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Exterior Home Improvement Projects That Add Value To Your Home

Exterior Home Improvement Projects That Add Value To Your Home

There are a number of home improvement projects that can add significant value to the value of your property. Two that I like are enhancing the landscaping or your gardens, and also adding concrete work to your  patio or driveway.

Installing New Landscaping

More and more people are now moving away from the traditional lawn and flowerbed garden and moving towards including more eco friendly materials into the existing landscaping. It is possible to dig up your existing lawn, and then replace it with a fescue grass that requires a substantially less amount of water every month which is not only saving water, but will also save you money, if you are on a water meter. In addition, there are a number of what are now classed as eco-friendly shrubs, again these require a minimal watering. You can also get trees that can manage in any type of humidity and also only require a minimal amount of watering, if any at all.

If you don’t have much spare time for gardening then you can replace your existing lawn with gravel.The gravel is available in a range of sizes and a variety of colours. The gravel reduces the amount of time spent cutting the lawn  and watering it in the summer months. Landscaping with gravel can be decoratively designed to enhance the overall look of your garden and add that extra bit of appeal to it.

 



Installing Concrete Driveways and Patios

There are a number of in-expensive ways to create a concrete driveway or patio. You can use cobbles, bricks, concrete, tarmac and now even coloured resin drives. Which ever one you choose they will help to improve the overall beauty and functionality of your home. Depending on how proficient you are as a DIYer you might require some professional assistance in laying the driveway. Once laid the driveway will provide  solid surface for parking your car, which can also help in the winter when the snow is laying.  As with the landscaping project adding a new driveway can add significant value onto your house.

So there are two exterior home improvement projects that can be easy to do, and are also very affordable. Research by the real estate bodies has shown that for every £1 spent on these type of home improvement projects you can expect to achieve nearly £2 back from your investment.

Why You Should Choose To Use Solar Power For Your Home

Why You Should Choose To Use Solar Power For Your Home

All of the life on planet earth is sustained by the light and warmth radiating from the sun. According to scientists the amount of solar power produced annually by the sun that we are able to tap into is approximately, 3850 Zettajoules (ZJ). The suns rays and power finds its way to earth by way of electromagnetic radiation, similar to radio waves, however the regularity range is different. As the suns energy comes through the environment some of it is absorbed but the majority of it reaches earth. The two key forms of solar energy are light and warmth.


There are many advantages to using solar energy as opposed to the standard forms of power we are used to.

  • The energy from the sun is free, we just have to pay to collect the energy
  • Compared to the standard forms of power the expense of gathering the suns power is recouped a lot faster.
  • The collection units are stand alone units and don’t need to be linked to the gas or power grids.
  • There is a limitless supply of solar energy.
  • Collectiong the solar power does not create any exhaust gases that may harm the earth’s atmosphere.

What Are The Methods To Capture Solar Power:

Focusing Collectors: These have a movable mirror, known as heliostats. When it is pointed towards the sun it can produce a temperature around 4000 degrees C. This temperature level is used for a solar furnace in industries and also in research. These solar powered heating systems don’t pollute the environment. The heliostats can concentrate the energy to a central heating boiler that turns water into vapor. Focusing collectors can also be used to produce solar energy.

Flat Plate Collectors: By heating water in pipes these collectors can be used in businesses, schools and homes to provide heat. They are unable to generate the same amount of heat as the focusing collectors due to being smaller in size.



Solar Distillation: Solar distillation is the same as flat plate collection but produces distilled water instead of heat. Sea water is placed into storage tanks on the roof of a home and then the heat from the sun heats the sea water causing it to evaporate. The water vapour is collected and then transformed into distilled water.

Solar Power: By using focusing collectors and also Photovoltaic cells, made from thin pieces of semiconductors, the radiation from the sun is converted into electricity. Solar energy is totally free and it does not generate any form of pollution.

There are a number of ways in which we can work together so as to get the very best of natural and renewable energies. Utilising solar energy is not only valuable but it is inspiring to others to come up with other ideas. Compared to the amount it costs to use other energy sources, such as electric and gas, for warmth, the cost of using solar power is a lot less less. With electricity and gas you have a low initial cost up front but then you are paying for it from then on month after month. With solar energy you have a larger financial investment to install the solar panels and transform your house to use the solar energy, but after that there is nothing else to pay, unless you need to use some electric or gas  as a back up heating source. Solar power was available yesterday, it’s available today and it will certainly be available for us in the future.

For more information on why you should be using solar power in your home check out this post about 3 reasons your energy bills are about to skyrocket

Use Solar Heating To Reduce Your Home Heating Bills

Use Solar Heating To Reduce Your Home Heating Bills

Everybody would love to have cheaper utility bills for their electric and gas usage. We are always looking online for the company who can offer us the best deal, but there are other ways to heat your home on a budget. Not only could you save yourself some money each month by lowering your heating bills but you would also be playing your part in protecting the environment for future generations.

Solar home heating could lower your electricity bills no matter where you live. Obviously, where you live will determine just how much sun you get on a day to day basis, but with the modern solar panels even on a cloudy day with little sun to be seen you could still be saving money. If you are lucky and live in a warm environment where you don’t need your home heating for most of the year, you might want to heat your swimming the pool.

What Solar Energy Devices Do I Need?

A typical solar heating system utilises collectors, also known as solar heating panels. The solar heating panels are usually fitted onto a south facing roof. To be ideal the roof should be pitched at an angle of between 30 and 60 degrees. If your house has a flat roof then the solar panel installers will be able to set the panels at the correct angle when they are installing them.The size or number of panels you will required will depend on the climate in your area and the size of your family. As a rough guide, to warm water for two people you will need panels up to 2.75 sq. m. or if there are 3 or 4 people in your family then you will require 4.12 sq. m.



What Type Of Solar Panels Do I Need?

There are 2 types of panels and the right one for you will depend on your local climate.

  • Apartment Plate Collectors – A flat plate of specially layered black steel covered by glass or plastic. Water passes through pipes that are soldered to the plate and then the heated water is fed to your boiler.
  • Evacuated Tubes – These are fitted into an insulated steel casing. The evacuated tubes are used more in the cloudier and cooler environments. The insulated steel casing minimises the heat loss so the water temperature can reach 60F/15C. So depending on how hot you like your bath it might not need reheating. Compared to the flat plate collection panels the evacuation tubes are a lot more expensive.

Solar Heater Tubes

Can I Set up A Solar Heating System Myself?

It is quite possible for you to be able to set up a solar heating system yourself, if you are reasonably proficient at Do It Yourself. You can either locate a parts distributor who will also do the design for you. Or the second option is to sign up with a solar club – charitable groups that run one-day training programs created to  make solar heating more affordable and easier to install.

How Much Could I Save By Installing A Solar Heating System?

Calculating the exact amount that you would save by installing a new solar heating system is very hard to say as their are a number of variables that it depends on, such as your local environment, how well your home is insulated, the sort of solar panels and the size of the heating unit you install. But if you want lower electricity and heating bills as well as helping the environment by burning less fossil fuel, then solar heating is well worth looking into.

Bright Hopes For The Future Of Solar Energy

Bright Hopes For The Future Of Solar Energy

The sun-directly or indirectly-is the primary resource for many kinds of energy found in the world. Solar energy is tidy, plentiful and also renewable.

Although we think of solar energy as a something new, some of our ancestors from the older civilisations found some very ingenious methods to make use of solar energy, without the technology we have today. Among them, the Chinese, Romans and Greeks all developed methods to use the power of the sun to heat for their homes, including using southerly direct exposures to optimise solar heating and utilising the suns light.

Now, thanks to all of the innovative modern technologies, it is actually possible to capture this power from the sun, focus it, store it and also transform it into electricity we can use.

The rays from the sun are converted into electrical power by solar cells. Solar cells are also called solar batteries, PhotoVoltic cells or “PV cells” for short. PV cells were initially developed in the 1950s for use in American space satellites. Today, they are used to power various things ranging from telecommunications to getting electricity out the rural areas. You can also find PV cells on things we utilise daily, such as calculators, flashlights, radios, garden lighting as well as children’s toys.



Mobile PV systems are becoming more readily available for emergency situation and disaster use, such as keeping mobile phones and small home appliances charged when the individual is away from the grid or throughout power outages.

As a consumers you can now harness the power of the sun a lot more easily than ever before. The solar panels you see on various structures and also on houses, offices and other business premises have been on the market for years, but were way over priced for the majority of households to afford them. New systems are being developed continuously, such as the solar PV cells which are built into roof shingles. They are reliable, resilient as well as more cosmetically pleasing.

The power of the sun isn’t only used to generate electricity. It can also be used to warm water, which can then be utilised to warm homes and businesses. Some of the solar powered radiant heat systems are use to run industrial processes which drive turbines to create electrical energy. There a a number of solar thermal technologies that have been used in homes for decades and they can last for greater than 20 years.

All of the solar energy experts believe that the solar power innovations will not only help the country but other counties and the planet as a whole. Solar energy has the potential to help diversify the countries power supply, minimise our dependence on imported fuels, improve air quality, counter greenhouse gas discharges and to stimulate the economy by creating jobs in the production and instalment of solar power systems.

Ideas 4 Landscaping Review

Ideas 4 Landscaping Review

Ideas4Landscaping is an extensive collection of over 7250 landscaping layouts, design suggestions and styles, with also approximately 300 web pages of gardening landscape overviews. I have just recently bought the package and want to explain the points I like about the product but also the points that I disliked about the product.

What Is Ideas4Landscaping?

The Ideas4Landscaping package offers detailed plans as well as pictures of over 7250 various landscape design layouts. The maker, Helen Whitfield uses a basic, efficient and user-friendly online gallery for landscape design ideas to help you to visualise and design your dream garden landscape. Inside this large data source, you’ll find 1′ 000s of landscape design images in 60+ groups containing:.

Back Gardens.
Front Gardens.
Gardens.
Patios.
Decks.
Walkways.
Lawns.
And A lot more …

This massive collection of pictures, ideas, and also basic detailed information is developed in order to help you make some progress with your strategy to perk up your home with the perfect landscaped garden.

What Are The The Pros Of Ideas4Landscaping?

I have itemised below several of the points that I liked about the product.

A Massive Variety Of Styles To Choose From.

This is a complete landscaping resource with in-depth layouts, full of colour photos and examples on many sorts of landscaping styles. It is the only resource that you will need to get going in creating the perfect outdoor living experience for you and your family with gardens, swimming pools, decks, pathways, sheds, gazebos, bushes, driveways, waterfalls, ponds, patios and also walkways.

There are several styles offered for each types of landscape, so you have some variety to choose from.



Appropriate For Beginners Or Professionals.

All of the styles are appropriate for both beginners and professional landscapers to develop. I’m definitely not a professional when it comes to landscape design yet I found most of the projects can be finished in 1 weekend break.

Some Extremely Good Bonuses Are Included.

The bonuses that you are given with this package are really good. The bonus video clips on landscaping are ideal for the new gardeners who want a simple to follow overview. The bonuses also includes some great books included as well. There’s an organic vegetable farming guide which I really enjoyed and got loads of ideas from.

Good Quality Full Colour Photos.

I liked the quantity of full colour images and also the diagrams and layouts that are included. I’m an extremely aesthetic individual, so it is less complicated for me to follow an image or layout as opposed to reading through reams of notes.

Full 60 Day Refund Policy.

The 60 day money back guarantee is always good to see. When I see that I know the seller supports their product 100%. It places me at at ease, knowing that if the product is not up to standard then I am not going to lose my money.

Now Lets Look At The Cons Of Ideas4Landscaping?

It is good that you get instant download access to everything however it does take away some of the pleasure of having a book to hand. The designs are stored in a downloadable online gallery, which is great if your not into using paper and want to conserve a few trees. Yet its a bit of a hassle when you want to have the layout you are working on next to you as you build your beautiful garden.

Nevertheless, you do have the choice of printing them out yourself. That way, you do not need to go online to look at them.

Would I Recommend It?

Yes!

Ideas4Landscaping is a great collection which ever way you look at it. It is suitable for both the new gardeners and the seasoned professional landscapers who might just want some new ideas. It offers fantastic value for money for such an extensive system.

Ideas4Landscaping gets 2 thumbs up from me!

Peaceful Japanese Gardening For Any Home

Peaceful Japanese Gardening For Any Home

Japanese gardening is a social kind of gardening that is meant to create a scene that mimics nature as much as possible by using trees, shrubs, rocks, sand, artificial hillsides, fish ponds, as well as flowing water as art-forms. The Zen and also Shinto customs are both a big part of Japanese gardening and, because of this the gardens have a contemplative as well as reflective mood about them. Japanese gardening is totally different from the Western style and is seen as a more meditational and relaxing style of gardening.

A Japanese Garden Showing Gravel Representing Water

There are essentially 2 types of Japanese garden and three basic methods for scenery. The main two types of gardens are:

  • Tsukiyami, which is a hillside garden that is mainly composed of hills and ponds.
  • Hiraniwa, which is essentially the opposite of Tsukiyami: a level garden without any hillsides or fish ponds.

And the three basic methods for scenery are:

  • Minimised Scale – This is the art of taking a real scene from nature, the hills, rivers, trees, etc and then recreating that scene in your garden on a smaller scale of course.
  • Symbolisation – This entails generalisation and also abstraction. An good example of symbolisation would be the use of white sand to represent the ocean.
  • Borrowed Views – This refers to when the gardener uses something such as a forest or an ocean as a background, but it ends up becoming an integral part of the scene.


The fundamental components that are used in a Japanese garden are stones, rocks, bushes, water, gravel, fences, and moss.

  • Rocks are generally used as centrepieces and bring an existence of spirituality to the garden. In accordance with the Shinto custom rocks embody the spirits of nature.
  • Gravel is used as a kind of defining surface and is used to imitate the flow of water when arranged effectively.
  • Stones are utilised to form a boundary and are often shaped into the form of lanterns.
  • Water, whether it be in the shape of a pond, stream, or a waterfall, is an essential part of a Japanese garden. It can be real water or represented by gravel, yet no matter what form the water is in, it is a critical component to the Japanese gardens equilibrium.

There are several kinds of plants that are the trademark of Japanese gardening, the major one being the Bonsai tree. Bonsai is the Japanese art of training everyday, typical plants, such as Pine, Cypress, Holly, Cedar, Cherry, Maple, as well as Beech, to appear like large, old trees just in small form. These trees vary from 5 centimetres to one meter in height and are kept small by careful pruning, re-potting, pinching of growth, and also wiring the branches.

Japanese gardening is a custom the poet Muso Soseki, stated “Gardens are a root of improvement”.

A Japanese garden is sure to bring about many different feelings and is definitely a transforming experience.