It’s Spring, right? So why do I still feel cold sat at my desk?

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We're all looking forward to the warmer weather. But there will be times when you sit down to work, only to soon start feeling cold.

feeling cold working from home
Young woman which has a flu working from home on a laptop

Freelancers, home office workers, and occasional work-from-homers may all be affected by this. This post explains what's going on and recommends the best way to get comfortably warm again so you can concentrate on your work.

Most of us have wall-mounted radiators or convector heaters in the rooms we work from. These do an OK job of heating the air and, while this may seem good enough, there are unwanted drawbacks and side-effects:

  • warm air rises but where you're sat is the bottom third of the room height so this can't be efficient
  • floors are often cold and un-insulated, and no amount of warm air at ceiling level is going to warm a cold floor
  • warm air draws in moisture which can turn to condensation on colder surfaces like windows

Matters are made worse by the inevitable cool floor level draughts; the warm air rises to the ceiling, starts to cool, is pushed along by warmer air above the heater, drops down the far wall and back along the floor to the base of the heater. All radiators and convector heaters are guilty of creating these convection currents.

What you want is all the warmth at floor level so that you get maximum benefit. This is why underfloor heating is so popular. But most of us can't contemplate the cost and upheaval of fitting underfloor heating in our home office.

Thankfully there is a simple plug-and-play solution - more on this later.

By heating the floor you turn the floor into a 'radiant surface'. Think of stepping from shade into sunlight. The air temperature doesn't change but you feel instantly warmer. You directly feel the effect of the Sun's radiant warmth.

Sitting over a floor surface that gently, silently, healthily, radiates warmth means you can work all day without needing radiators or convector heaters. So you can concentrate better and not be distracted by stuffy air and cold draughts at floor level.

The simple floor heating solution

RugBuddy working from home
The simple solution I mention above is a bit like an electric blanket for the floor. It's called a RugBuddy under-rug heater. You lay it out and cover with a rug. Plug the RugBuddy in and, within minutes, the surface of the rug will become warm and you have created the radiant floor surface that is so desirable. That's how easy it is.

If you have been relying on your home's central heating to keep warm, there are cost savings to be had, as well. The running costs of the RugBuddy are very low - around 5p an hour for a typical 250 Watt 125 x 160 cm installation - perfect for your workspace. You will save a lot over the course of a year by using the central heating less. Energy Saving Trust estimates you save £75 per year for every degree you turn down the central thermostat.

By the way, it isn't a problem to have your desk and office chair on the rug - the Rugbuddy won't be damaged and will work perfectly. A top tip is to have a non-slip underlay under the RugBuddy and rug, to keep everything firmly in place when you start wheeling your chair around.

Heading into Spring and Summer is a good time to equip your home office with a Rugbuddy under-rug heater. You'll be able to turn down, or turn off, the central heating earlier than in previous years.

And the RugBuddy will be there, ready at a flick of a switch, to take the chill off a cool morning or evening. Roll on Summer!

RugBuddy Featured in Moneywise Magazine

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Here's a fun and practical guide to cutting your energy bills in this month's Moneywise magazine. And it features Rugbuddy as one of the star performers!

The guide's writer, the excellent Rebecca Goodman, points out the number-one way to save money on your bills is to switch energy company if you haven't done it for a while. She says the average savings amount to around £287 per year.

But there are lots of other things you can do easily around the home to reduce your bills.

As Rebecca explains in the guide, she has selected 10 ways to cut your energy bills and has estimated the savings:

  1. Fit foil behind your radiator - £40 a year
  2. Banish 'energy vampires' - switch off appliances left on standby - £30 a year
  3. Grab an extra jumper and socks and turn the thermostat down a degree - £75 a year
  4. Try a self-heating rug - get a Rugbuddy and turn the thermostat down a degree or two - £75 - £150 a year
  5. Put a sheep in your chimney - a wool bung will to stop your chimney sucking warm air from the house - £50 a year
  6. Wash your clothes on a cooler setting - from 40degC to 30degC - £13 a year
  7. Put clingfilm on your windows - £40 a year
  8. Change the way you cook - £36 a year
  9. Cut water and heating bills with a washing up bowl - £55 a year
  10. Keep warm with a DIY draught excluder - £20 a year

Why not grab a copy of the magazine? It has all the details of how to go about achieving these savings. I bought mine in WH Smiths but it is widely available.

moneywise under rug heater on screenOr you can read it online here http://bit.ly/2SJelQB

Enjoy!

RugBuddy featured in Moneywise magazine
RugBuddy in moneywise magazine spread

Is there a way to heat this cold floor without installing underfloor heating?

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Family on the sofa feeling the effects of a cold floorA cold floor is a sure way to drain away any feeling of warmth or cosiness in a room. The wall mounted radiators most of us have circulate warm air but this often isn’t enough to warm the floor too. This is most noticeable with hard floors like tiles and laminate.

So, if you’re suffering with a cold floor, what can you do?

Most of us are familiar with the idea of underfloor heating, but did you know that ‘on-floor’ heating is a thing, too?

Let me explain the differences so you can have a clear idea which may be best for you.

Your choices to beat a cold floor

Underfloor heating comes in 2 types – wet and dry.

The wet systems circulate hot water from your boiler in a continuous snake of flexible pipe set in a screed under your floor.

The dry systems use electric heater elements which are either set in the tile cement (tiled floors) or laid as a mat under a laminate (or wood) floor.

Both systems have their pros and cons but it’s worth noting that electric systems are particularly responsive being just under the floor finish. This means they are easier to control than wet systems that take time to heat up and cool down.

These underfloor heating solutions are possible if you are planning to replace your flooring. You need to consider the extra upheaval created by the heating installation and that you may also run into issues with raised floor levels to incorporate the new heating. It all needs careful planning.

For most people, installing underfloor heating is not an option. This is where on-floor heating comes in and it’s a great way to go.

Simply put, the on-floor heater is a bit like an electric blanket you place on the floor (usually on an underlay), cover with a rug, and plug in. The heater – known as an ‘under-rug’ heater – warms the rug right through so that the surface of the rug becomes a warm radiant surface – just like a floor with underfloor heating!

Jeans, socks, tea on a warmed rug (to beat a cold floor)It’s unlikely the under-rug heater will cover more than a fraction of the total floor area of your room, so it can’t be relied on to heat the whole room. You’ll still need your central heating ticking over. But you will feel a lot warmer when you sit with your feet on the warmed rug instead of a cold floor.

This is perfect for anyone who spends time sitting and finds their feet and ankles soon get cold. They can switch on the under-rug heater when they need it and there’s no need to worry about the cost of keeping warm. For example, the 100x150cm RugBuddy (£149) only costs about 3p per hour to run.

You can read more about RugBuddy under-rug heaters here.

Looking forward to Winter? You soon could be!

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window looking out on snowOut of all the seasons, do you look forward to Winter the most? Or do you dread it?

What would it mean to you if, this Winter, you could

Be warmer at home?
Have lower heating bills?
Look after your health better?

The solution is straightforward and cost effective. This blog post explores what you need to consider so you, too, will be looking forward to Winter - just like Katie:

“very pleased with the rug buddy, can’t wait until next winter.” Katie (Avon)

Take a look at your existing heating

Do you rely on wall mounted radiators, or convector heaters, or even fan heaters?

All of these - if working efficiently - can quickly warm the air in the room. That's great, but warm air brings its own set of problems.

  1. We all learned in school that hot air rises. So, the warmest air in the room is at ceiling height, and the coolest is at floor level. If you're sitting down, you are, of course, much closer to the floor than the ceiling.
  2. The air is continually on the move creating convection currents which add 'wind chill' to the cooler floor level air. When you start to feel cold, do your feet and ankles feel it first? This can be down to blood circulation but it feels much worse if there's a cold draught at floor level.
  3. The warm air picks up moisture which can turn to condensation when it comes into contact with cold surfaces. Single glazed windows and uninsulated exterior walls are often much colder than the rest of the room in Winter and condensation can quickly form.

Convection draughts leave you with cold feetSo, heating the air and moving it around the room via convection or fans actually isn't very clever.

It may leave you uncomfortable with cold feet and ankles.

It can be expensive to run, which is not surprising when you realise most of the warmth is above your head.

Health-wise, it carries dust lowering the quality of the air you breath. Coupled with that, condensation can promote the growth of mould which can have a serious impact on your health.

A better way to heat your room

The answer - as it has been since Roman times ( Roman floor heating ) - is to turn the floor into the source of warmth for the room.

Making the floor a 'radiant surface' puts warmth where you need it - under your feet - and doesn't impact on air quality. With a floor gently radiating warmth, other surfaces quickly warm up and you feel warm. You can read more why this is in my blog post the Science of Feeling Cold.

Underfloor heating achieves all this and is a feature of most luxury homes.

But traditional 'wet' underfloor heating is difficult - and expensive - to retrofit. Plus it's complicated, requires regular maintenance (boiler, valves, pumps, manifolds, and 100's of metres of pipe), and can also be unresponsive and wasteful to run (heating a mass of water and concrete screed before heating the room).

Modern electrical 'in-floor' heating that sits just under the floor finish is very responsive, can be fitted when you change floor coverings, and can be tailored to only be on when you need it, making it cost-effective to run.

But if retro-fitting underfloor heating is not an option, the best thing is to reduce your reliance on your main heating.

By being able to turn down, or turn off, your radiators, convectors and fan heaters, you will reduce the impact of their drawbacks. What you need is a secondary source of heating, which is also floor heating, so you stay nice and warm.

RugBuddy under-rug heater with RCDThe RugBuddy under-rug heater meets this need.

Available in a range of sizes to suit most situations, you simply lay the RugBuddy on the floor, cover with a rug, and plug in. There's no messy installation, or special wiring or controls.

The RugBuddy warms the rug and the area around allowing you to turn down, or turn off, the main heating. Your feet and ankles will be warmer and air quality will be maintained. The risk of mould is reduced, and your heating bills will be lower. Compared with other electric portable heaters RugBuddy is very economical, costing only a few pence per hour to run.

As well as Katie, I know there are quite a few Rugbuddy customers who no longer dread Winter:

"When it’s really cold in the winter, I find the Rugbuddy keeps my feet warm and supplements the gas central heating, with high ceilings the floor is cold and the heat from the radiators rises.” Marjo (Bristol)

 “The rug buddy is installed under my desk in the office. During the winter months it has been brilliant and kept the office warm and cosy which it certainly wasn’t before.”  David (Taunton)

 “Just want to say how delighted we are with the Rugbuddy, almost makes me kind of look forward to winter!!  Only one draw back, could not get the dog off the rug and into the garden!!” Julie (Devon)

RugBuddy in The Lady magazine

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I was pleased to get a call from Hugh St-Clair who pens the 'Home Help' page in The Lady magazine.

A reader had written in asking if there was a way to 'heat rugs'. They didn't want the expense and upheaval of lifting their stone floor to install underfloor heating. They wrote to Hugh wondering if there was an easy and affordable alternative.

Hugh had found out about RugBuddy and gave me a call to check out some facts. His reply to the reader's question was published in the 19th October 2018 edition of the magazine and you can read it below.

This is exactly what RugBuddy is for!

Nice mention for RugBuddy in The Lady magazine October 2018

RugBuddy in The Lady 19 October 2018Q:"Everyone is encouraging us to fit our cottage with underfloor heating when upgrading the central heating system. We would like underfloor heating under an original stone floor, but it will be prohibitively expensive to lift in order to lay pipes underneath. Can you heat rugs somehow?" RJ, email

A: "A company called Be Warmer (sic) sells the Rug Buddy - a heated mat that is a bit like an electric blanket - to fit under your rug. It comes in nine rectangular sizes. First measure your rug, then subtract about an inch all around to give you the size of the under-rug you need. The electric cord comes in one corner, and typically people place a sofa or chair between the rug and wall socket to cover it. The cost of a Rug Buddy ranges from £90 to £300, and costs around 5p an hour to run. The Rug Buddy does not come with a timer."

NEW RugBuddy has arrived!

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We're excited to introduce the NEW RugBuddy! All sizes now in stock.

Under rug heatingNEW RugBuddy has some great additional features (see below) to aid ease of use,  and to ensure safety in the event of accidental damage.

If you've been patiently waiting to order and wondered why we never seem to have any stock, it's because we needed to clear the decks for the new model.

The good news is the new stock arrived yesterday, the website has been updated, and we're now ready to launch NEW RugBuddy on the world.

NEW RugBuddy features:

  1. The same comfortable heat output that has made the original RugBuddy such a success. Of course!
  2. New in-line RCD for RugBuddy under-rug heaterReversible design - so no label saying "This Side Up", like we used to have. Couple this with a corner mounted power cable and NEW RugBuddy is much easier to place conveniently, by turning or flipping over. The power cable remains a useful 2.5m long.
  3. Built-in RCD (Residual Current Device) protection. RCD protection is vital in case your RugBuddy is accidentally damaged. You no longer need a separate RCD plug adaptor if your house circuit is not already RCD protected. The built-in RCD is rated at 10mA, which is 3x more sensitive than standard protection, and has an easily accessible test button.
  4. With both sides of the NEW RugBuddy being the same silver metallic material, heat is distributed evenly across both surfaces.

When the RugBuddy is on, care should still be taken to avoid placing anything with a flat bottom (e.g. blanket chest, filing cabinet, box, mattress etc.) on the rug. As before, placing furniture with feet or legs on the rug is fine.

Click the link to go to the main RugBuddy page for more information.

7 reasons why radiators are a bad way to heat your home

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1.       Radiators cause draughts

Radiators are badly named. In practice they are convection heaters and they cause draughts.

Take a look at the back of one of your radiators. Most likely, you will see a row of vanes. We all know warm air rises. These vanes are there to guide the air as it’s drawn up by the warmth of the radiator.

Convection draughts from radiators leave you with cold feetThis means you get the warmest, stuffiest, air at ceiling level. As that warm air spreads across the ceiling, it cools and starts to sink towards the floor on the far side of the room. Natural circulation means this cooler air will start to move back across the floor to be sucked up by the vanes once more.

It’s that cool air moving at floor level that leaves your feet and ankles feeling cold. And this is why you probably have draughts in your room, even when you’ve got the doors and windows tightly shut.

 

2.       Radiators dictate room layout

Fixed to the wall, radiators stop you placing furniture against the wall. Often, radiators are fixed under the window to lessen the impact on room layout.

Radiators under windows are inefficientBut from an efficiency point of view, under the window is probably the worst place to put a radiator. It leads to long pipe runs to and from the boiler, and it means your primary heat source (the radiator) is bang next to your primary sources of heat loss – windows and external walls.

Hanging any type of curtain worsens the problem. The warm air from the back of the radiator will go up behind the curtains and get trapped against the window.

 

3.       Radiators are ugly

Why is it they are always painted in ‘stand-out’ white with no hope of blending into your décor?

Surely it should be possible to have much more discreet heating that is felt but not seen?

 

4.       Radiators are dangerous

Radiators are solid metal objects with sharp edges and cornersRadiators introduce a dangerous object to the room.

Made of metal, the hard corners and edges are a particular hazard should you trip or fall against them.

 

5.       Radiators are messy

Have you ever experienced a leak from your radiators? With radiators you are not only running the risk of a soaking but the water is filthy and will end up damaging your floor covering.

 

6.       Radiators are inefficient

It takes a lot of energy to heat water. The time to heat up the water, and cool down when you no longer need the heating, make radiators less efficient compared with surface heating.

 

7.       Radiators need maintenance

Central heating boiler needs maintenanceBecause you are relying on metal radiators that can corrode and leak (not to mention the complications of boilers, valves, and pumps), your heating system will need regular supervision and maintenance.

This comes at a significant price over the years.

 

All in all, it is easy to see that central heating radiators are not clever.

There are better systems, particularly electric floor heating systems, that will become more common as renewable energy takes over from fossil fuels and gas boilers are relegated to the scrap heap.

For now, we rely on portable electric heaters when we don’t want to use the central heating, or when the central heating isn’t keeping us warm enough.

The trouble is, most portable heaters have problems. They can be noisy, they always clutter up the room, they often cause draughts, and many are expensive to run.

There is a portable heater that doesn’t suffer any of these drawbacks. It’s called the RugBuddy under-rug heater and you can read about it here.

How Freelancers can cut costs working from home

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Under Desk Under-rug Heater from RugBuddyFreelancers are a hugely important section of the economy. Recent figures from IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed) suggest that 2 million are freelancers and they generate £119Bn of sales. This article sets out how freelancers can cut costs working from home.

If you’re one of them, and you largely work from home, here are some tips to make sure you keep your costs to a minimum.

Energy costs for freelancers working from home

How you heat the room where you work can make the biggest difference to your bills. If there’s no one else in the house you don’t need the central heating on do finding a solution to this is a great example of how Freelancers can cut costs.

Much better to create ‘zoned’ (or room-by-room) heating so you only heat the parts you use.

Room-by-room heating can be built into new houses and gives the ultimate in flexibility, efficiency, and comfort.

Just imagine: bathroom warm from 06.00 – 7.30, kitchen from 06.45 – 8.00, office/ study from 07.45 – 18.00 etc. Rooms not in use don’t need to be heated.

But room-by-room heating for the whole house is hard to retrofit and most of us resort to portable heaters when the central heating is off. These all tend to be electric and the type of heater you choose is crucial to your comfort as well as your bills.

The worst heaters are the most common, e.g:

Oil filled radiatorConvector radiators create convection currents resulting in cold draughts at feet and ankle level. This is very uncomfortable after you’ve been sitting a while.

 

Fan heaterFan heaters are expensive to run. They’re also noisy, stir up the air, and cause stuffiness.

 

 

Both these types of heater clutter up your room and generally get in the way!

The best heater has none of these drawbacks, thankfully.

For a few years now, we’ve been selling a heater that mimics underfloor heating. Yet it is still a portable electric  heater that can be plugged in anywhere indoors. Perfect for freelancers who sit at a desk or table all day.

RugBuddy under home office deskIt’s called RugBuddy and is available in a range of sizes. It’s a type of heated floor mat you place the RugBuddy on the floor, cover it with a rug, or mat, and plug it in.

Very soon the heater will turn the surface of the rug into a source of radiant warmth and it is so effective it will be all you need to stay warm as you work.

Comfort is paramount but you’ll also be impressed at the low running costs: 4p per hour for a medium-sized 250 Watt RugBuddy, versus 45p per hour for a 3 kiloWatt fan heater or convector radiator!

See more about RugBuddy here.

While you’re looking at energy costs, have you switched yet to LED bulbs? Energy Saving Trust reckons it costs about £100 to fit LED bulbs throughout a house, but you will save £35 per year. And the bulbs last for years. Here’s the full list of quick wins from Energy Saving Trust.

Freelancer travel tips

If you have client visits to make, how efficiently do you plan your travel?

Season tickets are costly if your usage falls below a certain number of days. There comes a point where ‘pay as you go’ becomes the more sensible option.

And if each trip can achieve more than just the single appointment, then you’re really getting value from your ticket. Even if you incorporate some shopping, running errands, or catching up with old friends, you’ll feel as though you’ve gained a small victory!

Depending on where you live, traveling by car is usually the most flexible way to go.

Compared with going by train you loose the chance to work during the journey but door-to-door convenience counts for a lot. If you have multiple calls to make, being efficient about planning your route  is a whole science in itself. ‘The Travelling Salesman Problem’ is ‘a thing’ – I know because I studied it at school! See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travelling_salesman_problem

To be honest, Google maps and a good SatNav are probably your biggest friends to avoid wasting time on the roads.

… And here’s a footnote on tax efficiency for freelancers

Tax is a huge issue for Freelancers. HMRC want to know precisely what you earn, where it’s coming from, and which expenses are permissible.

This need not be complicated or expensive. The more you can do yourself by keeping good records, and always knowing where you stand regarding tax liabilities, the less stressful will be your dealings with HMRC.

Keeping track can be hard for all but the ultra-organised. But help is at hand in the form of dedicated mobile apps.

I’ve just been introduced to one called SimpleTax. SimpleTax calculates your tax bill as you go through the year.

Updated in real time, you’ll get a swift, accurate view of your income, expenditure and tax liabilities. This makes saving for, and submitting, your Self Assessment, easy as pie.

But it also usefully suggests how freelancers can cut costs, and the expenses you may be missing. This gives you a great boost of confidence that you are managing your business efficiently.

Visit https://www.gosimpletax.com/ for more information (Disclosure: I have no connection with this company)

 

 

The Father’s Day gift that will boost his hobby or craft

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Here’s a Father’s Day gift that won’t be for everyone, but will be hugely appreciated (and unexpected) by Dads with hobbies.

workshop floor heatingAsk yourself: is his shed, hobby, or music room, a little unwelcoming? Maybe there’s no heating, or the floor always seems cold?

RugBuddy is the perfect Father’s Day gift that will transform the place – without taking up space! – and will make the room far more welcoming.

It’s well understood that you need to be comfortable to be able to concentrate. Sitting, or standing, over a concrete floor can never be described as comfortable.

If you’re going to get cold, it’s generally the feet that feel it first. And then you wish you had a foot warmer!

So it makes sense to have somewhere warm to sit, or stand, and that the source of warmth should be the floor itself.

music room floor heatingIt’s so easy! You lay the RugBuddy heated floor mat on the floor (see advice about rug underlay), cover with a rug or mat, and plug it in.

Very quickly the surface of the rug will be a similar temperature to underfloor heating, and contentment will reign!

Because it’s on the floor under a rug, the RugBuddy under-rug heater takes up no space – no clutter. So the room can continue to be laid out just how he likes it – “a place for everything, and everything in its place” as he (probably) says.

And here is what 2 of my customers say:

“Yes the RugBuddy is proving to make a big difference in my pottery work shop. The difference is that the warmth is to my feet ,yet is not enough to circulate the air , carrying the dust with it.” Sue (Devon)

“I am a returning customer and this is my second RugBuddy. …. This second one is for my partner’s new workshop and I have no doubt that he will kept be just as snuggly warm as I have been!” Lynda (Surrey)

If you think this is a great idea for a Father’s Day gift, please go here.

Image Credits: https://www.maxpixel.net

RugBuddy supports Work Wise Week

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Supporting Work Wise Week (Sun 13th May – Sat 19th May) is a natural for me as Smarter Working embraces flexible working from home. Many ‘at-home’ workers already rely on RugBuddy under desk heaters to create a comfortable and productive working environment.

Under Desk Under-rug Heater from RugBuddyIt makes sense that if you’re the only one at home, having the central heating on is a bit of a waste. Fine if you are flitting from room to room but if, like me, you find you spend a few hours at a time at your desk or table, heating those other rooms is pointless and expensive.

So the usual solution is a portable electric heater.

But traditional portable heaters aren’t that great. They clutter up the room, can be noisy, and are often expensive to run. Worse, they don’t really provide heat that is effective and comfortable. Fan heaters and convectors make the air stuffy and stir up dust, while an electric radiator is rarely effective unless you are actually touching it.

RugBuddy avoids all the drawbacks by being out of the way (under a rug), totally silent and healthy, and costing just pennies per hour to run.

It’s obvious you can’t concentrate when you are cold. The reason why so many at-home workers love their RugBuddy under-rug heater is that it puts warmth where they need it, under their feet, and allows them to work away even when the central heating is off. Better concentration means better productivity, and the work gets done more quickly and easily.

With National Work From Home Day (Friday 18th May) coming up at the end of Work Wise Week, Work Wise UK are aiming to promote modern “smarter” working practices. We’re doing our bit by helping people create the perfect at-home working environment easily and affordably.

Image: maxpixel.net