Smart homes. Green homes.

Author: Polareco (Page 2 of 2)

Leonardo DiCaprio and climate change

leonardo-di-caprio-before-the-flood-free-streaming-youtubeLeonardo DiCaprio has released a new movie, or documentary. It’s called ‘Before the flood‘, and it’s quite different other films he has starred in so far. Basically, it is about his engagement in climate change.

The first time I started watching the documentary I turned it off after 30 minutes, as I found it a little depressing that we are destroying our planet so excessively because of our overconsumption. Large rain forests disappearing every year due to pressure from palm tree plantations, enormous amounts of ice disappearing every day as the ice caps in the poles and on Greenland is melting away due to higher temperatures. Depressing statistics about what will happen if we don’t do something soon.palm

But the next day, the 30 minutes I had watched really stuck on my mind. Climate change was really the reason why I decided to start Polareco as a business, I wanted to make it easier for people to take the steps to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint.

But I’ve been worried that people are really tired of hearing about it, and that what they want to read about is new sofas, cool designs and how to create a beautiful home. But I think that is only part of the picture, and that people can have both – a beautiful, nice home while also doing their part for the climate. About 20% of the carbon emissions in the UK comes from homes, and mainly from the energy we use to heat our homes. A lot of the energy in the UK comes from fossil fuel sources such as gas, which has a carbon footprint. Watching Leo’s documentary gave me renewed belief in people’s willingness to understand and engage in climate cange.
leonardo-dicaprio-in-before-the-flood-2016-1So, here’s what I suggest: Watch Leo’s documentary, it’s really good, and you can watch it for free on youtube. Then, take up some of the advice from Leo, such as eating less meat.

Then, send an email to smarthome@polareco.com and book one of our energy expert to come visit you and tell you how you can reduce your energy use and carbon footprint at home.

Why we love Elon Musk

This week, Elon Musk revealed his new ‘solar roof’. I’d been quite excited about it for a while, because I want to get one of the Tesla powerwalls, and I was keen to know how he would integrate roof solar systems with the battery pack in a nice and affordable way.

I was not expecting what he came up with. In front of his usual group of disciples (a few shouting ‘save us, Elon!’ when he came to the topic of climate change), he revealed what the solar roof was. And it was just that – a roof made of solar panels, looking just like any other roof, or perhaps even nicer! I mean, that’s just crazy and brilliant at the same time.


I think half of the time I watch Elon Musk present on some of his new inventions, I wonder whether it is possible to do what he is envisaging; but it really is.

Being Norwegian, I come from one of the countries where electric cars are probably the least feasible modes of transportation – a long country where people are few and far between, basically freezing from October until May. Yet, Tesla sell more cars in Norway than (I think) any other country. It really started taking off with Tesla, allowing the environmentally conscious person to drive in style and dignity, and avoiding the feeling of driving a shoebox on wheels.

In other words, I believe that the amazing houses and roofs that Elon Musk presented on 28 October might be standard building practice in a few years. After all, he has a really good point:

tesla-solar-roof-slate-glassWho doesn’t want to live in nice neighbourhoods where people take good care of their homes and gardens, a neighbourhood where people care about their houses and the environment around them. It just makes sense to be smart about our living, after all, we and our families spend years of our lives at home, so it should really be a comfortable place to stay.

Change light bulbs, get a £165 dinner

In 2012 an 11-watt LED bulb, which could replace a 60-watt bulb, cost a whopping £45. Today a 6W LED bulb, which is equivalent of a standard 60W light bulb, costs about £4,50led.

But is it worth spending £4,50 on a light bulb? It’s quite easy to calculate.

Say you want to change the kitchen light bulb, where you have a standard 60W light bulb today. You keep the kitchen light on about 2 hours in the morning, and about 4-6 hours in the evening, let’s say an average of 7 hours every day of the year. That equals 60W times 7 hours = 420Watt hours per day. Multiplied by 365 days, you see that your kitchen light uses about 153,300Watt hours per year, or 153KiloWatt hours. If the cost of electricity from your supplier is 12 pence per KiloWatt hour (kWh), your kitchen light costs £18,3 per year.

bulbNow let’s say that you decide to buy the £4,50 LED bulb that uses 6Watt instead of 60. If you still have the light on an average of 7 hours per day, you will use 15,330Watt hours in a year, or 15,3 KiloWatt hours. This equals £1,8 on your electricity bill per year. In only one year you have already paid back the cost of the bulb, and you are saving money every year.

If you have 10 light bulbs at home similar to the 60Watt one in the kitchen, this would amount to £183 on your electricity bill every year, compared to ten 6Watt LED bulbs that cost £18 per year.
You could use the saving of £165 every year on a dinner at one of your favorite restaurants, celebrating what a great decision you have made.

You are also doing the environment a great favor by reducing your carbon footprint.

New curtains, or new windows?


My friend said the other day that while she knows the difference between single and double glazed windows, that’s about it. UPVC values, triple glazing and carbon footprint are just not topics that she is very interested in. But one thing she does realize is that during wintertime, even with a lot of heating on, it is hard to get a comfortable temperature in her living room. Or, perhaps it is possible to have a nice temperature in parts of the living room, but near the windows there is always a stream of cold air.

Even though my friend is aware that she can save money on her energy bill and have a much more comfortable living room, she’s just not sure about the investment of changing windows. And how extensive will the work be, will she not be able to access her living room for days, maybe even weeks? And how many thousands are we really talking about?

With winter coming up, improving the warmth and comfort of the home would be a great thing, but many simply find the obstacles of making the final decision too many.

Uncertainty about the cost, duration of the work, how to find a reliable, quality installer and compliance with regulation for older buildings are barriers that leads many to just drop the whole idea and rather give the dinner guests a blanket during dinner.

That’s why Polareco offers a free first assessment of properties, so that anyone considering making investments to get a warmer living room, can know the price, the duration of the works, and even the installer, before they make a decision to buy.

20 Sure Ways to Add Value to Your Home

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Renovation expert Michael Holmes offers his advice on unleashing potential in your home. Number two on his list reads:

Adding or updating the central heating system will always add more to the value of a property than it costs. It will be considered an essential by most buyers and mortgage valuers. Using a plumber to add central heating to an average three bedroom Victorian or Edwardian house will cost £3–4,000.

Updating the heating system needs to be done in conjunction with improving the general energy efficiency of the building. Consider:

  • sealing any drafts around doors and windows (but not airbricks)
  • replacing windows that are beyond repair with double glazing
  • add insulation into the loft space

If the existing boiler is in reasonable working order and has adequate output for the heat requirement of the building, always try to make use of it with the exception of boilers that draw their air intake from inside the house. If the boiler has sufficient capacity, you could add new radiators and a heated towel rail, or underfloor heating to the existing system.

Read the rest of Michael’s tips here.

Which home improvements pay off?

If you are considering adding loft insulation, you could also consider adding loft insulation boards and invest in some upgrades to get an extra bedroom. According to valuers in The Halifax Home Improvement Survey 2006, loft conversions represent the best value for money. Prices start at around £8000 and most lofts with a roof height of at least 2.4 metres are suitable for conversion. Loft conversions are normally used to add another bedroom, and there’s often space for a value-boosting en-suite.

Getting a modern boiler also pays off. Investments to improve central heating and a modern boiler are a safe bet. Figures from Nationwide suggest this can add 13% to the value of a property.

Even if your property is already kitted out, investment in a new high-efficiency boiler is worth considering. These can cost £100-£200 more than conventional boilers, but will reduce your heating bills and attract ‘green’ buyers.

Read more from Ourproperty.co.uk

You can upgrade your heating system with upright radiators by Warmrooms.co.uk that will not only pump heat effectively into every room in your home, but also look great and modernise your space at the same time so your home won’t look so old, even though it is.

Read more from ukhomeimprovement.co.uk



Should I invest in upgrading my home?

Last month I went to meet with Dr Franz Fuerst at Cambridge University. I wanted to ask him about his research, which states that improving the energy rating of my house can give me more money when I sell it.

Here is the thing. I love my home. I’ve done lots of changes to it already, lighter colours, removed a wall, changed some windows. But there are still a few things that needs doing. My energy bills are quite high as my flat is not so well insulated, and my boiler is also quite old. This makes the flat pretty cold in the winter, and even if the old windows and high ceilings are very beautiful, it is not very comfortable.

If I improve some of these things,  I know my flat will be much more comfortable, and I will save money on the power bill every year. But, I just don’t have a clue about which contractors to contact, where to start, how long it will take or how much it will cost. I’m also not really sure how much I would save. If I save £50 per year, do I have to wait ten years before my investment is paid back? It all seemed like so much hassle, so I never really ended up doing anything about it.

But then I came across Franz’ research saying that if I do these things, and after meeting with him, I am totally convinced about his research.

That is why I’ve started Polareco. So that when you go through the same thought process that I did, and you’re about to give up, just call us.

Looking forward to talking to you!

Mina Weydahl

Founder, Polareco.

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