area are looking for lawns, or if they might be more interested in patios. The likelihood is that families will be seeking a soft area for the kids to play on.
  4. Freshen up your borders by adding a layer of mulch. This will invigorate any existing plants and help the fight against weeds by preventing sunlight from getting through to them. Just make sure you rake away old mulch first before applying new mulch.
  5. Add a splash of colour with some plants or flowers around your home, ideally in a complementary colour to the masonry on your house. Choose simple block colours that make your property look inviting. If this is not possible, you could try adding some potted plants or hanging baskets around the front door or in a window box. 

Ways To Decorate Your House’s Swimming Pool

The swimming pool is a perfect place to cool off the summer heat. And having it right there in your house is the best option. So that once the need for it arises, all you have to do is to dive right into it. Your family will have a swell time outdoors during the summer, and your kids will surely find it enjoyable and entertaining.

With these ideas we have gathered for your house swimming pool, you can never go wrong in setting up a pool area right there in your house to welcome the summer.

1. Pick a Cool Colour; picking a warm or cool colour for your swimming pool area should be considered. Colours set the mode for relaxation and fun. Whether you wish for a pool party all summer or a comfy place to read and spend time with family, the white colour will be a great choice.

2. Welcome the Night; embrace the night time with the right lighting for your swimming pool area. You don’t have to be bothered when choosing the appropriate lighting options. All you have to do is to remember that your lighting options should serve two purposes, that of decorations and to provide light in the dark.

3. Go Wild with your Imagination; for a sheer thrill have bold tiles installed in your swimming pool and then complement it with your surroundings by picking a similar colour hue. Remember the transparent water will reflect the colour of the tiles you have installed in the pool and with your surroundings reflecting similar colour, it will deliver the right impact. As long as you go for colours that are cool and compliment your surroundings, you can never go overboard.

4. Go Green; the arborvitae is the right plant to have in your swimming pool area. It is an evergreen plant that grows to about 30 feet. Its pyramidal nature will give your swimming pool area a fantastic appearance. And the good news is that it requires little maintenance. It can maintain its pyramidal shape without you having to trim it.

5. Be Dramatic with Shapes; Swimming pool can be constructed in different shapes. This way, you don’t even have to worry about the size or shape of your land, no matter its shape or size, there is a swimming pool that could be constructed to fit right in. Rectangular, circular, or simply oval or even in the form of an irregular shape will add the desired beauty to your home and a refreshing place for cooling off in the summer.

6. Build a Pool House; building a pool house is a great idea that will be a perfect place for serving meals. At meal hours, you don’t have to race into the house dripping with water or reached for the towel; all you have to do is move into the pool house for mealtime. You don’t have to worry about the flooring area; once it’s decorated in decking materials, you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged.

7. Create a Welcoming Atmosphere with your Pathway; by creating an astounding pathway that leads straight to the swimming pool, it will draw attention to your swimming pool and send out an invitation for a time to be spent in the pool. This will make an impression on your guests.

8. Make the Swimming Pool Area Standout; for your swimming pool area to stand out from the rest of your surroundings, you should have tiles installed at the edges of the swimming pool area. This demarcation will draw attention to your swimming pool and give it a classic touch of elegance. But despite you would want your swimming pool to stand out, you will not want it to be completely alienated from the rest of your surroundings. For it to compliment your surroundings, pick the tiles to be of matching colour with your folding beach chairs. Cool colours such as light brown, light blue, or grey will be perfect.

Does a conservatory add value to your home?

It’s an age-old question asked by many a homeowner.

If you add a conservatory to your home, will it increase the market value of the house?

The answer isn’t quite as straightforward as you might hope. “Conservatories will add value to a home,” says Mark Hayward from the National Association of Estate Agents, “but they need to be made with quality materials and provide a lot of light in order for the value to be significant.”

Despite this, there really are some compelling reasons to add a conservatory, which are worth considering before getting too caught up in the numbers.

Why people add conservatories to their homes

If you’ve ever undertaken a large home renovation, you’ll know that living through the mess and upheaval can be pretty stressful. This is why some homeowners seek a different approach to increasing the amount of floor space they have available.

Enter the conservatory, which is just as usable as an additional room but far less obtrusive and destructive when it comes to the build. Most conservatories can be installed without significantly impacting the lives of those living in the house, which is just one reason they’re so popular.

They also enable homeowners to enjoy their gardens more – even when the weather doesn’t permit them to actually be outside.

Another popular reason for adding a conservatory is to give the kids a separate space in which to make a mess, or to finally set up that home office you’ve been promising yourself.

Square footage is usually a sure thing

Most estate agents, property developers and architects will tell you that adding square footage to a home will almost always increase its value.

But there are, of course, exceptions. It depends largely on the ceiling price of your home (i.e. the maximum amount people are ever going to pay for it in the current market), exactly how much space you’re adding, and where you are adding it.

However, just like any home extension, the value of adding a conservatory can be estimated fairly accurately to help you budget, plan and get an idea of how much more your house might be worth once the installation is finished.

How much could a conservatory increase the home value by?

Conservatories vary wildly in cost. It depends, of course, on how big you want yours to be, but also the type of fit and finish you want, too.

Let’s say you’re going to spend somewhere in the region of £4,000-£10,000 on your conservatory. If that’s the case, you could see an increase in the value of your home by around 5%.

This works out at an average of about £15,000, which is an appreciable amount and may offer you more wiggle room when negotiating with buyers during the selling process.

The importance of striking a balance

There’s another key element which will in part dictate how much your home will be worth after adding a conservatory: the garden.

There’s no escaping the fact that adding a conservatory to your home will reduce the amount of garden space you have available; that’s part and parcel of most home extensions.

Given that a garden can also significantly increase the value of your home, it’s vitally important to strike a balance between the floor space you gain inside from adding a conservatory, and the ground space you lose outside.

If your garden is pleasant enough but not particularly large, adding a conservatory could actually have a negative impact on the value of your home. People want the best of both worlds, therefore if you decide to sell your home in the future and potential buyers are wowed by the internal space but dismayed by the garden, you could have trouble achieving your ideal price.

The best conservatories flow seamlessly and naturally between the indoors and the outdoors without occupying too much of the outside space, while still providing the desired space inside.

Wrapping up

It’s important to bear in mind that all of the figures quoted in this article are just an average – it certainly isn’t a guarantee of the increased value of your home should you install a conservatory. 

If you do decide to install a conservatory, and want to get a good idea of how much the value of your home might increase by, it’s always sensible to consult a few estate agents. This will give you a broad idea of the value, and can help you to decide whether or not it’s a good investment for your home.

How to clean your wood burning stove – a Household Guide

One of the main factors to consider when looking to purchase a new stove is cleaning and maintenance. Gas stoves require little or no maintenance besides a yearly service carried out by a registered Gas Safe engineer (this is required for the manufacturer warranty).

Although most solid-fuel type stoves do not require a yearly service via a regulated body such as HETAS, you are required to have the flue pipe swept regularly to comply with warranty terms and conditions.

Here we will cover general cleaning and maintenance for wood burning and multi-fuel stoves.

How often do I need to clean my wood burning stove?

As a general rule of thumb it is recommended to perform the steps below every 4-6 weeks. In colder months your stove is likely to be fired up more often, so more regular cleaning intervals may be required.

General Notes:

-Always ensure the stove and flue are completely cooled down before carrying out any cleaning/maintenance work.

-For optimum life span of the stove, and for easy cleaning, only burn dry/clean wood where possible.

-Avoid throwing debris into the burning stove – this can cause excessive soot to build up in the chimney/flue, affecting the overall performance of the stove and flue pipe.

-It is recommended to burn your stove at maximum output for at least 30 minutes every day during winter months, to help combat excessive soot building up in the chimney/flue.

-Avoid leaving ash indoors for a long period of time, as this can be hazardous (see step 2 below). The ash should be left to stand in a covered, non-combustible container outdoors, for up to 24 hours before composting.

Please be mindful that wind can cause embers to reignite, so be careful when disposing of solid-fuel waste.

Items you will require:

  • Protective Gloves
  • Dust Mask
  • Dust Sheet
  • Metal Dust-Pan (not plastic!)
  • Hand brush
  • Metal storage container
  • Lint-free cloth/rags
  • Kitchen/Paper Towels
  • Foam Glass Cleaner (optional, see step 3 below)
  • #0000 grade wire wool
  • Stove spray/paint (if you wish to touch up any scratches)

Step 1:

Once you are satisfied the stove and its contents are cold to touch, begin with laying down a large dust sheet to cover the hearth, under the stove and over the carpet/floor area immediately in front. Ensure your dust mask is correctly fitted to avoid unwanted exposure to harmful particles.

Very carefully remove the ash-tray (if multi-fuel stove) which is located at the very bottom/underside of the stove, or – if a wood burning stove – simply open the front glass door and begin with gathering any loose ash into a central pile using a hand brush.

Note that the ash is very fine, so any heavy-handed movements are likely to kick up dangerous ash particles.

Gently gather the ash into the metal dustpan and lower into the metal container. With the wood burning stove, you will need to leave a small pile of ash over the centre of the fuel bed to help with starting a new fire.

IMPORTANT: The metal ash container should be taken outdoors, as carbon monoxide can build up if stored indoors. It is recommended to leave the ash in a covered container outside for a further 24 hours before composting.

The grate on your multi-fuel stove may be removable and, along with the ash pan, can now also be cleaned down outdoors. It’s best to dry brush any detachable accessories such as ash pans, grates and fire bricks, to avoid rusting.

Before replacing the accessories, use a regular household vacuum and a small brush attachment (to avoid damaging the paint on your stove), to remove any dust/soot/ash that may have built up on the exterior surface and behind the stove.

Step 2:

Once the ash has been removed and the detachable components of the multi-fuel stove have been cleaned, the stove should be inspected for any damage which will need to be addressed before further use. Here’s a list of things to look out for:

  • Carefully check both the inner and outer glass for any chips or cracks.
  • Check the rope seal around the fire-door is secure and snugly fitted into the recess within the door. Check for damage all around the rope, and visually inspect there are no gaps between the contact of the rope and the stove when the door is closed.
  • Check the door handle/lock mechanisms are working correctly.
  • Check the base of the flue pipe, and look for any fire cement which may have cracked or come away.
  • Check the internal area of the stove, and inspect the fire brick for damage/cracks.
  • Consider whether the flue pipe/chimney needs a sweep (see below).

Step 3:

The glass door can be cleaned using various foam based and compound based cleaners, available to buy from most fireplace showrooms. You could also try dabbing a damp kitchen towel into some ash and rubbing this into the surface of the glass in big circular motions. Similar to the compound based cleaners, the fine grain cuts into the surface, removing any impurities that may have built up on the the glass. Finally, buff with a clean kitchen towel or a lint-free cloth.

How do I know if I need a chimney sweep?

An excessive build-up of soot in the chimney or flue liner can cause harmful fumes to circulate. The best way to ensure that your chimney is free of excess soot is to use it as often as possible.

Certain types of stoves and fuel types are more prone to soot build-up than others. For example, if you have a multi-fuel stove, you should aim to have the chimney/flue swept every 12 months, whereas wood burning stoves generally only require a chimney sweep every six months.

There are, of course, other general day-to-day maintenance measures you can take to make life easier for yourself when the time arrives for those big annual or biannual cleans. If you are able to get into a routine with these, you can reduce the accumulation of ash, soot and creosote tars, and prolong the life of your stove.

Tools that will help you to be a better student

Students have to work hard to succeed. Educational standards have improved and a much higher percentage of people in the world are taking degree courses. So, you have to work smart as well as hard to get a mark that ensures you will stand out from the crowd.

There are many things you can do to give you the edge. One of which is using the right writing tools. This is especially important for students who are taking courses where a significant percentage of their final mark is reliant on their written work.

A decent plagiarism checker

These days virtually all top-end educational institutions use plagiarism-checkers, especially Turnitin. It is so popular that students have become aware of the software and would like to use it themselves to check their work before handing it in. So much so that many students ask the firm that created the software, can you use Turnitin for free?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. They only sell it to universities and other educational institutions. But, what every student can do is to put their important papers through a plagiarism checker. Doing this greatly reduces the chances of their paper being rejected or marked down because it looks like they have copied the work of others. 

The best ones pick up all kinds of plagiarism. If you have inadvertently ended up only lightly rewording something you have read, that will be picked up. Thus, enabling you to correct that issue and improve your paper while doing so. It is wise to choose a plagiarism checker that uses the biggest possible database. Doing so greatly increases of all potential issues being picked up. 

A text editor

Being able to write fast, pick up mistakes and enrich what you write will help you to produce better work. So, it is really worth investing in a good editor app.

There are several available. You can find out about 13 of them here. If you have a Mac take a look at Refly first. It is cutting edge and includes features like automatic image selection that most other editors do not have.

Create a distraction-free place to work in

To be able to produce the best work you have to focus. Something that is easier said than done in today’s world. We live in a noisy, crowded environment that is full of things that are designed to get our attention. You need to be aware of this and work to counter that by creating a distraction-free working environment, wherever you are.

Being able to sit down during your lunch break or while waiting for public transport and be able to study productively is important. All of those micro study sessions add up to hundreds of hours. So, it really is worth revising, whenever you have a few spare minutes, instead of watching YouTube.

A good pair of noise-canceling headphones will help. Turning your phone off and using timer software that forces you not to look up from what you are doing for 15 minutes can also prove effective. But, the best approach is to seek out public places like these relatively quiet spots to study in.


What to do in the event of a food recall

We all expect certain parts of our lives to be fully regulated, monitored and constantly checked to keep us and our families safe from harm. But, sometimes things fall through the cracks and when it’s something like the food we’ve eaten or the food in our cupboards that’s the issue, it can be incredibly worrying.

There are several reasons why food could be recalled, with the most common reasons being:

  • The food has been contaminated with bacteria or pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella etc
  • The food contains foreign objects such as glass, plastic or other dangerous fragments
  • Food that has been exposed to or now contains a particular ingredient that could be dangerous to those with allergens.

Scary stuff, right? It’s normal to feel frightened at this stage, especially if you have young children or you’re living with people who are particularly vulnerable, ill or frail. Check out this blog for a recent food recall article.

So, what should you do now? Read on for what to do in the event of a food recall.

Don’t panic

Easier said than done of course, but if you remain calm and collected, you’re more likely to get through this difficult time without causing too much stress and strain on yourself and your family. You’re not likely to fall ill at this stage, and it’s comforting to know that most food companies recall products as a precautionary measure, not because people are suffering or being hospitalized. Remain calm and find out as much as you can about the product that has been recalled, check the company website for more details.

Don’t eat the food

It sounds like simple advice, but you may be surprised at how many people choose to ignore given advice and dismiss health concerns. While it’s true that the recall is simply a precautionary measure you should still act responsibly and not eat the food in question. Remember, when it comes to your health and the health of your loved ones it’s much better to be safe than sorry! Don’t be tempted to feed it to your pets either, they could also get sick.

Avoid opening it

While as tempting as it may be to open the food in question, you should exercise caution. Opening the can of food and then throwing it away could result in animals (who eat through your trash either at home or at a landfill) from getting sick. You won’t be able to see any bacteria or anything that looks untoward, so there really is no point in opening the food.

Let everyone in the family know

If you’re living with family or with a housemate, make sure they’re aware of the food recall situation and clearly state/show them the food that is at risk and that they shouldn’t eat it. Be clear so there is no confusion.

Follow the advice given

The manufacturer will give guidance as to what you should do next. Including guidance for getting your money back and disposing of the food correctly.

How to save money on heating bills this winter

Winter is upon us, with temperatures already having fallen to below freezing for much of the UK and Ireland. And when we start to feel the chill the inevitable consequence is the need to use the heating more frequently in order to keep nice and cosy on those cold winter nights. Of course with greater usage comes greater costs, and it is noticeable just how much your heating bill starts to rocket in the winter months. So what can you do to try and keep your bill under control?

Here are 5 steps you can take…

Turn the thermostat down 

It sounds obvious but adjusting your thermostat slightly will save you money over the course of a year. It can be tempting when you get home to whack up the temperature in order to make yourself warm as soon as possible. However, remember you don’t need to be walking around in a t shirt and shorts – so trial your home at one degree lower than normal and see how you get on.

Improve insulation

One way to keep warm is to let less heat escape in the first place. Home insulation including cavity and roof insulation is not cheap as there is a substantial upfront cost associated with these options. However in the long term it should save you a significant amount of money on your heating bill.

Boiler Service

Another way to save money is to ensure your boiler is regularly serviced (check out this guide from emo.ie). An inefficient boiler could really be costing you, not to mention the safety risks. You may find that it makes more sense to have the boiler replaced. Although this also has a high upfront cost in the long term you will save money. Moreover, some schemes allow you to pay for the new boiler over a longer period. 

Wear more layers

Many of us may remember our parents saying “put a jumper” on when bemoaning having to put the heating on. However layering up is sound advice in terms of keeping your heating bill down. Jumpers, blanks, onesies, slippers can really help, even if it delays the time when you have to put the heating on.

Get a smart energy app

By wonder of technology we can control almost anything these days using a smart app and heating is no different. There are a number of providers to choose from that will allow you to turn your heating on and off (as well as adjust the temperature) via your mobile phone. Perfect if you forgot to turn the heating off or if you are too hot in bed etc. 

Looking after your gas range the right way

If you own a good gas range, you will want to look after it. When you do, you can get a lifetime of service out of just one range. This will save you money and help you to cook better. It is far easier to turn out delicious meals when you cook using a range that you are familiar with. Buying and getting used to a new one is always a nightmare, at least for the first few months.

Look after the one you have and you can save yourself all that hassle. Fortunately, as you will see, that is not hard to do.

Find a good repair technician

Usually, when you search for the term gas range repair near me you will end up with quite a few options. The trick is to narrow these down in the right way to quickly uncover one that will always do a good job for you. Here is what to look for.


Top of the list is hiring someone who has plenty of experience. If you see a firm that you know has been operating in your area for decades that is a good sign. It is very hard for a firm that does not provide a reliable service to stay in business for many years.


People talk about their experience with local trades. When you pay attention to these conversations you can learn a lot about how they operate and the standard of service that they provide.

It can also be a good idea to read some of the online reviews. You need to keep an eye out for those unscrupulous tradespeople who try to scam the system by paying for fake reviews. This article explains how to spot fake online reviews.

Ask them some questions

A good stovetop repair technician will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. They will also tell you if there is something you can safely do to fix the problem yourself. This sounds counter-intuitive, but a good tradesperson will never try to con you into paying them to come out for something that can easily be fixed in minutes. They understand that treating people fairly is not only the right thing to do, but is also good for business, in the long run.

Keep your stove clean

One of the most important things you can do to keep your stove running smoothly is to keep it clean. Wipe them over after each use. Doing this is far easier than trying to get weeks of fat and gunk off, at the end of the month.

Clean up any spills immediately they happen. This makes sure that liquids do not seep into the gas assembly and clog up the jets.

Have it serviced regularly

Most important of all is having it serviced regularly. If you do not, it will not work nearly as well as it should. But, more importantly, it may become unsafe to use. So, never skip a service.