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EU energy legislation: it’s time to steady the ship



The survival of the eurozone continues to dominate the headlines with the bailout of Spain’s banks, and Italy and Cyprus looking to be the next countries to ask for help.

Meanwhile, the European Commission is busying itself with complex legislation for a pan-European low-carbon economy and targets for the uptake in renewable technology. Given the economic situation today and the eurozone’s record all-time high unemployment rate, it seems pretty clear to me that such complex policies are luxuries, not essentials for the UK and EU.

Firstly, as we are witnessing on a daily basis, EU-wide policies are not necessarily the best way forward at the current time. Secondly, the focus is all wrong: rather than pursuing carbon savings, we should be looking to cut energy waste through energy efficiency measures.

The European Commission, however, is set on standardised carbon reduction policies that seem designed to meet political rather than consumer needs. The problem is that there is a fundamental flaw in the data on which their policies are based: their policies rely on the results of product tests that were carried out in idealised conditions that enabled existing product technologies to meet A-rated European harmonised standards.

Take, for example, gas boilers. They are sold to consumers as being over 85% efficient, but this figure is a maximum efficiency achieved under laboratory conditions (i.e., operating at lower temperatures and half load) and rarely achieved in real conditions.

UK Building Regulations downgrades these efficiencies from band B to band C but the UK government does not properly inform the public. Why not? Maybe because they feel it better to go along with the European philosophy of overselling their achievements to promote their own self-interests even though this means hoodwinking the public.

It would be far better, then, to focus on reducing energy consumption which would lead to both lower fuel bills and real carbon savings – benefitting the consumer as well as the politicians.

However, at no time did the Commission agree to energy reduction targets. Can you imagine Angela Merkel promoting the European energy generators on the notion that they should sell less energy? That’s clearly ridiculous and at no time have the energy companies been put under any real pressure to actively reduce energy sales – which is what they really need to do in order to successfully reduce carbon emissions.

Today it’s like the captain of the Titanic (that’s the good ship Europe) telling his passengers to go back to their cabins as all is under control. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s be clear, the European ship is seriously holed below the water line and the advice should be to man the life boats as each country has to row its own boat. I think it’s high time that we prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Pretence of continued bureaucracy masking the real emergency would be like drowning in our beds.

Improving energy efficiency would be a cost effective, straightforward method of stabilising the UK energy markets and would simultaneously avoid putting consumer energy bills at the mercy of EU policy makers.

At least the UK government appears to be taking a stance in the energy debate, looking set to clash with the EU over the unrealistic 2020 renewables targets. The next step is for it to listen to experts in the energy sector, take a stand and simplify legislation for the sake of the homeowner – even if that means risking the wrath of the powerful energy giants.

By focusing on improving energy efficiency, the government can both simplify legislation and secure the energy market at home, avoiding ‘going down with the ship’ as EU-wide energy policies continue to falter.

Chris Farrell is the managing director of Zenex Technologies, a British company founded in 2003 specialising in innovative energy saving products for both the domestic and commercial markets. This post originally featured on his blog, The Green Entrepreneur.

Further reading:

Will the green deal energy efficiency scheme work?

Renewable energy: the foundation of a blue and green tomorrow

Chris Farrell is the managing director of Zenex Energy, a British company founded in 2003 specialising in innovative energy saving products for both the domestic and commercial markets


What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?




shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy



Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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