Aluminium windows

Choosing the Right Colour Window Frames

There are now more options than ever when it comes to windows and in particular, window colour.

The colour of your window frames can help you achieve many different effects, and when done right, can add a new dimension to the facade of your home.

Before we go into choosing the right colour window frame for your home, here’s some advice: try not to go for whatever’s hot on Pinterest right now, or what’s ‘in’ – unless you’re absolutely sure you’re going to love it years down the line, or have the means to keep up with changing trends.

Windows will be a fixture of your house that last many years, so simply choosing what’s trendy right now is bad practice since if you change your mind, you’ll be stuck with your decision for a while.

Why Does Your Window Frame Colour Matter?

Windows are a vital feature of any home or building, but what do different window frame colours achieve, other than being a colour that you like? Think of the window as a whole and what impact you want it to have.

Dark colours create a sleek and smooth feel. Black window frames, for example, will give the feeling that the window is blending into the frame, for a uniform smoothness.

Bright colours, like a white window frame, make the window stand out, bringing in colour contrasts and vibrancy to the facade.

Glossy window frames will accentuate the frame, giving it a deeper colour and a more distinct look. A matt window frame, however, is much subtler – ideal if you don’t want to distract from the rest of your home’s exterior.

Think about how you can contrast colours against the facade to create truly striking windows. A dark window frame on a bright facade creates that colour contrast, and gives it its own personality (not to mention that bright houses with dark windows are always really striking).

These are all extra facets of design that can be achieved through the colour of your window frame, and as with lots of houses, everything is in the details.

Things to Consider When Choosing Window Frame Colours

So, how do you choose the right window frame colour for your home?

Most people will opt for either black window frames, white window frames, or neutral grey windows. These are strong colours and they’re a safe bet. At least one of those three will complement the colour of the facade and particularly works well if the facade colour is relatively subdued compared to the strong window frame colour.

If you don’t want to play it safe, there’s plenty of other colour options. Bright blue window frames set against a bright, white facade gives you that nautical, dreamy beach house look. Or how about a deep red if you have a wooden facade? This will combine well with nature and your garden.

Similar principles apply for the interior colour of your window frame. Bright colours, like white aluminium windows, will add a softness to the window when observed from the inside, whilst coloured upvc windows can be deployed in a number of different ways so you can realise your vision for the house.

Shop our website for a fantastic range of Jeld Wen windows including sash windows, casement windows and our handmade bespoke range. Free shipping is available to anywhere on the UK mainland – get in touch and order today!

Coloured wooden windows

What U-Value Should Windows Have?

When you’re shopping for a new set of windows, there’s one metric that you’re almost certain to encounter, and that’s the ‘U’ value. This number is a way of describing a window’s thermal efficiency, but what does it mean? What are the best U-value windows, and what’s the U-value of double glazing?

How Does U-Value Work?

Let’s start with some definitions. A U-value is a measure of heat energy moved through a given area of material in a given period of time. This might be a window, but it might equally be a wall or a door. It’s most often measured in watts per metres squared, when the difference in temperature between the two sides is one-degree Kelvin. Given that that’s a bit of a mouthful, we tend to say ‘W/m2K’ instead.

It’s important to note here that the U-value of a given window refers to its efficiency per square metre. So, two windows might have the same U-Value, but transmit heat at different rates because one is a different size to the other.

The lower its U-value, the better an insulator the window will be. If you’re aiming for the most thermally efficient house possible (as most of us are, cost permitting), you should almost always go for the window of the lowest U-value.

How Do You Calculate the U-Value of a Window?

If you’re buying a new window, you’ll be able to see its U-value advertised by the manufacturer. Unfortunately, calculating a window’s U-value yourself isn’t particularly easy, nor are your calculations likely to be totally accurate. However, if you’re determined to try and calculate the U-value of a window yourself, you can find out how here.

For example, not every glass panel is manufactured to the exact same standards, and what stacks up in a laboratory might not translate into the real world. While there are bodies like the BFRC (which we’ll discuss in a minute) there to maintain quality standards, it’s important to treat claims about efficiency with a degree of scepticism.

Secondly, the glass panel isn’t the only thing you need to consider – the window frame also conducts heat, and will contribute to the thermal efficiency of the window. While it’s possible to account for this in your calculation, given that the interior of a window frame is made from a range of different materials, doing so can be very difficult.

To comply with building regulations, windows (like every other element of your property) must meet a certain minimum U-value. In the case of a window, it’s 1.6 W/m2K. Double-glazed windows, filled with argon, are typically 1.4 W/m2K, while thicker triple-glazed windows can go as low as 0.7 W/m2K.

The British Fenestration Rating Council provide a colour-coded rating system to help homeowners distinguish between different qualities of window. Good windows which keep the heat in are rated A or above. Bad ones are related E or below. While this rating system is easy to follow, and will prevent buyers from making a mistake they’ll regret for years, it isn’t quite as specific as the U-value. As such, when you’re shopping, we’d suggest looking for the U-value and spending your money accordingly.

For example, Jeld Wen’s triple-glazed ‘Stormsure Energy+’ series of casement windows can have a U-value of 0.8, 0.9 or 1.0, depending on which options you select. Each window in the range, however, comes with the same BFRC rating of A+. So, if you want the absolute maximum thermal performance available, you’ll need to look beyond the lettered rating, and at the U-value.

U-Value: Double Glazing versus Triple Glazing

Given how effective double-glazing is compared to single-paned glass, you might suspect that adding an extra layer would improve things still further – and you’d be right. Triple-glazed windows are more effective insulators than their double-glazed counterparts.

That said, there are a few drawbacks to consider. Triple-glazed windows tend to be thicker, which means they’re not ideal for use in smaller frames. They’re also more difficult to manufacture, and as a result, more expensive.

Putting to one side practical considerations like these, there are a few instances where a triple-glazed window might not be as good a choice as its U-value might suggest. This is because of heat gain, or a lack of it.

As sunlight pours down onto your triple-glazed window, the heat won’t reach the interior as quickly as it might if the window were double-glazed. As such, south-facing windows which receive direct sunlight might be better suited to double-glazing than triple-glazing.

In Nordic countries where triple-glazing is widespread, there’s less sunlight, and so this issue isn’t as pressing. In the UK, it’s worth treating triple-glazing with a bit more caution. We’ve examined the thorny double-versus-triple-glazing debate in greater depth in a previous article, and if you’re considering going for triple-glazing, we’d suggest that you give it a read.

While U-value isn’t the only metric of a good window, it’s one worth paying attention to before you make your purchase. Generally speaking, the lower the U-value, the better. It’s worth investing more in a superior-quality window, as the extra cost is likely to pay for itself over the lifetime of the glazing. That said, thermal efficiency isn’t everything – if you’re not happy with the look of the window, or the warranty isn’t sufficiently long, then going for a super-efficient U-rating at all costs probably isn’t a sensible strategy.

Ready to shop for new windows? Get an estimated quote here.

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Wintery street

How to Winter-Proof Your Windows

If, like most of us, you want to reduce your heating bills, you’ll need to pay close attention to your windows – largely because they lose heat much faster than the surrounding walls. This, as you might imagine, is especially important when temperatures drop, so it’s worth thinking about before winter arrives.

What are the Most Winter-Proof Window Designs?

Let’s look at a few popular varieties of window, and how effective they are at retaining heat.

Casement Windows

A casement window operates via a hinge, and usually opens outwards. This makes it compatible with draught-reducing silicon seals, which run around the edges of the window and are compressed when the window is closed. These seals will degrade over time, gradually losing their elasticity, and so must be replaced every so often.

Sash Windows

By contrast, a sash window moves up and down (or from side to side) within the frame. In place of soft seals (which would create friction and prevent the window from moving), sash windows feature draught-excluding brushes.

Like the seals in casement windows, these brushes will wear away over time, and so should ideally be replaced every few years.

Older Windows

If you’re the owner of an older property in a conservation area, the changes you can make to your home will be limited. This is because your planning officer will want any replacement windows to conform with your existing windows.

houses in a UK village

In fact, it can sometimes be tricky to get double-glazing installed in older properties. Firstly, the difference in pressure between the interior and exterior of a double-glazed window can produce a noticeable bowing effect on the glass. Then there’s the fact that double-glazing for period properties tends to cost considerably more than typical double-glazed windows.

That’s not to say that owners of older properties are out of luck – there are plenty of new windows which work well in older properties.

Bay Windows

Bay windows, technically speaking, aren’t windows.

They’re groups of several windows, arranged together. As such, bay windows can either be casement or sash. Given that bay window protrude slightly from the building, they’re a little more vulnerable to cold spells than most other types of window.

This means you’ll want to dress the windows properly and ensure they’re thoroughly maintained.

Arched Head Windows

Arched head windows feature an arch at the top for added visual interest. The top of the arch is usually sealed into place, with the bottom of the window functioning like a traditional sash window.

What is Best for Winter: Double or Triple Glazing?

Argon-filled double glazing is the gold standard for modern windows, but there are ways to make the technology even more efficient. You could choose windows with a denser gas, like krypton or xenon – but that’s often overkill, especially since they cost considerably more than argon-filled windows.

Another option is to increase the depth of the cavity, but this would result in an incredibly thick window, and exacerbate the bowing effect we’ve already discussed. What’s more, a cavity that’s too thick can create convection currents, via which heat can be transmitted from one panel to the other.

In Scandinavia and other particularly-cold parts of the world, a popular solution is triple-glazing. Triple-glazing is formed of, as you might have guessed, three panels of glass rather than two.

houses in Svalbard

Triple-glazed windows are trickier to manufacture than double-glazed windows, so they understandably cost more. They also reduce the amount of light entering the property’s interior, and how much heat is gained through sunlight exposure. As such, if your window is south-facing, you might end up reducing the energy efficiency of your property by installing triple-glazing.

We should bear in mind that winter is relatively short in the UK, so the added expense incurred by triple-glazing should be offset against the light-reducing effect it has for the rest of the year. For most of us, there are many energy-saving measures worth considering before triple-glazing is worth the expense.

Window Ratings Explained

If you’re comparing different windows, you’ll have probably encountered all sorts of arcane terminology. To confuse matters further, British and American manufacturers use different rating systems.

U-factor

The u-factor (or u-rating) measures the rate at which heat flows from one side of a window to the other. The lower the number, the more efficient the window.

U-rating is usually determined using the centre of the glass, which means the effect of the frame is discounted. You should expect a good double-glazed window to achieve a u-rating of around 0.3. U-factor is related to R-value, which is more commonly used to calculate the efficiency of solid brickwork.

Solar Heat Gains Coefficient (SHGC)

Whenever sunlight hits your window, some of it will pass through, leaving the remainder to bounce away. In doing so, this portion will help heat your property. The higher a window’s SHGC, the more heat it gains through solar energy. In winter, this extra heat will make a difference to both your comfort, and to your energy expenditure.

Visual Transmittance (VT)

This works just like the SHGC, except instead of measuring the proportion of heat energy entering the building, we’re measuring the amount of visible light. The two don’t always correlate, as manufacturers add special coatings that filter out certain wavelengths.

Air Leakage (AL)

Air leakage measures the volume of air that can circulate through a window in a given timeframe. The lower the AL rating, the draughtier the window. In many cases, a little circulation is required to allow the building to ‘breathe’ and thereby prevent damp.

British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC)

The BFRC are the central body responsible for upholding window standards in the UK. They issue licences to approved manufacturers, and stipulate which retailers are authorised to sell approved windows. To make things a little less confusing for the customer, each window approved by the BFRC comes is rated between E and A++. This rating combines all the measurements we’ve described into a simple grade, so it’s easy to make rough comparisons between different windows.

How to Insulate Your Windows for the Winter

Whatever windows you’ve chosen, there are several steps you might take to increase their heat-retaining abilities for the season.

Heavy dressing

Heavy curtains can reduce heat lost through the windows by preventing the cold air around the glass from mixing with the warm air in the room. To get the best from this, you’ll need to actually draw your curtains at night-time.

Secondary Glazing

Secondary glazing works a little like double-glazing, except instead of two glass panels built into the same unit, a second panel is fitted to the inside of the existing window. Since there’s no pressure difference, there’s no bowing effect. What’s more, you can remove the secondary glazing when the weather gets warmer.

You can also get flexible and rigid plastic secondary glazing, called winter window clings, which can be fitted to the window frame for winter.

Re-sealing

As windows age, the seals which run around the edges wear out – i.e. the stuff that runs around the edge of the frame, and the brushes and rubber strips that sit on the frame’s inside. Make a habit of inspecting these every year, and replace them when necessary.

Draught Excluders

These are long, tubular cushions, often crammed underneath leaky doors. If your windows are draughty, they can serve the same purpose.

Low-e glass

Low-emissivity glass is glazing that’s coated with a very thin layer of reflective metal, that helps prevent heat escaping. Most modern windows are low-emissivity.

Need new windows? Browse our sliding sash or casement windows or find out about our handmade bespoke windows.

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sash bay window

Pros and Cons of Bay Windows

The term ‘bay window’ has come to refer to any window construction that protrudes from the side of the surrounding building.  They come in many configurations, with the classic ‘three-panel’ style being the most popular.  Would the design be a good fit for your home?

Bay Window Advantages

They Let Lots of Light into the Home

Bay windows are formed of multiple- usually quite large – panes of glass, and so allow lots of light to enter the building.  Better yet they can do this while taking up minimal wall-space.  Better still, the space in the nook will be lit from every direction, making the entire room will appear brighter.

They Add Space

Since bay windows expand a room slightly, you’ll get a little more space to play with.  This could be used for seating, storage, or both – or something else entirely.

They Add Value

Bay windows provide considerable curb appeal.  They’re among the first things potential buyers will notice when approaching the house from the front, and they’ll make the room into which they’re installed appear markedly more spacious.  Consequently, they should help increase the value of your property.

Bay Window Disadvantages

They’re Expensive and Potentially Complicated to Install

Bay windows are typically more complex than standard, flat windows.  What’s more, if they’re not installed correctly, they can develop issues over time, which will need to be corrected by an expert.

So, what does a bay window cost?  The answer will vary according to the type of bay window being installed.  Larger windows will require more panels, which will add to the price.  What’s more, fitting costs will depend on how many changes need to be made to the structure of the wall.  Finally, materials come into play: aluminium and wooden windows tend to cost more than uPVC windows.

They Let Lots of Light into the House

I know what you’re thinking – we listed this as an advantage of bay windows, and after all, what’s not to like about windows that let lots of light into the house?

Well, those extra rays might heat up your home a little too much during summer, particularly if they’re south-facing.  They might also cause problems in bedrooms and other areas where total darkness is sometimes required.

Window Treatments Can Be Hard to Find (and Costly)

Like any other sort of window, bay windows look their best when they’ve been properly treated.  A set of quality curtains or blinds will make all the difference – but your choice will be limited by the shape of the window, and thus finding the right treatment can be difficult, and you might need to dig a little deeper into your pockets when you do!

Considering getting new bay windows for your home? Talk to us about our bespoke range.

Want to know more about bay windows? Read our article ‘What’s the Difference Between Bay, Bow and Garden Windows?

condensation on window

Replacing Windows in a Conservation Area

Double glazing is pretty much a modern essential, and few of us that live in a house which has it could imagine reverting to living in a home with single glazing and the cold, the draughts, and the condensation that comes with it.

Unfortunately for some of us, we don’t have a choice. Specifically, those living in conservation areas may find they’re unable to upgrade to double glazing, or that they have to fight very hard to be given the green light.

Let’s explore why this might be, and what can be done to replace windows while still adhering to the rules of living in a conservation area.

What is a conservation area?

Most areas have very loose planning restrictions and homeowners can, within reason, do pretty much what they like to their properties. The result is that streets lack uniformity and can feel thrown together.

Other areas have very strict planning laws – generally when historic buildings are present, and modern home improvements would have a detrimental effect on the identity of the area, and undermine the value of its properties.

Conservation areas exist to combat this phenomenon.  They limit what can be built in the area and the changes that can be made to existing buildings. This serves to protect the aesthetics of the area and the value of its properties.  What’s more, if you buy a house in a street that has a certain look, an area’s conservation status offers assurance that the look will remain more-or-less consistent in the future.

Since 1967, more than 9000 conservation areas have been designated across England.  In practice, they allow your local authority greater control over what can be thrown up and knocked down, including things like satellite dishes and trees.

What’s the difference between a conservation area and a listed building?

When a home is in a conservation area the only concern is how it appears from the street. This means that brickwork, doors, and windows must be consistent.

If a building’s listed, the interior is protected, too. Exactly what this means is unique to each building but as a general rule, the internal structure of the building must not change and repairs and renovations must be carried out using original materials.

If your home isn’t listed, but you live in a conservation area, you might need to apply for planning permission before carrying out improvements that affect the external appearance of your property, such as replacing your windows.  This will be the case if the property is subject to something called an article 4 direction – a special power that gives your local planning authority (and in some cases, the government) the ability to withdraw some of your permitted development rights.

I live in a conservation area: should I repair or replace my windows?

If you’re jumping through hoops to secure planning permission for the windows you want, you might be tempted to save yourself the hassle and just repair them, instead.

Unfortunately, you’ll still need to follow the rules – if repairing your windows involves replacing the glass itself, you probably won’t be able to get away with changing the sort of glass you use, for example.

In either case, the name of the game should be to replicate your current window as closely as possible.  This might mean that you end up paying slightly over the odds – but the investment will prove worthwhile in the long run.  For one thing, you’ll not be forced to tear the window out and start afresh; for another, you’ll be preserving the value of the entire street.

What about double glazing?

Double glazing works by sandwiching a layer of inert gas between two panes of glass.  This severely restricts the flow of heat from one side to the other, increasing the energy efficiency of any given property.

But double glazed windows look different to windows with a single pane of glass.  For one thing, they require a chunkier frame.  For another, the glass tends to bend and bow as the atmospheric pressure changes relative to the gas inside the window.  From the street, this creates a warping effect that would look out of place in a period property.

With all that said, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with installing double glazed windows into a conservation area – provided that the local conservation committee don’t judge your new window to be a considerable departure from the old one.  If you’re replacing a single glazed window with a double glazed one, you might find that this necessitates a slightly chunkier frame, and glazing bars that sit atop the surface of a larger pane rather than dividing the window into smaller ones.

What’s next?

Planning restrictions can seem a little, well, restrictive.  Especially when you’re the one needing to wriggle free of them.  In the case of conservation areas, your local officials will have the final word over what’s allowed and what isn’t – this can mean it’s worth meeting with your conservation officer before you make your application, to talk through the options.  Getting on good terms with them, and supplying them with a detailed plan of your intentions, will vastly increase your chances of being given the go-ahead.

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bay windows

What’s the Difference Between Bay, Bow and Garden Windows?

Bay windows, bow windows, and garden windows, technically speaking, aren’t windows at all, but arrangements of several windows which together form a cohesive whole.  That said they are a much-desired feature in homes both old and new.

Let’s take a moment to consider the differences between them, and see which might make the best fit for your home.

What is a bay window?

bay window

A Bay window comprises a single central window flanked by two ‘venting’ windows on either side. The centremost window is set a little beyond the walls, and the two venting windows make up the distance, usually at a diagonal angle of between 30° and 45°. The central window is usually a casement window, while the two on either side can either be casement or sash windows, depending on the preference of the homeowner.

What is a bow window?

bow window

Bow windows take this arrangement a stage further. Rather than having one central window and two supporting cast-members, a bow window consists of a whole series of windows which fan out from the side of the house in a crescent ‘bow’ shape. Each window might be angled at ten degrees or less in order to achieve a single sweeping structure where no one element dominates. Functionally, they’re much the same as bay windows – except they can be shallower, and they tend to be much wider.

What is a garden window?

garden window

A garden window is designed to serve as a nook for plants and other decorations. It usually comes with a sloped glass ‘roof’ at the top and casement windows at the sides, to allow the maximum possible light into the space in the middle. If you’re looking to grow herbs in your kitchen, a garden window is perfect. This way, you’ll have easy access to your plants when you’re in a hurry – and you won’t have to spend as much time worrying about them being knocked over.

Bay Windows vs Bow Windows

There are a number of differences between bay and bow windows that will impact which one will be better suited to you and your home.

Want to maximise how much light you let into your home? You should probably choose a bow window.

Is it important for you to be sympathetic to the style of your property? Bow windows tend to be a better fit for period properties and bay windows, more contemporary properties.

Do you want space for storage or seating? You’re going to want to choose a bay window.

Of course many homeowners’ chief concern when choosing between a bay and bow window will be cost.

So how does the cost of bay and bow windows compare?

Since bow windows are typically larger and comprised of more glass than bay windows, they are generally the more expensive of the two options – often by quite a substantial amount.

So what should you choose – a bay, bow or garden window?

These three designs share much in common, but they have many differences, too. Often the structure of your property will dictate whether you should (or can) choose a bay, bow or garden window.

If, however, you’re in a position to choose between the three types, don’t feel bound by what you “should” have, based on your property type. With a little thought and planning, a window that’s perfectly suited to the space you have in mind can be easily created.

Looking for new windows for your home? Browse our sliding sash or casement windows or find out about our handmade bespoke windows.

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Powerplant

20 Ways You’re Wasting Energy

Homes today are more energy-efficient than they’ve ever been. They’re also filled with more energy-draining items than ever before. You might not think much about leaving the fridge open while you make a sandwich, or spending an extra five minutes in the shower, but together, the energy you’re wasting really adds up.

What Wastes the Most Energy?

1.      Overboiling

Let’s kick off with a classic – boiling more water than you need to.  If you’re boiling a litre of water every day to provide one 200ml cup of tea, then you’re boiling 292 litres more water than you need to each year.  That’s enough to fill around four bathtubs.  If you’re boiling water on a gas hob, then you’ll save yourself money – just be sure to switch it off as soon as it comes to temperature!

2.      Fridge Doors

Leaving the fridge door open longer than necessary is another common way we waste energy. It might not seem like a big deal to leave it open while you get a bowl of cereal or make a sandwich but for every second that door’s open, your fridge is forced to work harder (and is wasting energy unnecessarily while it’s at it).

3.      Overusing the oven

The microwave is far more efficient for reheating food than your oven.  When you are using your oven, avoid opening the door to check how your food’s doing – ovens lose heat fast and have to use more energy to get back to temperature.

4.      Gaps

Tiny gaps around the edges of your doors, or between the bottom of your curtains and windowsill, will contribute to energy wastage.  During winter, you can correct these problems with the help of a draught excluder or a pile of towels. Alternatively, try sealing gaps (or investing in new windows or doors).

5.      Washing too hot

Most laundry will wash just as well at 30°C as it will at 40°C.  This will also extend the lifespan of your clothes. Separate your washes so that the most severe stains can be dealt with at higher temperatures.

6.      Washing too light

The more clothes you can wash simultaneously, the fewer loads you’ll have to do and the less you’ll have to spend on washing.  Of course, there’s an upper limit to this wisdom – you’ll need to provide the water with space to drain properly, and the clothes with space to move around.

7.      Underloading the dishwasher

The same logic applies to the dishwasher – except you don’t really need to worry about overfilling a dishwasher.  Fill your dishwasher to capacity and use the most efficient setting.  You can use the money you save to invest in more crockery and cutlery!

8.      Drying

Drying your clothes naturally by hanging them on clothes horses, or out in the garden on the line, will save a considerable amount of money relative to a using a tumble-dryer.  Your choice of dryer will also impact the money you spend.  Which? suggest that a C-rated dryer costs around 49p per load, compared to just 14p for an A-rated one.

9.      Bathing

Baths are expensive – period.  Replace just one bath a week with a five-minute shower and you could save about £40 a year on your water and heating bills.

10.  Long Showers

A long shower might relax you, but the cost won’t. Just 8 minutes under an electric shower costs between 20 and 30p. Double that time, and double it again for a 2 person household, and you’re looking at up to £1.20 a day – or £438 a year!

11.  Inefficient showers

Modern showerheads are able to create the illusion that they’re using more water than they actually are.  If you can, adjust your showerhead to provide a pressurised blast of not-very-much-water.

12.  Not switching things off

If you’re leaving a room and no-one’s in it, turn off the lights.  Simple.

13.  Light bulbs

Traditional halogen bulbs are on the way out.  Modern LED bulbs are many, many times more efficient – and the gap is certain to keep growing.   In fact, the rate of improvement is sufficient that stockpiling spare bulbs is inadvisable!

14.  Not turning the TV off

Many of us like to cap off a week by unwinding on the sofa with a glass or two of wine and a marathon of television.  You’re not going to get much enjoyment from your favourite shows, however, after you’ve fallen asleep – so be sure to switch off and go to bed before you crash out.

15.  Leaving the tap running

This is totally unnecessary.  The average tap can dispense six litres of water in a minute, which adds up to more than eight thousand litres per person brushing their teeth every year.  Just turn it off!

16.  Ignoring a leaky tap

That drip-drip-drip might not seem worth worrying about but as we’ve seen, small amounts of wastage can add up.  That tap’s going to be leaking 24 hours a day.  Get it fixed.

17.  Not programming your thermostat

If you’ve invested in a programmable thermostat, then you’ll want to do some actual programming.  It’s incredibly easy, and it could save you around £70 a year.  That way you can be sure you’re not wasting energy when you’re not home.

18.  Leaving your hot water cylinder exposed

Insulating this contraption will save around £20 a year – and perhaps more.  The improvement takes seconds, and you’ll only need to do it once!

19.  Keeping an old boiler

Old boilers tend to be massively inefficient.  Since heating represents around 60% of the average household’s costs, upgrading to a modern A-rated boiler can make a substantial difference!

20. Not using stacked steamers

If you’re going to be cooking broccoli, asparagus, potatoes and carrots, is there really any need to boil four separate pans?  Of course not – invest in a set of stacked steamers, place the lid on the top, and cook four things using the same energy it takes to heat a single pan.

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Bedroom

How Much Do Curtains Help with Heat Retention?

If you’re looking to save money on your energy bills, then you should view your windows as a priority.  A significant amount of heat is lost through a home’s windows, but there’s an easy way to reduce that loss – curtains.

Why do curtains help with heat retention?

Curtains help with heat retention by limiting the flow of air between the warm and cold areas of a room.  Even double-glazed windows will afford heat with a chance to escape, but a set of heavy curtains will form a barrier that’ll limit the flow of air from the main room to the window.

While some air particles will be able to move through the gaps in a curtain, many of them will encounter resistance – just like wind blowing against a ship’s sail.

Even if the air immediately beside the window cools considerably, if it doesn’t have the opportunity to mix with the warm air in the rest of the room, you won’t notice – and neither will your energy bills.

What about letting sunlight in?

Of course, if we’re concerned about energy efficiency, then we shouldn’t just be concerned with heat escaping the room; we should also worry about the sunlight that might find its way in.  Heat from outside your property can limit the strain on your energy bills.  It’s of particular concern if the window in question is south-facing, as there will be more direct sunlight to allow into the house.  As a rule, you should open up your curtains as soon as the light strikes them for best effect.

What sort of curtains are most effective for heat retention?

According to researchers from the University of Salford, drawing your curtains at dusk can reduce heat loss by around 15-17%.   With blinds, the figure is a little lower at 13-14%, but the difference is enough to make closing them worth it.  These findings have been echoed in laboratories across the world, with the US department of energy putting the figure at around 10%. This can go up to 25% if you’d like to seal your curtains to your wall on either side with electrical tape.  While this might seem like an extreme measure, it’s one that might be worth considering in areas where the rear of the curtains is unlikely to be visible.

How much heat can curtains help retain?

By extension, heavier curtains are better at preventing heat exchange between the cold air around the window and the warm air in the rest of the room.  The thicker the curtains, generally speaking, the more effective they are as an insulator.  The best insulating curtains come with a lining attached to the rear, which is designed to limit airflow and noise transfer.  You might even consider a second pair of curtains, designed for exactly this purpose, which hang just behind the first pair.

Bird on a window ledge

Why Do Birds Fly into Windows (and how can you stop it?)

Many modern conveniences that benefit us are harmful to the animal kingdom, who can’t understand that roads are hazardous or anti-freeze is poisonous.  Windows are another common hazard – especially to birds.

Why do birds fly into windows?

There are three main causes of window collisions.  The first is probably the least harmful, and it comes about mostly during spring, thanks to territoriality.  A bird will perceive its own reflection as another bird, and attack.  Since birds rarely attack one another by simply ramming their rivals out of the sky, such attacks are unlikely to threaten the bird’s life.  They’ll simply be dazed and confused for a moment, before recovering and flying away.

The other two causes are more likely to result in serious harm, or even death.  During the day, a bird might spy a plant they quite like the look of in the window, or a reflection of one from the garden outside.  Flying towards it, they’ll smash into the glass.  Other collisions happen at night, when nocturnal birds will be drawn towards the light.  What draws them toward the light, however, is a matter of some debate.

How can we stop birds flying into windows?

Preventing birds from flying into a window is a simple matter of making that window seem impassable.  Placing opaque strips along the length of the window, so that a bird’s wingspan would be unable to squeeze through the gaps, will prevent most collisions.  Of course, placing masking tape, plastic strips, or other such things on the exterior of your window will alter the aesthetics of the building, so you’ll probably want to perform a risk assessment before proceeding.

Other options include mosquito screens, hung externally; tightly-strung netting that will literally cause birds to bounce away unharmed. Specially-manufactured anti-bird tape is another option. This will do the same job as masking tape , with less visual impact.

Drawing your curtains at night will naturally prevent nocturnal birds from being drawn in by the light in your home.  It’ll help keep your heating bills under control, too.  Finally, if you have a cat who can be persuaded to sit on the windowsill for large portions of the day, you might find that birds are dissuaded from coming near!

French doors with window shutters

The Benefits of Window Shutters

Window shutters are an often-overlooked form of window furnishing. Most people turn to curtains or blinds to dress their windows, but shutters can offer an attractive and quirky alternative, and they have many practical benefits, too.

Sound and Thermal Insulation

While shutters are closed, the wooden panels offer good sound insulation, and some heat insulation, too. This works both ways – in the summer, it’s possible to open the windows while keeping the panels shut, allowing air to flow while keeping the heat from the sun out.

You can achieve similar results with thick, heavy curtains if you want a more traditional look for your living room. Shutters make a good choice for a kitchen or bathroom, however, where thicker fabrics aren’t ideal. That leads us to…

Low Maintenance Requirements

Blinds and curtains can attract dust, and keeping the fabrics clean can be difficult. Plantation shutters are a good choice for people with allergies, because they are easy to keep clean. Simply wipe them down with a damp cloth from time to time and you won’t have any issues with dust build-up. When you need a fresh look, simply re-paint the shutter in a different colour!

Added Privacy

When you close a set of shutters they cover the whole window. When you adjust the louvres you can let light in, without making it easy for people to see inside your home, in a similar way to how you can let a little light in by adjusting venetian blinds. Curtains, on the other hand, are either open or closed, so unless you have net curtains behind them to filter the light, you lose all privacy when you open them.

Extra Curb Appeal

Interior shutters are a nice added-extra that could make your home more appealing to prospective buyers. They are a more ‘semi-permanent’ fixture than curtains or blinds, however, and this could backfire if the prospective buyer doesn’t like them. That said, it’s relatively easy to remove a set of shutters and replace them with blinds or curtains if that’s what the buyer prefers, and you can remind them of this.

UV Protection

Shutters with louvres can be angled to control how much light gets into the room – in much the same way that blinds can be angled. When you want to let light flood into the room, the panels can be fully opened. Adjusting the louvres can direct light away from furniture and flooring, prolonging the life of the furniture and preventing patterns from fading.

Many shutters are finished with a UV-protective layer, which will protect the paint or wood stain finish, and stop the panels from warping.

Shutters are timeless, and are a stylish and eye-catching window treatment. They may not suit every room, but there is a certain appeal to having them on the ground floor – especially for kitchens, and “the den”. If you like the soft and elegant look of curtains, don’t forget that you can use tie backs as a trim around your shutters, to enjoy the best of both worlds.