This is a sponsored post in association with VELUX®. Please see my disclosure policy for information on these types of posts.
I could talk about renewable energy until the cows come home! I’m infinitely enthralled by wave power in particularly, but on a smaller, at-home scale, I’m really into the idea of solar water heating systems.
At the start of last year we lost our power for 3 days in a bad wind storm. I could cope without the lights. I could cope without the heat (we have a lot of blankets and hot water bottles to hand because I cannot bear to be cold, ever). But I could not cope without the hot water. I’d only given birth six days previously and all I wanted most in the world was a hot shower. The idea of generating our own power to minimise these kind of shocks is therefore so very appealing. And not just in case of power cuts caused by weather events – reports suggest that UK gas reserves are low, so taking steps to become self-reliant when it comes to energy seems prudent.
Not to mention, of course, the money saving and eco-friendly aspects of renewable energy: solar water heating systems (also known as solar thermal) can provide about a third of your household’s hot water needs. Although costing between £3,000 and £5,000 to buy and install, you can save between £55 and £80 a year. You’ll also be less reliant on the energy companies, which is always a win! Gas prices are at record highs with no signs of going down so who knows what you’d be saving in the near future – hundreds of pounds possibly. Come Summer 2013 you will also earn money through the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive, pushing your savings up further.
To explain a bit more about how solar water heating works here’s a little infographic I found which demonstrates solar water heating systems quite succinctly:
Solar water heating systems can provide most of your hot water requirements in the summer, but you’ll still need a boiler for winter. You’ll also need a suitable roof area (preferably south facing). If you’ve got a boiler and a roof that gets a lot of sun then you’re halfway there, but if you’re looking for a good source of information then I’d recommend the VELUX website. VELUX have a 6 point guide to help you choose the solar water heating system you need to suit your requirements best. They also have straightforward installation instruction videos and diagrams in their technical section, which are really handy.
I have heard nothing but good reports from people who have solar water heating systems, and soon I hope to join their ranks!
Online homewares store URBANARA has teamed up with OXFAM this winter to give £5 from the sale of every blanket to the Syria Crisis Appeal. Why blankets? URBANARA say that the blanket offers everything the home symbolises – security, warmth and comfort. They are also one of URBANARA’s most popular products, so they can count on plenty of donations on behalf of customers.
Sam from URBANARA explains their involvement with OXFAM:
“During the past two years, the world has watched as Syria has torn itself in half. Beginning with peaceful protests in the autumn of 2011, Syria has descended into possibly the most sectarian, devastating and protracted conflict of the 21st century. Yet its effect on the lives of the innocent civilian population has only recently begun to be addressed. Since the start of the uprising against the regime of Baschar Al Assad during the Arab Spring, this internal conflict has transformed into a war characterised by sectarian division, foreign jihadists, government suppression and most alarmingly of all, brutal civilian massacres. But where has this left the population of Syria, who asked for nothing more than freedom of expression and belief, but who have been thrust into this cataclysmic conflict?
Recent statistics from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees sets the number of refugees at 100,000 people during the month of January 2013, bringing the total to just over 700,000 people dispersed between Syria’s neighbouring countries; Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Jordan. There appears to be no immediate let up in this devastating conflict. Despite continuing efforts to unite an increasingly fractured and radicalised opposition movement, and efforts to bring both the government and the opposition to the table, the conflict still appears to be deepening, further pushing innocent civilians to leave the conflict zones and attempt to cross the border to the safety of of the refugee camps.
But to what kind of safety? This winter has been particularly harsh. With temperatures dropping, the tens of thousands of refugees seeking shelter are forced to spend the winter in tents without basic heat or adequate access to water, sanitation and other basic needs. While some have relatives or friends in Lebanon and Jordan with whom they can stay, there are many who are left to fend for themselves against the elements including a large amount of sick and elderly, wounded and children. At places such as Zaatari in Jordon, and the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, people are living in the most squalid of conditions.
Despite the scope of the international community’s operations to relieve the pressure on these people, organisations such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent are declaring that they can no longer cope with the worsening situation, describing the levels of international aid as being ‘drastically insufficient for a steadily worsening crisis’. With the camps overflowing, many people have resorted to staying outside of the registered areas; as much as 40% of refugees in some places. In places such as the Bakaar Valley in Lebanon, Médecins Sans Frontières has recently reported that as many as 220,000 Syrians that have escaped the conflict cannot obtain the necessary healthcare and infrastructure due to their lack of formal registration. As many as 70% of those who arrive are being forced to spend the winter months housed in substandard collective shelters, farms, garages, building sites and old schools in an effort to find any protection against the elements outside of the refugee camps.
This exposure to the elements has meant an increase in health conditions, especially of the skin and respiratory system. Children are again, the ones who are suffering most from this lack of healthcare. There is a lack of basic medicine, vaccinations, prescription drugs, effective pre-natal care, and combined with the savage weather conditions has only contributed to the extended suffering of the Syrian people.
So what can be done to help this seemingly impossible situation? Some, such our company, have decided to step into help. While only a small step on such a imposing mountain, we’ve have teamed up with OXFAM to try to offer some small relief to the Syrian people. Through a £5 donation from every blanket that they sell, OXFAM will be able to provide blankets, mattresses and warm clothes as well as social support, post traumatic stress counselling and basic water and sanitation services.
Through this small macro level support, we really believe that people can make a difference. Despite worldwide government inaction and an increasingly devastating and divided conflict, any small show of hope for these long suffering people will ease the pain of existing away from their homes, their livelihoods and their country. We believe whole heartedly that this small scale donation effort is the way forward. With the United Nations Commission on Human Rights suggesting that the levels of international aid is too low, it is down to those who have a true desire to improve these peoples situation that will make the greatest changes to the lives of the thousands of refugees that have fled the conflict”.
To read more about URBANARA’s involvement in the Syria Crisis Appeal you can visit their website, and browse their selection of beautiful blankets:
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I'm Wendy and welcome to Moral Fibres, a green lifestyle blog. I believe that sustainable living should be hip, not hippie. Here you'll find all sorts of easy hints and tips here for living a greener life that won't compromise your sense of style. As well as the blog I've also written a book on natural cleaning - Fresh Clean Home is out now! Want to know more? Check out the about page for more information or explore the archives using the category tabs above. Moral Fibres is always free to read. If you want to support the site's running costs you can buy me a coffee.
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