Unfortunately, summer 2021 hasn’t quite panned out as we’d all hoped so far in the UK. However, for most of us it will almost certainly top last year when the country was largely in lockdown.
With the country stuck inside for most of 2020, we had a lot more time spent close to our neighbours. For some people, that is not necessarily a good thing!
According to councils across the UK, over 1.3 million complaints were made against neighbour noise, nuisance and anti-social behaviour since 2016.
Funnily enough, the number of complaints increased by 28% in 2020 compared to the yearly average.
This is based on data provided to us at The Solar Centre by councils, as part of our recent research into neighbour disputes in the UK. While many people have used lockdown to work on their garden, we thought it would be interesting to see how the extra time at home would affect neighbour relationships – and the results haven’t disappointed!
Did you know that today is the start of Big Energy Saving Week 2021? This annual campaign aims to help people cut back on fuel bills and make their homes more fuel efficient.
So, we thought we should take a closer look at renewable energy in Britain – naturally, we investigated solar power. Which cities in England are taking the biggest strides towards a sustainable future?
To find out, we have been busy gathering information from city councils all across Britain. This data will help give us a better idea of the areas in England, Scotland and Wales that are showing the most interest in solar energy.
We wanted to see not only how much energy each council is producing via solar power, but the amount of recent investment put in as well. Some city councils have spent big outlays on solar energy in the past and as such, they already have good solar production in place. Others have spent consistently in recent years and will see the full benefits in the next few decades. It is clear to see the emphasis on solar power investment in some cities compared to others though.
It is interesting to discover how much your local area is doing in terms of solar power – the results may surprise you! You can see for yourself, with our interactive dataset here. We have put together an interactive map of the UK to display the results. Find out which council has invested most, which area has equipped the most buildings with PV panels and which city produces the most solar energy for their council.
Harrowing images this week revealed the extent of the damage caused by the West Coast wildfires. Apocalyptic scenes in San Francisco show the skyline glowing orange as shocked residents look on.
It is the latest reminder of the devastating impact we are having on our planet – with the fires raging across the West Coast following the recent heat waves. The vast majority of wildfires in the US are manmade, often caused by car exhaust fumes igniting nearby vegetation.
While these fires are common in the West Coast of America and in Australia, among others, imagine what it might look like if these events occurred in more places around the world.
These images, made using Photoshop, show what could happen to other major cities and landmarks if they suffer this sort of devastation in the future:
It’s been a long hard year for everyone so far, but on the bright side – it’s summer. And while there is still a lot of work to do, life is starting to move slowly back towards normality. Summer holidays plans in 2020 have taken a hit so many people will be hoping for a staycation, and if you live in the UK that can only mean one thing – a trip to the seaside.
The question is, where can you find the best seaside in the UK? We set out to find the answer. All of us at The Solar Centre want everybody to stay safe this summer and hope that our guide to Britain’s seaside towns will help you pick out some hidden gems and find the best beaches near you, which might be a bit quieter than some of the big names. Whatever you choose to do this summer, we all must make sure to keep safe, clean up after ourselves and protect each other.
For our list, we’ve ranked each seaside resort on seven different factors that make up the perfect day by the beach. So, whether you are a surfer, sunbather, dog-walker or just want to enjoy a bag of chips by the sea, this list should help you find the daytrip you are looking for. 91 seaside resorts from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were examined and given a score from 0-10 based on the data. The seven scoring categories are:
Each town was given a final score, by finding the average across all seven ranking factors. We also included national mini leagues, ranking the towns from each individual country to highlight the best of each country. So, wherever you’re from, whether it be England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you can find the best seaside resorts your nation has to offer.
View the full interactive here to discover the best beaches in Britain.
At The Solar Centre, we wanted to understand what was causing British people to take interest in the climate change debate at different points of the year. Our aim from this research was to find out what type of event (climate protest, celebrity campaigning or climate emergencies etc.) was the most influential in getting the public to take notice of the ecological crisis.
We collected data from Google Trends to find the points of the year with the highest search interest for “climate change”. After this, we managed to find the most popular news story that occurred at that specific time by using Google News’ custom date function.
Below we can see which events caused an increase in search at different points across 2019.
Once stories were successfully attributed to a point in time, we worked out each media event’s impact on search popularity by subtracting its total popularity score from the previous period. In occasions where there were multiple stories in a certain time frame, hence multiple stories could be responsible for a surge in interest, we divided the percentage search increase by the total number of events in that time frame.
It is evident that the most crucial event of 2019, in the public climate change debate, was Greta Thunberg’s “Fridays For Future” protest on 20th September. This alone increased search popularity for “climate change” by 68%. While there had been several “Fridays For Future” protests prior to this, the September protest proved to be the largest. Over 4 million people participated worldwide. Amazon employees were so inspired by Greta, that around 1,500 Amazon workers walked out of work to protest Jeff Bezos’ “Shipment Zero”, a pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040, as not strong enough.
Change – The Facts by David Attenborough also had a considerable impact with a
59% rise in search popularity when it aired on the 18th of April.
What Type of Event Engages The Public?
Climate protests were the most influential type of event. This was followed by factual evidence. However, without David Attenborough’s Climate Change – The Facts, factual evidence would have considerably less impact. Both protests and factual evidence seem much more influential than any conference, political debate and/or climate summit.
Worryingly, climate emergencies (including those that happened in Brazil and Australia) had limited impact. Celebrity campaigning had some impact on raising popularity. Notably, the 1975 releasing a song with Greta Thunberg and Coldplay deciding against touring their new album globally. Similarly, the most effective Extinction Rebellion protest was when celebrities joined in. For this particular rally of protests, there were some high-profile arrests, including Jane Fonda.
Which Individuals Are The Most Influential?
On the individual front, the three most influential people were:
– 116.5% increase in climate change interest (including here indirect
involvement in the Youth Strike 4 Climate strikes)
David Attenborough – 59% increase in climate change search popularity
– 34% increase in climate change search interest
may have skewed public opinion in an anti-environmentalist direction, this is yet
to be determined. However, what is clear is that his anti-environmentalist
views were effective in leading people to research the facts themselves.
1 of these 15 Christmas villains has been up to no good and stolen our fairy lights! We’re asking people to see if they can spot which Christmas villain it is and only 22% of people can spot it in under a minute!
Can you spot which Christmas has stolen the fairy lights? They’ll certainly be on Santa’s naughty list.
Did you spot which villain stole the Christmas lights? You can find out here.
Are you protecting your home from burglary? Check out what
you can do to keep your property safe with our in-depth guide and checklist.
Burglary within the UK is one of the most common crimes
committed, with a burglary happening every
108 seconds. They often have serious financial and emotional effects on the
victims. According to the ONS Crime report, the average cost of a residential
burglary in the UK is £3,030, in the year ending March 2019 the UK witnessed a
total cost of almost £900 million from residential burglaries.
The seriousness of protecting your home is not something to take lightly. Luckily, with increased awareness, homeowners are becoming savvier to the necessity of protecting their valuables and loved ones. Analysis from Google trends shows an 11% increase in queries relating to “home security” over the past year within the UK.
Home Security Checklist
Here at The Solar Centre, we’ve devised a home security
checklist which is loosely based on hints and tips by former burglars, as no
one gives better advice on the subject than those with firsthand experience.
This list is designed to be the ultimate guide on keeping your home safe.
Home security basics
Lock your doors and close your windows.
Ensure doors are sturdily installed.
Consider putting screws on your door frames if you are fearful your doors are not secure.
Steel is a perfect material and avoids the temptation for burglars to kick down your door.
Change your locks when you move in and if you lose your keys then get your locks changed immediately.
Don’t leave keys under doormats or pots, instead find a more secure spot.
Keep your valuable goods away from windows.
It is important to protect your most valuable possessions, so we’ve collected data on how some of the most commonly stolen items have changed over the years. Are these possessions hidden safely away in your home?
Make sure your presence is known (even when you aren’t there)
Clear all old newspapers from your porch and letterbox.
Make sure you regularly open and close curtains each day and night.
Turn your lights on when in the house.
Consider a dog or train your current pet to bark at signs of disturbance.
Produce signs that highlight you have alarms and don’t leave old alarms that are in poor condition insight.
Leave the radio on while you are away, the Nature of Burglary report estimates that 70% of burglaries happen on a weekday while homeowners are at work. If you believe radios are too cliché to fool burglars, investigate streaming some anti-theft home occupancy sounds.
Trim any plants back to ensure you are completely viewable to the street.
If you are worried about leaving your house alone, ask a neighbour to check in.
Avoid posting about any holiday on social media.
Be wary of your social interactions and surroundings
Stay vigilant to suspicious lurkers outside your
Never let anyone into your home without
credentials (they may be checking out your valuables and security system to see
if it is worth robbing you).
Do not let strangers in to use your phone or any
Get the right equipment
Conceal wiring on your security system (this can
be disconnected by intelligent burglars)
Avoid spring-latch locks as they can be loided,
this is where an expert at breaking and entering slips a plastic card against
the latch to unlock the door. Deadbolts are a far better alternative.
Investing in the latest security solutions is the best way to scare burglars. Worryingly the number of victims falling for repeat burglary incidents has risen 16% over the past year. Burglars have no reason not to return if they have been successful once, and considering they already know the best escape routes and types of valuables you have; it saves them time planning.
Spending Money On a Solid Security System
Keeping your home secure doesn’t have to break the bank.
Below we outline different home security choices.
Anti-theft home occupancy devices
Home Occupancy Sounds (Price estimate: free)
Some people don’t trust simply using radios
anymore. Hence, home occupancy sounds were invented as solutions for when you
are going away for a weekend or long holiday. The idea is to play ambient mundane
house sounds from a speaker as if to simulate occupancy. These are completely
free and you are able to get these sounds on streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and YouTube
Security Timer Plugs (Price estimate: £10-£20)
Another option for when you are away is a
security timer plug. These will enable you to create the illusion that the
house is occupied by setting a timer on lamps, televisions and radios.
Smart Home Alarms (Price estimate: £190 – £600)
Described as the future of burglar alarms, smart
home security has received a vast amount of interest in recent years. They
operate as a traditional alarm but allow you to control it completely from your
app on a smartphone or tablet.
Unsurprisingly, like all smart home devices,
their unique functionality comes at a steeper price. However, typically smart
home alarms are combined with an entire system (wireless security cameras,
sirens, door locks and state of the art motion sensors). Systems can be
instructed to record when certain things happen, i.e. a door opens.
Low-value devices can cost just £190, but for
the whole security package, you would expect to spend up to £600.
Wired Alarm Systems vs Wireless Alarm Systems
(Price estimate: depends on the size of home)
Hardwired alarm systems are renowned to be
superior in terms of reliability. Furthermore, if your home is already prewired
for a security system, wired systems will be very straightforward to install,
hence it may be worth opting for this.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a security
system pre-installed, a wireless system may be the best option. Installation in
this instance will be a lot simpler and there will be no necessary home
modifications to make.
Another advantage of wireless systems is that
they can be used in remote places where wired systems are unable to reach.
Furthermore, the fact they’re no visible cables means the system is next to
impossible for burglars to tamper with.
Night Vision CCTV (Price estimate: £100 – £250)
Considering for both weekend and weekday
burglaries, evenings are the preferred time of day for 61% of burglaries, night
vision is a worthy investment.
Depending on your budget night cameras can show
black and white or sometimes coloured images of your home in the pitch black.
Mini Cameras (Price estimate: £30 – £99)
Typically employed for indoor security, mini
cameras can be efficient in identifying burglars due to their inconspicuous
nature, but for this reason, they are not recommended as a scare tactic. They can,
however, also be a cheap solution for stairwell monitoring for small children
and elderly relatives.
Nature of Burglary report also shows 70% of burglars came through the front
door. Looking at greater depth, 29% of the time the lock was forced open, while
14% of the time the door was not locked. It may seem obvious but making sure
your door is locked and the lock is bolted could severely reduce your chances
of being burgled. A deadlock should be tested to BS 3621.
In addition to this, ensure your door frames are
solid, estimated door measurements should be 4.4cm thick with 10cm hinges.
If you choose to further screw your door, ensure
they are compliant to British Standard BS 7950.
Steel doors are preferred as they discourage
burglars from kicking down your door. Wooden doors and doors with glass panels
should ideally be changed if you feel you live in a high-risk burglary region.
(link to burglary region table)
For some, cars are one of our biggest financial
investments and as such can be a prize target to thieves. One popular security
method here is to employ a driveway security bollard. These can be raised and
lowered automatically on approach using a fob key. Alternatively, at a lower
cost, homeowners can purchase a security bollard that requires manual action.
Sheds and garages are an easy target. Often
homeowners sacrifice measures here in order to prioritize their budget with indoor
security. Burglars know this and take advantage. Outdoor buildings are
particularly vulnerable at night (78%
of burglaries in a non-connected building near a dwelling happen in the
evening). Hence combining security with night vision is wise. Padlocks on
shed and garage doors fitted with battery-powered alarms can be extremely
effective and cost just £15.
Lights are a fantastic option for garden
security. They can either be manually turned on or triggered by movement. Often,
they are enough to deter burglars from coming again, as they act as an initial
warning sign of your solid security system.
Another important insight from The Nature of Burglary report shows 25% of burglaries in 2018 happened by intruders entering through a window. Apart from keeping windows shut and locked, make sure all windows are fitted to double glazing standards making the windows harder to break. Any new windows must be in line to the British Standard 7950/ PAS 24. It is also important to have alarms viewable or signs near windows to deter burglars.
Are Home Security Systems Worth The Money?
We’ve also taken the average cost of a security alarm (£500) so you can see how much you’d potentially save by investing in one.
We’ve collected data
on the cost of burglaries to each region of the UK so you can see the average
amount which is lost in your area.
It looks like it’s going to be a hot one this bank holiday
weekend and as things are heating up, so will lots of BBQs. But with so many
different types of food to offer it can be difficult to choose what to add to
the shopping list. Nobody likes too many leftovers, and even worse, everybody
hates going hungry!
That’s why we’ve carried out a survey – BBQ It or Bin It,
asking people to rank different types of BBQ foods to find the Nation’s
favourite. And the results are in… It turns out the most popular BBQ delicacy
is the corn on the cob! Followed closely by the classic side dish of coleslaw
and in third place, none other than the staple sausage.
Ending up in the bin is grilled fish and prawns, so no need
to visit the fish counter on your shopping trip. Halloumi also didn’t fare well
coming second from bottom.
Yorkshire and the Humber are lovers of sausages taking top position in this region, in the South West coleslaw was voted top followed by burgers.
Love Island 2019 is in full force and whilst some islanders heads’ are being turned with each passing day, other couples just don’t seem to be connecting. Therefore, at The Solar Centre we decided to analyse the solar energy of star signs giving islanders the inside information on who to graft. Hopefully this can make its way into the villa before its too late!
Our Love Island Star Sign compatibility matrix tells us if there is an energy to send pulses racing or whether a re-coupling is necessary. Find out which Love Islander you should couple up with below…
Love Island is back for a fifth series and as ever the villa is setting this year’s must-have outdoor lighting trends.
Love Island Villa Garden You don’t need to have been watching too closely this year to notice that Love Island has gone ball light crazy! I mean sure, there were a few ball lights knocking around last year, but this year they have taken things to a whole new level! There are the massive ball lights around the villa garden, ball lights by every bed and even ball lights on every table on Love Island: Aftersun.
Ball Lights In The Love Island Bedroom
We have a sneaking suspicion that the ball lights on Aftersun may indeed be our very own Shapelights Sphere which appeared on The Only Way Is Essex a few months ago, but we can’t say for sure.
Shapelights Sphere on Love Island: Aftersun?
Either way, the Shapelight Sphere is a 35cm diameter version of all the indoor or outdoor ball lights you can see on Love Island or Love Island: Aftersun. Why do I say that? I say that because you can use our Shapelights anywhere indoors or outdoors! Shapelights can be USB charged or solar powered outdoors or you plug them into the mains and use them indoors. Once powered up Saheplights can be set to gently change colour from white, warm white, blue, light blue, green, lime, purple, pink, orange and red or you can set your Shapelight to stay on your favourite colour. A keener eye will have noticed the main love island tree has been beautifully wrapped in warm white fairy lights this year as it was last year too. We offer two ranges of warm white solar fairy lights to help you get that Love Island look. We have our value Elan range which comes in 100 (10m) and 200 (20m) lengths. Or our premium Lumify USB Solar Fairy Lights which, like our Shapelights, can be USB charged so you don’t need Love Island weather to keep them going night after night even if you don’t have a great solar panel location. Our Lumify USB chargeable solar powered fairy lights come in 100 LED (10m) and 300 LED (30m) lengths.
Warm White Solar Fairy Lights on Love Island 2019? Finally, we come to the legendary Love Island Terrace where we’ve seen everything from group chats, awkward one to ones and first kisses. If you can draw your eye away from the drama you will see that there is a lot of festoon lighting creating that romantic ambience.