Covid19: Air pollution falls sharply across the world

With global economic activity ramping down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it is hardly surprising that emissions of a variety of gases related to energy and transport would be reduced.

Scientists say that by May, when CO2 emissions are at their peak thanks to the decomposition of leaves, the levels recorded might be the lowest since the financial crisis over a decade ago.

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Researchers in New York told the BBC their early results showed carbon monoxide mainly from cars had been reduced by nearly 50% compared with last year.

Emissions of the planet-heating gas CO2 have also fallen sharply.

But there are warnings levels could rise rapidly after the pandemic.

An analysis carried out for the climate website Carbon Brief suggested there had been a 25% drop in energy use and emissions in China over a two week period. This is likely to lead to an overall fall of about 1% in China’s carbon emissions this year, experts believe.

Both China and Northern Italy have also recorded significant falls in nitrogen dioxide, which is related to reduced car journeys and industrial activity. The gas is a serious air pollutant and also indirectly contributes to the warming of the planet.

With aviation grinding to a halt and millions of people working from home, a range of emissions across many countries are likely following the same downward path.

While people working from home will likely increase the use of home heating and electricity, the curbing of commuting and the general slowdown in economies will likely have an impact on overall emissions.

Source: BBC News

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Getting the best bathroom

Your bathroom needs to be functional and practical, but good design can also turn it into a haven where you can relax and unwind and it can also add a great value and appeal to your property. Read on for the best tips on how to strike the right balance and find out how to get the best for your money.

When you move into a new property or undertaking a property improvement project, the bathroom is often the first to get an overhaul. Before splashing out, think carefully about what needs to be changed to avoid any costly mistakes.

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Below are the tips you need to consider to get the best bathroom;

  1. Determine the best layout – many bathroom suppliers produce templates for standard sized baths, basic etc so that you can experiment with layouts to find the best that meets all your requirements. Draw out a scaled down version of your bathroom’s floor plan, marking in the windows and doors and then use the templates to determine the best positions for the fittings. Remember if you change the position of the plumbing or pipes, this can add considerable to the cost of your new bathroom.
  2. Choice your bathroom fittings – when choosing bathroom fittings, you have to consider what you enjoy doing in a bathroom for example do you enjoy wallowing in a long hot bath? Or is an exhilarating, power shower more of your thing? Your choice will either be to sacrifice a bath for a shower or have both separately or incorporated together. Whichever bathroom fittings you choose, think space, practical and long-term; a classic, white suite will never go out of fashion.
  3. Get rid of the clutter –  as most likely the smallest room in the house, its easy for your bathroom to become cluttered. Solve the problem by making sure there’s sufficient storage in which to keep toiletries, towels and other items. Installing a  vanity unit under a basin is the best use of this often underutilised space, while fitted furniture throughout creates a sleek, streamlined look.See the source image
  4. Get the fixtures right – wall tiles can really help to add colour and style to your bathroom, but floor to ceiling tiles may appear cold. Try tiling halfway up the wall, behind a basin or behind a shower instead. With flooring you need to be practical and go for a slip-resistant option. There are various floors to chose from including vinyl, rubber and stone flooring/tiles. For lighting, there are various low energy lighting options and designs to choose from. Try using spotlights over mirror or recessed area.
  5. Accessorise – complete your new bathroom with accessories such as fluffy towels, stylish taps, handles, nobs, mirror etc. And where possible and affordable add designer radiator, picture frame or paintings for a stunning focal feature.

If you can’t afford a whole new bathroom, its easy to get a whole new look by simply replacing taps, add a fresh coat of paint or new colour, installing a towel radiator or changing the wall or floor tiles.

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What is a high-efficiency condensing boiler

For the best efficient space heating and hot water heating boiler for domestic property, a high-efficiency condensing boiler is the most recommended. A high-efficiency condensing boiler works on a principle of recovering as much of the heat normally wasted from the flue of a conventional (non-condensing) boiler as possible.

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A modern high-efficiency condensing boiler has a much larger heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is designed to extract over 90% of the wasted heat from the fuel it burns which would normally be lost to the atmosphere through the flue, and recycles it back into the heating system. By fitting a condensing boiler and improving your heating See the source imagecontrols, you could cut your carbon footprint by nearly two tonnes and save as much as £275 a year on utilities bills.

A combination boiler can be more efficient as it also supplies hot water to your home, this option is most suitable for smaller homes. Ask your installer about what’s best for your home.

High-efficiency condensing boilers are the most energy efficient and can save you up to a quarter on your heating bills once you replace your old boiler and heating controls.

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Home is where your heart is

A proverb said so long ago is immensely significant today as well. The origin to the proverb “Home is where the heart is” is given by Roman naval commander and naturalist, Pliny the Elder. He was formerly known as Gaius Plinius Secundus.

 

Undoubtedly the concept lies in returning to the place where you belonged, have spent the most cherished time of your life and willing to invest good part of your resources to develop and maintain.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once quoted, “A house is made with walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.” And to build a house with love and dreams it will take skill and money.

To make your house a home you should consider home improvement that is design and decorated to your taste, personality and comfort.

Elements to consider and made available at least to a standard approved level are;

  • Flooring and tiling 
  • Furniture and fittings
  • Heating and plumbing
  • Electronic and electric gadgets
  • Security

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Home Improvement: Exploiting opportunities for energy efficiency

To identify opportunities that are likely to arise for energy efficiency upgrades, start by making a list of future home improvements you plan to carry out over a number of years. then try to match these to major energy efficiency projects, such as insulation, solar installation, window and boiler replacement. Below are some planned projects and recommended opportunities for energy efficiency improvements.

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Planned project and energy efficiency opportunity 

  • Internal decoration, Re-plastering walls, Refitting kitchens, Refitting bathrooms and cloakrooms etc.

Internal wall insulation.

  • Rendering external walls.

External wall insulation

  • Re-roofing.

Photovoltaics (PV) Solar panel roof installation, Roof or loft insulation. If external wall cladding is planned, prepare the way by extending the roof at eaves level.

  • Replacement windows.

Specify high-performance windows and combine wall insulation works.

  • Replacing old hot water cylinder.

Specify a twin-coil (or triple-coil) cylinder ready for the later installation of solar water heating.

  • Replacing worn-out boiler.

Specify ‘A’-rated high-efficiency replacement boiler.

  • Replacing floorboards

Floor insulation and underfloor heating (can be paired with renewable technology).

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Super-insulated home: Heating by cat power?

Not a lot of people know this, but the average domestic cat gives off nearly 20W of heat. Why is this relevant? Because if your home was super-insulated so that it only lost 1kwh of heat a day, then the body heat of a couple of domestic cats could be sufficient to keep the living space warm – at least until the temperature outside was 16° colder than inside.

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The total heat lost of a building depends on two main factors – its average heat lost (ie how insulated it is) and the temperature difference between inside and outside. Together these two factors tell you how much heat you need to generate to keep the interior cosy. So in this example your living space set to be a comfortable 20°C, only once the outdoor temperatures fell below 4° would you need to invite additional household pets into the home to boost the heating.

If the building is well insulated enough, the internal gains will be more than the total losses through the building. In other words the number of watts of heat required would be less than the heat given off by occupants and from everyday activities, such as waste heat from appliances, cooking, hot water use, plus any solar gains received through windows.

 

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Home energy saver: Consider your curtains

Heavy curtains with good lining will help to retain the heat in a room and thereby save you energy and money on heating bills.

Remember to draw your curtains at dusk to reduce the heat escaping through your windows and ensure they are not blocking any radiators.

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