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  • How to create and maintain the perfect garden pond

    garden pond

    A pond is an attractive proposition for many homeowners. A body of water brings with it a burgeoning ecosystem of aquatic wildlife and vegetation, as well as aesthetic value. Despite the obvious advantages of having a garden pond, the effort required to actually build and maintain a thriving pond is an insurmountable stumbling block for many. Creating the perfect pond may not be as painstaking a task as you may have anticipated. With this quick guide as a head start, you may find it a great deal easier than expected.

    Construction

    The construction aspect of installing a pond into your garden is far and away the most costly and arduous component of the whole endeavour. Before lining the pond, the turf itself has to be excavated to your desired shape and depth by hand - whether you choose to dig it yourself or hire someone else is completely up to you. From there, a pond filter has to be installed to keep the water clean. A not altogether essential but nevertheless significant step is to surround the pond with rocks, stones or slabs as both a practical and decorative addition.

    Wildlife

    The type of wildlife you intend to attract to your pond will also dictate how you maintain it. Koi fish, while relatively hardy and resilient, require a finely tuned set of conditions in order to flourish. Neutral pH levels, excessive filtering and sterilisation of bacteria are all prerequisites for a koi pond.

    And while your instinct may agree to this in order to cultivate glistening crystal-clear waters, much of the wildlife typical of British ponds actually prefer to operate in much more congested waters full of vegetation. Tadpoles for example, depend on a bountiful source of algae as their primary food source. The Royal Horticultural Society recommends that only around 50% of surface water should be free from vegetation.

    Plants

    Any plants that you choose to inhabit your pond serve a practical purpose as well as an ornamental one. Certain plant species will help oxygenate your pond and some will even attract other species and wildlife. Other pond plants with unassuming names like water fern and floating pennywort are actually invasive and can have a devastating impact on the surrounding ecosystem - be extremely careful which plant life you choose to introduce.

    Cost

    Costs can vary wildly depending on the size of your pond and the type of life you want to live in it. Even within a single species, costs can differ dramatically from one purchase to another. Koi fish for example, a hugely popular pond species, can range in price from £10 to thousands and thousands; it all depends on your preferences.

    Maintenance

    submersible dirty water pump

    Even the most unkempt garden pond requires a certain amount of maintenance. Thinning out overgrown plants and removing any debris that may accumulate in the water are minimum requirements for a healthy pond. A full and thorough overhaul in which a submersible dirty water pump is used to drain the pond is required once every five years.

     

  • The Wastewater Treatment Process

    Over time, the pressure imposed on water supplies in the UK by climate change has facilitated the construction of close to 9000 wastewater treatment plants. Slowly but surely, they are becoming an important and even ingrained part of how we as a society push back against global warming. Yet so few of us understand or are even aware of the process that transforms the wastewater that leaves our toilets, sinks and showers into potable drinking water. To provide you with a bare-bones look at the basics of the process, we have put together this summary of the role of the wastewater treatment plant.

    wilo pumps

    Screening process

    After wastewater is carried away from homes and, via a network of pipes and submersible wilo pumps, arrives at a wastewater treatment plant, it undergoes a screening process. To separate all of the biggest debris that so often accumulates, from the wastewater itself, the wastewater travels through a screen that essentially acts a sieve.  The type of screen used varies from plant to plant but the most commonly used screens include both coarse and fine screens, as well as the newer step screens.

    Primary treatment stage

    At the primary treatment stage, the mixture, newly relieved of its biggest and most easily extracted debris, is placed in a sedimentation tank. Within the settlement tanks, the heaviest material sinks to the bottom to form a layer of sludge. Large arms or scrapers then push this sludge towards the centre of the tank, where it can be disposed of or treated further, leaving a more refined fluid behind. The purpose of the primary treatment stage is to remove solids from wastewater in order to

    Secondary treatment stage

    The secondary treatment stage involves treating the wastewater to rid it of any remaining organic matter. This happens two ways - through the aeration of the wastewater and through the addition of bacteria. By pumping air into a large tank containing wastewater, bacteria are allowed to grow and thrive, where they break down any remaining nasty substances into harmless organic matter.

    Final treatment stage

    After undergoing this chemical treatment, wastewater is placed into a humus tank which separates the wastewater into its final constituents. Any remaining bacteria sinks to the bottom, forming sludge, which is then sent for secondary treatment, leaving clean water behind. Depending on which body of water the cleansed wastewater is sent to, an additional step is sometimes carried out - the remaining water can be filtered through a bed of sand to remove any resolute particles.

    Once the entire water reclamation process has been completed, the treated water can be sent to any number of different locations. The majority of treated wastewater in the UK goes back into the country’s streams and rivers and some is even discharged into the sea. Because treated water is subject to such rigorous testing by regulatory bodies, all reclaimed water bolsters the quality of water throughout the UK, not to mention availability.

  • Money-Saving Tips for Winter

    Winter is a time where we all get to relax more than we should, eat more than we should and spend more than we should. When it comes to spending money though, we want to be sure that it goes on gifts for our closest friends and family – not on mundane but essential updates to our home. Unfortunately, the festive period also brings with it some of the worst weather the year has to throw at us, making repairs to plumbing and heating apparatus all too common. To ensure none of this seasonal reaches you over the winter months, you may want to consider some of the following changes to keep your bank balance as healthy as possible.

    Shower pumps

    salamander shower pump

    Salamander are one of the leading pumps brands around, and from their base in the South East, they have been providing UK homes with the highest quality pumping products for years. A core part of their range that will guarantee you perfectly pressured showers in spite of any boiler problems that may arise during the colder months, is the salamander shower pump. A shower pump of this quality is as effective as they get, and will keep your water pressure intact without any of the associated extra cost that you might otherwise expect.

    Circulating pumps

    circulating pump

    Whilst you may not be familiar with circulating pumps, they are actually one of the most cost-effective heating products money can buy. By ensuring that hot water is distributed evenly throughout the home, any additional and unnecessary expense is circumvented. Not only does the efficiency of a circulating pump minimise the cost of your water bill, it also ensures that extra energy won't be expended heating up water that won’t be used - allowing you to rest assured that your actions aren’t taking a toll on the environment.

    Grey water recycling

    grey water recycling

    Similarly, a grey water pump is ideal not just for those of us who are desperate to safeguard the health of the planet for the foreseeable future; it is also perfect for those of us who are more conscious than ever of exactly how much money we are spending (which is especially true during the festive period). A grey water recycling pump achieves both of these things by repurposing all of the grey water that would otherwise go to waste (from your baths, showers, dishwashers and sinks) for use elsewhere in the home. Given that a grey water recycling system is more than capable of reducing water usage by up to 50%, the upfront investment is miniscule and one you should be certain of considering.

    Sump pumps

    sump pump

    The threat of flooding is never higher than over the bitterly cold and wet winter months - whether that is from a particularly heavy downpour or pipes frozen to the point of bursting. Fortunately, there is one simple step you can take to stave off costly water damage. Installing a sump pump provides a hardy barrier to flooding by automatically casting away any water that may accumulate in the home. Once again, it is an essential initial investment that will easily repay itself over time.

     

  • How to Protect Your Home from Winter Damage

    The harsh winter months are upon us and many of us are concerning ourselves with how best to wrap up warm. It is however, equally important to remember that our homes are as susceptible to the cold as we are. Freezing temperatures are capable of bursting water pipes and tearing apart driveways and roofs. Learning how best to combat these threats is a necessity for the maintenance of your home.

    The threat: Frozen or burst pipes

    lowara pressure vessel

    One of the most common issues associated with the cold of winter is frozen or burst pipes. A lack of care when it comes to preserving the warmth of your home during winter can allow low temperatures to cause devastating damage. In such conditions, the network of pipes that provide homes with heat and water are especially vulnerable. Biting cold brings with it frozen or even burst pipes - and the same applies to hot water storage tanks. Even the hardiest lowara pressure vessel can suffer in freezing weather.

    The solution

    The first, and most obvious, countermeasure is to ensure that all pipes in exposed areas are properly outfitted with lagging material. The insulating material will better preserve the temperature inside at-risk pipes - shoring up their defence against the cold. Other precautionary measures that are simple yet effective include: fixing leaky taps, eliminating draughts and assuring the health of your boiler by having it regularly serviced. If you are going away for a considerable period of time, it may be worth leaving your heating on while you’re away to stifle the debilitating effects of prolonged cold on the home.

    The threat: Freeze-thaw weathering

    freeze-thaw weathering

    The second prominent scourge of winter is freeze-thaw weathering. As the temperature see-saws between below freezing and above freezing, water alternates between liquid and solid form. This expansion and contraction can test the mettle of any space where water has accumulated - from vacant roof tiles to gutters to driveways riddled with gaps.

    The solution

    To stave off the meddling influence of freeze-thaw weathering, it helps to put up a number of defences. Clearing out gutters, replacing any broken or missing roof tiles and filling in any depressions and divots in your driveway are all important steps. With any potential vulnerabilities covered, there are no spaces for the cold to exploit.

    The threat: Ice dams

    Ice dam

    In particularly cold temperatures, ice dams can appear. Ice dams are ridges of ice that form on the edge of a roof. Because of their location, the ice prevents all of the snow and water that accumulates behind it on the roof from funnelling into the gutters like it normally would. With nowhere for the water to go, the likelihood of it seeping through the roof and tarnishing the ceilings beneath is dramatically increased.

    The solution

    To prevent the formation of ice dams, the best preventative measure you can take is to ensure that your roof is sufficiently insulated. Aside from measures you can take in anticipation of ice dams, the only reactionary measure worth taking is getting yourself a roof rake - a device with a telescoping handle that will allow you to scrape away any recalcitrant ice or snow before it has the chance to form an ice dam.

    With all of these tips and tricks under your belt, you should be well-equipped to deal with anything winter can throw at you and your home.

  • Innovative Ways to Keep Your Home Warm this Winter

    With the days getting shorter and the nights getting longer, more and more of us are reaching for that extra blanket or hot water bottle in a desperate attempt to cut back on our energy bills. More often than not though, these attempts are in vain. But what if I told you there are a number of simple and cost-effective ways you can keep your home a few degrees warmer without breaking the bank?

    Grundfos Magna 32

    DIY draught excluders

    In the modern age, it is easy to obsess over increasingly intricate and complex technologies and how they can make our lives better - and the same certainly applies to heating. But sometimes we are better off looking to the past and the use of draught excluders is one such example. Designed to prevent heat escaping from beneath your door, draught excluders are a necessity for a pleasantly warm home. If you are feeling particularly money savvy, you can easily create one of your own using nothing more than an old pair of tights and a few socks.

    Imitating double glazing

    You don’t need to shell out on double glazing to reap the rewards of it. In spite of its garish appearance, bubble wrap is a surprisingly effective alternative to double glazing. Thanks to its insulating properties, it is a more than worthy mimic. By coating your windows with bubble wrap, you can keep your home considerably warmer. Because of its appearance though, it certainly isn’t going to appeal to everyone. There is another option for the more aesthetically conscious - a transparent film.

    Capturing sunlight during the day and keeping it trapped at night

    If you aren’t going to rely on conventional heating methods during the winter months, you have to make the most of what little sunlight is available to you. The most effective - and simplest - way to do this is to open your curtains during the day and close them during the night. Any sunlight that filters into your home during the day will have a warming effect and closing your curtains or blinds when the sun goes in will ensure as much of the heat is retained as possible.

    Installing the right heating pump

    As much as you can maximise the temperature of your home using a variety of DIY methods, there is no substitute for a quality heating pump. The Grundfos Magna 32 is a stellar example. As an ‘A’ rated circulator, it is widely recognised as one of the best on the market today - and it owes this status to its efficiency. It uses up to 80% less energy than a ‘D’ rated circulator, culminating in an annual saving for the average household of around 10% on electricity. Whilst saving both energy and money, the Magna 32 will ensure that you have hot water whenever you need it - whether that be to run a hot bath or to switch on a radiator.

  • An Introduction to Agricultural Irrigation

    For the unfamiliar, agricultural irrigation is the manual application of water to land for the purpose of growing and sustaining crops. What sounds like a simple process is actually bewilderingly complex at times. With climate and crops differing by region, a variety of irrigation techniques have emerged, which, while useful, also serves to complicate matters further. To help you sift through the confusing world of irrigation, we have produced this guide to the most popular, effective and efficient techniques.

    Flood irrigation

    flood irrigation

    Flood irrigation is the oldest and most inefficient form of agricultural irrigation. As its name suggests, flood irrigation essentially consists of allowing water to flow freely through a field of crops. Its haphazard application makes it an attractive choice for farmers that are reluctant to splash out on a complicated (and sometimes expensive) delivery system of pipes and pumps, but it also makes it extremely inefficient. Over half of the water intended to nourish crops is actually lost to evaporation, run-off, transpiration and infiltration of unintended areas, making flood irrigation a poor choice for those who are environmentally conscious.

    Pressurised irrigation

    Unlike flood irrigation, which can occur almost without human intervention, drip and flood irrigation is reliant on an elaborate system that provides them with a supply of pressurised water. Composed of a water source, a pump that is capable of pressurising the water, as well as a means of actually transferring water to the crops; pressurised irrigation systems are far more complex than their flood irrigation counterparts. This complexity allows pressurised systems to be far more efficient and effective, but it also makes them far more likely to break down.

    Drip irrigation

    self priming pump

    Drip irrigation is, by some distance, the most efficient form of agricultural irrigation, but it is also one of the most difficult to maintain. A network of pipes, interwoven with emitters at strategic locations, allow water to be dropped directly onto the root zone of crops with unerring accuracy, so much so, that it can result in a 95% distribution uniformity, which, for the unaware, is a measure of how evenly water soaks into the ground during irrigation.

    Sprinkler irrigation

    Sprinkler irrigation works in much the same way as drip irrigation does, just in a slightly less efficient manner. Water travels from the source, becomes pressurised thanks to a self-priming pump, and is then distributed across crop fields by a selection of sprinklers. If the sprinklers are positioned optimally, and water is applied in a uniform fashion, sprinkler irrigation can be relatively efficient. What makes sprinkler irrigation less efficient than its pressurised cousin drip irrigation, is that it can be thwarted by adverse weather conditions - even a simple breeze can drastically affect the trajectory of water from sprinklers.

  • How to Decorate Your Bathroom For Halloween

    With Halloween just days away, millions of us are busy worrying about the best way to decorate our homes in a suitably spooky manner for the year’s most frightening day. Out of all the rooms in the house, the bathroom isn’t the one that necessarily screams out scary the loudest. But, after a bit of digging, you’ll find that bathrooms are actually a standard setting for many of the most iconic horror scenes in film history. Taking some creative inspiration from hallmarks of the horror genre Psycho and The Shining can’t hurt when trying to create the perfect bathroom for Halloween.

    Psycho

    Psycho

    The shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is quite possibly the most famous horror scene in film history, and, as the most famous horror scene in film history, there is no better film to take inspiration from for your Halloween-themed bathroom. Positioning a cardboard cut-out figure purportedly clutching a knife behind a translucent shower curtain is the perfect way to echo the film whilst frightening any visitors that are unfortunate enough to enter your bathroom.

     The Shining

    the shining

    After an axe-brandishing Jack Nicholson proclaimed: “Here’s Johnny!’ whilst poking his head through a bathroom door, the scene from The Shining has become a hallmark of the horror genre. A wall decal that vividly depicts the only horror scene capable of rivalling the infamy of the shower scene in Psycho, is one worth having in your home for Halloween.

    Harry Potter

    Moaning Myrtle was an ever-present in the bathrooms at Hogwarts. Whenever she did pop up, she always had an unnerving impact on the viewer initially, but ended up leaving them laughing, which is exactly the impact a Moaning Myrtle decal in your bathroom will have on your guests. Inexpensive but guaranteed to garner a reaction, a Moaning Myrtle toilet decal is the ideal addition for any Harry Potter fan on Halloween.

    The only horror story you have to avoid

    waste water pump

    Spend too much time concerning yourself with making your bathroom look horrifying, and you can end up with a real horror story on your hands. The appliances behind-the-scenes that allow your bathroom to run smoothly on a daily basis are vital. Without a waste water pump, for example, especially given the tumultuous weather of late, you are leaving your home without a line of defence against flooding. By whisking away any encroaching water with speed and ease, a waste water pump will set your mind at ease and keep your bathroom in tip-top shape.

    Bonus tips

    There are a host of simple but spooky changes you can make to your bathroom that don’t involve imitating film. Everything from skull-shaped soap dispensers to pumpkin-adorned bath mats and towels are readily available, and each addition is equally effective at helping to create the perfect Halloween bathroom. A smattering of fake blood is another popular option, but is only worth exploring by the most daring amongst you - both because it is realistic enough to cause genuine terror and because it is likely to give you a fright when you realise how difficult it is to clean up afterwards.

  • How to Fight Back Against Food Waste

    As a society we’ve grown disturbingly accustomed to wasting resources and destroying our fragile planet. Hundreds of trillions of gallons of water are wasted globally in food production alone, an unfathomable number to the average person. And yet the water we use to drink, bathe in, shower in, and flush the toilet with, accounts for less than one per cent of the world’s overall supply. In a century where the global population is expected to surpass nine billion, it’s never been more critical to manage our use of resources and limit waste.

    We’re all guilty of wasting food but not all of us are aware of the dire impact this is having on the environment. Landfills of rotting, wasted food are potent sources of methane - a greenhouse gas with the potential to accelerate climate change even faster than carbon dioxide. A reduction in food wastage would also mean a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases in general, as the environment-harming chemicals associated with the production of food will be lessened.

    So what can we do to reduce food waste?

    Planning meals in advance

    Shopping list

    Efficiency and management is the key. At the supermarket, try to shop with a list, reducing impulsive purchases. A weekly planning schedule could help, giving you an idea of what to prepare and when. In time, you’ll develop a knack for portion sizes, and will learn what’s right for you and others, you may even find you’ve overspent in the past, making your weekly shop more cost effective.

    Getting creative with leftovers

    pickled goods

    As much as proper planning can help, leftovers are unfortunately more or less an inevitability. Freezing anything that is left over can preserve it for months. Canning, pickling and drying are three effective ways of ensuring your food goes further. The Love Food Hate Waste website is an invaluable resource - it is full of unorthodox, underrated and underappreciated cooking techniques and recipes that can help you create something delicious from what you would otherwise assume are incompatible ingredients.

    Invest in a wilo central heating pump

    wilo central heating pump

    While it won’t technically reduce the amount of food waste you generate, a wilo central heating pump will help to reduce the guilt you’ll feel after hearing the following statistic: throwing away a single burger wastes the same amount of water as running a shower for an hour and-a-half. Whenever food is wasted, so too is a mass of water.

    These ingenious central heating circulator units from Wilo regulate and maintain the water temperature in pipes even if they aren’t located near the storage tank or boiler. Although some initial energy is expended maintaining a uniform temperature, in the long term you can expect a drastic reduction in both consumption and wastage. After all, there’s no need heat up the water if it’s already at a desirable temperature, and you’ll no longer have to let the water ‘run’ as you turn on the tap - because it’ll already be hot.

  • Bathroom Design by the Decade

    Bathroom décor of the past fifty years has been riddled with developments both delightful and disastrous. From minimalism to shabby chic, it is fair to say that the trends that emerged divided opinion at the time, and continue to do so today. There were, however, some definitive triumphs (upcycling and increased efficiency) and definitive disasters (avocado bathroom suites). In order to chart this turbulent history, we have put together this guide to bathroom design by the decade. Who knows, you may even be inspired to borrow from a bygone era.

    1970s

    bathroom 70s

    The 1970s might be the oldest decade featured in this list but they were far from the most traditional. Continuing the momentum created by the 60s, bathroom décor in the 70s was typically outlandish. Bold pastel colours reigned supreme in the world of bathroom fixtures and they were more often than not accompanied by even bolder and brighter botanical coloured wallpaper. While 70s style bathrooms have threatened to make a full-blown resurgence in recent months, you can rest assured that not all aspects of 70s bathroom decor will be welcomed back with open arms - avocado bathroom suites are a glaring example of the era clearly overstepping the line between outlandish and garish.

    1980s

    bathroom 80s

    The 80s were a decade marked by extravagance, and the bathrooms were no exception. Wall-to-wall carpets and sunken bathtubs featured in many a bathroom of that era, and helped to paint the 80s as a decade of excess - especially in the US. With arguably more investment than ever into interior design, bathroom decor became wilder than ever - you were just as likely to encounter a bathroom with floral chintz shower curtains as one covered with real ferns. And whilst it gave rise to unprecedented experimentation, it also gave rise to some tasteless trends. There are practical and aesthetic reasons why bathrooms are no longer completely covered in shag carpet.

    1990s

    bathroom 90s

    Almost as a backlash to the brazen boldness of the decades that had preceded it, the 90s adopted a minimalist approach to bathroom décor. Monochromatic colours were an ever-present. Black, white and beige ruled the roost. Corner baths established themselves as the go-to bathroom feature of the decade, but they were better in theory than in practice and failed to outlive the 90s. Another staple of the decade - track lighting - was far more successful and long-lasting. As well as being unobtrusive and versatile, track lighting allowed homeowners to focus light throughout their home.

    2000s

    pedrollo pumps

    The newly-minted environmental ethos of the 2000s was ushered in, at least partly, by the popularity of Grand Designs. The programme brought attention to the environmentally-conscious Walter Segal method of construction amongst others, and introduced Britain to a plethora of green ways to outfit our bathrooms - the efficiency of pedrollo pumps made them a household name. Upcycling was commonplace as shabby chic became not only an indication of environmental awareness but also an indicator of cool. The noughties saw a break from the past, as bold and bright-coloured feature walls defied the minimalism of the previous decade.

  • Making Your Office More Eco-Friendly

    With the average person spending 90,000 hours in the office during their lifetime, it is safe to assume that a decent-sized chunk of the pollution we produce as a species comes during the working day. While it is admittedly easy for environmental considerations to slip your mind in the midst of pressing meetings and deadlines, it is more important than ever not to abandon the planet - especially as temperatures continue to climb and extreme weather becomes a regularity rather than a rarity. To transform your office into an environmentally-friendly one that requires very little effort to upkeep on a daily basis, here are a number of the most effective changes you can possibly make.

    Saving paper

    hot water pump

    Recycling

    It may seem counter-intuitive to reduce the number of bins in an office if you want to encourage recycling, but that is exactly what the consensus is in the environmental community. By getting rid of personal bins, employees are forced to move around in search of a bin and are more likely to make a more conscious decision about whether the waste they are carrying can be recycled or not.

    Going one step further and eliminating the presence of bins in the office altogether is another option; one that is being explored successfully by the Macquarie Bank office in Sydney. The thinking behind it is that, without bins, employees have no choice but to complete their work without generating any paper waste.

    Printing

    Before you even start thinking about how you can reclaim value from things you have already used, you should first consider how you can eliminate their use in the first place. Implementing software that can automatically improve the efficiency of any document you are printing - both in terms of ink usage and paper usage - can cut down on your office’s contributions to global warming. Brands like Green Print and E Print claim that their software can save up to 17% on printing materials.

    Saving electricity

    LED

    From the computers that allow you to send emails and store documents, to the kettles that provide you with boiling water, offices are full of electricity-guzzling equipment. Any opportunity to trim your electricity usage should be seized upon.

    Especially in larger offices, motion-activated lights can remove the human element that inevitably results in lights being left on when they simply don’t need to be. If you aren’t willing to take this step, you should at least consider installing LED lights, which use a fraction of the energy that their incandescent counterparts do. Similarly, energy-saving plugs will automatically switch off monitors and computers that are almost always left on standby after hours. These changes are simple yet effective.

    Saving water

    hot water pump

    In any UK office, people are constantly shuttling back and forth from the kitchen carrying cups of tea and coffee. For that reason, office kitchens are guilty of using copious amounts of water - not to mention the huge amounts of energy it takes to boil this water.  The most straightforward and effective method of reducing this amount of energy is to install a hot water pump. As well as providing your office with an instant supply of hot water, it does so extremely efficiently.

     

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