Category Archives for "Green Home"

UPVC French doors – a buyers guide

uPVC French Doors: A buyer’s guide

French doors can add an elegant and classic look to any home, offering an easy flow through the home and linking outside spaces to the home effortlessly. French doors have been popular in British homes for a long time and the classic look will never go out of fashion. There are three options for homeowners in the modern market; French doors, Sliding Doors and Bi-folding doors. French doors are perfect for a medium opening, with two doors which open from the center to give the feel of a large, unobstructed gap. This gives a much wider area than a single door and provides easy access with no central bar or pane of glass, such as you would find on a sliding door. Sliding doors have become less fashionable in recent years and have been criticised for people walking into them and knocking them off their runner! Bi-folding doors are excellent for a large opening but are often excessive for a medium space as they are costly for a limited space.

UPVC French doors

French Door Materials

There are significant differences in the 3 types of material used for French door manufacture each one has its own features.

Timber: The main issue with using wooden external French doors is that, if not properly sealed, timber will saturate or dry out. This “instability” is what causes timber French doors to deform. They can develop draughts from gaps surrounding the door when the wood shrinks as it dries out or sticks & jams when the wood swells as it absorbs water. However, with good maintenance, hardwood timber doors will last 40 or more years, much longer than other materials.

Aluminum: Aluminium French doors are a good option, being very light and strong. However, also
being made from metal, they are cold to the touch.
The metallic structure of the frame necessitates a thermal break between the inside and outside
surfaces. If this thermal break is not made well, then the frames will transmit heat, cold and even
develop condensation on the inner surfaces.

UPVC French doors: This material has such a lot of things going for it. Light, strong, cost-efficient and a natural
insulator, UPVC frames used for French doors offer the best features of all the other material
combined. Most uPVC doors will last 20 or more years, giving excellent value for money and with a
wide choice of colors on the market now, they are the most versatile. Most uPVC doors also come
with multipoint locking systems as standard, improving the security of your doors.
In addition, uPVC doors are very easy to look after. All that they need to keep them looking as good
as new is a wipe/wash clean. They will never need painting and should retain their colour. They are
not affected by bad weather such as rain, frost, and snow nor should the colour fade in strong
sunlight. The door will not warp due to a change in the air temperature and moisture as a wooden
door does.

Energy Efficiency and Insulation

upvc french doors The door should be well insulated to stop the cold getting in and the heat getting out of your home thus making them very energy efficient. If you have glazing in the door it should either be double or triple glazed. Another benefit of being well insulated is that they should reduce noise levels inside your home if you happen to live on a street that is busy with traffic passing by. A good indication that your door has a quality seal is that when you close it shut it should do so with a good solid feel.
To make the doors as energy efficient as possible, a standard UPVC French door is fitted with double glazed sealed units. To further enhance the performance, the sealed units can be filled with Argon gas and low-emissivity glass can be substituted for standard glass. Some companies are offering triple glazed windows as well but always look for the A+ rated windows as they will be the most energy-efficient available. The UPVC frames themselves are multi-chambered (much like a honeycomb), which also benefits the overall energy efficiency of the door set. If you’re interested in making your home more eco-friendly, read our guide


As mentioned previously, uPVC doors are often the most secure set of patio doors on the market. The security of French doors has, in the past, been subject to question. Modern French door designs have addressed previous criticism and can now incorporate security features such as:

1. Multi-point locks that engage at the top, bottom and sides
of the frame.
2. Deadbolts that secure the doors to the top & bottom of the
outer frame.
3. 5 lever mortice key locks on each door leaf.
4. Pinless hinges. 3 sets per door.
5. Internally operated thumb-turn locks (cannot be operated
from the outside).
6. Internally glazed & beaded so the glass cannot be removed
from the outside.
7. Toughened, tempered safety glass.

All these features mean that uPVC French doors are much more secure than their rivals and you can be secure in the knowledge that your doors are just as resilient as your hardwood front door! To make sure you are fully secure, buy a uPVC door with a British Standard PAS 24-1. This means that the door and frame, as well as the locking mechanism, have successfully gone through several physical tests.


Should you upgrade to a Smart Digital Thermostat?

Dusting off the old dial on your wall & upgrading to something that is closer to resembling a gizmo in star trek rather than a thermostat! 

In the wake of growing awareness about energy conservation, a Smart Thermostat is a welcome innovation. It plays a major role in energy conservation, while looking chic and tasteful!  The thermostat has received a glorious make-over. The smart thermostat is well designed and stylish.

A Smart Thermostat enables you to control the temperature of your house at the click of a button from your phone or a tablet. You can also programme it as per your schedule. The internet connectivity enables the thermostat to get information about the weather and heat up the home accordingly. Some of these thermostats can gauge how long it will take to heat up a room. Many thermostats have motion-detectors that notice the presence of people in the house. In the absence of people, the thermostat automatically lowers its heating. All this can be done via a simple app installed on the phone!

Another interesting feature in these Smart Thermostat is its ability to ‘Learn’. It learns about your room and surroundings to decide the perfect temperature for your room. Hence, instead of programming the gadget to turn on at a particular time or temperature, it is possible to just tell the thermostat exactly what time you need the room to be warm. Eventually, it also learns of your preferences along with habits and heats up your home without you having to remind it.

Efficient and optimum use of energy is of vital importance today. This can even save a considerable amount of money. With the smart thermostats, it is now possible to track, measure and record regular energy usage. Such insights can provide us with numbers about how much energy we really consume and how heavily it costs us. The reading provided by the thermostat also help in figuring out areas where money can be saved. Lower energy wasted leads to lower energy bills.

10 years ago, central heating for a home via a simple phone would be unimaginable. Thermostats would be kept switched on even when people weren’t in the house. The consumption of energy in such times is undoubtedly high. With the introduction of this game-changing technology, the amount of energy saving is bound to increase. The bigger picture is a healthier earth.

Smart thermostats

The new smart thermostats claim that their use can ensure energy saving. But it is important to understand that without monitoring the energy usage and implementing energy saving methods, it is impossible to save energy. It is exactly like a diet plan. No matter how many diets are prescribed to you, only the one which you follow can give you results accordingly.

The market is now introduced to various smart thermostats. Each one comes with its own set of features and specialties. Right from the design to the interface, everything about these thermostats is smartly developed. The debut of these new thermostats in the market is reason enough to upgrade your thermostat too!

Nest Smart Thermostat 

Nest is a thermostat owned by Google. It looks very attractive and is extremely easy to use. Every day, you turn the heat down before leaving for work and turn it up after coming back. Eventually, it will pick up your pattern and start doing it on its own.

The thermostat has a built-in motion detector to understand if there is no one at home. When the house is empty, it lowers the temperature to a safe but affordable level. Due to this feature, you don’t have to reprogramme it even when you are away traveling. It allows you to schedule the timing for heating water as well. Apart from the programmed time, the thermostat turns down the water heating.

Nest’s Wi-fi feature allows you to send commands as well as provides the details of weather conditions sourced from the internet to help adjust the temperature appropriately. The app provides complete details about energy usage. It provides reports on the amount of energy used and saved. A little leaf image is displayed when the energy is used efficiently. Over the time, it becomes difficult to earn the leaf, prompting you to save more energy.


Nest Thermostat

Hive, from British Gas

Hive is an innovation by British Gas. It looks humble and subtle, but in reality, it is modern and ultra high tech with web connectivity and app-access, and super easy to use interface. A hub is plugged into your broadband router which allows you to communicate with the thermostat. It allows you to set schedules for hot water and temperature heating from the app. Feedback and report are also provided to monitor the usage and saving of energyBritish Gas claims that using Hive can save upto 130 pounds a year. This is purely due to the energy saved by the customer. Recently, Hive also launched an array of new compatible products which include motion sensors, window and door sensors, and smart plugs. It is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant too.


Tado is a self-sufficient thermostat which can gauge the outside temperature and accordingly heat up the home. It has motion detectors by which it understands when the house is empty and it lowers the heat. The use of geofencing is one of the most admired features in Tado. It lowers the use of heat when you leave for work. Once you start for your home, it receives notification about your movement via GPS on your phone. The thermostat then raises the temperature in the house. Tado claims that the use of their thermostat can save up to 31% energy. It is compatible with Siri and Alexa.

Tado thermostat

There you have it! For more interesting posts, check out our homepage: 

Going green at home?

In this post we look at what constitutes a green home 


Eco-friendly. Energy-efficient. Sustainable. Responsible. Comfortable. Healthy. Economical. Smart. Fun.

Green Building is a whole-systems approach through design and building techniques to minimize environmental impact and reduce the energy consumption of buildings while contributing to the health of its occupants.”
—  City of Scottsdale Green Building Program

Ready to make the move to a green, eco-friendly, sustainable, energy-efficient home? It makes complete sense: Green homes are built using sustainable practices that conserve not only energy, water and other natural resources, but also preserve our environment, strengthen our local economy and promote a better quality of life for those who live there.

Benefits of a Green Home

  • Peace of mind – knowing you are contributing to global sustainability rather than global warming
  • Healthier for the occupants, the planet and future generations
  • Highly desirable from a resale value as demand — and energy costs — grow
  • Economical because it saves energy, water and other resources – and money
  • Eco-friendly and environmentally responsible thanks to use of resource-efficient and low-impact materials
  • Durable, comfortable and low maintenance
  • Cheaper to run!

Green Home Features

  • Built with local or regional materials such as adobe, block, brick, straw bale or advanced energy-efficient materials (i.e. Integra block or autoclaved aerated concrete)
  • Proper orientation, shaded areas and passive solar
  • Protected, shaded outdoor spaces to reduce the extreme temperature range between the exterior and interior of the house
  • Powered or supported by non-polluting sustainable energy sources including solar hot water, photo voltaics or wind
  • Super-tight building envelopes with upgraded insulation and high-performance windows and doors
  • Xeriscape (low water use) landscaping plus rainwater collection and storage systems
  • Energy Star-rated or better appliances
  • HVAC systems: Minimum 13 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating or better air conditioners utilizing efficient ductwork with adequate returns and filtration plus ceiling fans in all major rooms
  • Air source heat pump
  • Insulated properly
  • Healthy, comfortable indoor air quality and room environments
  • Sustainable interior materials (flooring like bamboo, concrete or cork and low VOC paint)
  • Water-efficient toilets, low-flow showerheads, graywater recovery systems, hot water recirculation system and other innovations


How to plant a tree

Trees reduce CO2 fact. You should know this….

How to plant a tree

  1. Choose at least a 5-to-6-foot tree grown to nursery standards.
  2. Select a site with enough room for roots and branches to reach full size. Avoid overhead and underground utilities.
  3. Dig a planting area as deep as the root ball and 3 to 5 times its diameter. Add fertilizer or other soil amendments.
  4. Set the root ball in the middle, even with ground level, but do not pack down the soil.
  5. Water generously.
  6. Stake the tree to flex with the wind. Mulch to within 6 inches of the tree trunk.
  7. Water regularly to keep the soil from drying out.

Did you know that…

  • Planting three trees around your house can block incoming sunlight by as much as 70 percent and reduce air-conditioning cost by 10 to 50 percent.
  • Awnings, overhangs, and shutters mounted on the south, east and west sides of your house will save you $100 to $150 each year thereafter in cooling costs.
  • Tree-filled neighborhoods can be up to 9 degrees cooler than unshaded streets.

Trees, Please

Have you ever noticed how much cooler it is in a grove of trees, or even how much more comfortable you feel just hearing the sound of the wind rustling in the leaves? Besides the aesthetic pleasure they give, trees can improve our quality of life in other ways as well.

Because they use carbon dioxide as they grow, trees can offset and even reduce CO2 emissions. If you plant three trees on the southeast and southwest sides of your home, you can cut your air conditioning bills as well as clean up the air and cool the globe. According to American Forests, the nation’s oldest citizens’ conservation organization, there are at least 100 million spots around our homes and in our towns and cities suitable for trees. When trees shade houses, buildings and pavement from the sun, they help cool down the “heat islands” that build up around pavement and other dark surfaces. “Nature’s air conditioners” also help clean up he air, by filtering airborne particles with their leaves and branches.

Trees and the forests they create play a critical role in maintaining the health of our environment. Their root systems prevent erosion and thereby protect water quality. Their leaves filter the air and, through the shade, they cast, reduce global warming. The natural community that develops around forests also helps protect the planet by providing a safe and nurturing environment for all kinds of fish and wildlife.

Unfortunately, forests in this country and around the world are being squeezed by increasing demands for wood and paper. For example, between 50 and 100 acres of tropical rainforest — an area the size of ten city blocks — are destroyed every minute. At that rate, there will be no intact tropical forest left within one hundred years. Forests in North America, particularly the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest, are also under stress.

Many offices and individuals have already begun to address deforestation issues at home and abroad by recycling paper and by buying recycled paper products. Here are a few other actions you might consider to minimize your need for wood:

  • Hire eco-conscious carpenters or contractors.
    A growing number of construction suppliers are using wood salvaged from other construction projects, particularly in applications that will be hidden from view when the construction is complete. Other contractors are opting for lumber that is “sustainably” harvested from forests, so that the trees are removed from the forest selectively, without destroying the entire forest ecosystem.
  • Consider alternative building materials.
    Agricultural by-products such as wheat straw, coconut palm and bamboo have become viable materials for home and office construction.
  • Try paper alternatives.
    Some consumers and companies are turning to kenaf, a paper-like product derived from the fast-growing hibiscus cannabis plant. The plant produces 3-5 tons more fiber per acre than comparable trees that are harvested for paper production, and require 15-25% less energy during the production process.
  • Use computer technology for correspondence.
    Instead of printing out memos or letters on stationary, use electronic mail to get your messages across.

12 Easy Steps to a Healthier Home

You’re eating organic foods, exercising more and generally improving how you care for yourself. Well done! Now it’s time to focus on the health of your home. Research shows detoxing your home of harsh chemicals and synthetics can improve the health of you and your family. And, it’s a lot easier than you think. Look at the list below and choose what’s right for you and venture forward – one step at a time.

  1. Replace Toxic Cleaning Products
    The quickest way to reduce toxins in your home is to replace toxic cleaning products with effective, earth friendly ones. There are a variety of natural cleaning products on the market but some of the best germ/dirt fighting cleaners are in your kitchen pantry. White vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), lemon juice, baking soda, club soda, and borax are just a few. Get yourself a copy of Clean House, Clean Planet as it is a wealth of information and recipes on how to clean your home with ingredients you probably already have.
  2. Reduce the amount of plastic in your home.
    Plastic releases toxic fumes long after you’ve purchased the item. Consider choosing glass or ceramic containers to reheat leftovers, solid wood or natural baskets in place of plastic bins (check out for simple construction ideas), wood instead of plastic toys and choose natural fibers instead of vinyl for upholstery and tablecloths.
  3. Use Low VOC Paints
    When painting, use low VOC paints found at or try old fashioned milk paints ( for a beautiful, healthy alternative. These choices are both good for your health and for the ozone!
  4. Choose solid wood instead of pressed wood furniture � especially for children’s rooms.
    Pressed wood, aka particle board, releases formaldehyde for years polluting the air around you. Check your yellow pages for a bare wood furniture store. The prices are typically very affordable and you can finish yourself (use low VOC paints ^ see above) saving you money and exposure to toxic chemicals. Take it a step further and ensure that the wood is sustainably grown.
  5. It reduces dehydration and saves energy.
    Drink lots of water and turn your heating thermostat down 5 degrees and your air-conditioning thermostat up 5 degrees. Believe it or not, they go hand in hand. On the go, use a stainless steel water bottle instead of plastic, which has been shown to leach.
  6. Create a microclimate in your home by adding plenty of green plants.
    It adds to the humidity of your home and green plants absorb many of the chemicals released by furniture, carpets, paint, etc. They also add plenty of beauty too. Mind you – we’re referring to live plants…not the green plastic ones!
  7. Natural Fiber Mattress
    When it’s time for a new mattress purchase a replacement made with natural fibers. Wool is a great fiber year ’round and allows for moisture to be wicked away providing a better nights sleep. Wool is also a natural fire retardant eliminating the need for toxic chemicals (here’s an interesting note: Synthetic foam found in most mattresses  burns like jet fuel once ignited). Natural cotton and latex are also great choices as they don’t have the toxic chemicals of foam filled beds and are just as supportive. Click here for more information on the benefits of a natural mattress. Of course, don’t forget organic cotton linens. Most sheets use formaldehyde in the sizing and it’s released even after it’s been washed many times so organic cotton is the healthy and environmental choice
  8. Prevent colds and allergies by purifying the air.
    This can be done several ways. Purchase an essential oil diffuser such as a geode aromatherapy diffuser. Use a blend such as Amrita’s Invincibility Aromatherapy Blend to fight viruses and illness causing bacteria. If you don’t want to go to the expense of purchasing a diffuser, you can simmer (not boil) a pot of hot water on the stove and add about 10-12 drops of essential oil. For allergy sufferers, purchase a HEPA filter or an IonizAir. Use a vacuum cleaner that is bagless and utilizes a HEPA filter to trap dust and hair. We recommend the Dyson DC07 All Floors bagless vacuum. For mold, be sure to check the surrounding area for leaks as mold thrives in damp areas. To get rid of mold, simply spray a solution of borax and water to the area and let sit. Scrub.
  9. Practice organic gardening methods.
    Check out this fabulous website for organic fertilizers. They offer a product called Earth Juice that is an organic liquid fertilizer good for both lawn/trees/houseplants. It’s concentrated and affordable too (a quart is about $11). They also carry beneficial insects, predatory nematodes and other goodies to help your garden grow. Build a compost bin or purchase an easy to use Envirocycle that comes assembled and all you have to do is occasionally spin to produce beneficial compost and compost tea. For organic herbs and medicinal plants check out Lingle’s Herbs at They offer excellent quality plants and have an informative website and newsletter. You can subscribe by emailing Tell them that sent ya.
  10. Eat organically.
    Recent research has shown that not only does organically grown food taste better – it’s better for you. Many organic products are similarly priced to their conventional counterparts, but mostly you can expect to pay roughly 30% more for organic. The price is higher due to increased growing costs (they don’t use cheap pesticides and many times hand weed and hand harvest) and higher freight cost (vine or tree ripened fruit doesn’t keep as long). Explore your local farmers markets and natural foods stores for good values.If you don’t have access to a natural foods market explore local CSA members. CSA or Community Supported Agriculture is a growing movement of local farmers who have banded together to spread the word of eating locally grown food. By visiting this website you can enter in your state and find a local CSA near you. Here’s how it works. You pay a weekly fee for a box of locally grown fruits and veggies during the harvest. If it’s a hard year, there’s not much in your box, but if it’s a bountiful year, your box overflows with produce! It’s a wonderful way to support local agriculture, support organic farming and benefit from a variety of goods.
  11. Choose pure, natural skin care.
    Many small companies make wonderful skin and hair care products without the use of chemicals and extenders. Nature provides an abundance of alternatives and when you find a gem, well, odds are you’ll be hooked. Just be sure to read labels, ask questions and most importantly, use your products when you get them. Natural products usually have a decent shelf life, however, they won’t last indefinitely as chemically preserved ones do. They’re typically hand made and created with your health in mind.
  12. Try alternative and complementary therapies
    Explore and be open minded about alternative and complementary therapies in regards to everyday aches and pains. Homeopathy, aromatherapy and herbal medicine have been practiced for hundreds and in some cases, thousands of years and have a track record. Not all practices are for everyone, and do consult with your doctor if you are taking prescription medications. Knowing and understanding how the body works and responds does a lot to facilitate healing. Knowledge is power and this is one area where you, and your family, can benefit greatly. Once you find what works, stock your medicine cabinet accordingly.

These are just a few ideas to create a healthy and less toxic home. Don’t feel as though this is a daunting task. Just take one idea and try it. Then move one to another. If you would like to learn in more detail about the above ideas, purchase the book Living Organic It’s a beautiful and informative book loaded with practical ideas to detoxify your home. If you are looking for more detailed recipes for natural cleaning products definitely purchase Clean House, Clean Planet as it is a wealth of information on how to clean your home with everyday items. You’ll save enough money in a month to pay for the book. Your wallet and your body will love you for it.

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