Monthly Archives: September 2015

Energy Saving Tips

With the colder months slowly creeping in, it won’t be long before we give in and adjust our thermostats to provide that cosy home feel.

Whilst energy bills can’t be avoided, expensive ones can! Here we look at a few ways to cut down on energy usage ahead of the winter months.

  • Turning the thermostat down by 1°c can save you up to £60 a year. Timed thermostats are fantastic as they can be set around your daily routine. This means the house can be gently heated in time for you to arrive home. This ensures we never arrive home to a cold house, minimising the need to blast the heating in an attempt to warm up.
  • We find our kitchens provide a lot of heat so next time you use your oven, leave the door slightly open once you have finished cooking. This will result in the heat being used to warm the kitchen and surrounding areas.
  • Do you have an unblocked fireplace? If you no longer use your chimney, heat will still escape, so it may be worth getting this blocked off. Typical prices are around £80, and are a one off payment, but you can save over £150 per year thereafter.
  • Instead of using a running tap to wash up, use a bowl and you could save up to £30 a year.
  • If your washing machine doesn’t have a half load setting, then make sure you fill it with clothes to save on energy bills. Likewise, avoid drying clothes directly on your radiators as this lowers the room temperature, meaning your boiler will need to work harder. Instead, invest in some radiator dryers.
  • It is always worth using a comparison site on an annual basis to see if you can secure a cheaper deal.

These are just a few examples of the small changes you can make to decrease your energy usage, resulting in smaller bills. Be sure to choose which best complements your lifestyle. This ensures there is no disruption to your routine and many are so simple to do.

By making a few small changes now, means you will start to reap the benefits sooner. When there is an opportunity to save money, there is no time like the present.

Will you say no to George?

If supporters of Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget restrictions on tax breaks for buy-to-let landlords thought opposition would die off quickly, they may need to think again.

Over the weekend the petition opposing the restrictions exceeded 25,000 signatures – quarter of the way to the 100,000 required to make the government consider giving parliamentary time for a debate on the subject. And there are still over four months to go for the target to be hit.

Osborne’s proposal is that mortgage interest tax relief for buy-to-let homebuyers should be restricted to the basic rate of income tax, currently 20 per cent, even if they themselves pay the higher 40 or 45 per cent tax rates.

Osborne says the relief, which will address “unfairnesses in property taxation”, will be phased out from 2017.

“Buy-to-let landlords have a huge advantage in the market as they offset their mortgage interest payments against their income, whereas homebuyers cannot. The better-off the landlord, the more tax relief they get. For the wealthiest, every pound of mortgage interest costs they incur, they get 45p back from the taxpayer.” Osborne told MPs at the time.

However, the proposal has received substantial criticism from a range of sources. The landlord bodies NLA and RLA have come out in opposition.  A group of landlords have themselves set up the campaign website identifying how the measure will allegedly damage letting agents, estate agents, tenants and many others. A number of analysts have suggested the tax changes may reduce the number of buy to let landlords entering or remaining in the sector.

From next year Osborne is also proposing to change the way Wear & Tear tax allowances for landlords are calculated.

Currently it allows 10 per cent of rental profits to be written off for notional wear and tear, even if there has been no such actual expenditure in that particular year. However, HM Revenue & Customs is now consulting on a proposal that enables all landlords to deduct only the costs they actually incur on replacing furnishings in the property.

Philip Chadwick is the Lettings Director of Gascoigne Halman, and a board member of The Association of Residential Letting Agents.

Try Upcycling: it’s trendy, fun and creative

With darker weather upon us, it might be time to brighten up your home with a spot of upcycling.

For those who are not familiar with upcycling, this is the process of taking something relatively unused or worn and transforming it into a product which often has a higher quality or value.

When we think of upcycling we commonly think of reupholstering an unused chair or even sanding and painting an old dressing unit. However, this can be a little daunting for those who are just starting out, so we have compiled a few ideas which allow you to upcycle on a smaller scale.

With an increase in retro designs across our high street, a clever bit of upcycling will help you to get in on the action, but at a fraction of the cost. Take a look around your home and garden, do you have any discarded wooden crates or old tools to use as potential shelves and an old toy box to use as a new shoe box?

…All that is needed is a quick clean and a lick of paint.

A fabulous chic idea is a new serving tray: instead of a standard plastic impersonal tray, why not add a touch of elegance by using an old photo frame showcasing a fantastic memory. This makes the perfect setting for a luxury high tea with fine bone china teacups. This gives users the options to insert their own backdrop, should that be fabric, wallpaper or even a collage of family photographs. The central glass/plastic panel provides an easy wipe clean surface for any spillages.

Do you have an old ladder that’s taking up space in your shed? When hung horizontally on a wall, they make a lovely bookshelf. Be careful when attaching this to the wall though, as it will need to be secure to avoid any falling books.

Tyres make fantastic garden planters too! They can be painted in any colour or left untouched. They hold the water and look great if there are a few positioned close together.

Forks provide an ideal choice for interesting coat hooks. Simply use a hammer to flatten the fork then take some pliers to individually bend the prongs. All’s that is left is to bend the handle up to create a hook and affix securely to the wall.

Add a truly vintage touch to your kitchen with a wonderful wine glass holder. This is so simple to create but is very effective. Detach the handle from the rake and screw the head onto the wall. Be sure to use anchors for added stability. Your wine glass stems will sit perfectly between the prongs and look simply elegant.

Whilst many of us routinely have a tidy up after summer to make way for the changing of the seasons – we find ourselves throwing away a number of items and buying new for old. A lot of the time we can ‘upcycle’ the existing pieces and transform into a new lease of life. Not only does this mean you can engage in a fun activity, it also means that you can save a considerable amount of money.

We would love to hear your thoughts and any ideas for future upcycling blog

Property prices are on the rise – Is your home?

Peter Higham, director of Gascoigne Halman, said houses worth £200,000 are selling at very fast rate with the market for homes worth £1m or more has seen a real improvement.

He said: “Because it was a particularly hard last two or three years we’ve seen change because the market below has been a lot better and we have had very good sales which has moved people onward and upward.

“A person selling a £600,000 – £700,000 property asking ‘should I move upward?’ has now got more confidence in the market.”

Peter said houses worth £1m plus usually stay on the market for no more than six months.

He said: “It’s all about presentation. Ask the right price and it will sell.

“In the past many people have pushed some of the prices but this year I believe people have been more sensible in their approach to selling so homes have been selling quicker.”

Peter said the market at the lower end of the price range is even stronger especially for properties priced between £200,000 to £800,000.

He said: “There’s a lack of supply at the moment. When people are looking to buy there is a lot of competition from other buyers because of this lack of supply.

“The more people sell the better the market will become.”

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