Wednesday, October 31, 2012

UK gear up for a green new year

This guest post is published in association with Help Link UK, the central heating and boiler specialist.

We like to keep an eye on our neighbors across the pond and any efforts they are making to be a little more green. With this in mind, we’ve been following the developing Green Deal scheme with interest. The scheme was first announced as part of the UK Energy Act 2011 and aims to provide some financial assistance to households who want to make their homes more energy efficient.

The government managed scheme allows homeowners to claim money from the government to help in the payment of work carried out and has the added option of paying back the rest of the balance for the work via utility bills, or paying up front. This means people should be able to seek help towards payment items like a new boiler, loft and wall insulation or double glazing and then spread the cost.

To access the cash they’ll have to undergo an assessment and agree to have their new central heating boilers or uPVC windows installed by an approved Green Deal company. And, though a pot of £125 million has been set aside, those who want to claim their share will also have to be quick off the mark because it will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

Talking through the details of the launch, Secretary Edward Davey said: “The Green Deal will provide unprecedented choice for consumers wanting to improve their homes and make them more energy efficient. This cash back offer will help get the Green Deal off to a flying start. It really is a great offer – the more work households have done, the more energy they stand to save and the more cash they receive.” 

It will be interesting to see how successful the Green Deal is, particularly as the government are trying to promote a quick uptake of the green millions up for grabs. Homeowners in the UK will also have maintain their savviness as in some instances it may be possible that work completed outside of the Green Deal and it’s approved dealers may work out cheaper than the subsidised option.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The best books to read during Hurricane Sandy

If you're somewhere on the East Coast where Hurricane Sandy has been or still is "visiting" you might be looking for another day inside the house with or without electricity. In any event, you might be looking for ways to entertain yourself and/or your kids until you can finally get outside, and what is better than a good book to help you forget about Sandy? 

Even Gov. Cuomo knows it, asking fellow New Yorkers to "stay home. Be prepared. Enjoy the family. Read a book"

So what are the best books to read during an Hurricane? As Victoria Bekiempis of New York noted the best answers came from twitter, where  hashtags like #sandyreads, #hurricanereads, #booksforthestorm, and #stormreads featured a wide variety of printed and electronic picks ranging from Joseph Conrad's "Lord Jim" to E.L. James' "50 Shades" series.

Here are 10 of the latest recommendations:

Need something to read during the storm? How about Hereville Bk 2? Good Comics 4 Kids #sandyreads
For your . "Jim Shepard's short stories deal expertly with disaster." in

Alternatively, a comfort book while the storm ravages: Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli

Gentleman with a baseball cap bearing the Armenian flag. Michael Connolly's The Reversal.

man in green jacket. no dog. 100 years of solitude

the new annotated Grimms fairy tales. For the kids & for me!

Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught • RT : What are u reading during ? Tweet us with hashtag

Lisa is reading COLIN FISCHER by Ashley Edward Miller & Zach Stentz

switching back n forth btwn "The Collective" and "By Blood." both fabulous. (plus a book for work)

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers should also be required reading.

So read a good book or two and most importantly stay safe!

If you're looking for recommendations on green books and ebooks please visit our website at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

image credit: doxella, Flickr Creative Commons

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How E-books Helped Environmentalists Spread Awareness To People Worldwide

This is a guest post written by Kathleen Hubert

E-books are becoming more and more popular as time progresses. They have been able to raise awareness about issues that were previously unknown. The environmentalist movement is one beneficiary of the growth in popularity of e-books.

Increased Exposure
Before E-books, in order to learn more about something, you had to get a book out about it from a library or buy one from a book store. That created a couple of problems relating to exposure. There are some places where people don’t have easy access to a library or a bookstore. In those places it was difficult to learn more about the environmentalist movement. Sometimes, even if they did have access to a book store or library, but they felt it wasn’t worth the trouble of looking for. Regardless of the reason the rising popularity of e-book helps both of those issues.

The internet is very prominent all of over the world today, which e-books makes information much more accessible. Since e-books are downloaded from any computer with internet access you no longer need to go to a library or a bookstore to get a book. You can just download one from the internet.

Increased Portability
Another large problem that people face with books is that over a long enough period of time they take up a lot of space. Once you develop a big collection of books you need to actually start buying additional furniture to house the books and keep them in order. E-books help to cut down on the storage requirements for reading material, which is another way that e-books help the environmentalist movement. You can keep an e-book on an iPod, iPhone, Android, or other mobile device and read them there. You don’t have to worry about carrying around a book everywhere since many of the devices you can read an e-book with you can fit in your pocket.

It’s Cheaper
One of the largest problem that faced groups who wanted to get information out there about a movement or a problem that the world faced is that it’s expensive. No matter what the information is about, getting it to large amounts of people costs a lot of money. If you want to put an article in a magazine, you have to pay the magazine publisher money. If you want to publish an entire book about a cause you have to pay a book publisher to get everything all setup and in motion. That takes both a large amount of time and money.

E-books cost significantly less to produce and distribute. You don’t have to deal with a book publisher and there are a number of places that allow you to distribute e-books for free. The environmentalist movement has benefitted greatly from the increased popularity of e-books, due to it being cheap, easily accessible, and very portable.

Kathleen Hubert is a blogger who writes on a variety of different sites. Check out more of her work at Prefab Houses.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Direct Blinds Highlights UK's Lagging Renewable Sector with New Interactive Tool

This is a guest post written by Marion Sebbage of epiphany

Despite the best efforts of UK citizens, charities and organizations to highlight the importance of renewable energy across the nation, it seems like the country is lagging behind neighbors not only in G20 nations, but across the world as a whole. With this in mind, window treatments specialist Direct Blinds - as part of its commitment to energy-saving technologies - has created the World Energy Rating infographic, demonstrating which countries have made huge strides in the transferring of energy systems to renewable power sources.

Using data gathered by the world-leading Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Direct Blinds was able to rank the top ten countries in the world that have the highest percentage of energy production that comes from renewable sources. On top of this, the company has highlighted the ten nations that produce the smallest amount of carbon dioxide for each kilowatt-hour of energy created.

Perhaps surprisingly, Paraguay headed to the top of both lists, given that all of its power needs are directly sourced from hydroelectricity; this effectively means it creates no carbon dioxide per unit of energy. On top of this, the forward-thinking people of Norway and Iceland are also able to boast about the renewable energy options they have, which meet nearly all of their electricity needs.

However, Direct Blinds was able to underline how so-called 'less-developed' nations are putting many of their more economically-sound counterparts to shame. These include Mozambique (99.92 per cent renewable energy provision), Zambia (99.69 per cent) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (99.5 per cent).

Ultimately, the Direct Blinds infographic discovered that the UK's carbon output per kilowatt-hour is roughly in the middle of the scale for the G20, yet only 3.92 per cent of its energy comes from renewable sources; this puts it third-bottom of the table, ahead of only South Africa and the oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

Of course, the company is keen to highlight the ways that homeowners can reduce their own carbon footprint by looking at the way they reduce the amount of energy used, however high or low renewable energy usage is in the UK. Alongside Direct Blinds' offering of energy-saving blinds - capable of retaining heat in the home - people may also want to consider the addition of insulation and double glazing to where they live. Given that winter's just around the corner - and we all know how cold it can be - it may be best for you to invest in your warmth. You never know, you may just save yourself a lot of money.