8 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home

Running an energy-efficient home this winter doesn’t necessarily entail buying expensive solar panels or wind generators. Neither does it mean you have to wear your outdoor clothes inside to stop you shivering! Here are 8 useful tips.

Laundry: Wait until you have a full load of laundry and run the machine on cold. Detergents are available to clan clothes at low temperatures.

Dishes: Don’t pre-rinse your dishes as this wastes energy. And wait until the dishwasher is full before turning it on. If you have the time, use the air dry or no-heat dry settings so the dishes dry without using electricity.

Windows: In the winter during the day, open the blinds on south-facing windows to allow the sun to warm your home then close them in the evening to increase insulation. (In the summer, you can do the opposite to keep your home cool.)

Computers and TVs: Turn off your appliances when you are not using them. Even when they’re in standby mode they are still using electricity — it’s estimated 5% of household energy use is from appliances leaking away electricity. So turn them off at the wall.

Showers: While a long, hot shower is nice and relaxing, you can save a lot of money taking shorter showers and by installing energy-efficient showerheads that give you a good shower while reducing water use.

Space heaters: Surprisingly, space heaters are a lot cheaper than a central heating system. And don’t forget to turn them off when you’re out. Installing a programmable thermostat will also keep your heating bill low.

Furnace filter: Change the filter at the start of every season and then every month or two after because a dirty filter makes the furnace work harder and be less efficient.

Floors and drafts: If you’ve got hardwood floors, put down some rugs, particularly if you have wood floors above a cold basement. Make sure also that you’ve installed insulation such as weather-stripping at the bottom of doors.

6 Ways to Create an Attractive Home Office

A home office is on its way to becoming an essential item on a house buyer’s wish list. After all, many people work at least part of the time at home — and even if they don’t, they still want somewhere to store the computer and their household papers.

Here are some tips to help you create an attractive home office that you’ll actually want to spend time in.

An attractive place to work

A home office doesn’t have to be just functional — it can be attractive, too. So take as much care with the décor as you would in the other rooms in your house, making sure office furniture and accessories coordinate with wall and floor coverings.

Good lighting

If you don’t have a lot of natural light (or you’ll be working mainly in the evenings), make sure you have good lighting, particularly task lights for illuminating your desk. Include other types of lighting too, so you’ll make the room feel comfortable.

Choose good furniture

It’s essential that your desk and chair are comfortable to work at, so take time choosing them. Make sure the seat and backrest of your chair are adjustable and that the height of your desk is comfortable.

Power and the Internet

Make sure there are plenty of power outlets in the room and easy Internet access. Avoid a “rat’s nest” of cables by bundling them together and tucking them out of sight.

Include good storage

Think carefully about the kind of storage you’ll need and make sure there’s enough of it. Consider stackable boxes to store paperwork efficiently, and an attractive filing cabinet. Put shelves on the walls and use them to store books; add wire baskets to the shelves for documents.

Bulletin board

Put up a bulletin board for reminders and other essential information you use every day. Then you’ll avoid ugly sticky notes all over your computer.