Home and Garden

Energy Saving, Home and Garden

Why Closing Your Curtains Can Keep Your House Warmer

why closing your curtains helps keep your home warmer

Did you know that the simple act of closing your curtains (and opening them again) could keep your home warmer, and therefore save you energy and money? It’s true, read on!

A couple of weeks ago it was announced that energy prices will spiral this year.  I could rant all day about this, but I’ll save my rants. Instead, I will be more constructive and offer up another really easy energy-saving tip, that will help save you money too.

Regular readers will know that something I’m really passionate about is saving energy.  It helps keep down your energy bills AND helps the environment at the same time.  

On average, electricity and gas use creates about a quarter of all carbon emissions from our homes. Cut our electricity and gas use, and we cut our carbon emissions, helping to tackle climate change.

Whilst you can save energy by making improvements to your home, I’ve been focusing on the tips anyone can do without spending any money. Whether you own your home or not.

This brings me to why you should close your curtains to keep your home warm.

Why Should You Close Your Curtains?

why closing your curtains helps to keep your house warm

Closing your curtains (or blinds) at dusk is a really important task in keeping your home warm.

And I bet you’re saying “yup, I already do that anyway. What’s the big deal Wendy?”.  Well, you’d be surprised. It’s dark quite early on here in Edinburgh at this time of year.  On my journey home from work I lose count of the number of houses and flats I pass on the bus where the light is on, the TV is on, and the curtains are wide open, or the blinds up.  And yes, I admit I’m nosey and look inside people’s houses whilst sitting in traffic..!  Not that I’m judging, I’m just thinking about what a waste of energy it is!

The simple fact is closing your curtains at dusk helps stop cold draughts from penetrating. And it helps keep the heat in your home.  Even if you have double or triple glazing in your home and they are draught-proofed you can still lose heat through your windows. Therefore it’s a good habit to fall into doing.

Don’t Forget to Open The Curtains Again!

Obviously, open them again in the morning. Opening your curtains/blinds in the day lets in warming sunlight. This helps to heat your home passively.  Even on dull winter days, it’s still better to keep your curtains open to let in as much light as possible.

Can I Save Even More?

Closing your curtains at dusk is the easiest way to save energy.  If you want to save even more energy and don’t mind a bit of leg work and spending a little bit of money, then there are other options. Lining your curtains with thermal lining material is one of the best ways to keep heat from escaping from your windows.  It’s easy to buy thermal lining material by the metre online. There are also some cheap deals on eBay* with some lining material selling from just £1.50 a metre.

If you’re not handy with a needle or sewing machine and don’t want to pay to have them lined then don’t worry. Here’s a handy guide on how to line your curtains without having to sew.  Lining your curtains could save 10% on your bills, helping to offset that pesky energy price hike.

Garden, Home and Garden

How to Help Ladybirds

how to help ladybirds

Want to know how to help ladybirds in your garden? Read on for my top advice.

Over summer I spotted a grand total of three ladybirds, which is three more than my other half or my neighbour saw.  I had started to worry about the ladybirds.  I knew that like the bees they were in decline but I wasn’t sure to what extent, so I did a bit of research into what was going on and how to help ladybirds.

Why Are Ladybirds in Trouble?

According to the UK Ladybird Survey, our native ladybird species are in trouble because of a non-native newcomer, the Harlequin ladybird.  

The Harlequin, a native of Asia, is not the friendliest ladybird on the block. When food is scarce they eat the eggs and larvae of other species of ladybirds.  Also going under the names of the Multicoloured Asian Ladybird and the Halloween Ladybird, it was introduced to North America in 1988. It is now the most widespread ladybird in North America.  

Not content with conquering American soil, it has also dominated much of north-western Europe. The Harlequin Ladybird now has its sights firmly set on the UK now. It was first spotted here in the summer of 2004, and the numbers have grown.

ladybirds in decline - how to help them

Not a Harlequin – see here for how to identify them.

How to Help Ladybirds

The people behind the Ladybird Survey, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, are now asking for your help in helping ladybirds.

If you’d like to assist in the monitoring of the Harlequin ladybird population, as well as their impact on our native ladybirds, then they’ve developed a handy app.   Called iRecord Ladybirds (you can search for it in the iPhone or Android App Store), it allows you to record any ladybirds you’ve spotted quickly and easily.  

Using the app you can take a photo and add some information about where you saw it, the number you saw, etc.  There’s even a handy guide to help identify the ladybird in question. This is handy, if like me, you struggle to identify the particular species that you’ve found. There are 47 UK native ladybird species after all!  And don’t worry if you don’t have a smartphone – you can record it online instead.

How to Help Ladybirds in Winter

how to help ladybirds

There are other ways how to help ladybirds too.  As ladybirds hibernate over winter you can lay down some small logs in a corner of your garden. This gives them a spot for ladybirds to hibernate in. Or if you want to get a bit more creative then here are some other great ideas.  You can also buy ladybird homes on the internet or in garden centres. If you’d rather not spend any money, you can even make your own ladybird house using just a plastic bottle and some corrugated cardboard!

Help in Spring & Summer Too

In spring and summer, you can also leave patches of nettles growing. This is helpful because ladybirds tend to lay their eggs on nettles.

You should also avoid spraying plants with insecticides.  Ladybirds eat the aphids that feast on plants. They, therefore, do a much better and safer job at reducing the aphid numbers than chemicals do. As you can see, it’s mutually beneficial to help the ladybirds! You can also check out my post on sustainable garden ideas for more green garden ideas.