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  • 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.

     

  • How to Replicate the Spa Experience at Home

    Before you even get started, it is vitally important to cultivate the kind of atmosphere that will allow you to really relax. Central to establishing a positive mood is appealing to two of your so-called secondary senses - your sense of smell and your hearing.

    Picking the right music

    Don’t be hasty to dismiss the choice of music as inconsequential ‘background noise;' numerous studies have verified the correlation between music and relaxation. One particular study conducted by Mindlab International demonstrated how a particular set of sounds in music can culminate in one very calming experience. A sustaining rhythm that slows over time is mirrored by the heart rate, which in turn, reduces blood pressure and the release of cortisol (the body’s stress hormone).

    Selecting a scent

    spa scent

    Similarly, used correctly, smell has also been scientifically shown to evoke a positive response. Smells trigger a response from the limbic system - the area of the brain responsible for processing emotions and memories. When a soothing lavender fragrance (for example) is present, the brain responds in kind, making it imperative to invest in a suitable scent for your home spa.

    Drinks please

    A glass of champagne is standard fare for spas the world over and your home spa is no exception - if you are so inclined anyway. Herbal teas are equally effective. Whatever you decide, the result should be the same - a feeling of calm before the spa experience gets into full flow. Whilst the spa process is underway, you may benefit from staying hydrated with some so-called spa water. If you were wondering, it is essentially just water with a few slices of cucumber, strawberry or lemon thrown in.

    Treat your skin with a face mask

    Face mask

    A face mask is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a typical spa experience. In order to live up to that stereotype, here’s how you can construct your own face mask with things you have lying around the house. Ingredients actually vary wildly, but the online consensus appears to favour the inclusion of honey. As well as smelling superb, honey is a natural acne remedy thanks to its antibiotic properties.

    Healthy and simple food

    No spa experience would be complete without some kind of physical nourishment. The most popular spas across the globe owe their stellar reputation, in part at least, to their food. And you should aim to consume something equally delightful in the comfort of your own home. Of course, it is best to prepare this beforehand to prevent any frantic food preparation from ruining an otherwise serene day. It is worth noting that, as a spa day is an exercise in health, wellness and relaxation, this food should also be healthy.

    Taking a bath

    Stuart Turner Monsoon U5.0B

    Without the need for any fancy facial scrubs or the tiny Middle Eastern fish that are popular for pedicures, a simple steaming bath can have a profound effect - especially when used in collaboration with other inexpensive products. Warm water relaxes the muscles and helps to alleviate any pre-existing pains or aches. It is also great for the skin - researchers at Stanford University found that a hot bath can kill bacteria on the skin and minimise the body’s inflammatory response. To ensure your bath (and all other water-using outlets in your home) have adequate water pressure; it is well worth considering the installation of a booster pump from the Stuart Turner Monsoon range.

     

  • The Future of Solar Energy

    In a world where climate change plays a more and more significant role in dictating global temperatures and weather, the impetus for combatting carbon emissions has never been stronger. That is why the search for alternative energy sources - like solar - is more pressing than ever. Maximising the viability of solar energy has been amongst climate change campaigners’ primary concerns. From moving solar panels from land to sea, to improving their portability and efficiency, efforts have been tireless, and the culmination of these efforts has been a constant development and re-evaluation of solar energy use.

    Roll-up solar panels

    Flat Holm

    The latest innovation in solar energy comes from a small island off the coast of Cardiff - Flat Holm. It was the site of the first introduction of pioneering solar energy technology. Rapid roll-up solar panels were successfully used to provide the 0.15 mi² island with electricity. While that is no great achievement in itself, the success of the roll-up solar panels lies in its efficiency. Because the panels can be rolled up, up to ten times the amount of power can be stored in the same size standard solar panel. With greater efficiency and ease of movement, roll up solar panels could play a prominent role in a greener, cleaner future.

    From land to sea

    Floating solar

    A key area for development when it comes to solar energy is under-utilised bodies of water. Large expanses of water - particularly reservoirs - are just waiting to be adapted to harbour masses of photovoltaic cells all simultaneously harvesting light into electricity. As with all renewable energy resources, China is the global leader. And, with solar, that is no different. Just months ago, China unveiled the world’s largest floating solar power plant with a 40MW capacity - enough to power a small town. To give you an idea of the scale of the Chinese plant, its biggest competitor in second place, is capable of producing a comparatively meagre 6.3MW.

    More attractive solar panelling

    solar panels on roof

    Part of the reason we haven’t seen solar panelling become widespread throughout cities worldwide has been because they are, admittedly, a bit of an eyesore.  Elon Musk has plans to change that. August of this year marked the first time Tesla’s SolarCity tiles were fitted onto a house and began generating electricity. Available in four different designs, including one remarkably similar to conventional roof tiles, they are intended to remove any reservations that homeowners would otherwise have about the visual appearance of solar panelling. Apparently, they are also extremely durable - Tesla have claimed they are three times as strong as standard roofing tiles whilst weighing half as much.

    Zilmet SOLAR

    Harnessing solar energy requires equipment that is built to withstand high temperatures. The SOLAR range from Zilmet is custom built to withstand temperatures of up to 212°F, ensuring the pumps, fitting and gaskets that reside above the tank membrane remain properly protected.

  • What You Need to Know About Adding a New Bathroom

    Before you even decide to add an extension to your home, a number of different factors have to be taken into consideration. From planning permission to site insurance, the scope for potential missteps is huge, which can amount to one very stressful experience. If you have at least managed to narrow it down to a bathroom, here are the things that you have left to worry about.

    Layout

    While there isn’t a law forbidding the construction of a bathroom without a lobby preceding it anymore, it is still a decent guideline to follow. Ideally, a bathroom should be separated from the other rooms of the house by some kind of circulation space - either a hallway or a utility room. Regardless of whether you choose to follow this advice or not, there are very few laws restricting the positioning of a bathroom and for that reason, you more or less have free reign. The Party Wall Act of 1996 means you can build all the way up to the border with your neighbour, even if it requires access to their land in the process.

    Size

    Small bathroom

    In keeping with the relatively lax restrictions governing the layout of a bathroom extension, restrictions involving the size of a bathroom are similarly slack. If you so desire, you can create a new WC that measures just 1.3m² in size. If you want to combine a bathroom and a toilet, the minimum area you can occupy is 3.6 m². Whether investing in an extension just to make a bathroom of this size makes financial sense is an altogether different matter.

    Water supply

    water pressure pump

    One unavoidable consequence of extending the size of your home to include a bathroom is renewed demand on the infrastructure that supplies your baths, showers and sinks with water. It is just one of those things you have to deal with. The best way to meet this demand involves two steps. The first is something that will boost the water storage capability of your home. The second involves the addition of a water pressure pump that will bolster the water pressure to all of the outlets throughout your home. If you want convenience, a packaged pumping system is ideal for you - it combines the two.

    Design

    bathroom design

    Once you’ve blitzed through all of the red tape, you can finally get round to designing your new bathroom. Before you start it is important to keep in mind how this latest addition is going to fit in with the rest of your home. Cohesion is important to creating a well-designed home. Instead of completely contrasting the other spaces in your home, attempt to retain some semblance of theme - it might be a material or a colour. Aside from maintaining visual continuity, durability is also important, so don’t skimp on quality if you want your bathroom to function properly for the foreseeable future.

     

  • How hydrotherapy has a found a home in professional sports

    Increased investment into sport, accompanied by developments in science and technology, have dramatically changed the way elite level athletes are being treated for their injuries. Some of the newer treatments that had previously been reserved only for full-blown injuries have now been incorporated into the everyday routine of many professional athletes, as part of a strategy to enhance rest and recovery. And no treatment has benefitted more from changing attitudes than hydrotherapy.

    Whole Body Cryotherapy

    An exercise that started as a treatment for rheumatism in Japan in 1989 has since become standard practice the world over. By plunging the body into startling temperatures of -160°C, the brain reacts by stimulating the process of vasoconstriction - causing the arteries and the veins that carry blood to narrow. Because of this, less blood, and therefore fewer white blood cells, reaches the inflamed areas of the body, resulting in a reduction in swelling. Other rumoured effects include a feeling of well-being, increase in mood, and better quality sleep. The scientific basis is, at best, sketchy, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of Leicester City and the Welsh rugby team from undergoing whole body cryotherapy on a regular basis.

    Cold water immersion

    While human nature explains why whole body cryotherapy has superseded the popularity of ice baths (people would rather be colder for a shorter period of time) the evidence actually suggests that the less popular (and harder to endure) practice is actually a more effective one. Research published in June declared that undergoing cold water immersion at 8°C for ten minutes produced a greater decline in tissue temperature and blood flow than those who underwent whole body cryotherapy at -110°C for just two minutes.

    Traditional hydrotherapy

    Hydrotherapy in its truest sense is used throughout professional sports. Typically in a heated, rectangular pool, athletes benefit from the reduced load environment offered by the water. For this reason, traditional hydrotherapy is particularly popular for early forays into rehabilitation. Because of the variety of depths, underwater exercises can be accomplished by players with different injuries at different stages of their injuries.

    Standard hot shower

    shower booster pump

    As much as it seems that wince-inducing cold is the only way to go when it comes to hydrotherapy, a standard warm shower can also be beneficial. Because hot water encourages vasodilation, blood flow is increased - meaning muscles are relaxed and lactic acid is flushed out - making a warm shower the perfect way to recover from anaerobic exercise. And, as with any hydrotherapy treatment, you want to make it as easy as possible to endure, so investing in a shower booster pump that can provide you with the perfect water pressure is a must.

    In summary, hydrotherapy is far from a perfect way to address recovery, but it is nevertheless a helpful one. The effects may be minimal, but that can be the difference between success and failure. And nowhere are these margins more critical than in the world of elite professional sports, which is probably why they have been more widely adopted in this arena than anywhere else.

  • Is infrared heating here to stay?

    Infrared heating has struggled to find its market - that is, until late last year. Having been all but dismissed as a viable alternative to LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) infrared heating has since pivoted to great success. Infrared saunas are the latest craze gripping the famously fickle attention of the health industry - but is it just another fad that will stick around for a matter of months before exiting as unceremoniously as it entered, or is it built to last long-term?

    The history of infrared heaters  

    It wasn’t for another 150 years after the discovery of infra-red radiation that it was properly adapted for the purpose of heating. During World War Two, infrared heating started to prosper more. Banks and banks of infrared lamps were constructed to dry paints and lacquers on military equipment. After the war ended, infrared heating failed to go from strength-to-strength, with its use floundering rather than flourishing.

    Fit for use in the home?

    grundfos alpha

    Infra-red heating models itself as an alternative to the gas heaters that have a stranglehold on the heating market. Better for the environment and better for your bank balance apparently. Whilst the former can be true (if the source of electricity is renewable in origin) the latter certainly isn’t. At 14p per kWh (kilowatt hour) infrared heating is the most expensive heating fuel available. And it is perhaps for this reason that infrared heating has failed to cut into LPG’s sizeable market share in domestic heating - especially as LPG costs a meagre 6p per kWh. With tech like the Grundfos selectric ensuring maximum efficiency, the price battle between LPG and infrared becomes a complete mismatch.

    The revival of infrared heating?

    Infrared heating has experienced a resurgence as of late, mostly thanks to the infrared sauna and the growing roster of famous clientele that swear by its effects. Unlike many other health fads that fail to expand beyond the trend-setting hub of Los Angeles, infrared saunas have successfully breached the proverbial ceiling - and for that reason, they look set to stay -at least for a while anyway.

    What are infrared saunas?

    grundfos alpha

    As you can probably guess from the name, an infrared sauna replaces the heat that is typically generated through traditional means (hot rocks and water or something of that ilk) with radiant heat from infrared light. Because the infrared rays heat the body directly, rather than the surrounding air, a lower temperature of around 70°C (normal sauna temperature is around 90°C) is required to achieve the same cardiovascular exertion.

    Does the science back up the reported effects?

    What infrared saunas haven’t escaped is the absolute scarcity of scientific evidence backing their extensive list of miraculous effects. Improvements in cardiovascular health, weight loss, detoxification, and even euphoria are just a few of many supposed benefits.  The cardiovascular benefits are well-documented, but the rest, not so much. The weight loss claim is dubious at best - water weight is lost through sweat but is quickly replaced when rehydration takes place. As for the detoxifying effect, there is no evidence that any heavy metals or radiation are wiped from your body as many ‘experts’ have claimed. The purpose of sweat is to cool your body, not to expel toxins.

    In spite of the controversy, infrared saunas are enjoying a period of popularity at the moment and the future of infrared heating seems to rest firmly in the niche of saunas, rather than central heating.

  • How the human race is defending itself against flooding

    Although it might not feel like it, the UK is widely expected to suffer a drought in incoming months. And whilst it may seem like the worst time to start preparing for a flood, it is arguably the best. Floods are often so damaging because the defences made to combat them are often a case of too little, too late. And, unlike a waterlogged garden, you can’t just use drainage pumps. Through months, and sometimes years of preparation, areas of the world have been able to successfully defend themselves against floods. Here are some of the most interesting cases.

    Flood barrierdrainage pumps

    The Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier in the Netherlands is the largest of its kind in the world. Designed and constructed in response to the devastating 1953 North Sea Flood that proved fatal for thousands, the Oosterscheldekering (as it is also known) incorporates 4 kilometres sluice-gate-type doors that are only closed during adverse weather conditions. It has been so successful that (as part of the broader Delta Works project) it has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

    Hydroelectric dam

    Whilst the Oosterscheldekering is essentially a flood barrier, the Three Gorges Dam in China also doubles as a hydroelectric dam. Because of its 22 cubic km flood storage capacity, the dam is slated to reduce major downstream flooding as an incidence from one in every ten years to one in every hundred years. Alongside its proficiency as an anti-flood measure, the Three Gorges Dam also provides enough electricity to provide for 3% of the national demand.

    Channel modification

     In order to circumvent the pooling of rivers that causes flooding, the river course can be widened, deepened and straightened, to make the speed of flow of the water faster. Channel modification has been carried out on 25% of all the main rivers in England and Wales. While it is clear that channelisation has helped to reduce the risk of flooding, it can also have negative ecological repercussions - the dredging of the Charlton River in northern Missouri in the US caused the number of species present in the modified areas to fall to 13. In the natural areas of the river, 21 different species remained.

    Managed/ ecological flooding

    Ecological flooding is a more recent approach to combatting flooding. Why would you encourage the very thing you are trying to prevent? The answer is that, whilst you are allowing flooding to occur, you are only allowing it to happen in areas that you specify, which prevents it from happening in the highly areas you do not want it to happen. Aside from - diverted floodwaters away from settlements, managed flooding also aids the animal kingdom. An investigation of the ramifications of managed flooding in south-eastern Australia, found that it promoted the diversity of species present.

    Afforestationdrainage pumps

    Afforestation is potentially the most environmentally friendly anti-flood measure. By introducing more greenery, more rainwater is intercepted and used for photosynthesis and consequently prevented from ever reaching the river. The Mississippi River is one notable example of how this approach has paid dividends. As a counter-measure to the 1993 floods, a programme of afforestation was pursued and it has ultimately helped to reduce flooding by reducing the river discharge.

    With global warming making summers drier but winters wetter, do you think we should be doing more to combat the threat of flooding?

  • Water Conservation Tips For Businesses

    With World Water Day on 22nd March, there’s no better time to consider the ways that your business can save water, and help tackle the water crisis in doing so. From educating your employees on water-use, to investing in fixtures such as a Grundfos booster pump, here are some helpful tips to help you start conserving water.

    Shower Pump Water Pressure

    Invest in quality products

    When water pressure is low more water is often used in order to reach a steady level, often resulting in higher bills. Water booster pumps ensure that a consistent and reliable level of pressure is reached, meaning less waste and lower bills!

    Measure your water use

    Conducting a facility audit to can be really beneficial in understanding just how much your business is using. It can also serve as a starting point for tracking water use and identify any savings opportunities. Another way you can measure water usage is by comparing the water use of your business to industry benchmarks, which can provide an estimation of the average water use for specific industries. This way you can evaluate whether your business is using more water than normal, and can help push you to resolve the problem.

     

    Educate your employees about water conservation

    Letting your employees know about your conservation aims can really help to cut down on water usage. Create a workplace culture that’s dedicated to being as ‘green’ as possible, and encourage your employees to check that check taps are off and not to leave the water running unnecessarily. You’d be surprised how much these little elements can contribute to your water use, and make a difference in the long run.

    Check faucets and pipes for leaks

    It goes without saying that a leaky tap can really add to your level of waste, not to mention your bill. Water leaks can often be hard to detect, but if your business has a water meter you can use this to detect any issues.

    You must first ensure all water is turned off inside and outside the building, then record the reading on the meter whilst water is not in use. Wait 15 minutes and record it a second time - if the meter shows any movement it could be due to a leak and you should investigate the issue further.

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