Have you ever wondered how to make your home more sustainable? The need to reduce energy bills, lower food costs and keep a lid on the amount of waste produced means it is an issue that households can no longer afford to ignore. Here, sustainability expert Joanna Yarrow – who is the sustainability manager for IKEA - provides her top tips for making your home a brighter shade of green.
1. Lighting accounts for around 20 per cent of energy in the home, and so you can trim your energy bills by making the most of natural daylight by decorating rooms in light colours and keeping curtains pulled back. When you need lights switch to LED bulbs. They consume 85 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent lighting and last 20 times longer (up to 20 years per bulb), contain no mercury and can be fully recycled.
2. The average UK household wastes around £680 worth of food each year, throwing away one bag of groceries in every three bought. To make the most of the food you buy, invest in food containers that keep opened food and leftovers in good condition. All IKEA containers can be used in the fridge, freezer and microwave. The smaller ones have a vent in the lid that makes heating in the microwave more efficient and the larger containers have a removable grid that helps keep vegetables stored in the container fresher for longer.
3. Cut your cooking’s energy use by 40 per cent by changing your hob. IKEA induction hobs use magnetic field technology to heat just the pan, not the rest of the hob or surrounding air. This reduces cooking time by up to 60 per cent. If you cook once a day this could save you 73 hours each year (compared to cooking on a standard ceramic hob) – just think what you could do with all that time!
4. Domestic water use accounts for 10 per cent of overall freshwater consumption. IKEA taps use a pressure compensating aerator, which adds air to the flow, reducing water use without affecting pressure. This can reduce consumption by up to 40 per cent, saving you money on heating water – even more if your water is metered.
5. Don’t let the heat escape. Since many homes lose heat through the floors, area rugs are the unsung heroes of low-cost, quick-fix energy solutions. You can also save energy and regulate indoor temperatures by using textiles to insulate your window and door openings. Curtains block the hot sun in summer and help keep the heat inside during winter.
6. Wash your clothes at the lowest possible temperature to trim your bills (and help your clothes last longer). If every household in Britain washed at 30 degrees, we’d save enough energy to power 500,000 homes each year. Your tumble dryer probably uses more energy than any other appliance in your home, so hang clothes out to dry whenever you can.
7. Reduce the amount of waste you produce by buying non-perishables in bulk, and look for containers that can be reused. When a container is no longer useful do your best to recycle it to save resources and energy (recycling just one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a computer for 30 minutes). To make life easy, equip your kitchen with a set of bins that matches what your local council collects.
8. Save money and generate your own green power by installing solar panels on your roof. Lots of people are put off by the price and worries about installation and maintenance. But they can be bought with the a zero deposit loan paid back through money saved on your bills. Solar panels should cut an average UK household’s energy bills by up to 50 per cent – a saving of more than £700 each year.
9. Keep yourself motivated by measuring your progress. IKEA research has found that people change their behaviour when they can see the difference it makes. Try using a smart meter such as The Owl to see real-time how much you’re saving by turning down the heating or switching off a light.
10. Finally, tell people what you are doing and encourage them to do the same. We all feel more motivated when we know we’re part of a movement, and by sharing ideas and tips you may come up with some clever ways of living a greener life that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.
Follow these tips and you’ll be channelling your inner Alan Sugar when dealing with price negotiations of the home you are selling, writes Jessie Hewitson
Haggling is a skill most Brits do not possess. Drop us into a Moroccan souk and we’re useless. Our embarrassment over talking pounds and pence means we’d far prefer paying over the odds then – horror of horrors – talk money. So it follows that negotiating how much we’re willing to accept for our home is not when we are at our most confident. Below are some tips to guide you through the price negotiations:
An initial offer these days is usually between 5 and 10 per cent below the asking price.
The higher the demand for property in your area, the more money you will get. So when interest rates are low and your neighbourhood is going up in the world, you are in a good position to bargain hard. The moment you see some half-rotting purple sprouting broccoli in your local green grocer – or, even better, organic deli – you know you are on to a winner house price wise.
Selling in late summer – when demand is usually very high as people return from their summer holidays refreshed and ready to tackle finding their new home – is a good idea as supply of buyers will be up.
Get your price right. “If you have set the value of your property at the right level for your area you can be fairly relaxed in holding out,” advises Christopher Jones, head of business development at Fraser & Co agency.
In the current market, it is best to price your property competitively. Far better to start low then let competitive bidding raise the price, then starting high. It’s all about the perception of a bargain.
Even in today’s strengthening market place, asking prices can be hard to achieve according to James Wyatt, of Barton Wyatt agency. He recommends remaining polite but firm and offering sweeteners with the sale to bump up the price. “Carpets, curtains, white goods, sheds….producing receipts for expensive quality items that are part of the sale can help. And if all else fails, offer to remove the property from the market for a set period of time to help the buyer sell their property if needs be or allow time for legals,” he says.
If you make a counter offer and the buyer refuses to increase his or her offer, hold your nerve, recommends Alexandra Gosling, director of low cost agency Housesimple.co.uk. “You may well find if the buyer really wants the property, they will come back with a better offer – particularly if they hear another buyer has shown interest, and they could lose the property.”
Most of us will have an estate agent – a professional haggler – overseeing the negotiations. Be aware, however, that while most agents will try and get as a high price as possible for you, there will also be a desire to sell the property as quickly as possible.
Another year and another set of X Factor hopefuls come up against the career-defining criticism of the show’s judges Gary Barlow, Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh and Nicole Scherzinger…yes, ITV’s X Factor is back on our screens.
And now it is live finals time, which means the contestants have settled into this year’s X Factor house – giving us the chance to do what we do best…a little property research. We love a challenge and have used the tools on Zoopla.co.uk to help us sniff out where the X Factor contestants will be living for the coming weeks. The properties are always exceptional and this year is no exception.
With the help of a little local knowledge, we were able to pin down the street via Zoopla and once again this year’s property lives up to expectations – a stunning multi-million pound property.
The 2013 X Factor house is situated on Broad Walk (number 9a), in London’s Winchmore Hill and we estimate its property value to be £6,130,794, with a rental value of £17,000 a month.
The detached property is located in what local estate agents describe as a highly sought after area.
Nick Charalambous, of estate agents Winkworth, described Broad Walk as “one of the most desirable in North London”.
He said: “A plethora of famous people have lived in the area in the past, including Lionel Richie and Cliff Richard.
“This area includes some relatively expensive, substantial family homes, and is a sought after location for families moving in to the area.
“There are also a number of great gastro pubs at the end of Broad walk, such as the King’s Head and Salisbury Arms, with Winchmore Hill green being the home for seasonal fetes and festivals.”
The average value of a property on the road is £2.6m, but turnover is low, with just five homes in Broad Walk sold during the past five years. In the wider N21 postcode, the average property value is £789,776.
Other properties in N21 for sale:
Special thanks to our intern Joseph Carbonaro for the property images.
1. Something a bit different at no.1 this week – a houseboat:
2. A popular listing this week – a £2M ‘Total Wreck’:
3. Who doesn’t love a view:
4. New build with immaculate finishes:
5. A great cottage:
6. Love the spiral staircase:
7. For the big kitchen:
8. Yes we do fancy a game:
9. We do like a London view:
10. Our own pick:
It is often said that moving is one of the most stressful things we do in life. But while it’s an unavoidable necessity for many of us at some point, a good proportion of us make some avoidable mistakes writes Mark Prout, managing director of London removals specialists Aussie Man & Van.
Here are his top 10 mistakes people make when moving home – and how to avoid them:
1) Packing late wreaks havoc with your nerves and leads to broken objects and damaged clothes. Always plan to get the packing finished so that you have a good buffer between the day you finish and the removal day.
2) Book your removals firm as soon as you’ve got your moving date. If you don’t, you may find everyone is booked up, particularly if you are moving on a Friday, towards the end of the month or during the summer. You could do it yourself and hire a van but while that may be the cheap way of doing it, it’s time-consuming and backbreaking work.
3) Choose your removals firm carefully to ensure they do a good job: ideally get a recommendation from a friend, family member or colleague. Make sure they are members of the British Association of Removers (BAR). www.bar.co.uk
4) Some people forget how much of their life is computer-based. Back up everything to a portable hard drive so that you can access it even via someone else’s computer if necessary.
5) Forgetting to label boxes means that your kitchen materials end up in your bedroom and vice versa. Label precisely and in detail. If your removal company is packing for you, good firms will label each box with the name of the room it is destined for, ensuring the boxes end up in the right place.
6) Work out measurements well in advance. Don’t end up with an item of furniture that doesn’t fit anywhere, and in a worst-case scenario, blocks access into your new home.
7) Don’t disregard insurance. If you break something, it could be a costly mistake. If you are packing yourself, check your household insurance covers damage and breakages in transit. Removal companies will not be able to provide this level of cover unless they have done the packing themselves.
8) Try to get your new home cleaned a day or two prior to your arrival. This isn’t always possible if you are moving in just as the previous owners are moving out but if there is some leeway, it will make a huge difference. It is also good form to leave your old house or flat clean and in good order.
9) Don’t decide to pack up clutter and deal with it at the other end. Declutter before your move and ruthlessly discard things with no thought to sentimentality. It’s much easier then taking it with you.
10) Take valuables with you rather than packing them up for loading onto a van or lorry. First, you might need them quickly at the other end and secondly, you can relax knowing that your passports and jewellery are not stuffed into a large box, unreachable for days.
For more moving advice, contact Mark Prout at Aussie Man & Van www.manandvan.biz