Best heating for cost-of-living crisis

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You don’t need me to tell you we’re experiencing unprecedented rises in energy costs.

But, now is a good time to go over how a RugBuddy or FootBuddy can help minimise the impact of the price hikes. There are possible health benefits, too!

This is quite a long post as it is a complex subject and I wanted to cover as many of the influencing factors as possible. But first, here's a typical customer comment:

"Just to say that I am about to repeat my order [below] because the RugBuddys we bought from you last Autumn have been brilliant and with the worry of how to keep warm this winter, I know a third one is just what we need." Sarah (Glos) August 2022

The basic principle is that the RugBuddy™ or FootBuddy provides a warm, radiant surface, where you need it most in your room.

Introducing radiant heating allows people to turn-down, or even turn-off, their central heating. You may already have experienced this yourself as a customer.

There have been many tests and the website http://www.healthyheating.com/ champions the usefulness of radiant panels (which is what RugBuddy and FootBuddy are) in achieving a comfortable natural environment.

Let’s take a closer look at the main considerations to see where the benefits, including energy savings, arise:

Understanding Comfort at Lower Temperatures - Thermal Comfort and ‘Feeling Warm’

Radiant heat allows us to feel warm at lower air temperatures (typically 2 to 3 degC lower) than with conventional heating.

When people say they are feeling cold, what they mean is the rate of heat loss from their body is uncomfortably high. In other words, heat loss due to external factors is significantly exceeding the rate at which the body is generating its own warmth from metabolism.

Body heat can easily be conducted away, e.g. standing on a cold floor or sitting on a cold surface. However, most of it is radiated away from your (warm) body to colder surfaces surrounding you.

Air temperature only plays a small part where it is in direct contact with your skin. (Note, though, that moving air has more effect, increasing heat transfer as it moves across the skin - hence the cooling effects of draughts).

Using a RugBuddy™ to create a radiant surface at the perfect temperature at floor level creates a natural environment of thermal comfort.

Radiant skin losses from the neck, head, and hands, and body/clothing, plus conductive losses through the feet, are quickly brought to a level that has been shown in repeated tests to be most comfortable. This is where the human body is in balance with its surrounds and you ‘feel warm’.

(Source: http://www.healthyheating.com/Thermal_Comfort_Working_Copy/HH_physiology_intro.htm#.YrxF6-zMLIU)

Contrast this with a typical central heating systems using radiators:

  • Convection draughts leave you with cold feetDespite the name, conventional radiators act mainly as convectors (+80%). Air is warmed as it passes over the vanes at the back of the radiator. The warm air rises, cools down because of heat loss, falls to the floor, and the cooler air is drawn in at the bottom.
  • The convection currents inevitably lead to cool air currents at floor level - experienced as draughts around the ankles. Even if your windows and doors are fully draught-proofed, you will feel convection currents as a cooling draught.
  • The air warmed by radiators eventually warms surfaces in the room and some comfort is achieved but not nearly as quickly as a radiant source at floor level. The air however must be quite a number of degrees warmer to do so (creating more heat loss). In addition, moving air has a cooling effect making you acutely aware of those low level draughts.

Radiant heat allows us to feel warm at lower air temperatures than with conventional heating. Keeping the air temperature as low as possible reduces convection draughts, reduces energy losses to the outside, and saves on your bills. Here is a summary why you should consider introducing plug-in radiant heating:

Energy Losses 1

Lower air temperature means less heat loss through walls, windows, and ceilings, because of the reduced difference with the temperature outside.

Energy Losses 2

Having a tailored warm floor area in the middle of the room for personal comfort reduces energy loss at walls and windows.

Speed to Comfort

A low power electric radiant heater like RugBuddy or Footbuddy is quickly up to its operating temperature.

Compare that to using a flame in a gas boiler to power your radiators. Did you know a typical central heating system contains 70 – 100 litres of water. That’s approximately 50 kettles-full! And once the water is up to temperature, it needs to overcome the cold metal in the radiators before it will start to heat the air in the room.

Health Impact 1

cure condensation and mould H2OAvoiding, or reducing, convection from wall-mounted radiators in turn avoids condensation and mould growth in wall corners and floor.

Junctions between walls, ceilings and floors often suffer from what’s known as the cold bridge effect. This occurs where the building’s construction prevents proper insulation of the junctions and internal surfaces will be colder.

By directly warming surfaces, radiant heating can further help avoid the formation of condensation.

Health Impact 2

Convection currents disturb dust particles and mites. Asthma sufferers are very allergic to these. By reducing or avoiding convection currents, and utilising radiant heat, dust disturbance can be reduced to near zero.

Greening of Energy for Heating

Access to renewable energy is usually in the form of electricity.  Government policy is encouraging the use of electricity for heating. Electric heating is nearly 100% efficient in converting to resistive heat.

Electricity is a clean and healthy way of transporting energy and is 100% efficient with correct use. National Grid transmission losses are about 1.7% and a further 5-8% is lost over the distribution networks.

Electricity users do not generate CO2, however the generation facilities often do. But as more electricity is from carbon free renewable resources this energy source becomes cleaner and more environmentally sustainable.

Photo Voltaic (PV) generation at home is growing in leaps and bounds. PV energy is clean and so is electricity used in the home.

Wind generation at sea as well as sea tidal is growing.

Nuclear power is CO2 clean but there are political issues surrounding locations and waste disposal.

SpainBuddy.com Reviews RugBuddy Under-rug Heater

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Did you know we now ship throughout the EU from a new satellite base in the Netherlands? Not only that, we've already had a review on SpainBuddy.com!

There are good reasons to have an EU satellite base:

  • This means we - you! - avoid customs delays and duties to pay which may arise shipping to our EU customers from the UK.
  • EU customers will now get EU specification RugBuddies complete with Schuko 2-pin plugs.

(It's business as usual for UK customers who will continue to be served from the UK base with UK specification RugBuddies and FootBuddies.)

RugBuddy and Underlay bundleSatisfied customers throughout Europe know RugBuddy transforms a cold floor and can stay in place all year round without being visible or getting in the way.

Yet it's always ready to radiate gentle warmth at the flick of a switch. Perfect for those chilly days we all get wherever we are in Europe.

Read more about the RugBuddy under-rug heater here.

SpainBuddy.com

Already friends in Spain are celebrating the news and have published a review on the much-loved SpainBuddy.com (no relation!) website.

You can read the EU RugBuddy under-rug heater review here https://www.spainbuddy.com/rugbuddy-under-rug-heater-review/

If you are an English-speaker visiting, moving to, or living in Spain then you will find SpainBuddy.com an engaging read and useful resource of tips and 'whats on' guides.

The website has 1000s of pages covering general Spain information, news in English, tourism tips, relocation advice, Spanish recipes, reviews and general information, local business directory and much more besides.

Why not give it a try?

Best Type of Rug Over a RugBuddy

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I’m often asked which the best type of rug over a RugBuddy.

The first answer has got be “a rug you like”, but it is also worth considering the TOG value of the rug.

TOG Values

Rug over a RugBuddyMost of us are familiar with TOG ratings on our duvets. The higher the TOG number the more insulating the duvet is and the more easily it will keep us warm as the temperature in the room drops.

With a rug over a RugBuddy, the TOG of the rug tells us how easily the warmth of the RugBuddy will be conducted to the surface of the rug.

A higher TOG rug may take longer to warm through, especially if the rug is heavy.

Most of the time you won’t be aware of the TOG of the rug and, in fact, that information may not be readily available from the supplier.

How to Choose A Rug Over a RugBuddy

Here are some pointers to choosing a suitable rug:

  • Most woven and cut pile rugs are suitable
  • Heavier weight rugs will have a higher TOG
  • Thicker rugs will tend to have a higher TOG
  • Any rug marked ‘suitable for underfloor heating’ will be OK and have a TOG of between 1 and 2.5

Ideally, the rug should have a low TOG value (1 – 1.5), and the underlay should have a high TOG value (2 – 3).

Avoid These Rugs

  • A felt rug or one with felt backing (felt will have too high a TOG)
  • A rug with foam backing
  • A foam playmat
  • A shag pile rug
  • Animal fur or fleece (animal skins such as cow hide are OK)

NOTE: The maximum TOG value we recommend for use with a RugBuddy is 3.0.  The vast majority of rugs fall well below this maximum.

Click for more RugBuddy FAQs

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)

 

 

Conservatory Too Cold To Use This Easter?

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Conservatory heating

We love conservatories. The way natural light floods in and how they link the house with the garden beyond, often makes them our favourite place to relax. But only if they have efficient conservatory heating.

Conservatory heatingWithout exception, they are hard to heat. This blog looks at the different ways you can add conservatory heating and use your conservatory more this year – starting now!

Building Regulations now demand that conservatory heating should be independent of the house’s central heating.

So, what are the options for an independent system?

Electric floor heating – in-floor, or on-floor

It’s probably no surprise that I’m a fan of electric floor heating. Here are the reasons why:

  • You get warmth where you need it – from under your feet
  • The heaters are hidden, freeing up wall space and avoiding clutter in the room
  • Modern electric floor heating is quick to heat up – and cool down when the sun comes out!
  • It is silent in operation and doesn’t stir up air currents and draughts

The question is, do you go for an ‘in-floor’ or an ‘on-floor’ conservatory heating solution?

‘In-floor’ heating is a DIY option if you are planning a new floor finish – tiles, laminate or wood are all ideal – but this is an unrealistic prospect in time for Easter!

Under-rug HeaterTo have a heating solution up-and-running ‘out of the box’, by far the best option is ‘on-floor’ heating. This is also known as ‘under-rug heating’ and is  type of heated floor mat.

You lay the under-rug heater out on an underlay and cover with a rug. Simply plug in (it comes fitted with the standard 3-pin plug) and start enjoying floor heating.

Floor heating has never been so easy with this conservatory heater.

Electric conservatory radiators

wall mounted electric radiatorModern electric radiators can be quite stylish and are worth considering if you have the wall space. They heat the air through convection just as central heating radiators in the house do.

Of course, there are pitfalls with wall mounted radiators:

  • Warm air rises so you can be sure that the warmest air is up by the roof! Worse, the resulting convection currents soon make their presence felt with a cold draught at floor level
  • It takes time for the warm air to warm the surfaces in the conservatory, so, if you have a particularly cold floor it will likely remain cold unless you run the radiator continuously

Wall mounted radiant panels for your conservatory

Wall mounted radiant panelRadiant warmth is what you experience from a good floor heating system, so we know this can be a comfortable way to provide heating.

If you’ve got the wall space, wall mounted radiant panels are well worth investigating but they won’t warm a cold floor, and most of us feel the cold through our feet first….

Also, with a fixed radiant panel, you might find it difficult to find the ‘sweet spot’ distance from the panel where you are most comfortable. And, if you are in the ‘sweet spot’, what about everyone else in the conservatory? At least with floor heating everyone gets the same benefit.

Freestanding electric conservatory heaters – fan heaters, oil filled radiators

Fan heaterPlugging in a fan heater is the traditional quick fix.

They can be powerful (but expensive to run) and can quickly warm the air in the conservatory. This is fine so long as you don’t mind the noise, air movement, and the risk of tripping over the darn thing!

Because of heat loss you will probably need to keep the fan heater running while you are sitting in the conservatory. As with an electric radiator, it takes a fan heater a long time to take the chill off a cold floor.

Oil filled radiatorOil filled radiators are a better option if you need something running continuously in the background.

They are cheaper to run than fan heaters and are silent in operation. They just don’t have much oomph, but I know many people quite like them.

Conservatory heatingSo there you have it – time to put some heating in the conservatory and get more use out of it this year.

I hope these tips go some way to helping you make a choice of the best portable electric heater so you benefit from a nice and cosy space whatever the weather and time of year.

Case Study – Efficient Electric Heating

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I live in an area where most people have easy access to mains gas. So I was surprised to find out that well over 2 Million households in the UK cannot connect to the gas grid (source: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy). To keep costs down, these households need efficient electric heating.

Relying on electricity for primary heating has a major impact on their bills. Energy Saving Trust points out that electricity cost per unit is up to three times as expensive as gas – ouch!

But new efficient electric heating technology helps bridge this running cost gap by delivering heating comfort with lower power consumption than traditional systems.

Yesterday I was delighted to get an email from one of my customers that demonstrates this perfectly. This is what Jill wrote:

efficient electric heating“I only have electricity and radiator heating is quite expensive to run.
I like the idea of underfloor heating, particularly since I sit on the floor quite a lot but its not an expense I’m prepared to go to for a house I’ll only be in for a year or two.
When I came across the RugBuddy I was interested but somewhat wary because I’d never heard of anything quite like it. After a lot of internal debate I decided to try it.
It arrived very quickly, rapidly followed by the underlay. Impressive since it was the week before Christmas!
After a few days I was even more impressed. I was sitting knitting with warm feet or lounging on the floor watching TV with the radiators virtually turned off and I’m toasty warm, there is ice and snow outside!
The short version is that I was dubious because it’s a new thing but I’m wildly impressed and would recommend it to anyone.”

The importance of efficient electric heating should not be overlooked:

  • Renewable energy from solar, wind, nuclear, is only going to be delivered to your home in the form of electricity
  • The Paris Climate Agreement is destined to severely limit the use of natural gas as a domestic fuel

I find it remarkable, and very short sighted, that current building regulations don’t insist on electric heating for new builds. One day, perhaps.

Whether this happens or not, we will continue to invest in efficient electric heating like the RugBuddy portable electric heater, and our responsive installed heaters TileWarm (under tiles) and WoodBWarmer (under laminate or wood).

We know efficient electric heating makes lives more comfortable.

 

Guests this Christmas? 5 ways to avoid crowded house stress

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Having friends and family over for Christmas is a great tradition. What could be more heartwarming than a house full of your nearest and dearest enjoying festive cheer?

Guests this Christmas play games in a room warmed by a RugBuddy under rug heater

But when there’s not enough room for everyone to relax and enjoy themselves, the perfect get-together can quickly unravel because of crowded house stress.

Show you are the perfect host by giving your guests this Christmas the space they need.

These 5 space creating tips make it easy for everyone to get along!

  1. Make an unheated extension room, or conservatory, warm and welcoming with a RugBuddy under rug heater. If you’re lucky enough to have this extra space – use it! Switch on the RugBuddy (it’s a bit like a heated floor mat) and people will think you’ve got under floor heating. It only costs a few pence per hour to run – a fraction of other portable heaters.
  2. Make sure you have enough chairs. It’s tiresome to stand for too long, or only be offered the choice of a sofa arm or the floor, to sit on. If your guests are driving to you, ask if they have folding chairs they could bring. It’s the season of goodwill so beg, or borrow – just don’t steal!
  3. Give your guests places to put their things where they can be confident they’ll find them later. This means taking a few minutes to clear surfaces and to free up some hanging space; by the front door for coats, and in a wardrobe for glam Christmas outfits.
  4. When guests are staying over they will undoubtedly bring with them a bag or small suitcase. To avoid floor clutter why not invest in a folding suitcase rack for that authentic guesthouse experience?
  5. Decide who gets the put-me-up or sofabed. Assuming this is in communal space, you need to think who is most likely to go to bed last or get up earliest. It’s probably not Granny – but it may be you.

There’s no time like the present to make sure you’ve thought all this through. Why not start by taking a look at how a RugBuddy under rug heater can transform a cold room into a place where guests this Christmas will want to linger.

Underlay is Essential Under a RugBuddy. The Reasons May Surprise You.

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Rug Underlay under RugBuddyWhile reading the main RugBuddy page on this website, you may have been wondering why a rug underlay is necessary.

There are a number of different reasons and they vary according to the circumstances. Some are common sense but other reasons are of a technical nature according to the floor surface and the fact that you are putting a heated floor mat on top..

4 Reasons why underlay is essential

1. On concrete, stone or tiled floor direct, you use an anti-slip underlay for your safety and/or a thicker underlay to improve RugBuddy performance.
2. On laminate and solid woods you use a good underlay of an anti-slip nature for your safety and to help limit temperatures ( 27ºC max) on the flooring surface. This is to protect laminate and wood texture/treatments/finishes.
3. On carpeted flooring you use at least an anti-creep underlay to avoid the RugBuddy (and covering rug) “walking” on the fixed carpet pile.
4. On vinyl (PVC) you use a good underlay of an anti-slip nature for your safety and to help limit the vinyl temperature to remain within manufacturer specifications (27ºC).

Rug Underlay

There is more information on rug underlay in RugBuddy FAQs

Read about the underlays we sell:

Super All Surface Fleece Rug Underlay

Premium Hard Floor Rug Underlay

Please call me on the number at the top of the screen if you have any questions about rug underlay.

When it’s too hot for heaters…try a wildlife pond!

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Selling heaters – even one as innovative as RugBuddy under-rug heater – is always going to be seasonal. Having just enjoyed(?) the warmest June day for some time, I don’t expect to be selling many this month.

But I do have another product that dovetails neatly with my BeWarmer business. RugBuddies sell well in Autumn and Winter, while this other product peaks in Spring and Summer giving me a balanced spread of activity through the year.

In its own way, this other product is every bit as innovative and unique as RugBuddy. It is well designed, solves a problem, requires no costly installation, and has environmental credentials.

The differences are that it lives outside in the garden, is definitely NOT compatible with electricity, and is not hidden from view (unless you want it to be).

Lifepond wildlife pondIt’s called Lifepond. It’s a freestanding small wildlife pond that sits on the ground – a patio or deck are ideal – and is designed to provide a viable habitat for a range of garden wildlife.

Add water, some aquatic soil and marsh plants, and you’ll be amazed at the little creatures that will soon be calling it home! If you’re lucky the Lifepond wildlife pond may attract a frog or two, and the water can be a welcome feature for visiting birds.

Wildlife in towns and cities needs a bit of help. The Lifepond wildlife pond can really make a difference. Why not take a look?