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Christmas Will Result In Brits Taking On £6.4 Billon In Debt

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presents by andrew butitta via flickr

Research released by comparethemarket.com has found that millions need their credit cards to fund this year’s Christmas.

The research found that Brits who celebrate Christmas expect to spend £640 on average over the festive season. Over a fifth (22%) anticipate that they will pay for the majority of their expenses by credit card, suggesting that those that celebrate Christmas are set to take on a net debt of £6.4 billion nationwide this season*.

The cost of energy is of particular concern to households this Christmas. With more energy used on TVs and gadgets, cooking, Christmas lights and central heating, four in ten Brits celebrating Christmas (39%) imagine that their household energy bill post-Christmas will be more expensive than their bill before Christmas, and anticipate an increase of nearly £55. This equates to a £960 million additional energy spend nationwide. Further to this, a quarter of people intend to ration their energy use over Christmas to try and keep energy bills low.

In fact, fixed energy tariffs have risen by £100 on average over the last month**, suggesting households could be in for a post-Christmas bill shock – a worrying statistic given that 42% said they would be concerned about the impact an energy bill hike would have on their finances.

The findings echo the Bank of England’s recent warning that British households are taking on the highest levels of debt in over a decade, with over £190 billion owed on credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts – 11% more than a year ago***.

Around 27% of respondents took on debt last year to pay for Christmas expenses and of those, over a fifth (21%) have yet to pay this off in full. It seems like the increase in consumer credit could be set to continue; over a third (35%) expect Christmas to be more expensive this year compared to twelve months ago.

Some families are taking measures to keep costs as low as possible this Christmas.

Over a third of respondents (34%) will try to save money by redeeming reward and loyalty points, a quarter (26%) will be putting on an extra jumper rather than turning up the heating and nearly a fifth (19%) will turn the thermostat down or off completely to save money. Nearly one in ten have sought good deals by shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday and a fifth have drawn up a Christmas budget.

comparethemarket.com’s top five tips for a cost-effective Christmas:

• Switching annual car and home insurance saves a family an average of more than £330 a year, whilst switching energy provider saves an average of £327 per year. The combined saving of over £650 could offset the total expected cost of Christmas.

• Monitor energy usage carefully to ensure you’re using energy in the most efficient way (using devices like Loop can help you).

• Turn off devices which aren’t in use. TVs, radios and other electronic devices use energy even when on standby so make sure they are unplugged and enjoy the energy savings.

• Put your Christmas tree lights on a timer so they turn on when it grows dark and off when you go to bed. You could also invest in fibre-optic lights which are far more energy efficient.

• Make sure your finances offer you decent benefits; some credit card providers offer 0% interest credit cards for up to 48 months (administration fees apply).

Peter Earl, Head of Energy at comparethemarket.com, said:

“The cost of Christmas is set to fuel a credit binge across Britain this year. With the stress of present buying and finding the perfect turkey, many people forget that energy can be a significant cost at Christmas. Whether you are turning up the thermostat to keep granny warm or plugging in the latest electronic gadget, energy use can rise quickly.

“There are lots of ways to be energy efficient at Christmas, such as using smart meters to monitor usage or turning off devices which aren’t in use. Changing energy provider can save households on average £327 a year, but our research shows that only 6% of people plan to switch or have recently switched to save money this Christmas. Indeed, switching your energy provider alone would save a family, on average, more than half of their total expected Christmas expenditure.”

Environment

How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener

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green shipping industry

Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.

Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner

There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.

Reduce Emissions

A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.

As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.

Better Port Management

As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.

Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.

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Features

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

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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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