The Convenient Dog Wash

I live right by the woods and often get ‘attacked’ by dogs that look like they’ve been bathing in mud. As mucky as their paw marks make my clothes, I can’t help wondering what kind of mess they make once they get home. Perhaps their owners would appreciate a German idea I recently came across.

Lars Schutze has located Germany’s first Dog Wash right next to the car wash he already owns. For less than five euros, owners can foam, shower and dry their pets while they’re waiting for their car to be cleaned. Given that bathing a dog usually involves a huge amount of mess and inconvenience that seems like a good deal.

I can see no reason why something like this wouldn’t work here. Taking the dog for a walk and then arriving back home with a pristine car and a spotless dog seems a pretty good combination to me. Time for someone to reach a mutually beneficial deal with a car wash owner.

Watch Out For The Elephant In The Room

If most people were accused of selling s**t they’d be offended, but Miroslav Bobek isn’t most people. He’s the director of Prague Zoo in the Czech Republic, a place where they’ve just launched a lucrative sideline selling Elephant dung.

For around $4 you can buy a bucket containing 3 pounds of dung. Apparently there’s nothing finer for your garden. Given that an adult African elephant can produce 300lbs of dung a day, there’s no shortage of supply, and a quick calculation suggests that each elephant could be worth $400 a day in dung alone.

I’m not suggesting you buy an elephant for the purposes of selling its dung; I  suspect the food that produces the dung would more than offset any profit…even if you had room in your back garden for the elephant!!  However, this story is a reminder to give some thought to any waste products which are created as a result of your business or enterprise. Could there be a market for them? Could they be converted into something saleable? Could you be taking profits to the tip…or worse still, paying someone else to take them away?

Arla Tenancy Tips

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has come up with some tips to help tenants ‘identify key property features that could help keep them warm this winter.’ As a landlord, it might be a good idea to check you have the answers before the questions are asked.

Ask about insulation. When viewing a property, be sure to find out what kind of insulation is installed and how recently this was put in. While factors like loft insulation may not be immediately visible, they can make a huge difference to a property’s heat retention, especially if the property is a period conversion rather than a new build.

Look at a copy of the EPC. An energy performance certificate (EPC) should be available for prospective tenants’ consideration as part of the viewing process. This can give a good indication of how energy efficient a property is. The closer to ‘A’, the more likely it is to hold in heat and register lower utility bills.

Don’t forget the boiler. A new boiler can make a significant difference to heating bills; therefore it is always worth asking when the model was installed. This can also be a factor if there are multiple showers in the property, which can be a drain on hot water levels. All boilers should be regularly serviced by a certified gas fitter, and be sure to check the legally required documentation before signing any tenancy agreement. If the boiler has not been checked recently, ask the landlord to agree to a check-up before you move in.

Paying the bills. While many landlords will state that electricity and gas suppliers should not be changed in the tenancy agreement, it is always a good idea to check. If they do allow you to change supplier, it is always possible that you could find a cheaper deal, meaning there is less pressure to use the heating sparingly.
If you are not permitted to change supplier, asking the current tenants about their experiences of running costs is a useful way of getting a broad idea of how much bills will be in a property, especially if there is a marked increase during the winter months.

Double glazing and curtains. Many properties lose heat through windows, so always check the glazing in each room. Single glazing or larger windows can often make rooms colder, and this should be a key consideration for winter months. Curtains can be one solution to this problem, but are only effective if they are reasonably thick and are fitted to the window. For added warmth, be sure to ask the landlord or letting agent if they are happy for you to p

Heating Checks

The AA has offered some advice on household heating off the back of the report from the AA Home Emergency Response Service that between September 2011 and November 2011, the number of customers with boiler problems more than doubled.

If you haven’t already done so, turn your heating on for a few minutes each week to check it’s working properly.

Make sure that your pipes are properly insulated – this will help protect them from freezing in the winter.

If your pipes do freeze, thaw them out gently using hot water bottles or a hairdryer.

Keeping your heating on a constant, low heat throughout the day could reduce the chance of a breakdown and help maintain a consistent temperature.

Leave your loft hatch open slightly to allow warm air to circulate if you’re away.

Locate your main internal stopcock so you can switch it off in the event of an emergency. It is usually under the kitchen sink or where the service pipe enters the building.

Heating Tips & Tactics

The Heating Helpline at www.heatinghelpline.org.uk is offering some money-saving tips.

If you have less than 10cm of insulation in your loft you’ll be wasting energy. Top the insulation up to 27cm and you could save around £150 a year.

Since the 1930s, most houses have been built with an air cavity between two outer walls. If you get this gap filled with insulating foam you could save well over £150 on your heating bills.

Floorboards lose a lot of heat – insulation seal between the gaps can save you about £25 per year.

Insulate your hot water cylinder. Fitting a jacket at least 75mm thick costs very little and you could save more than £50 each year. Lagging all your hot water pipes could also save you over £25 a year.

Badly fitted doors and windows mean avoidable heat loss. Draught-proofing doors and windows by sealing gaps will help you save energy.

Unused fireplaces are one of the biggest causes of lost heat. If you’re not using your chimney but don’t want to board it up try a chimney balloon – they’re easy to inflate and last for years.

There is a free helpline at 0800 810 8303 or you can go to www.heatinghelpline.org.uk.