How To Get the Most From Your Wood-Burning Stove

There is nothing quite like a wood-burning stove. Whether used for primitive-style cooking or general warmth and ambiance, a wood-burning stove is one of the most enjoyable parts of those cold, cozy days. Here you can find wood-burning DEFRA approved stoves on sale No matter the age or type of stove you employ, there are a few key issues to remember in order to get the most out of your new-found love of the indoor fire.

Avoid Burning Water

As silly as that statement sounds, it makes perfect sense to veteran stove users, and will soon make sense to you. This concept is one of the most fundamental ideas when burning wood indoors. It’s important to note that green, or new wood, is up to 50% water which means that for every kilogram of green wood you add to your fire, you are, essentially, adding around 500 milliliters of water. Have you ever tried to burn water? Well, it doesn’t burn. So avoid burning green, water-intense wood, and go for a very dry log instead.

Dried Wood

The process of drying out greenwood is a simple one but should be carefully undertaken in order to properly assure a good burn. There are several ways to acquire properly dried wood:

* Dry it yourself. This method is quite easy and definitely the cheapest route, but will require at least one whole summer (two summers would be optimal) to accomplish. If you have space, simply acquire greenwood, stack it outdoors where it will be exposed to the elements, and wait. Over the course of time, the wood will dry out and be ready to burn.

* Contact a good supplier with a reputable background. One of the best, most confident ways of procuring a good supplier of dried wood is to contact an accreditation company such as Woodsure. Their job is to ensure the company from which you are buying has followed all the proper steps and that the wood you are buying is as dry as they claim it to be. This will give you ultimate peace of mind in knowing that the product you are buying is as dry as possible.

* Procure logs or briquettes that are kiln-dried. This method may be the simplest way to obtain sufficiently dried wood, but it is definitely the most expensive. In addition, these products could prove to have issues as the drying process includes the addition of energy before it reaches your stove. Some suppliers do use wood-fired kilns, but not all do, so make sure to check out the company’s procedures before making the purchase.

Properly Manage Airflow

There are two important types of airflow that feed the flame of your wood-burning stove. Primary air is responsible for effectively feeding the bed of the fire which includes the embers and base. Secondary air has the job of providing an adequate supply to the flames above the wood. The fact is, almost all energy from the wood comes from gases that are released when the wood is heated. This means that secondary air is crucial to the warmth of a fire, and takes precedence over primary air.

In order to properly manage airflow in your wood-burning stove, there are few tips to which you should adhere. The basic rules are:

* Never, and I mean never, close the secondary air vent completely. This will, ultimately, create an unnecessary amount of soot that will produce an unwanted coating of gunk on your stove’s glass. Definitely not a pretty sight.

* Unless lighting the fire, do not leave the stove door ajar. This will only serve to incapacitate the efficiency of your stove and allow the warm air to escape up the chimney.

* Remember, size matters. You, ultimately, want a burn that is hot and fast as this will produce the cleanest, most systematic method of using your wood-burning stove. It’s much more productive to use a hot fire that is reasonably sized than to have an out-of-control large flame that is slow to burn.

Create a Luxury Guest Bedroom Retreat

How to show create a relaxing haven for your overnight guests

Create the perfect guest bedroom retreat for your overnight guests. Include baskets of toiletries, personal items, and luxury linens.

Entertaining is not just about hosting parties and serving dinner at your home. Another part of sharing your hospitality is the manner in which you welcome guests into your home. Overnight guests should be made to feel welcome and you can accomplish that by creating a guest bedroom retreat. Imagine your favourite hotel and recall what accoutrements were placed in your guestroom. You can recreate that same luxury on a smaller scale in your own home, making your own guest bedroom retreat.


If you can spare a room to be dedicated for a guest room – great! Otherwise, consider creating a double-duty room (i.e. guest room/home office or guest room/craft room or guest room/library). Remember that a comfortable bed is your first priority. See this site for some bargains. Do not skimp on linens or pillows. It is also a nice idea to include a small TV in the room, so that your guests can catch up on the news or their favourite late-night talk show without taking over the family TV.

Also, include a small side table with a lamp and an alarm clock. Even though your guest is sure to have an alarm on his phone, a clock is a thoughtful touch.

Luxury Items

Put together a small basket of luxury bath items and toiletries. You can include travel sizes of hairspray, soap, dental floss, deodorant, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, talc, Q-tips, and even a new toothbrush. Make sure to refresh this basket for each new guest (I pick up travel sized items when they go on sale at my discount store or use high quality skin care samples which are often offered for free in beauty product shops).

You can also put together a basket to keep in the bedroom, which will include the following items: some interesting and current magazines, a spiritual book, a fiction novel, several bottles of water, a pencil or pen, a notepad, and tourist information and a map about your general area.


The toiletries basket mentioned above could be placed in the bathroom if this room will be solely for your guest’s use. Otherwise, place the basket in the bedroom. Regarding the rest of the bathroom: one complete set of bath linens per guest (bath towel, hand towel and washcloth) should be provided. I purchased a set of simple yet fluffy bath linens that I only use for our guests. That way, I know that the linens will always look their best for our guests.

If your guests will be staying for more than a few days, you can also place a small wicker laundry basket in the bathroom or bedroom. This feature is very convenient for longer-term guests, who may need to wash their clothes during their visit.

Follow these suggestions, and your guests will think that they are staying at a high-end resort!

How to Buy the Right Bed for You

Tips on Selecting a Mattress, Bed Frame and Box Springs

Use these tips to help you select the right mattress, bed frame and box springs so you get a comfortable bed that is suited to you and your interior decorating style.

Most people keep their mattresses for a period of 8 to 10 years although some mattresses break down before then and you suffer from lack of sleep or aches and pains that come from uncomfortable sleeping positions. It may be hard but if your mattress is uncomfortable you may need to get a new one before its official lifespan is up.

Buying a Bed Frame

A common idea when buying a bed frame is getting one that is bigger than the current one. The best way to figure if a new bed will fit into your existing bedroom is to measure and then add on about three to six inches on either side and the ends for your headboard and footboard and then add about three inches to either side for the bedding. This should give you a rough estimate of how much room you have available and how much bed your room can hold. Make sure you are not just considering the fit, but also how well you will be able to move around it. Plan on having between two to three feet of clearance on all “exposed” sides of the new bed frame.

One thing you will want to keep in mind when selecting your frame is the quality of construction. Look for slats that are close together for better and even support.

Selecting a Mattress

When it comes time to select a mattress you have got to be ready to try a lot of them out. If you sleep with a partner, bring that person along so you can both try the bed to see how it feels. Wear comfortable clothing and even shoes you can slip out of so you can sit on, lie on, recline on, bounce on (no jumping though) and move around on the bed to simulate sleeping as best you can. There is no real way of knowing how it will feel throughout the whole night, you can at least get a sense of the comfort level. Check the warranty, some manufacturers offer a comfort warranty and you can return the mattress within a specified period if it proves uncomfortable in real life.

Inspect the Springs

Most mattresses have inner springs, check these by looking at the cross sections and then examining the information. Typically, the coiled springs are covered or wrapped in padding. Look to see how many coils there are, the more the better. Then review the amount and type of padding used and how much quilted upholstery there is before the mattress cover. But do not assume that today’s new extra thick mattresses are better.

When buying a new bed, you will want to make sure that you get the most comfortable bed possible. Be sure to put your modesty aside and give each bed a try. Measure to make sure you purchase a bed that fits nicely into your bedroom, leaving enough for traveling and other pieces of furniture. If possible, look for a mattress with a comfort warranty so you are sure you like the way your bed feels when you sleep.

Why Hire a Removals Company?

There are many ways individuals make a removal. However, not all of them are safe. Often, people are always attempting to do things on their own so that they can save some cash. And this is something we all do either in small or large scales. Although at times we succeed, many times, we end up regretting this decision.

Home removals depend on many external factors such as your location, how high are the buildings, cars that are hired to move things, etc. Therefore, it can be overwhelming to attempt doing this task on your own. And sometimes, you can end up spending more money, time and even cause accidents or lose some of your valuable belongings.

For this reason, individuals are advised to seek the help of a professional removal company. Here are the benefits of hiring expert home removals service providers.

Skills and Expertise

Most of these companies have a team of removers who are thoroughly trained for packing and unpacking, loading as well as unloading and transporting items in one’s home. They are aware of expert furniture removal techniques. Plus, regardless of how heavy your furniture is, these professionals are equipped to transport them safely no matter your destination.

Save Time and Money

Relocating like earlier said is an overwhelming task. Therefore, if one decides to do it on their own, it means they’ll take time off work to concentrate and arrange for relocation. That means you’re also losing some money. But when one hires a professional, they’ll continue with their normal work routine. Also, doing the moving is such a hassle and can take even weeks to accomplish it. Not only will you have to pack, but also move your packed items. Individuals might also be forced to make several trips. A removal company will save you this stress. Hence, your relocation will be fast as well as seamless.

Safety and Insurance for Losses

When you move on your own, there are high chances that you might lose some of your valuables. Unfortunately, if that happens, there’ll be no one to compensate you. However, removal professionals are experts. They use high safety standards to ensure that nothing is damaged or lost during the relocation. But, even with high safety standards, still, items can be lost or damaged. Fortunately, these individuals are insured. So, should there be any lost or damaged items, one will be compensated.

Offer Storage Facilities

Imagine an instance where you need to rent accommodation as you search for a new house to purchase. Or you decide to stay with your friend or family while your new home is under construction. Such situations leave you with one problem. Where will you store your items while in this period of transition? Luckily, many reputable removal companies offer storage services. They’ll pack and store your goods until your new house is ready. So, one can have peace of mind knowing that their items are safely stored.

Professional movers play an integral role in ensuring a safe, stress-free, and cost-effective relocation. If you’re thinking of moving, save yourself the hassle and hire a reputable removal company. Luckily, you can find many of those on the internet or by getting recommendations from family or friends.

Save Money on Home Cooling Costs in the Summer

There are a lot of things that can be done to a home to help save money on a summer utility bill. It only takes a little effort to save a lot.

Homeowners are always trying to cut their costs when it comes to home maintenance. The EPA claims that cooling and heating expenses account for nearly half of a household utility bill. Utility bills are often higher in the summer and winter months because a furnace and air conditioner are needed to keep a home at a comfortable temperature. There are things that can be done, however, to keep the cost of cooling and heating a home down. With a little effort, a home utility bill can be drastically cut down by 25 percent or more. Follow the tips below to improve charges on monthly utility bills in the summer months.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat is great because it can be programmed to have cooler temperatures when people are at home and warmer temperatures when everyone is away. Some people make the mistake of shutting down the air conditioner completely when they are away, but this is a bad idea because it takes more energy and time for an air conditioner to restore the temperature desired by the homeowners when it is turned back on, plus homeowners will be miserably warm while they wait for things to cool down.

Programmable thermostats are easy to install, even for someone that is not very handy. They can cost anywhere from £50 to £150, but the initial cost is worth the savings that it will yield on a summer utility bill. Some companies even offer programs that give programmable thermostats away for free.

Programmable thermostats can also be used to control the temperatures of individual rooms. This is a great advantage because there is no need to cool a room that is never used.

Replace Old Air Conditioners with Energy Efficient Models

Old models of air conditioners can use a lot of energy. Air conditioners are probably responsible for most of the cooling costs on a utility bill in the summer. Utility bill costs can be cut by as much as £100 per month if old air conditioners are replaced will central cooling units or more energy efficient swamp coolers and cooling units. You can also improve your old system by buying spares such as thermometers, aircon remote controls and insulated valve jackets. You can find a good selection of air con spares at

Ceiling fans, although they do not create cool air, help circulate cool air that is already in a home. They use less energy than air conditioners and can give the illusion that a home is cooler than it actually is. A breeze always feels nice in the heat of the summer.

Insulate the Walls and Ceilings of the Home

It is extremely important, especially for older homes, to have proper insulation in the ceiling and walls. A lot of cool air is lost through the ceiling and walls and installing insulation can cut down on the loss.

Spraying or inserting insulation is more difficult to do than a thermostat, so it is best to hire someone that knows what they are doing. Depending on the size of the home, the cost can be anywhere from £500 to £2,000. The savings on a cooling bill, however, will make up for the cost in the long run.

Purchase Double Pane Windows

A lot of heat and cool air is lost through old windows that do not have proper seals. Buying double pane windows for a home and having them installed is a great way to keep the temperature in a home more consistent. Double Pane windows serve the same purpose as insulation and are a great idea to help save money on the home cooling bill.

How to Cool a House Without Air Conditioning

If it is not feasible to buy new windows, then homeowners should at least make the effort to seal air leaks found around the home with a special caulk. This is a quick an inexpensive way to reduce a summer utility bill. Air leaks are often found around windows and doors.

Prepare Food on an Outdoor Grill

In the summertime, avoid using the oven because it can heat up a home quickly. Preparing food on an outdoor grill is a great alternative to cooking in the kitchen. Baking doesn’t need to be done as much in the summer anyway because people prefer cold treats like ice cream and Popsicles.

Buy Blinds and Change Light bulbs

A lot of heat enters a home through the windows in the summer, so it is a good idea to buy blinds to minimize this. Blinds can be very affordable, especially if they do not have to be custom made. Drapes and curtains will have the same effect on a cooling bill as blinds.

Light bulbs can produce a lot of heat, so it is a good idea to replace them with energy efficient models that run at cooler temperatures. This will help reduce the amount of heat that is in a home and save on energy costs as well.

By following even one of the tips found in this article, a homeowner can see a drop in the cost of their summer utility bill and monthly energy bill. If money is an issue, try some of the more affordable tips. All of them produce results and savings will be seen.

Thinking About a Loft Conversion? Make an Informed Decision!

Despite being a popular trend today, a loft conversion is an investment that can provide you with lots of advantages. It is quite popular amongst residential homeowners who reside in cities, which seem to be crowding at an alarming rate.

A loft conversion is practically the act of turning dead loft space into an extra room, storage space or even an office. It can provide you with a wide range of benefits. If you are stuck choosing in between a loft conversion and an extension or moving house. Here are the pros and cons of a loft conversion. By the end of this article, you will be able to make an informed decision.

The Pros

  1. An Affordable Solution

Other than being popular, loft conversions are an affordable alternative. Compared to moving and building extensions. The money you would spend converting your loft will be relatively lower. It’s because you wouldn’t have to spend more on demolishing existing structures and buying building supplies. All you will have to do is add a few touches on your loft and its ready for use.

  1. You Don’t Have To Loose Outside Space

Secondly, with a loft conversion, you don’t have to lose your outside space. In the case of an extension, you would be forced to use up some sections of your backyard, and this can lead to overcrowding. With a loft conversion, you will be building upwards. Therefore, the ground floor will be utilized optimally. Also, you won’t have to sacrifice your precious garden.

  1. Added Value to Your Property

Not only will the loft conversion serve you for a long time. When you finally decide to sell your home, it will attract a higher market value. For instance, a home worth £100,000, if its loft has been converted. The same home could be sold at £130,000. That is an added value of £30,000. Note that, the amount you may need to convert your loft even with the cost of hiring a professional building firm, could be half or a quarter of the added value.

  1. Access To Natural Light

A loft conversion could also give you access to direct sunlight in the comfort of your room. You can have a rooflight loft conversion which will keep your loft illuminated during the day. You can also opt for a panoramic glass window installation which will allow you to watch the stars during night time.

The Cons

As with every great thing, loft conversions also have disadvantages.

  1. It is Not Suitable for All Properties

A loft conversion isn’t ideal for all homes. There are some which feature tiny lofts and thus converting the loft into a functional room may be a bit difficult. It is why you should always seek professional advice before converting your loft. An expert building company can tell you whether your loft can be converted into an office or anything that you wish. In cases where a loft conversion doesn’t have sufficient headroom, you could remodel and restructure your roofing to accommodate the loft area.

If you have a loft in your home and you have not converted it into something useful, then you are missing out big time. You will be surprised at how beneficial loft conversions can be. It is up to you and your family to identify what you wish to convert your loft into and then proceed to designing it.

Rrenewable Energy Grants for UK Homeowners

Grants are available to UK property owners to help save energy and make their homes more eco-friendly. Cash is available for installing solar voltaic energy; Courtesy of DemeesterThe UK government aims to meet stringent renewable energy targets, and as a result there are a number of grants available to improve the energy efficiency of private homes. Here is a summary of the grants available, and who can benefit from them.

Clean Energy Cashback Scheme

The Clean Energy Cashback Scheme was introduced in 2010, to compensate individuals and companies generating their own electricity. Participants are paid a feed-in tariff (FIT) to correspond to the amount of electricity they generate, whether they use it themselves or it is fed into the National Grid. This scheme is available for a range of forms of renewable energy generation, but private householders are most likely to receive it for installing solar electricity, or a wind turbine.

In order to qualify for this grant; householders must first arrange for the installation of a suitable product. The installation must be carried out by a technician registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). The cost of installation must be paid by the householder, but it is suggested that a re-mortgage could be used to finance the work. The energy savings and the FIT payments should more than compensate for the extra monthly mortgage payments, according to the Government Grants website.

This scheme is only really appropriate for householders who are in the position to be able to re-mortgage, or otherwise raise the funds needed to install the necessary equipment. The large upfront payment may put many people off, but participants will benefit from substantial energy cost savings immediately.

Insulation Grants

Insulation grants for installing cavity wall insulation or loft installation, are available to all home-owners and private landlords. Those claiming certain benefits are eligible for 100% grants, covering the full cost of the installation. Other individuals can claim grants representing between 50% and 75% of the cost, depending on individual circumstances.

Gas Central Heating Grant

Grants of up to £3500 are available for the installation of new gas fired central heating systems, with significantly larger grants available for properties requiring oil-fired systems. Householders claiming certain benefits, including housing benefit or council tax benefit, are eligible to apply for these Warm Front Grants. For a full list of eligibility criteria, see the Government Grant website.

Renewable Energy

Following the introduction of the Clean Energy Cashback Scheme; grants for the installation of household energy efficiency equipment, such as air source pumps, ground pumps, solar thermal hot water, and wood-burning stoves, are no longer available. However, the purchase of such equipment through re-mortgage is still encouraged, as energy savings may compensate for the increase in loan repayments.

Grants for Low Emission Vehicles

In December 2010, the Government announced a new incentive scheme consisting of grants to aid in the purchase of new energy efficient vehicles. Nine electric and low-emission petrol cars are included in the scheme, which effectively reduces the retail price of these vehicles by up to 25%.