What floor should I choose when trying to cut down on my energy bills?

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flooring

When looking for a new floor, whether it be to replace an old one or as part of a renovation project, it’s important to look at the ways in which you could save money with your new flooring.

Not only is wood flooring a stylish and modern choice for your home, it also has many environmentally friendly benefits. It is a common misconception that carpets are the best way to insulate your house, however, the properties of wood far outweigh those that carpet can offer when looking at heating.

While carpet is a good insulator of heat, wood is a better conductor of heat. Undeniably, carpet does insulate, but it is unable to circulate and move the heat it absorbs. In comparison, wood is able to both retain heat and circulate it around your home, trapping the heat for longer. Because of this, you wouldn’t have to have your heating on for as long, saving on your energy bills and therefore helping to maintain your eco-friendly home.

As a renewable material, wood is the best choice when trying to improve the environmentally friendly aspects of your home. Through the use of sustainable forest management, manufacturing wood nowadays can be done so in a responsible manner without causing serious impact to the environment. Additionally, wood offers a longevity that other materials can’t meaning that you would be unlikely to ever replace it once installed, offering you a long-term solution to low cost heating bills.

If looking to further increase the sustainability of your home by using wood, the best option would be engineered wood flooring. Nearly identical in appearance to solid wood flooring, engineered flooring is made up of layers of plywood stuck together and finished with a layer of lamella. Because of the way in which it is constructed engineered wood flooring is able to withstand higher levels of moisture and fluctuations in temperature, making it ideal of underfloor heating. With proper insulation added to this, you could save a noticeable amount of money on your heating bills and therefore lowering your carbon footprint.

In conclusion, by properly insulating your home and installing a solid or engineered wood flooring with underfloor heating, you could save as much as £90 a year. The use of this renewable material can consequently lower you heating bills and heat your house efficiently.

4 Ways to Keep Your Online Health Information Safe

In Collaboration with Chris of VloggingCamera.com

Keep Your Online Health Information Safe

Hello GreenWonderers!

As a long-time reader of this brilliant blog, I feel honoured to be able to provide my own little piece of advice to you, the reader.

This post is focused on a topic that is growing in importance and (I feel) should be considered by everyone, but in particular any readers of the GreenWonder site that may be tracking their healthy green lives online in any way.

If you’re like most people, you prefer to keep your health information as safe as possible, right? The behemoth of a law known as HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act) was enacted to make sure that the personal medical information of individuals would remain as private as possible.

Unfortunately, HIPAA is not flawless, and this is only one, US-based example. In an increasingly digital and interconnected world ensuring your health information stays safe is a challenge.

Depending on your level of tech fluency you might view this challenge as easy or extremely difficult. Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum — everyone can practice some fundamentals. Below we’ll run through 5 simple and easy ways to safeguard your info.

Without further ado let’s get going!

  1. Be discrete with posting personal information online

May sound blindingly obvious, but keeping an awareness of how, and where you’re posting your personal information online is an absolute baseline practice for keeping yourself secure. If you’re using public computers or networks it might be best not to research or communicate about your most personal health issues. Be conscientious about what you write in forums or simply type into your Google search bar.

The adage of “don’t say something online you wouldn’t in person” probably applies here. In this case it isn’t so much about what you say but more-so where and how you’re saying it. Develop a feel for what’s safe and what isn’t.

  1. Use password protection for all your devices

This is a good practice for not only protecting your health information but also general security as well. Make sure that all laptops, tablets and mobile devices have some sort of security roadblock on them. Lose any of them and at least there will be some line of defence between you and the unknown.

You also want to cycle your passwords periodically. Using the same password on everything from email to your personal health record can be disastrous. If a hacker or other outside sources is able to obtain your password, that means every bit of your digital life is there for the taking. Instead, create unique passwords for every health account you have, this includes Internet-enabled devices, like an activity monitor or smart scale. Don’t like the idea of someone being able to read your heart rate monitor? Be wary of your passwords.

  1. Read privacy policies

We cannot stress this one enough. Although many people don’t take the time to read terms and conditions it is a poor idea to sign up for health programs, fitness apps (or software) or health insurance programs without understanding their privacy policies.

We know this isn’t the sexiest solution, and who wants to read 40 pages of legal jargon? An easy work around to this could be a quick contact to a customer service representative regarding the treatment of your health info. Better safe and informed than sorry.

  1. Turn on private browsing

Privacy mode or “incognito mode” (you’ve probably seen this on your mobile phone) is a privacy feature in most web browsers that disables browsing history and the web activity cache. This allows a person to wander the web without storing local data that could be retrieved or accessed.

A lot of people turn to WedMD or online forums if in doubt about some medical problem. If you don’t want what you were looking into to ever see the light of day, going into private browsing mode is definitely something you want to do. For complete instructions on how to do this on various systems here is a great guide. This is a simple and quite effective protection measure.

  1. Use A VPN

If you want to take private browsing a step further you can download and utilise a VPN (virtual private network). People who are concerned about their online privacy (particularly as it relates to health info) can use an encrypted VPN connection to safely connect. This VPN connection allows you to access the internet and browse more securely and privately because the VPN encrypts your Internet traffic. Think of it as you, using the internet inside a gated community instead of in the middle of Times Square. VPN’s a great way to keep your sensitive medical information private and they have a number of other perks as well.

Bonus Tip!

An often neglected thing to consider is to always have any WiFi-enabled device you regularly use updated and as secure as it can be. I’m not just talking about your smartphone or your laptop — even your digital camera with all those precious video clips and photographs can be hijacked by a willing hacker when connected to a public WiFi network. I’m sure you don’t want any sensitive photos acquired by some malicious hacker! So make sure to always have all your devices updated to the most recent software, as this reduces the amount of vulnerabilities they will have to being hacked.

Conclusion

No one wants their health related internet searches or chart notes plastered all over for the world to see. So, taking a few minutes and considering how you can protect yourself is a valuable undertaking. While nothing is 100% bulletproof following some of the above tips can give you peace of mind and put you well on your way to keeping your health data private while on your Green living journey.

The Top Four Benefits of Walk in Showers You should Know about

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walk in showers

There are many kinds of shower enclosures on the market – but the one growing most in popularity is the walk in shower. This is no accident; there are, after all, many advantages to the walk in shower, and people are becoming more and more aware of them. Not only do they offer many benefits when it comes to the actual shower experience, they also offer many other advantages – some of which you may not be aware of yet. Ever wonder what’s so special about this nifty shower enclosure? Here are the top four benefits of walk in showers you should know about.

More comfort and a better design

Comfort is without a doubt the most important aspect of your showering experience – after all, you need to use the shower regularly and it needs to cater to your comfort needs. Arguably, however, many people place a premium on style and design as well; this is one reason why the walk in shower is so popular. It provides both comfort and design in a great, balanced way.

Installation saves time

Installation can cost a pretty penny – but with the walk in shower, there’s great news: it saves a lot of time and therefore a lot of money as well. This makes it a great investment compared to other options. The lower your initial investment, the better the return on that investment will be.

Easier maintenance

Installation is not the only way you save money when it comes to the walk in shower. As a matter of fact, if you’re thinking long-term, the walk in shower offers great advantages. Firstly, it’s easy to take care of, saving a lot of tools, items, products, and water when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. Secondly, it also saves a lot of time. Result: it’s much more economical than other, more traditional options. 

Be free

Only once you have experienced the freedom you have in the walk in shower can you understand what freedom during a shower really means. It’s not just about space – it’s also about being free from barriers and obstacles.

One thing you have to realise when you read the various advantages – when you combine them all together, they make a very big difference; the accumulation of the whole is worth far more than the sum of the individual parts. There’s easy installation and easy maintenance, which means it costs a lot less – both in the short- and the long-term. The fact that you can be free and that there is more comfort and design means that your lifestyle is about to change from day-to-day. The differences are real and, accumulated, mean a lot. Walk in showers are not just a matter of statement or practicality; they’re a matter of deciding your future shower experience.

 

Image attributed to stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Younger_women_g57-Hot_Woman_In_Bath_Towel_Turning_Back_Towards_Camera_p158911.html

Dress for Success!

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professional outfit

Have you just graduated from college and landed your first professional position? Congratulations to you on a great accomplishment. It’s now time to ditch the sweat pants and flannels from our life on campus and start dressing for success. If you want to be taken seriously in the workplace, you need to dress the part.  Professional dress does not have to be boring or lack personality. You can certainly develop your own style provided you follow these critical rules established by professional stylists for the workplace.

The key is to make quality choices over quantity. It’s actually less expensive in the long run to purchase a well-constructed sports coat that will last for years than to buy multiple ill-fitting jackets. Stick with the basics when building a professional wardrobe and be prepared to take care of them. A dark, classic jacket and well-tailored trousers will anchor your business attire. Add dress shirts and muted ties to the mix. Forget the college trick of just ironing the front of your shirt and instead, take care to iron the entire garment. There’s nothing worse than taking your jacket off and exposing a wrinkled mess. Invest in quality hangers for both your jacket and trousers.

Finally, take some of your graduation money or a short term loan from your parents and purchase a high quality pair of shoes. Take advantage of the savings offered by Groupon coupons and make a selection from the terrific professional styles available from Johnston Murphy. A quality pair of shoes should last several years. Keep them polished and prepare to replace the soles at least once a year. They will be worth the investment.  Ditch your ratty backpack and consider a professional backpack or briefcase that’s large enough to accommodate a laptop and any necessary electronics.  You’ll soon be on your way to looking the part of a true professional. Remember, the most important thing to wear to the office every day is a genuine smile and quiet self-confidence. Best of luck to you in your new career!

Gardens By The Bay and its Sustainability

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Gardens By The Bay and its Sustainability

Making something with the intention of it being sustainable essentially means that it will last for a long duration of time. Utilizing materials that are recyclable and don’t cause damage to the environment is important, as is ensuring the energy source involved in the structure is renewable.

Architects and designers in today’s world are always turning to more sustainable ways of creating constructions. Being able to develop something that’s 100% sustainable is yet to be done.

However, with technology and design concepts developing faster than ever, we could see products and places sustaining longer than ever before.

Gardens By The Bay

Gardens By The Bay (GBTB) is one of the most innovative creations to come from Singapore. If you have visited the country or have moved out there with the help of “One Visa” – Immigration Consultancy, you would have likely heard the good reviews surrounding this attraction.

One of the aspects that makes this man-made creation so impressive is the fact that the creators have been incredibly ambitious in what they’re trying to achieve.

The level of ingenuity combined with the architectural talents has led to something that appeals to thousands of tourists every year. Despite the fact that it has been contrived by man, the experience is something that people compare to natural wonders.

Sustainability

A few important factors would needed to be taken into consideration regarding longevity. Gardens By The Bay would also have to play a more significant role other than being a hub for tourists.

It has been open and running since 2012, so it’s difficult to say how sustainable it is in terms of durability. This can only really be judged in the future once it has gained more years under its belt.

The establishment would also need to provide more than tourist attractions. People who visit should be educated about the planet and nature. (They’re already starting this with video presentations).

Gardens By The Bay hosts a ton of plants; many of which are going extinct. Therefore, it would also need to act as a place of research where experts could come and analyse certain plants and learn more about the planet.

GBTB powers a portion of itself by using solar panels, as well as using bio-waste. Additional power comes from trees that are provided by the National Parks Board – instead of them going to waste, GBTB can make use of them.

Is This Enough?

Currently, the people who designed GBTB have not been able to come up with ways of making the entire place self-sustaining.

In the future, energy availability will be limited and GBTB is yet to prove it can last during those conditions. Therefore, the sustainability of the attraction is currently not advanced enough.

All of these creative concepts are working toward the goal of an all-man-made product being sustainable. Despite the fact that the attempts made by those behind this structure have not been totally convincing for many, it’s still a step in the right direction.

4 Reasons to Make Your Business Green

green living

Just a couple of years ago, it seemed like every other company was touting the effect of going green and promoting their increased energy efficiency. While some companies still promote these practices – like NBC that features a Green Week every year – we don’t see nearly as much marketing around businesses going green anymore. This brings us to an important question – was going green just a fad whose time is long gone?

Well, if you take a closer look, you’ll immediately realize that large corporations are still placing an emphasis on green practices. For instance, last year, Apple spent nearly a billion dollars on solar power. Moreover, companies like Starbucks and Chipotle pride themselves on using organic ingredients and sustainable energy. Even though marketing yourself as a green company may come across as dishonest, in reality, many of these companies have embraced these practices for many reasons.

1. Legal Advantages and Lower Taxes

Going green has many practical advantages, but there are also some financial benefits as well. Today, the US government is providing American businesses with more green deductions and tax credit than ever before. For instance, the state of Florida allows businesses that sell electricity from a renewable-energy facility to take a corporate income tax.

What’s more, the Solar Energy System Incentives Program  in Florida allows green businesses to take rebates. The IRS also enables organizations that provide their employees with environmentally-friendly, company cars to take an alternative vehicle credit on federal taxes.  Finally, according to the Department of Energy, if your company starts using solar or wind energy in any capacity, you have a chance to take a tax credit of up to 30%

2. Improved Public Image

No business owner wants to find himself holding an emergency press conference, defending his company against bad publicity. However many people have found themselves in that position. But being environmentally-friendly can create some great PR opportunities. Even though your company’s image doesn’t seem necessarily like the best motivation for going green, you may look at it as just a good side effect.

But that’s not all, because in addition to improving your brand image and attracting new customers, going green can also help you help you attract top candidates. The fact is, a large number of millennials wants to work for a green business. According to research conducted by Global Tolerance, almost half of the workforce today (roughly 42%) wants to work for a business that has a positive impact on the environment, and the world in general.

3. Increased Sales and Revenue

For the last couple of years, the environmental impact of your company has become one of the major selling points for modern consumers. According to a recent Nielsen survey, 42% of global consumers said they would pay more for products from green companies. And that is why companies across a wide range of industries are now toting ways that they’ve become more sustainable in their operations.

And while some of these efforts seem motivated by short-term sales goals, going green can also help you in long-term growth. A Harvard Business School study published back in 2011 that examined 180 US companies concluded that businesses that classify themselves as “highly sustainable” routinely outperform those classified as “modestly sustainable.”

4. Reducing Waste and Pollution

It is clear by now that running a green company can improve the overall efficiency of your business, but we now come to, perhaps the most obvious entry on our list. The biggest reason you should go green right now is, of course, to protect the environment. The state of our planet affects every kind of life – from endangered species in rainforests to CEOs in offices. Simply put, you cannot do any businesses if there’s no planet to do your business on.

By going green, you’ll also ensure that your facility is a healthy place to work, which will show your employees that you care about their wellbeing as well as the environment. This will also be a good opportunity to examine the land around your offices, because if they are contaminated, it can potentially harm your employees. This is where geotechnical engineering firms like Douglas Partners can conduct an environmental assessment, and if necessary, deal with the contaminated soil.

Final Thoughts

These are just a couple of reasons why so many businesses chose to go green in today’s day and age. And if you embrace this concept, you have to keep one thing mind – it is not just about the bottom line, going green is good for our planet. However, it is still something that can make your conscience, as well as your shareholder, ultimately happy.

Could Biomass Be The Fuel Of The Future?

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sugarcane

As we enter 2017, and climate change, pollution and environmental continue to become ever more important, everyone is looking for renewable, reliable energy sources. Biomass is a sustainable, environmentally sound fuel that’s created entirely from organic materials, generally from refuse and by-products of various industries, such as lumber yards and industrial farming and agriculture. It’s essentially a by-product of other necessary industries, so is completely renewable and sustainable, and as we look to the future, finding ethically sound fuel sources is set to only get more and more important.

So what is Biomass Fuel Exactly?

Huge operations, like industrial scale agriculture, and industrial lumber yards produce a lot of unwanted plant matter, in the form of the unused parts of the crop in agriculture, and large amounts of sawdust. These by-products can amount to tons and tons of potential waste every year, which is an especially ugly concept when you think about their inherent potential as a fuel. On top of this, you’ve got animal manure, forest debris and other forms of organic waste that can be dried and made up into an incredibly effective, cheap and renewable fuel source. With the continual supply of organic waste from multiple industries, we can create biomass indefinitely, unlike the finite fossil fuels.

When you look at other fuel sources, namely oil and coal, biomass becomes an even more appealing prospect. Every other year we hear about another nightmare oil spill wiping out huge tracts of ocean, including local wildlife, tourism and fishing industries. The oil industry has a lot of blood on its hands, and on top of that is completely unsustainable, meaning that unless we move away and find other fuel sources, the prices will eventually skyrocket and we’ll find many services and modern conveniences grinding to a halt.

Coal-generating energy is also highly polluting, both the purifying and burning process cause a lot of potentially-carcinogenic pollutants to be released into the atmosphere, and on top of that, it’s another finite resource, meaning we have to move away from it.

Getting a biomass boiler fitted can cost upwards of £5,000, and with the Renewable Heat Incentive paying you cash per kWh of renewable energy produced, it’s actually a very attractive proposition. With log, pellet and wood burner boilers available, you’ll find the right biomass boiler for your situation. Once set up, you can expect regular savings, especially compared to other, older unsustainable power systems, and this is on top of the sustainability and environmental accountability inherent in it.

Biomass fuel is substantially cheaper than other fuels, especially if you’ve got a place to store large quantities of fuel. The average UK household will consume around 11 tonnes of biomass fuel a year, but this will still be substantially cheaper than other fossil fuels, saving you between £200 and £1200 a year on heating costs, as well as renewable energy incentives offered by the government. Once you’ve found a suitable supplier, you can just watch the savings roll in.

So far biomass has been used both commercially and domestically with great success, proving just as effective at powering industrial needs as well as homes. The Drax power plant biodomes are an example of its effective use in industrial power generating, having switched over to 50% biofuel power in the late 2000s, and looking to fully convert in the next few years.

Seven Green New Year Resolutions for 2017

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biking

So, 2016 is nearly over, and what a year it’s been! Once you’ve recovered from the New Year party, you should try extra hard to look after the planet in 2017, so let’s take a look at some green-themed New Year resolutions that you can make – and stick to – to make the world a better place.

Ditch bottled water

If you stop buying expensive bottled water and start using a home-based water filter and a reusable bottle (you can get some really cool aluminium or recycled plastic ones), you could save anything up to £900 a year. Even better, you’ll be saving some of the 1,500,000 barrels of oil used each year to make the disposable bottles!

Drop a degree

Whether you have gas-fired central heating or you use home heating oil, you can save anything up to 10% of your fuel use by just turning down the thermostat by a degree or two. It’s a good money saver, too.

Nix the plastic bags

It’s estimated that the world throws a million plastic bags into the rubbish every minute. Some bags are biodegradable, which is great, but how about going the whole hog and investing in some reusable ones? The only difficult part is remembering to bring them to the shops with you…

Forget about paper towels

We’ve got into a real habit of using kitchen paper for everything – cleaning the kitchen counter, mopping up spills, polishing mirrors. This is wasteful as thousands of tons of paper ends up in landfill every day. Swap over to cotton cloths – baby muslins or tea towels are ideal. You simply add them to a wash when they’re used. For best performance, however, don’t use fabric conditioner as it makes them less absorbent.

Get on your bike

No-one’s saying get rid of your car, but for trips of less than two miles, see if you can’t use your bike at least some of the time. There are so many benefits to this – you cut your carbon emissions, save money on petrol and you get a mini workout.

Have a meat-free Friday (and Saturday)

If you go veggie for just two days a week, you could cut your carbon footprint by up to a quarter of a ton each year! These days, it’s easy to create nutritious vegetarian or even vegan meals and if you make, say, a bean stew in bulk and freeze half of it, you’ll be saving even more energy.

Switch over to LED lights

It really is time to bite the bullet and swap out your old compact fluorescent bulbs, your halogen lights and especially your old filament bulbs for LEDs. The prices of LED lighting systems have come down quite a bit in recent years and the savings don’t stop there because these lights use less than 10% of the energy of older types. Plus, they last for years – literally! And, even better, you can choose a huge range of colour combinations, making them ideal for every room in the house.

Re-Design Your Home the Environmentally and Budget-Friendly Way

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home redesign

It is pretty obvious if you are a reader here that you care about the environment. But sometimes, caring about the environment can come at a great cost to your pocket book. It is a shame that sometimes the most economical way of doing things is the worst for our environment, and the best way of treating our environment ends up being the most expensive.

Rather than sacrifice environmental-friendliness for a budget-friendly remodel, or protect the environment but lose out big time in your bank account, why not do both at the same time? By learning how to do things yourself, becoming a master of DIY, you can save both money and protect the environment. No one is saying you need to become a master carpenter or journeyman electrician, but you can certainly tackle a number of home projects far more cheaply and environmentally-friendly than if you were to buy whole new products pre-manufactured.

Head to Home Depot and take a look at all of the many beautiful products available there. A lot of the products you are going to want to look at if you are interested in DIY and saving the environment are not the already manufactured ones, but the raw materials you can get. Make wise use of these materials, and you can end up saving many valuable natural resources from being utilized to create an item that doesn’t really fit your needs. When you sculpt an item to fit your needs precisely, there is a lot less waste.

But if you are buying all of these materials and tools, aren’t you going to end up spending more money than if you had just bought an item at a store? Not necessarily. Take advantage of the many different coupons offered by Home Depot’s new partnership with Groupon and you will be scoring savings of 30% and 50%. You can even take advantage of cash discounts. There is no need to spend extra money to be environmentally friendly if you are willing to put in a little bit of effort to customize your home yourself.

Beautiful Bathrooms You Can Afford

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Beautiful Bathroom

Are you thinking of updating your bathroom? Or perhaps you are fitting an entirely new one, and need to look at a choice of fixtures, fittings and furniture? If so, you’ll find the sheer choice to be amazing, and finding a supplier with a comprehensive choice is a bonus. The modern style of bathroom fittings are very sleek and beautiful, and you can get some extremely attractive bath tubs, whirlpools, showers and more. So, where do we recommend you go for the very best quality products at the right prices, all from top brands?

We suggest you have a close look at the website for Plumbtile, a leading provider of bathroom fixtures and fittings, furniture and tiles, with a guarantee of top name brands and sensible prices. With a reputation for excellent service, they have a choice of items that is simply comprehensive, so you will undoubtedly find everything you need when you visit the website. You can also make use of a handy and effective online live chat function and talk to one of the team. They will be able to answer any questions you may have, and point you in the direction of the products you are looking for.

Clever Design in Chrome

You can choose from a range of traditional-style fixtures and fittings, or more modern designs, and it’s the latter – resplendent in chrome – that we like best. Take a look at the pull down faucet range, for example, and you will see that there is something for everyone here. These impressive faucets are made to a very high quality, are undoubtedly attractive, and would be the crowning glory for any modern bathroom design. They are surprisingly affordable, too, so we recommend you consider them for your bathroom.

You will find a bewildering choice of faucets – you should also check out the wall mounted bath faucets range for some innovative designs – as well as bath tubs, showers, whirlpools and a full range of fixtures and accessories. You will also see that they offer a great range of tiles, so you can add the finishing touches to your bathroom with beautiful tiling.

Expert Help and Advice

You will find the team at Plumbtile to be as helpful as they can be, and they offer a friendly and professional service at all times. You can contact them using the details provided, and they will be happy to help you with whatever enquiry you may have. With excellent prices on quality goods – don’t forget to have a look at the clearance section for some truly great deals – you can’t go wrong when you shop with Plumbtile.

With an easy to use website and shopping feature, Plumbtile can help whether your order is for one small item or many, and they are on hand for any advice you might need. Have a closer look at the website now for full details of the excellent range of quality products, and see how easy and affordable it is for you to have a very beautiful bathroom.