Kitchen renovations: tips for a more economical cooking space

Homeowners everywhere dream of stamping their personality on their home, and while kitchen renovations can be ambitious, they can also have the biggest effect, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth to get the job done.

These are just some of the ways you can complete kitchen renovations on a budget, without compromising too much on the finished product – and how you can even save money over the long term.

1. One quote does it all

Choose your building firm carefully, especially if you need any structural work like walls moved or removed and RSJs put in to support the ceiling.

You’ll often find the total price is lower if you use one building company to handle the work in its entirety, from building alterations to decorating and even supplying and fitting the appliances.

Check there are no hidden extras in the quote though – you want to be sure that the price quoted is as close as possible to the price you end up paying – and that the firm has a good reputation in your local area.

2. Energy efficiency

New kitchen appliances now have an energy rating, so by opting for A-rated appliances, you reduce the total amount of energy that they will use.

You’ll pay more upfront, but the savings will be continual and long-term, so if you can afford to spend the money in the short term, energy efficient kitchen appliances are often the best option economically.

3. Smart appliances

The other thing to look out for on modern kitchen appliances is any kind of ‘smart’ technology, which might allow you to switch the device off remotely, or at least adjust its energy consumption.

Fridges and freezers, which run constantly, are the obvious example of this, and by adjusting their temperature manually or automatically, you can spend less on energy, such as in winter when the ambient air temperature is lower anyway.

4. Keeping warm

While fridges and freezers keep your food cold, you may want the kitchen itself to be warm and cosy, especially if you use it for entertaining or eat your meals in there.

Look into options like cavity wall insulation if you don’t already have it, as the hard surfaces in a kitchen can make it easier to lose heat through uninsulated walls.

If your kitchen renovation includes having a new floor laid, think about whether it’s worth installing underfloor heating – again it’s an added cost in the short term, but it means warm floors that will help to keep the room warm in general over the long term.

5. Storage everywhere

There are all kinds of smart storage options for kitchens, so pick out the ones that suit you best, including a fridge and freezer that are comfortably big enough for your family.

If you don’t eat much frozen food, a smaller freezer will naturally be more economical, but having the right amount of storage – including room-temperature cupboards, drawers and so on – will mean you can keep perishables under the right conditions so you don’t waste food ingredients unnecessarily.

 

Restaurant food recycling: how it works

Restaurant food recycling helps businesses in the foodservice industry to manage their waste more carefully – and crucially means that organic waste that could still be used does not get sent to rot in a landfill site.

A general restaurant food recycling scheme might mean small food caddies around the kitchen for vegetable peelings and so on, a large bin lined with a biodegradable bag to empty them into, another one for leftovers from the dining room, and a hygienic lidded skip outside for the full bags to go into for collection.

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Top tips for draught proofing the home

Eliminating unwanted draughts from your home could save you anywhere from £25 to £50 a year, depending on who you ask – and as draught proofing the home can be done on the cheap, it’s easy to come out in profit even within the space of a single windy winter.

First of all, recognise that not all ventilation is a ‘draught’, and some air flow is essential to keep humidity levels down and condensation under control.

But draughts are unwanted cold air leaking into your home from outside, they can make it harder to heat your home efficiently, and they can actually make it feel colder than it really is – so what are the best ways to draught proof a house?

1. Mind the gap

The most obvious source of draughts is any gap around door and window frames, external pipework, floorboards and loft hatches.

You should definitely seal any gaps leading directly outside, but those are not the only source of cold air, as attics and cellars can be colder than the rest of the house, so check that cold air isn’t creeping into your living space internally too.

2. Locks and letterboxes

Some holes between the outside and inside of your home are actually necessary, and these include keyholes, letterboxes, and others such as cat flaps, if you have outdoor pets.

You can fit covers over keyholes, make sure your letterbox has an effective draught excluder and strong enough springs to stay closed in windy conditions, and check that the cat flap closes properly after use too.

3. Chimneys

Old properties that have been renovated to use central heating might have an old chimney that is no longer needed, and warm air can escape up and out through these – but there are a couple of options.

If you know you will not need to use the chimney again, for example if the fireplaces have been removed completely or are now just decorative, you can get it capped by a professional to stop the heat escaping.

Alternatively, there are products that allow you to insulate around the base of the chimney, and these are a good temporary measure that you can remove if you decide to light a real fire in the future.

4. Internal doors

If for any reason one room cannot be made completely draught-proof, an option is to insulate the internal door frames instead.

Stick-on foam strips are a quick, cheap and easy way to do this, but will help to stop cold air getting beyond the one room, and you can even put the door on self-closing hinges so it can’t be left ajar.

5. Bigger projects

Finally if you want to take a long-term approach, look for any bigger ways to shut out draughts, such as fitting loft insulation or cavity wall insulation, or installing secondary glazing or new double glazing.

External wall cladding can insulate even old solid stone walls, and damaged brickwork can be repointed or even replaced – so don’t assume draughts are something you have to live with, even in older buildings.

Garden waste: prepping the garden for autumn

The autumn months have an undeniable effect on our gardens – not all trees lose their leaves of course, but those that do end the summer season in a blaze of glory before covering the grass with a crispy or mulchy mass that needs quick attention to avoid it getting trodden into the lawn.

Dead growth from the summer bedding plants and some larger shrubs need attention too, and even a small garden can quickly produce more rubbish than a garden waste wheelie bin can handle, making a garden skip a worthy seasonal investment to get the job done while the last of the fair weather holds.

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How to find and give to your local food bank

There’s no better time to give to your local food bank than in the run-up to Christmas and the winter months, when a fresh, hot meal can make even more difference to families on low or no incomes.

Having food inside you on a cold day provides natural warmth, so it’s not just about feeding people; it also helps keep their heating bills down and gives them the strength to combat seasonal colds and flu.

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How to make money from recycling

We all know recycling is good for the environment – at least compared with sending household waste to the landfill site – but some people take it a step beyond altruism and recycle as a way of making money too.

There’s nothing wrong with recycling for profit, as you still achieve all the same benefits for the environment, and might even be able to do more to keep your neighbourhood clean when there’s some money in it for you.

Here are five of the main types of recyclable waste that can be turned into a profit – or at least, into money that you would not have if you simply threw them away.

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The ins and outs of glass recycling

Glass recycling has been one of the most familiar forms of recycling for decades, and many of us cannot remember a time when there weren’t green, brown and white bottle banks in supermarket car parks and other public places.

But the problem has always been getting to those public bottle banks when you have large amounts of glass to recycle, not to mention when you have anything other than a green, brown or clear bottle to recycle.

Here are our five top tips for recycling glass at home, which can help you improve your commitment to the environment with some simple everyday lifestyle changes.

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Top tips for gutting a house

You don’t usually have to go far to see a skip by the side of the road or in a driveway, filled with rubble and old plasterboard from somebody gutting their house.

People rip out their home’s fixtures and fittings all the time, whether because it needs rewiring, new plumbing, a change to the internal layout, or just to give it a fresh new look.

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