ECO HOMES / IN THE CARDEN
Going Green at the ECO Expo W Emma Hill looks forward to ECO Expo at this year’s Spring Ideal Home Show and at the many ways that green energy can improve your home
hile energy is essential for modern-day living and its comforts, it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Using energy in a way that will meet our needs and still help the environment can also save money. Here’s how. Saving energy, and money, can be done in the simplest of ways. Turning off the lights when you leave a room, closing the curtains to keep in the heat and turning the thermostat down by just one degree could help save up to ten per cent on your energy bills. Why not switch your light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps? These use a portion of the energy of an ordinary light bulb but last up to ten times longer. Correctly insulating your attic and walls can save up to 40 per cent on your heating bill, while checking the energy label on appliances before you buy can also help you save on electricity. There are a number of larger investments that can be made in order to enhance the energy efficiency of your home. A Building Energy Rating certificate, or BER, is an energy label with a scale of A-G, with A-rated homes being the most efficient and G-rated homes the least, and all homes being sold or rented must have one. Even if you have no intention of moving, getting a BER assessment could benefit your own pocket. Once your home has been assessed, you can decide how best to enhance your energy efficiency. There are
currently three grant programmes available to homeowners. The Home Energy Saving scheme is available to those who invest in improvements such as roof or wall insulation and heating control upgrades. The Greener Homes Scheme is available to homeowners who invest in solar panels, heat pumps, and other renewable energy heating systems. Finally, the Warmer Homes Scheme works at improving the efficiency of households in receipt of the National Fuel Allowance Scheme by installing draught proofing, lagging jackets, low energy light bulbs and more. If you are planning on taking advantage of any of these or want to find out more about the ways in which you can improve the energy efficiency of your home, come along to ECO Expo at the Spring Ideal Home Show where experts will be on hand to discuss heating systems, double glazing, heating control systems, solar panels and other alternative energy sources.
SPRING IDEAL HOME SHOW 16TH – 18TH APRIL 2010 – RDS DUBLIN
How Does Your Garden Grow?
From roof gardens and hardy annuals to budget gardens and seed sowing, Nuala Ryan speaks with renowned gardening expert Gerry Daly to find out how to achieve the best results in the garden this season.
ith spring in the air and summer on the horizon, now is the time to be donning your gardening gloves and putting your green fingers to good use in the garden. And as our lifestyles focus more on our homes and home entertaining, it has never been as important to have our gardens in top condition. According to famed gardening expert Gerry Daly, whether you are a gardeningpro or a complete beginner, the approach to gardening is simple plants are alive and they want to grow. “I try to encourage people to do what they want rather than what they feel they must do in their garden,” Gerry says, “I tell them to choose the plants that they want to grow and to grow them as naturally as possible in the way that they want to. People do make mistakes – maybe they might plant something at the wrong time – but this is all part of the learning process.” So as our gardens spring back to life, how does Gerry recommend we maintain and upkeep them this April? “Being mid-April, it’s still vegetable seed-sowing season. Now is also the time for sowing hardy annual flowers such as begonias and dahlias, which will provide great summer colour. You should now also be mowing your lawn regularly and could even consider fertilising it.” And whether you have a large budget or just a few euro to spend, there is still a lot of ways of adding to or improving your garden. As Gerry notes, a lot can be done for very little money if you do things yourself. Raising plants from seeds and cuttings or swapping plants with fellow gardeners can often compensate for a limited budget. Even those with only a small space can create a nice garden. Pots and hanging baskets on balconies or roof gardens look great and, as long as it is watered and fed, you can grow practically anything in a pot. However, as
wet soil can be quite heavy, make sure you check the load ratings of your balcony or roof garden to prevent damage to the structure. Gerry also recommends all gardeningenthusiasts visit garden.ie where they can pick up helpful tips and advice from fellow gardeners. This invaluable resource is filled with spontaneous sharing of information and crossfertilisation of ideas – and it doesn’t cost a cent!
GARDEN DEMOS The B&Q Ideal Garden Demos at this year’s Spring Ideal Home Show will include a series of interesting and informative gardening demonstrations and talks and Gerry will be on hand, along with other gardening experts to answer all your garden queries and offer some great tips and advice. Visit www.idealhome.ie for further details.