It's about time we started owning up to the fact that we are polluting our atmosphere at an alarming rate, and whilst we see the effects of global warming in the rapid melting of the ice-caps and erratic weather systems that dominate the planet, it's still too easy to dismiss it as someone else's problem.
We have a tendency as a people to say, well it's China, or a large-scale industrial plant that's doing the real damage – it's not us! But we have to realise that these processes which create the noxious gasses that poison our air, are a bi-product of an industry that is trying to keep up with our demands and needs at the lowest cost.
We need to start looking at home, on our doorstep, to see what we can do first and foremost. This will then have a rippling effect and spread throughout the rest of the Earth.
So the question is, “what can you do?”
I've done it – I'm sure you have too. You're a little tired and you can't be bothered to separate the cans from the rest of your rubbish so you lob it all in together proclaiming that “it's only one can – that's not going to matter”.
The problem is that we all do this. It's not only one can, it's a million. Two million. Three. Four. Before you know it there are more going into the landfills than recycling plants. You just have to commit yourself to doing it. It's not only cans either. You will find that most of your garbage can be recycled if you take it down to the local dump. So start here, start small.
We're using more electricity than we ever have before in human history. Practically everything we do nowadays (down to even reading a book!) is done with an electronic device which requires power to come from somewhere. In most cases, this is the burning of fossil fuels or natural gas which releases an incredible amount of CO2 and other harmful gases into the atmosphere – not to mention the radiation produced which is considerably more than nuclear power stations even!
Solar panels have become incredibly accessible and really quite affordable; there are even help to buy schemes that are available for those less well off. Excess energy produced can be pooled and shared amongst the community, which (if large enough) results in a pay back scheme. After a while they end up paying for themselves and go a long way to reducing your carbon footprint.
Almost always overlooked as a source of reducing our carbon footprint, forestry is a totally natural way for us to combat the amount of carbon monoxide that we produce through industrial processes. Acting as carbon sinks, sequestering the gas from the atmosphere, they purify our air and reduce the total amount of green house gases suffocating our planet.
“But what do forests have to do with me?” I hear you ask. Well, there are a great deal of charities that work almost exclusively on donations and volunteers, which have been established to preserve our already existing forests as well as to create new areas. The Forestry Commission is one such organisation, and a charity that we work closely with. At Oak Windows, we also plant a tree for every order placed with us – to give back to nature what we've taken away. We urge you to get involved too!
Green resources and practices are very close to our heart and we want everyone play their part. If you have any further opinions or ideas on ways in which we can preserve the planet, then please leave a comment in the section below.
Image by Joshua Mayer
You'll often hear this term bandied around websites specialising in windows, doors or outdoor timber structures with very little explanation as to what it is, and fundamentally what it does. Simply put, it is the combination of three or more layers of timber which are glued together in order to combat the constant threat of swelling.
Whilst we always take steps to prevent this happening within timber products, through drying the timber or treating it with a variety of finishes like paints and varnishes, the problem will always be there. This is because wood is what we call a 'hygroscopic material', meaning that it will constantly try and reach an equilibrium with the moisture content of the surrounding atmosphere.
If you look into the cellular structure of timber you see that there are cavities between the cells, in which water is pooled when it becomes more humid. This is so that trees, when they are growing, can absorb wood without saturating the cells which would otherwise kill them. The problem is that once they are dead, they still do it.
When timber takes on excess water we call it 'movement across the grain', meaning that the timber swells in a certain and predictable direction. By multi-layering sheets of timber, with each layer prone to moving in a certain direction when it swells, we effectively negate the effects of water absorption across the structure, removing the threat of the windows jamming or warping.
Advantages of using this technique are many, with its design features appearing at the top of the list. Utilising mutli-layered timber means that we still get to retain the product's organic beauty, whilst also gaining a material that is far stronger and more reliable than single layered timber frames.
It also means that we don't have to seek unsustainable alternatives which can also give us the same reliability. So we're winning on both fronts!
Multi-layered timber is as easy to work with as any solid wood, though the cost is slightly higher and the prep time slightly longer. However, it does mean that we basically don't have to worry about water absorption any more; meaning that we can create intricate and intuitive designs that we otherwise couldn't. With an increased guarantee, greater durability and further scope for design, it's quite simple the way to go!
Replacing any window system in your property is a big job, but moving changing from casement to sash, or visa versa, is a bigger job than most. This is because rather than being able to retrofit the new windows within pre-existing frames, the old window unit will need to be removed completely and replaced entirely.
This has its benefits and its disadvantages, and there are certain factors that need to be considered before you go ahead and order a new set of windows.
When going from sash to casement, or the other way round, you will greatly alter the façade of your building. This can require planning permission, especially in a listed building or a property in a conservation area. So before you get started, you definitely ought to check to see whether you need to get the Local Authority's go-ahead.
So what do you need to consider when you want to replace your casement windows with sash?
The most obvious is aesthetic. Sash was the go-to design of the 18th and 19th centuries and found everywhere in the Victorian times. As with most things, their popularity died out in the last century, with many home owners opting to install casement windows between the 60's and the 90's.
However, we are now seeing a cultural revival of sash windows which better suit period properties, and can really enhance the way that your property looks. That said, casement windows generally come in more ornate designs which can further impact the individual look of your building.
Another thing to consider is expense and time. Properties which were designed to house sash windows generally have different architectural layouts compared to those that were designed for the installation of casement fittings.
This means that when replacing one design with the other, the designers and installation team will need to consider how the windows will fit into your property. As such, replacements of this type often require bespoke designs to get the best results. This will cost more than your average like for like replacement, but will give your property a real aesthetic boost.
Whilst all of our windows will provide sterling energy efficiency, it is worth noting that the design of casement windows does make them intrinsically more energy efficient and more secure. They will also offer greater ventilation as they open far wider than Sash designs, however the sash's fixed slider means that you can keep the window open just a crack, securely, in order to let a gentle flow of air into your property.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to each window design, but the choice fundamentally comes down to what you want your property to look like. Just remember to speak to the local authority before you start ordering up replacement windows!
Image by B.C. Angell