I'm a big fan of The Homeworker magazine which is doing great things to provide advice and support for homeworkers everywhere.
Last week on Instagram @thehomeworkermag posted this:
A big shout out for one of our directory members who has possibly one of the best work from home products for chilly days...
If you haven’t heard of @rugbuddyuk then you need to take a look. This is a simple under rug heater- hidden from view but keeps you snug and warm on a cold day.
It is also incredibly inexpensive to run and saves you from heating the whole house if you’re just working in a small space.
I think these are great for garden studios and offices as well.
William from @rugbuddyuk is listed under our work from home products section in the directory.
This can help you work from home better and save you some pennies 🙌
Head to the directory or check out their website for more details 😊
If you're a homeworker and appreciate the support we can all give each other, and some of the finer things in life that make work a little more enjoyable, why not take a look at Homeworker Magazine? https://www.thehomeworker.com/
With everyone at home it makes sense to make best use of all the space available to avoid COVID confinement stress. Whether you're working from home, or just trying to find a quiet corner to enjoy your book, you'll really appreciate being able to claim a space you can call your own.
Here's how you can avoid frustration and squabbles with my 5 ways to avoid COVID confinement stress by making space at home.
1. Bring unused rooms in from the cold. If a room is cold and unwelcoming, it doesn't get used. Make it cosy with a RugBuddy under-rug heater. Spare bedrooms, dining rooms, box rooms, conservatories, garden rooms, and so on, are often hard to heat. Having a source of radiant warmth under your feet makes all the difference and a RugBuddy only costs a few pennies per hour to run.
2. Clear out the clutter. You've saved time on your commute so let's use the time to clear those piles of paper and cupboards full of clutter. Do you really need it? Remember, "if it doesn't spark joy....." Think of it as doing a home audit. You'll congratulate yourself every time you find yourself relaxing in the clutter-free room.
3. Build more storage. I have a theory that DIY stores are going to do very well over the next few months as it becomes harder to ignore the fix/repair 'to-do' list. Not only that, but we'll all be more critical of how space is used. You're likely to find there's dead space that can easily be converted into handy shelving or cupboards. How much better could the under-stairs* area be, for example?
4. Make rooms multi-functional. Combining a workspace in every bedroom, for study or working from home, is an obvious one. Try combining the functions of two rooms into one wherever possible. And use dead space on a landing or hallway to make a small sitting area. Flexible use of space increases the chance of everyone being able to find their own space when they want.
5. Pinch ideas. Go online and see how people get the most out of their studio flats and small apartments. You'll be amazed at the multi-functional furniture and hidden storage ideas you'll come across. Flex your DIY muscles a little and see what you can create.
Embrace the time at home to make improvements, learn a new skill, eat well, and spend time with loved ones. Stay safe, and I hope my 5 ways to make space help you avoid COVID confinement stress.
The weather's very mild as I write this but at least the reviewer had the sense to experience Rugbuddy on a cold day.....
She loved her RugBuddy despite commenting the RugBuddy sounded like crisp packets under her feet!
Happily, this is a temporary state of affairs. It only takes a few uses for the Rugbuddy to relax into its new surroundings. Indeed an Amazon customer recently wrote a 5-star review titled 'the crinkling goes away and leaves you gently warmed'.
Trying to stay warm working from home without racking up large central heating bills is a problem for many each winter. I know a lot of my customers are freelancers, homeworkers, and small business owners, who all have a keen eye on value for money and low running costs.
Understanding what it is that makes us feel cold (rate of body heat loss to nearby cold surfaces), and the solution (warm the cold surfaces, especially the floor), is straight forward. This post also explains why heating the air (which, let's face it, is what radiators and other heaters generally do) is actually a VERY BAD IDEA.
Why not give RugBuddy a try under your desk? You'll be amazed how comfortable it is and that you will be able to turn down, or even turn off, your other heating. And, of course, we operate a 30-day no quibble returns guarantee so you can try Rugbuddy risk free.
Freelancers and homeworkers all over the UK and Europe are discovering RugBuddy as the ideal under-desk heater. The Modern Work review is an honest appraisal of why this is.
Lots of people will have tuned into The Martin Lewis Money Show 'Switching Special' this week about energy bills. Lot's of the audience admitted to setting the thermostat to 21C or even higher. Martin's off-the-cuff money saving tip was to "set the thermostat at 18C and wear a jumper"!
This got us thinking about our favourite top 10 tips for keeping warm and money saving with the thermostat at 18C.
Here they are:
1. Get a RugBuddy under-rug heater where you sit. The RugBuddy warms the rug and the surface of the rug radiates gentle warmth to your feet and body. You'll feel comfortably warm even if the air is cool.
2. Cure draughts. We've all heard of 'wind chill' in the weather forecast. It's a fact that air will cool you quicker if it is flowing past you. You've probably blocked off obvious things like the letter box and the chimney, but what about 3. below?
3. Avoid convection heating. Wall mounted radiators can be to blame here. They cause convection currents that lead to cold feet and ankles. Turning back the thermostat to 18C will reduce the convection currents and could actually make you feel warmer!
4. Don't sit for long if you can avoid it. Use those times when you're up from your chair to be active and get the blood flowing.
5. Spend more time upstairs if your thermostat is downstairs! Hot air rises, remember?
6. Plan how you might get comfort from using household appliances. Some 'low and slow' cooking when you're sitting in the kitchen may give off all the warmth you need, for a while at least.
7. Ask the cat to sit on your lap. (Other house-trained warm-blooded furry creatures are available.) I know cats have minds of their own but a cat on the lap is a wondrous and calming way to stay warm.
8. Don't drink alcohol which slows down the circulation. Hands and feet will feel the effects first. Warming food and drink is the way to go.
9. Let in the sunshine. If you're blessed with a sunny day make sure curtains and blinds are fully open to get the benefit of those rays. After all, they've travelled 93,000,000 miles and it seems rude to block them out before they can warm you up.
10. Wear the jumper. This is Martin's favourite and may be all you need. If not, a warm hat, thick socks, and fingerless gloves, should guarantee total cosiness.
Your own way to stay warm with the thermostat at 18C? Let me know using the contact form.
Does your home have a condensation problem? Do you think it's impossible to cure condensation and mould?
You may be surprised that the way you heat your home can create condensation. But you shouldn't accept condensation as something you have to put up with. There are solutions out there and a little understanding of what's going on means you can probably avoid condensation all together.
Why is condensation something to be avoided? After all, drawing animal shapes or writing messages on steamy windows can be fun!
As the article states, mould arises from an excess of moisture. There are many reasons why there may be an excess of moisture in the home, but how to cure condensation and mould is the focus of this blog.
To understand how condensation forms we need to go back to school science lessons. The first lesson is that warm air can hold more moisture than cool air. We learned that when the warm air touches a cold surface, it rapidly cools and deposits some of the moisture it can no longer carry. This appears as condensation on the surface which, in the home, is usually a window or outside wall.
Every home is continuously adding moisture to the air: boiling kettles, running hot taps, drying the washing, and simply the occupants breathing, are all contributing factors. Ventilation helps stop the moisture build-up becoming excessive but condensation will still appear if warm, moist, air contacts a cold surface.
So let's look at the different ways home heating works, and whether condensation is more or less likely to occur depending on the type of heating you choose.
Conventional radiators, fan heaters and convectors
The first thing to understand is that, despite the name, the common wall mounted 'radiator' is mainly a convector. Convectors warm the air and set up circulation currents in the room. Circulation currents are created as the warm air (from the vanes at the back of the 'radiator') rises to the ceiling, gets pushed across the ceiling while cooling, and falls to floor level at the other side of the room.
Similarly, fan-assisted convector heaters and fan heaters heat the air directly and push warm air around the room.
We've seen from the science lesson above that circulating warm air will directly cause condensation when it comes into contact with cold surfaces. Problem areas are un-insulated walls and poorly glazed windows.
And there are other drawbacks. Convection currents mean that the coolest air will be felt as a draught at floor level even if windows and doors are tightly shut. Circulating air will also spread allergy-aggravating dust. See 'Why central heating radiators are bad for you'.
It's easy to see that if you were designing the perfect heating system, there would be no place for conventional radiators, fan heaters and convectors! Of course, most of us are unable to start with a clean sheet of paper and what we need is a simple change that can cure condensation and mould.
Radiant panels, underfloor heating, and on-floor heating
The second science lesson we need to take on board is that heat flows from hot to cold. This can either be by conduction, when 2 bodies are in contact, or radiation, which occurs when the 2 bodies are separated by air or even a vacuum. This is how the Sun warms the Earth from millions of miles away. How strongly it flows from one to the other depends on the difference in temperature, known as the 'temperature gradient'.
You are setting up a temperature gradient when you introduce a warm surface to a room. So long you are able to maintain the temperature of the warm surface, eventually the rest of the room will become just as warm assuming there is no rapid heat loss to the outside .
Most of us will have experienced how comfortable a well set-up underfloor heating system is. The floor is warm, every surface you touch is warm, and even the air is warm.
The heated floor is a 'radiant surface' and continually radiates warmth to the other cooler surfaces. In turn, the air in the room picks up warmth by being in contact with the surfaces. AND, MOST LIKELY, THERE WILL BE NO CONDENSATION.
This is because:
the air is not being artificially circulated
there are no cold surfaces on which condensation would form
This understanding gives us a clue how to avoid condensation: simply eliminate cold surfaces and don't promote warm air movement. Radiant heating from the floor or wall-mounted panels is ideal on both counts.
Radiant heating can cure condensation and mould
Assuming there is no easy way to eliminate the cold surfaces through insulation (if possible, always start with wall insulation, double-glazing etc. for energy efficiency reasons), then radiant heating will usually raise surface temperatures sufficiently so that condensation won't form. It helps if the cold surface has the ability to absorb and hold some warmth. In this respect a wall will be easier to warm than a single-glazed window.
If you don't have underfloor heating there are other effective ways you can introduce a warm radiant surface into a room. For example there are radiant panel heaters that can be fixed on the walls or ceiling, or mounted on castors to be wheeled where needed. Also RugBuddy under-rug heaters count as retro-fit radiant floor heating.
BeWarmer is running a trial this winter to record how effectively radiant heating is used to cure condensation and mould in a 1950's semi with un-insulated solid walls. Please check back to read about the the trial.
There's a new magazine aimed at freelancers and small home-business owners called The Homeworker.
Have you seen it?
It's beautifully produced and there's loads of interesting articles to read. In fact, it's so good that it has been shortlisted for 'Launch of the Year' by the British Society of Magazine Editors. Have a look at The Homeworker website here https://www.thehomeworker.com/
I'm delighted that RugBuddy was featured in the Home Edit section of the latest issue.
To celebrate, we took out an ad highlighting the virtues of a RugBuddy for anyone who works from home (see right).
This is what we said:
Add some warmth to your work
Boost productivity with RugBuddy under-rug heating
A RugBuddy is a little like an electric blanket, designed to be placed under a rug. Available in many different sizes, it’s perfect for use under your home-working desk or office, bringing warmth exactly where you need it – right under your feet.
RugBuddy is a completely silent, invisible, personal workspace heater. It keeps your working environment fresh, clear and warm, with no stuffy air and no distractions. A RugBuddy will transform any area within 20 minutes of being plugged in and works on any floor type, so simply relax and enjoy the warmth. And at just a few pence per hour to run, it’s extremely economical too, helping reduce your home’s heating bills by only heating the rooms you use.
Bring a little warmth into your working day!
Are you comfortably warm when working? If not take a look at how a RugBuddy makes an excellent under-desk heater.
I was invited to write an article for the Psychreg.org website to mark World Mental Health Day 2019 on 10th October.
Running a business like BeWarmer Ltd from home carries many of the same challenges that are faced by freelancers daily. I chose as my topic "7 Ways to Look After Your Mental Health and Well-being if You’re a Freelancer".
With World Mental Health Day coinciding with the start of Autumn's cooler weather in the UK, it is a good time to make sure you can stay comfortably warm while working. So, no surprises that I chose this as my first theme.
Most of us are lucky enough to have central heating. But if, like me, you work from one room then it is wasteful* to heat the rest of the home when it's unoccupied.
Having a RugBuddy under your desk or table is an economical way to stay warm and not have to worry about big bills.
Compared with other types of portable heater, RugBuddy is safe, silent, and healthy, and only costs a few pence per hour to run.
* There is a myth that it is better to keep the central heating on low rather than switching it off in the morning and back on again in the evening. Money Saving Expert has investigated and doesn't think this is true for most of us. Read the first Q. & A. on this page. And if you're doing it for your pet's benefit, you'd better read this.
The other 6 ways outlined in the article are
2. Avoid yo-yo marketing - what happens if you only do marketing when you're not busy
3. Keep active while working - the link between activity and mental health, and the benefits of balance balls!
4. Get paid what you’re worth - it's not just your time. And what about adding a results related element?
5. Get paid on time - how your 'marketing heartbeat' gives you confidence to ditch uncooperative clients
6. Eat good food you prepare yourself - it's an activity in itself and I've linked to some lovely recipes
7. Manage your time to leave time for yourself - achieve this, and all the above become easy!
A quick and flexible solution is an on-the-floor heater that you cover with a rug and simply plug in. Your flooring remains undisturbed and you can move the on-the-floor heater anywhere you need it in the house. You can even take it with you if you move. Try that with underfloor heating!
The RugBuddy under-rug heater, as it's known, works in the same way as the new electric underfloor heating systems described below. It's a bit like an electric blanket you simply spread out on the floor and cover with a rug.
RugBuddy is as powerful as underfloor heating systems (about 120 Watts per m2) and quickly warms the surface of the rug. It's an ideal solution where you would otherwise end up feeling cold after sitting for a while. Why not have one:
* in front of your favourite chair or sofa
* under the kitchen table
* at your workstation or desk
* in a conservatory or cold extension?
Running costs are low - about 4p per hour for a typical 125 x 160 cm RugBuddy - and when you get your electricity from renewable sources, electric heating is as environmentally friendly as you can get.
If you want something installed, a conventional water-based system involves ripping up the floors, laying out a maze of pipes, and finding space for a complicated manifold to connect to your boiler. And then you face a life of maintaining the boiler, valves, and pumps for it all to work. This is not viable, or attractive, to most people.
Instead many opt for electric floor heating which is a great choice when you are also changing your floor finish. Nowadays there are systems to go under tiles, wood, laminate, carpet, and even vinyl, with air and floor temperatures controlled in each room by the thermostat controller. See The Room by Room Heating Revolution for more on this aspect of electric floor heating.
The best electric systems sit on insulation directly under the floor finish. When switched on from cold, they quickly heat the floor surface. This responsiveness means the floor will also cool quickly when the thermostat controller signals the room is up to temperature - perfect should the sun start to stream through the windows.
New electric systems save you from the 'storage heater effect' you get with old systems set in a heavy concrete screed. The weight (thermal mass) of the screed means old systems take a long time to heat up, and they continue to give off heat even when the system has switched off. Understandably, old thermal mass systems have a troubled reputation for comfort and running costs.
So, we have 3 choices for bringing that underfloor heating feeling to our homes:
* a simple and effective on-the-floor plug in heater like RugBuddy
* a traditionally installed piped water system, powered by your boiler, requiring ongoing maintenance
* a modern electric system that responds quickly to the ambient temperature
We used to think gas central heating with wall mounted radiators was the cleanest and most economical way to comfortably heat the home. But the direction of travel is now firmly towards electric floor heating.
A typical end of season activity for me is to take a look back at customer feedback and see what we can improve for next year.
Part of my welcome to new customers is a short survey. I invite them to take the RugBuddy survey about 6 weeks after delivery when they have had a bit of time using their RugBuddy. I want to know how they are getting on.
One of the survey questions is "What 3 things do you like most about your RugBuddy?" There are no suggested answers, so the customers use their own words. This can be very revealing!
I've just done an analysis, grouping comments under various headings, and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.
There were just 2 suggestions for improvements: 'A longer lead' (it's 2.5m), and 'It could be warmer' (heat output at 120W/m2 is dictated by the need to conform to IEC tests, and is equivalent to installed underfloor heating). I'll ponder these a bit longer, but I believe we've got it about right.
The analysis also helps me understand which of RugBuddy's attributes are most valued.
Unsurprisingly for a heater, most comments relate to RugBuddy being 'Warm and Effective'. A massive 92% of respondents made positive comments relating to this.
But some of the other attributes - and selected customers' comments - may surprise you. Starting with 'Warm and Effective', here they are:
Warm and Effective - say 92% of respondents
"Early morning toastie feet while making coffee."
"I don’t go to bed with cold feet - previously unknown!"
"Constant heat for both feet and room"
"Seems to stop drafts from under couch"
"Makes a real difference to comfort of the whole room."
"Makes such a difference to the comfort in the room I use the most"
"The large sitting room feels so welcoming when people are seated, they never notice why they are warm. Never think about the cold on winter days when I’m working."
"My grandchildren are warm as toast playing on the floor"
"You can throw your clothes on top of it while you shower and they’re warm when you get out!"
"It keeps hubby’s feet warm"
Easy - say 33% of respondents
"It is so uncomplicated that even I can set it up and I’m no technician."
"Provides an easy way of using underfloor heating"
"Easy to use RCD is a welcome addition"
Cheap to Run - say 31% of respondents
"Low energy use. 80W but Works better than my 500w oil filled radiator."
"Cheaper than switching on an electric room heater."
Hidden - say 22% of respondents
"I appreciate the extra warmth without a bulky heater, which I have little room for in a small flat."
Main Heating on Less - say 18% of respondents
"We have been able to turn down the thermostat on our central heating (gas)."
"It warms at the right level. So I don’t turn up central heating. So partner who doesn’t like room hot (and also has cold feet) is happy too."
(To see what this might save you, go to Energy Saving Trust and scroll down to '7. Take control of your heating'. William)
Other attributes that were mentioned: Speed of Heating Up, Runs off Renewable Energy, Portable, Pets Like It, Safe, and the Service from BeWarmer Ltd.
Separate from the official RugBuddy survey, many customers write in with their Rugbuddy Reviews. And if you have any questions whatsoever, please contact me and I'll be pleased to help.
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.
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
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!
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10 Top Tips “How to get the best from a RugBuddy™”.