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BrookeChaplan

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As the seasons change from fall to winter, temperatures turn from comfortable to chilly. Depending on your location, temperatures can drop down drastically and create one frigid situation. So, how do you beat the cold? Most people would reach to turn on space heaters or dial up that thermostat. But, chances are good that your heating sources are consuming astonishing amounts of energy. Before heading over to the thermostat, there are several ways to tame the cold weather without wasting all that energy!

Use Natural Heating Sources

A simple way to be green in the winter months is to let some sun into your home by keeping the curtains open during the day! The heat from the sun can help keep your house warm without running the furnace all day.

Turn Down Your Thermostat

Energy officials recommend keeping your thermostat at around 68 degrees during the winter months. If 68 degrees just isn’t cutting it, try wearing sweaters, socks, or blankets around the house to bridge the gap. Also, try to avoid changing the thermostat throughout the day. Keeping the temperature consistent reduces energy consumption, and wear and tear on your heating system.

Check Your Windows

Considering that cold air can enter your home through tiny openings in your windows, it’s a good idea to take measures to make your windows work for you, not against you.

For one, you could have your windows replaced. Windows can make all the difference by keeping warm air in and the cold air out. There are experts out there, like Statewide Energy Solutions, which specialize in energy efficient window and door installation.

You could also seal your existing windows using caulking or weather stripping. Caulking is especially helpful for small gaps in windows. Weather stripping is used more for sealing moving pieces like large windows and doors.

Keeping Up Your Heating Systems

A simple yet practical solution to being energy efficient is to just maintain the upkeep of your heating and air system! Replacing the filters, cleaning your ducts, and having your system serviced will help cut down on your heating costs. It’s always a good idea to make sure everything is serviced and up to date to avoid any issues during those cold winter months!

In short, there are many ways to be efficient during the winter months. By checking your windows, using natural heat, and keeping your central heating up to par, your whole family benefits as you have made conscious energy saving efforts! Remember, you can be warm without being wasteful!

BrookeChaplan

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There is consistently growing evidence that organic foods are most definitely healthier for humans than crops grown commercially, but the benefits of organic foods actually extend even further than just how they affect our bodies. Organic foods also have a significantly better impact on the environment as well. The term “organic” doesn’t just refer to what is or isn’t put in the food when it is processed, but also how the food is grown in the first place. Here are 3 ways organic crops are better for the environment.

 

The Types of Pesticides Used Are Tightly Controlled

One of the biggest problems with commercially grown foods is the types and amounts of pesticides allowed to be used. Some foods even have pesticides genetically embedded in the food itself, which means every time you eat a product made from that original material, you are ingesting pesticide. Even when commercial farmers spray pesticides, however, those chemicals end up in water sources, which contaminates and pollutes the water. Organic farmers are required to use natural pesticides which are better for your body and better for the environment.

 

Creates a Better Food Chain

Animals raised on organic grains are not only better for you but better for the environment. Remember that animals create a great deal of waste. When animals are fed an organic diet, that waste can be used to fertilize organic crops, which preserves the purity of the food chain. When animals are fed commercial grains, which contain commercial pesticides and are often genetically modified, then those ingredients end up in the animal waste, which once again ends up in the dirt, soil and water supplies. Animals that are fed organic grains made by companies like Grainpro Australia Pty Ltd are not only better for them, but for the environment as well.

 

Better for Wildlife

One thing that is important to remember is that animals share the same food and water sources that we do. While our bodies may be able to handle the trace amounts of pesticides found in commercially grown food, that doesn’t mean that animals can. Keep in mind that wildlife is a vital part of the food chain. From bees that pollinate crops like cucumbers, pumpkins, cherries and apples to microbial organisms that tend soil and create a more hospitable atmosphere for crops to grow, organic farming is friendlier to wildlife, which in turn is more environmentally friendly on the whole.

 

While there are certainly modern farming practices that commercial farmers can employ which can lessen the environmental impact of commercial farming, they are not required to the way organic farmers are. The rules and regulations guiding organic farming are far more stringent, which means—for the moment at least—organic farming is by far the most beneficial to the environment.

BrookeChaplan

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For the last several years, the idea of building a tiny home and having a scaled-down living experience has been increasing in popularity across the country. While it may have started out as a unique housing option that inspired curiosity, it now has gained traction and is the preferred way of life for many people regardless of age and other demographic factors. If you have been thinking about taking the plunge and building a tiny home, there has never been a better time than now to get started.

Interest Rates

Interest rates have slowly been rising, and this affects the cost of a new mortgage as well as the cost of credit card debt, car loans and more. Many people choose to live in a tiny home to reduce their debt balances and to save money. The affordability of a tiny home makes it easier to pay off debts and to maintain a debt-free status. While there is never certainty with regards to economic conditions, interest rates may continue to trend upward and make debt an even more burdensome problem.

Creative Options

The most common and traditional tiny home option is to build your own home using lumber, drywall, and other basic housing materials. The result is a tiny home with the façade of a standard home, and this option remains for tiny home enthusiasts. However, creative options are increasingly embraced in the tiny home community. For example, many people have chosen to live in renovated shipping containers to save money, to reduce waste and to enjoy other exceptional benefits.

Friendly Communities

When you build a tiny home, you must decide where to place the home. These homes are somewhat mobile, but they generally should find a permanent place to sit. The primary option years ago was to purchase a piece of land or to place the home on a large estate that a family member owned. Today, there is an increasing number of tiny home communities. If you choose to live in one of these communities, you have the ability to enjoy the neighborhood lifestyle that many people prefer.

Living in a tiny house is not ideal or comfortable for everyone, but it is a growing trend that offers incredible benefits. Regardless of whether you are inspired to live a simpler life, to save money or to reduce your footprint, you can see that now is the ideal time to begin seriously exploring the options and making plans to build your tiny home.

BrookeChaplan

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Many people are increasingly concerned about the environment, and they have already taken substantial efforts to change their own lifestyle. For example, many drivers have traded in gas-guzzlers for more fuel-efficient vehicles, and buying organic, locally-sourced foods is increasingly common. You may not realize it, but the local infrastructure in your area also plays a major role in global conservation efforts. These are some of the many ways that your local infrastructure is essential to a healthy planet.

Effective Recycling Programs

Your local municipal services may include a recycling program. Some municipalities provide recycling facilities where you can drop off your items at a convenient time around your own schedule, and they may also have collection bins located around town so that you do not have to drive as far to drop off your items. Other cities have curbside pickup at your home at least once or twice per week. In some cases, participation in recycling programs is mandatory. The effectiveness of these campaigns directly links to pollution on a global scale.

Convenient Public Transportation Options

A considerable amount of pollution is generated through the use of personal vehicles. Public transportation enables local residents to get around town while minimizing the amount of pollution that is generated as a result. Some cities only offer public bus service. Others also have light rail, subways, public-use bikes, public-use motorized scooters and more. Some of these methods also may have an impact on the use of non-renewable fossil fuels as well. These public services also require the help of companies like icunj.us for engineering work that facilitates their transportation plans.

Well-Maintained Public Water System

Fresh water is in short supply in many areas, so keeping the public water supply well-maintained is essential. Consider that a small leak in a water main line may go unnoticed for many months, and this allows a considerable amount of fresh water to be lost. In addition, sewage waste must be well-contained to prevent unnecessary contamination in the environment. Trenchless sewer repair is a one way that wastewater pipes may be repaired, and this method has minimal impact on the local environment. For relevant local information, you can search something like ‘trenchless sewer repair for industrial roads in NJ’ and see what these services entail.

The health of the entire planet may seem to be a much larger issue than you have control over. However, each individual effort, as well as the localized efforts at a citywide level, can play a major role in environmental conservation. Keep in mind that you only have control over your actions, so doing your best to promote a healthy environment is essential. In addition to improving personal efforts, consider being a catalyst for change in your community.

BrookeChaplan

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Making green home improvements makes a lot of sense from a health, comfort and financial perspective. With an increasing emphasis on minimizing the climate crisis and making homes as healthy as possible, homeowners and builders are focusing on increasing the number of features that save energy and promote healthier living.

They Appreciate Faster

While the rate of appreciation for a home’s highly variable, all other things being equal, a green home will appreciate faster than a less energy efficient unit. There are a number of reasons for higher appreciation. Homes with higher efficiency are in greater demand, which is the primary force behind home appreciation. They also have lower energy bills, something that ranks high with many home buyers.

If you live in a neighborhood of older homes and you want to increase the value of your home, make improvements to the insulation, particularly in the attic. If the HVAC system is old, chances are your heating and cooling bills are high. Installing a new one will add value to your home and lowers your heating and cooling costs.

You and your financial consultant can explore how important faster home appreciation is. If you don’t have a consultant, you can search something like ‘NJ individual wealth management’ for your area to find one. Your home is probably your most important asset and when it increases in value faster, so does your net worth.

Green Homes Are Healthier

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is an important part of achieving a green home and the easiest way to achieve good IAQ is by using products that don’t emit harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These gases cause physical symptoms from mild to serious like headaches and sore throats to cancer or neurological system disorders.

There’s a long list of materials used in daily life and for home construction and remodeling that contain VOCs. Fortunately, it’s getting easier to find alternatives that keep IAQ high.

Look for remodeling products labeled as low in VOCs or are VOC-free. Some carry clean air labels, like paint and flooring products. It’s getting easier to find household products that have no to few VOCs. Look for natural cleaners, products without perfumes and candles made from beeswax or soy. Avoid anything made from paraffin.

Some Green home upgrades run at a higher cost than their less environmentally friendly counterparts, so make sure you factor that into your budget. While there is no price you can place on health, you still need to budget well to afford these upgrades. As mentioned above, a financial service provider like rmrwealth.com can be very helpful when planning and executing home improvements.

Ventilation

Homes that have high IAQ may have balanced ventilation systems that pull in as much fresh air as they exhaust. The U.S. EPA has found that indoor air can be much more polluted than the worst outdoor air. The greenest products used for ventilation are heat and energy recovery ventilators. These devices transfer the thermal energy from the outgoing air into the incoming air, which eliminates the cost of heating or cooling outdoor air.

Bottom Line

Anything you can do to make your home greener in the short and long term helps your financial and personal health. You can start by doing something as easy as changing the cleaning products you buy or as challenging as making major improvements to its structure. Whatever it is, it will better your life by making it more comfortable.

BrookeChaplan

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Many businesses have already adopted green business practices, and some are completely self-sustaining. These businesses may benefit by saving a substantial amount of money regularly. In addition, green practices may have excellent public relations benefits, and they may even bolster your employee retention rate. If you are thinking about making green improvements in your business soon, there are a few of the essential things required to achieve your goal.

A Reasonable Budget

There may be some green steps that your business can take at minimal cost, such as by implementing a recycling program. However, other steps may cost a small fortune, such as the investment and installation of solar panels. Creating a budget is an essential first step. As you prepare a green improvement budget, research tax benefits, rebates and other savings offers available that could decrease the cost of at least some of your improvements.

A Strategic Plan

It is also important to have a strategic plan for the selection and installation or implementation of various green improvements. Keep in mind that some of your updates may be governed by energy or infrastructure law. With this in mind, your strategic plan should be created after a consultation with an experienced lawyer who specializes in this area of the law. Your plan should also take into account your local climate and environment. For example, solar panels may be a great idea for an area with many sunny days each year, but wind energy may be a smarter investment if your business is located in a windy area, such as off of a bay.

Access to Quality Green Energy Service Providers

If your business is located in a major metropolitan area, you likely have convenient access to many green energy service providers, such as those that specialize in solar panel installation services. On the other hand, your business may be located in a more remote area. You could potentially contract with a service provider from farther away to complete installation work. However, the availability of services should be considered as you create a thoughtful plan.

Businesses that have already taken steps to be more environmentally-friendly have enjoyed exceptional benefits. You understandably want to benefit in these ways as well. Because each business has different activities and is located in a unique area, creating a customized plan is essential. Keep in mind that things, like having a remote workforce and investing in electric cars for your fleet, are a few of the many additional steps that you can take to go green.

BrookeChaplan

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Cranking up the thermostat is one of the most common ways for people to stay warm indoors throughout the winter, but this is also one of the most expensive methods. You may not be able to afford to use your heating system as much as you would like to this winter, or you may not want to spend a fortune unnecessarily. The good news is that there are several effective ways for you to stay warmer at home without relying heavily on your furnace.

Keep Your Heater Well-Maintained

Your heater will use more energy to heat your home when it is not well-maintained. Consider those dirty or worn out components may reduce efficiency, causing your heater to work harder than necessary. Scheduling residential heating maintenance services annually is a wonderful way to improve efficiency and to save money when your heater is running.

Re-Seal Doors and Windows Annually

You may decrease the frequency with which your heater turns on by re-sealing your home’s doors and windows annually. When heated air escapes from cracks in these seals, your heater may need to run more frequently to keep your home warm. This unnecessarily increases heating-related energy costs. In addition, cool air may penetrate through these seals, and this could create draughts that can be uncomfortably chilly. Re-sealing doors and windows is an affordable project that may deliver a great financial return.

Add More Insulation to the Walls and Attic

Another idea is to supplement your home’s existing insulation with an extra layer. Some homes are built with low-quality insulation, so upgrading the insulation may have incredible benefits on energy efficiency and overall comfort in the home. If your home is older, the insulation may have deteriorated or been damaged. Adding more insulation may be essential for superior warmth indoors. Spray-in foam may be particularly effective. While this step requires a significant financial investment, the return over the years can be substantial.

You can see that relying solely on your heater to keep you warm in the winter can be expensive and may not be as effective as it could be. Each of these steps can reduce home heating costs while improving your comfort level indoors. Keep in mind that wearing warmer clothes indoors, burning a fire in the fireplace, sitting underneath a blanket and drinking warm beverages may also have a beneficial impact on your comfort throughout the winter. Consider combining all of these ideas for a comprehensive approach and exceptional results.

BrookeChaplan

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Between the increased heat and the extra freedom that kids get from being out of school, summer is the season where water usage is most likely to increase. Because increased use of anything can result in an equal increase in the chance of contracting an illness, among other hazards and issues, we present a trio of safeguards against the potential contamination of your water supply.

 

Be Environmentally Aware

Be mindful of what you use when washing things like your house or your car outside, the chemicals in substances like car-washing soap can seep into the ground and contaminate the water table by commingling with groundwater. The same goes for being careless with bleach when cleaning around the bathtub or allowing oil leaking from your car to seep down into an outdoor drain. Research the chemicals in the things you use that could potentially worsen the quality of your water and adjust your supplies accordingly.

 

Install a Water Conditioning System

There are a variety of minerals and chemicals that can wreak havoc with your water system and what you use it for. Left unchecked, these minerals can reduce the flow of your water, become problematically rich in sulfur, iron or manganese and "harden" the overall quality of your water. Fortunately, a reliable water conditioning system can assuage worries of these problems. You can get in contact with a company like Johnson Water Conditioning to find out what is best for your home and water.

 

Maintain Your Pool

An untreated swimming pool is a haven for algae and other contaminants to not only develop but thrive. Make sure to regularly check the pH level of your swimming pool, with readings between 7.2 and 7.8 being ideal conditions for swimming. Also, remember that scrubbing the submerged tile on a weekly basis is a good way to reducing the potential for algae to bloom and that there are different types of filters. When "opening" your pool for a new season, it is important to remember that the preparatory work involved can sometimes require up to a week of balancing things out before it is safe to swim.

 

While your local sanitation plant handles the lion's share of stopping water contamination, every person can affect those efforts by their choices made near, or involving, water. Consider installing a water conditioning system to avoid hard water or as a defense against using chemical-saturated water. Pool owners should treat their pools like a low-maintenance pet; while the upkeep isn't much, it must still be done to avoid illness.

BrookeChaplan

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Saving money is a primary goal for many business owners, but there is also a considerable need to make smart decisions that promote a healthy environment. It may often seem like these two goals are opposing forces, but this does not have to be the case. There are several steps that you can take to improve your company’s bottom line while also helping the environment in different ways.

Take Advantage of Workspace Mobility

Workspace mobility is a term that describes improving machinery, equipment and more so that it is most functional for the worker. This may include creating handheld computer scanners that perfectly address a worker’s job responsibilities, outfitting a truck with a freezer compartment for deliveries and more. This customization of workspaces helps your team to work more efficiently and with minimal waste. The result is that your company’s bottom line may improve while you also minimize unnecessary waste.

Migrate to the Cloud

If your company has not already migrated to the cloud, now may be the time to do so. This technology enables you to go paperless as much as possible. It eliminates the need to print everything out that your team or customers may need, and it also eliminates the need to have huge stacks of storage boxes taking up available space in your facility. Because it may enable your team to work more efficiently, the productivity factor and the reduction in office supplies expense may bolster your bottom line.

Hire a Remote Work Team

Traditionally, workers commuted to an office and spent their days toiling away in this environment before heading back home. When you hire a remote work team, you eliminate the toll that their commute makes on the environment. You also can decrease your office space needs, office supplies needs and more to save money. Some companies find that remote workers are also more productive in many instances.

While profitability and environmental consciousness may seem like two opposing forces at first glance, you can now see that there are actually many ways to accomplish both of these goals at the same time. Each company has a unique operational structure, so it is important to analyze your company’s current structure and to determine how these and other green ideas may be incorporated to help you save money on a regular basis. Because technology is constantly improving, it makes sense to focus on this tasks regularly so that you can take advantage of new green savings opportunities as they become available.

BrookeChaplan

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Modern cars are greener than ever before, and drivers have a wide array of great cars that sip fuel compared to their older counterparts. For some tasks, however, nothing can beat a truck. There’s no need to give up on reducing your impact on the environment just because you depend on a truck, though. Here are a few ways you can be eco-conscious when you need a truck.

 

Watch Your Speed

Large engines can give trucks surprising speed, especially when driven unloaded. However, excessive acceleration can lead to wasted gas, reducing your fuel efficiency and increasing emissions. Accelerate fast enough to drive safely, but take it easy when the light turns green. Try to coast to avoid stopping if possible. Any time you come to a complete stop, you lose fuel efficiency. Coasting to stoplights might let you maintain some speed when the light turns green, which uses less gas than accelerating up to the speed limit. Trucks, and cars, typically hit their efficiency sweet spot between 45 and 60 miles per hour, so stay in that range whenever possible.

 

Focus on Maintenance

Maintaining your truck is essential for extending its lifespan, but it also leads to better fuel efficiency and less wasted energy. Regularly check your tire pressure, as even small deviations from recommended values can waste energy. When you purchase a truck, make sure to read up on its maintenance schedule carefully, as failing to replace parts at the recommended intervals may decrease your fuel economy. Oil changes can have a small impact on fuel efficiency, but air filters can have a major impact, so make sure to keep your filters fresh. Aside from fuel efficiency, regular maintenance ensures that your truck doesn’t leak oil or other chemicals that are bad for the environment.

 

Plan Ahead

A bit of planning can go a long way. Make sure you know where your destination is; missing an exit, for example, will waste fuel along with time. If you’re going to be busy moving items, plan out your schedule in advance so you can fit as much as possible in the bed. Trucks are designed to haul heavy loads, and even though they decrease your fuel economy, one heavy load is far more efficient than two lighter loads. If you’re transporting people, make sure you know where everyone is going before departing to avoid any confusion that might require you to stop or reroute.

 

Although they aren’t as efficient as cars, trucks play a critical role in reducing automotive emissions by reducing the number of trips needed to transport items, and many green jobs are reliant on trucks. Fortunately, there are steps drivers can take to make their trucks even more efficient, and building green habits will have a significant effect over the years.

BrookeChaplan

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There is no question that the world is ready for solar energy. In the United States, the Office of Energy Efficiency estimates that the growth of major solar energy installations has grown by more than 1,700 percent since 2008. While most installations have been of the utility, industrial and commercial kinds, residential systems are expected to grow exponentially through the end of this decade.

 

In 2017, electrical vehicle manufacturer Tesla announced its intention to start taking deposits on residential installations of an advanced solar roof panel system complete with transformers and batteries; this announcement has sparked considerable interest from homeowners who are now looking up at their roofs and wondering what they would need to do in order to get some panels installed.

 

In essence, there are three important things for you to consider before weighing the possibility of going fully solar:

 

Roof Inspection

When was the last time you had your roof inspected by a professional company like Burke’s Roofing ? Unfortunately, many homeowners wait until they spot a leak or an ugly brown stain on their ceiling panels before they resolve to call technicians for roof repair services; this is about the only time an inspection is conducted, and on many occasions, the findings are not pleasant. A roof inspection is a must before installing heavy solar energy panels on top of your house; in fact, you may want to do this now before the next winter or rainy season so that you can budget for repairs accordingly.

 

Ventilation

Your current roof system has a particular ventilation arrangement that may not be fully compatible with the intended roof panel installation. The vents may need to be relocated and tested so that they preserve the level of energy efficiency your household requires.

 

Roof Leaks

In rainy climate regions such as South Florida, some homeowners will notice a roof leak during a heavy tropical storm or when a hurricane makes landfall. In many cases, the leak seems to be manageable because it is limited to a drip and does not seem to spread across the ceiling; in other words, these leaks are nothing that a pan or bucket will not solve, and they tend to not be an issue until the next hurricane or spectacular rainstorm arrives. The problem with this nonchalant approach is that it could be ignoring serious issues such as missing shingles or damaged flashing, which would certainly need to be repaired before solar panel installations.

 

In the end, the state of your roof will determine whether you can really take advantage of solar energy production. Do not attempt to forego roof inspections and repairs before solar panels are installed.

BrookeChaplan

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Your AC unit could have a big impact on the quality of air in your office. If you have an AC unit that works properly, it could positively impact your air quality. A system that is faulty or hasn’t been properly maintained might have a negative impact on air quality.

Your AC System Needs to Work

If your AC system is working properly, it should handle the air pollution the right way. The system needs to work to make sure it’s effective and that’s an important part of the way it contributes to the quality of the indoor air.

The Type of AC Matters

Whether you have ducted reverse cycle air conditioning or another type of system can make a huge impact on your air quality. You must have an air conditioning system that works for your building and is able to meet the needs of your office. If you don’t have the right type of system, you might not be getting the best quality air.

Maintenance Is Important

Even if your unit is new or if you feel you’ll know when there is an issue, you still need to have it maintained. Regular maintenance is important because it gives the technician a chance to look at the AC unit and see if there is anything wrong with it. Catching a problem right away can be the difference in a small repair bill and a major overhaul of the whole system.

It Could Still Work Properly

Even if your AC unit is working the right way, it might not be giving you the best quality air in your office. It’s important to make sure that you know what to look for with your unit and you keep track of air quality.

Changes to the AC Could Affect Quality

Any changes that you make to the AC could affect the quality of air that’s put out from the AC. Change the filter regularly, don’t make any changes the AC unit and make sure you know when to have it properly maintained. Any major changes could cause an issue with air quality and could also risk damaging your AC unit in the process.

 

Whether you want to keep your office cool or you want to truly focus on air quality, there are things you can do to make your AC better. The higher efficiency of the system, the better chance you’ll have for increased air quality.

BrookeChaplan

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Solar energy has never been more popular, and in the United States alone, the number of solar installations is 17 times greater than it was less than 10 years ago. Still, the vast majority of solar installations are used to power homes and businesses or provide additional energy into the electricity grid. However, the fact is that solar power actually has a great number of uses—especially in times of an emergency or natural disaster. When disaster strikes, solar can quickly become your best friend by providing the following potentially life-saving benefits.

 

Solar Provides Backup Power Whenever You Need It

If you truly want to be prepared in case of a power outage, a solar backup generator is most definitely the way to go. When the local power grid goes down, you can switch over to your solar generator to ensure that you still have electricity when you need it. Although you may need to monitor your power usage, a solar generator like those offered by Renogy can still allow you to have lights, keep your food cold, etc. As long as the sun is shining, your solar generator will continue to produce power and thus ensure you won’t be near as affected by power outages.

 

Helps You Stay Connected in the Event of an Emergency

A solar generator also enables you to charge your phones, tablet and other handheld devices. There are also a number of smaller solar chargers that can be used for the same purpose. In this way, you can ensure that you are able to stay connected and can get up-to-date information about the emergency or disaster situation. Although your ability to make calls or get online will obviously be dictated by your local network, solar can still ensure that your devices remain charged and ready to use whenever you have a signal.

 

Keeps You Prepared for Any Eventuality

In the event of a hurricane, tornado or another major natural disaster, there is a high chance that the power could be out for days, weeks or even months. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to begin the cleanup process and start getting back to your normal life until electricity has been restored. This won’t be nearly as much of an issue for you if you are able to rely on solar to power your essentials. Whether it is used to keep food or life-saving medicines from spoiling or simply to ensure that you don’t have to eat by candlelight, solar allows you to be prepared for any long power outages or other disruptions to the electricity grid.

 

Based on this evidence, it is obvious that solar energy can be a huge help during an emergency or disaster situation. Although solar won’t make it any easier to overcome the loss or devastation of a disaster, it can still ensure that you have access to electricity when you need it most. In this way, solar power really is an emergency essential.

BrookeChaplan

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If you are looking to save money by generating your own power at home, solar is the way to go. To completely wipe out your utility bills, you have to get a system that is big enough to generate all the power that you need. Once you have your materials, you can maximize energy production by putting them in the right places and keeping them maintained.

 

Calculate Your Needs Before You Buy

Before you shop for solar panels, you should know how much electricity your home needs. You can figure this out by looking at your utility bills to see how many kilowatt-hours you used. To account for seasonal energy demand and consumption trends, you should look at statements from the past year.

 

Once you know how much energy you use, you can figure out how big your solar power system needs to be. Panels almost never produce their maximum rated power. You have to buy more kilowatts than you use to account for the amount of sunlight your location receives. The U.S. Department of Energy has some useful equations and maps that will help you calculate how many kilowatts you really need to meet your energy needs. Make sure you explore all of your options by checking out inventory from suppliers like ML Solar and any other place so you can get the best price.

 

Put Your Panels in the Right Place

Even if you buy enough solar panels, they won't work too well if you install them in the wrong position. They obviously need to go in a sunny spot, but you should understand a few other positioning factors that will affect your power system's performance.

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is on the southern horizon, so south-facing panels get the strongest sunlight. If this is not an option on your property, west is the next best choice. This is because homeowners tend to use the most electricity in the late afternoon, especially during the summer air conditioning season.

 

Your panels also need to be placed at an angle in order to receive the most direct sunlight. The size of this tilt depends on your location and the time of year. You can use this calculator to determine the proper angle for your setup. It is best to buy some adjustable racks to properly tilt your panels toward the sun's rays as the seasons change. They will pay for themselves with the extra power you will produce.

 

Keep Your Panels Working Well

Solar power systems are very low maintenance, but there are a few things you need to do to ensure a continuous supply of power. Most of the work involves cleaning the panel surfaces to remove the grime that blocks sunlight. Washing dust and bird droppings off your system is very similar to washing a car, but you should use a special kit that is designed for cleaning solar panels.

 

Your system won't produce a lot of power if it is blocked by leaves in the fall and snow in the winter. Make sure you clear them off whenever you rake your lawn and shovel your driveway. If there are any trees near your solar array, you also may need to trim the branches whenever they grow big enough to cast shade over your panels.

 

A solar power system will produce all the electricity that you need with the right research, setup, and maintenance. When you keep the right sized system working efficiently in the right place, you can say goodbye to all those high energy bills.

BrookeChaplan

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Staying cool in the summer doesn't mean that you have to waste electricity. Most people in the neighborhood and in the city will have an air conditioner of some kind on when it's hot, draining power from the grid that could cause a blackout if there is too much energy being used. There are a few tips to keep in mind to keep from sweltering while staying comfortable at the same time.

 

Keeping The Unit Off

It might seem futile, but keeping the air conditioner off can sometimes help with keeping the home cooler. If the unit has to run all day in order to cool the home, it can begin to struggle. When the unit struggles, it doesn't put out as much cold air as it could, which means that it will run longer. This defeats the purpose of even using an air conditioner because you're spending more money in electricity. Turn the unit on in the morning to get the home cool before turning it off throughout the rest of the day. A fan near the unit will help to circulate the air faster.

 

Update The Air Conditioner

If you have a window unit, then you know that they can run all day long without cutting off. This is throwing money out the door and wasting power as it only cools one or two rooms at a time. Upgrade the unit to a central air system that will cool the entire home. Companies like MTA Australasia often have plenty of choices that might work for your home, and you can consult with them if you’re not sure. You can adjust the thermostat to a comfortable setting so that the air doesn't come on as often. Check the filter to see if it's clean, replacing it or cleaning it as needed.

 

Keep The Sun Out

Close the blinds and the curtains to make it as dark in the home as possible. Keeping the sun from penetrating the home will help to keep the temperature a bit lower without using any kind of electricity. It's also sometimes more relaxing to be in a darker room. If you're not home during the day, then this is sometimes the best option to save electricity along with keeping a ceiling fan on in the room.

 

Natural Air

On cooler days, open the windows to allow fresh air to circulate. This will cut back on the lights that are on in the home as well as the air conditioning unit. The best time to do this is at night so that the home gets cooler in a shorter time.

 

There's nothing like being too hot in the home in the summer. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do during the day that will provide comfort while saving money. Use fans when possible, and keep the windows open to let air flow through the home.

BrookeChaplan

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Solar power is the fastest-growing renewable energy source in the U.S., increasing more than 23 times in the last eight years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. As demand has grown and the technology has improved, the price of solar power has fallen. Are you uncertain about how solar power works? Here's a quick guide to the basics.

 

Solar Panels

When sunlight hits certain materials known as semiconductors, the materials convert the light energy to an electrical current. Solar panels that use this technology are photovoltaic (PV) panels. Within the panel are cells containing crystals. Most residential systems contain silicon crystals, like the silicon chips in a computer. Each cell produces only a small amount of power, but they're connected in series which collect their output.

The cells are sandwiched between protective layers of glass or plastic. Panels are built to withstand hail, wind, and lightning strikes. Several panels together make an array. Because the system is modular, it can be designed to meet any electrical load.

 

Mounting Structures

Most residential solar systems are mounted on a south-facing roof. Panels can also be placed on a rack set on the ground. The panels are angled for maximum sun exposure at that latitude. Tracker systems follow the sun across the sky but are more expensive and need more maintenance.

 

Inverter

PV panels produce direct current. An inverter converts DC current to the AC current needed for household appliances. The inverter has a display showing how much power the array is producing. Some inverters can be monitored remotely via the Internet.

 

Electrical Meter

The meter connects the PV system to the local electrical grid. If the system is producing more power than the house needs, the meter will run backward. At night or when the panel isn't in service, the meter will show normal electrical demand.

Because the house is drawing at least part of its electricity from the panels, homeowners can see significant savings on their utility bills. They will still have to pay a monthly connection fee to the utility.

If the power goes out, most solar systems will shut down even if the sun is shining. This is to protect line workers.

 

Storage

The sun doesn't always shine. Battery systems can save electricity for use at night or in bad weather, and can be put on systems on- and off-grid. Lead-acid batteries are the most common. Lithium-ion batteries have recently come on the market. Storage systems can help utilities reduce their peak demand since the house will draw from its batteries before it needs power from the grid.

 

Site

PV panels will produce some electricity even in low light, but they need full sun for best performance. The ideal solar energy site has full exposure to the south, east, and west. Large trees, buildings, or hillsides that shade the site may make it unsuitable for a solar installation.

 

Life Expectancy

Solar panels are designed to last at least 25 years. They gradually lose efficiency, but should still be generating more than 80 percent of their original output at that point. Inverters need to be replaced more often.

 

Installation

More often than not, professional services and electricians are called to install solar panels and integrate them into electrical systems. While this is the safest option, it’s not impossible to set up without help. For a DIY installation, most will find parts and pieces from hardware stores or specialty electrical suppliers like Enercon Engineering Inc that professionals frequent for solar installations.

 

Depending on local regulations, solar systems may need permits and have zoning restrictions. Some utilities limit how much solar power they'll accept from customers. They also vary in how large a credit they give customers for the solar power they produce.

Depending on the state, solar systems may qualify for tax and other incentives. Check with your utility and your state's energy department.

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BrookeChaplan

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When you take a deep breath, you understandably expect the air to be fresh and healthy. However, air pollution is a growing problem in many areas. When the air you breathe is polluted, you bring toxins into your body. These harmful toxins can increase the risk of respiratory conditions, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, and even lung cancer. Unfortunately, outdoor air contaminants can enter your home, and this means that there may be no place for you to enjoy breathing fresh air. However, there are some steps that you can take to keep your indoor air as fresh and clean as possible.

 

Take Your Shoes Off

When you enter your home, you bring contaminants from outdoors in with you. Your shoes are a primary source of contaminants. When you walk across your home with dirty soles, pollutants become airborne. Some contaminants will lodge themselves in your carpet or will enter your HVAC system. One of the best ways to reduce this source of indoor air pollution is to take your shoes off before you enter your home. You can also wipe your pets’ paws off for additional benefit. Remember to vacuum regularly to remove particles from the carpet.

 

Replace Windows and Seals

Windows seemingly last forever at first glance. Unless they physically break, you may think that any piece of glass between you and the outside world would suffice. However, older windows may leak, and this could allow air pollution to stream into your home around the clock. This could also impact climate control and energy efficiency in your home. Replacing older windows and re-sealing the space around your windows and doors can help you to reduce or eliminate the amount of outdoor air that enters your home from these spaces. If you’re not certain of your ability to replace the windows perfectly to avoid drafts, consider hiring a professional window service to do it for you.

 

Clean Your HVAC System

Even when you take these steps, some air pollution will still enter your home. Your HVAC system can filter many of these contaminants out of your indoor air, but it is most effective when the system is cleaned and well-maintained. Replace air filters regularly. In addition, schedule HVAC system maintenance at least once per year.

 

You understandably want to breathe healthy air inside your home, but your air may not be as clean as it could be. As you can see, there are many ways that air pollution can enter your home, but there are also steps that you can take to improve the situation. Follow these helpful tips soon so that you can enjoy the benefit of fresher air in your home.

BrookeChaplan

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Remodeling a home is a great way to shake things up. If you care about the environment, one of the major shakeups you can make deals with environmental friendliness. As you change things up in your home, you can make sure your new space is a bit greener. Here are a few tips to make your remodeling more environmentally conscious.

 

Reuse What You Can

The remodeling process involves a great deal of destruction but it can also involve quite a bit of creation. Instead of getting rid of everything that doesn’t work, why not try repurposing some of it? You might be able to save money and help the environment by repainting old cabinets or repurposing some of the building materials from the area that you are remodeling. If you can’t reuse what you’ve got, try using reclaimed items from someone else. This helps to cut down on the pollution involved in manufacturing new items and keeps detritus out of the landfills at the same time.

 

Dispose Of Your Waste

The way you get rid of rubbish can play a huge role in the green nature of your company. If you’re burning trash or just dragging bags out to the curb every week, the odds are that you’re contributing to the problem more than helping. Instead of going that route, why not work with professionals, like those at Green Bin, to make sure your trash is hauled away in an environmentally safe way? While you should always do what you can to reduce waste, getting rid of what is left in the right manner is a good start.

 

Be Energy Efficient

Finally, pay attention to the efficiency of what you’re adding to your home. Bringing in newer appliances is usually a good way to ensure that your energy usage is a fair bit lower, but you don’t have to stop there. Look into other energy-saving techniques like environmentally-friendly insulation or lower ceilings that will require less energy to heat and cool. You can even reduce your dependency on the electrical grid by installing solar panels when you remodel. Choosing energy-friendly additions to your home can help you to reduce your carbon footprint.

 

Always make sure you keep environmental friendliness in mind when you remodel. Reuse materials when you can, dispose of things properly when you can’t, and always look for more efficient ways to bring energy into your home. If make going green a priority you should be able to find ways to make your remodel fall in line with your plans.

BrookeChaplan

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A xeriscape yard can be just as lush and beautiful as one with colorful flowers and a deep-green lawn. The word “xeriscape” comes from the Greek and means “dry.” It’s possible to achieve a rich and varied landscape without relying on water-hungry turf or plants by following these three basic steps.

Choosing Plants

The rule of thumb for establishing a xeriscape in your yard is to look for plants that are native to the area. When you go to the nursery, choose plants that will thrive in your climate zone. Your local nursery can let you know or you can access this map online.

The USDA determines zones by determining the lowest winter temperature an area experiences. It breaks those zones into 10 degrees Fahrenheit intervals. Once you find your zone, choose plants based on it. It’s difficult to grow plants in a zone that they’re not suited to. They’ll need covering on the coldest winter nights or may not survive the winter if their roots are damaged by hard freezes. Conversely, if they need a certain number of hours below freezing (also called chill hours), they may not flower or fruit in warmer climate zones.

When choosing plants at the nursery, look on the plant’s tag or label. It should indicate its sun and water needs. Local nurseries may also tag plants as native or place them in a separate section.

Irrigation System

Even though you’re installing a drought-tolerant landscape, it will need some supplemental watering during dry periods, especially as it takes root. Once established, you may not need any irrigation, depending on your climate and the plants you choose.

Once you’ve removed the turf and the water-hungry shrubs and plants, install the irrigation system. The most water-efficient are drip systems that provide water to the plants’ roots rather than broadcast it overhead like popup sprinklers do. Home improvement centers sell all the fittings for drip irrigation systems, but if you can’t find what you need locally, you may need to shop online or consult a professional.

Ground Cover

A xeriscape landscape uses rocks, gravel and masonry materials instead of turf to significantly reduce water usage. Losing the grass also emphasizes your plants. Landscaping rock comes in a variety of types, sizes, and colors. Many xeriscape yards combine all three materials in one yard to provide functional areas along with ground cover. As with the plants and irrigation systems, you may need to consult a company like Purdy Topsoil & Gravel if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

The Results

When it’s designed for your climate, a xeriscape landscape will last for years and provide natural beauty year-round. Once planted, it won’t require a lot of effort to maintain and will save precious water resources.

BrookeChaplan

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In an increasingly environmentally aware world, much debate has been raised about what the most eco-conscious materials are. While natural materials are the most eco-friendly over the long haul, there is also great concern about the stripping of natural resources with which to make those products. Wood can be and is, however, still the most eco-conscious choice, when used responsibility. Here are 4 reasons why wood is still the best eco-conscious choice for home building projects.

 

Biodegradable

Most plastics are not actually biodegradable, but will eventually decompose. However, based on the type of plastic, this can take anywhere from 5-10 years to 100 years or longer to occur. A piece of scrap wood is fully biodegradable and will be reabsorbed by the earth in anywhere from just a few months to a few years depending on conditions.

 

Sustainable resource

Resources only become stripped when they are not replaced or replanted. Sustainable harvesting involves replanting at the same - or greater - rates than resources are being consumed. While trees that produce hardwoods may take 100 years or more to mature, other woods like bamboo and pine can be regrown in just a few years, providing a limitless and sustainable supply of resources.

 

No toxic waste

The creation and processing of plastics requires a number of chemicals that can produce a great deal of potentially toxic waste. Wood is an organic substance that creates organic waste and is therefore far better for the environment. In addition, the chemicals used to process plastic can remain on even the finished product. In today's energy conscious homes, tight seals on windows and doors keep chemical fumes from plastic products trapped tightly inside, creating a toxic zone inside your own home.

 

Upcycling

There is almost no limit to the number of times wood can be used again and again. With a little sanding, old furniture can be repainted or pieces from one item of furniture turned into a completely different item of furniture. Old wood pallets and crates like those offered by Acme Case Co Pty Ltd can become chic statement pieces, dressers can become bathroom vanities and armoires can become beautiful TV cabinets. Once most plastic products become old, scratched, broken, stained or worn out, they generally just have to be thrown away because they often can't be repaired or restored. When the same thing happens to wood, however, it often just increases its character and value.

 

While new uses for recycled plastics are constantly being developed to keep them out of landfills and oceans, plastic bags, bottles and other items have still become an environmental menace. In spite of a few companies that have made headlines for their unethical harvesting of natural resources, wood still remains one of the most eco-conscious choices you can make for everything from furniture to building materials.

BrookeChaplan

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Car manufacturers, auto repair shops and drivers take major steps to protect the environment. Commuters realize that they can do more by being more conscious about driving. The first step is to find out at least a few ways to improve the daily commute to work.

 

Carpool

Carpooling is the most effective way to remain conscious of the environment. The reality is that many people need to get to work, but few people want to give up their vehicles for good. Instead of selling your car altogether, leave it at home and join a carpool. Get four people to carpool in one car and eliminate three whole cars on the road. If a carpool isn’t a great option, you might try taking the bus.

 

Being environmentally friendly is the main reason to carpool, but the other reason is to avoid heavy traffic. If more people carpooled on the way to work, there would be very few or no traffic jams. With fewer cars on the road, there are fewer accidents and drivers drive straight through without stopping. If you take the bus, many cities have a dedicated bus lane that can cut through traffic with ease. It’s definitely worth considering.

 

Get a Regular Checkup

If you have a bad transmission, the car leaks oil from underneath. If you have a bad engine, the car releases too much exhaust gas. It only takes a simple annual checkup to prevent the problems of your car from interacting with the environment. According to Young Automotive Group, it is crucial to work with certified technicians who know the most important maintenance duties to do. Check your air filter for clogs that may cause the engine to overheat. Prolong the lifespan of your engine to avoid having to replace different parts of your car.

 

Track Your Routes

Drivers are known to waste fuel when they do not know where they are going. Many people use GPS devices on their cars or phones, so they choose the quickest and shortest paths to where they need to go. If your career relies on driving, you need this kind of guidance system to save money on fuel and reduce the volume of emissions you release into the air. The less you drive, the smaller the carbon footprints you leave in the world.

 

Millions of cars crowd the streets and roads all over the world. If half of those drivers gave up cars, the effects are guaranteed to change the environment for the better. If half of those drivers carpooled, the effects would be similar. The change starts with you and your daily commute to work.

BrookeChaplan

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You want your home to be a comfortable place, and the temperature of it plays a large role in keeping it as cozy and refreshing as possible. While you may not realize it, your roof plays a large role in the temperature of your home. In fact, there are many different characteristics to consider when choosing a roof for your home that will provide you with the best temperature all year long. Here are four main characteristics that affect the temperature of your home.

 

Color

It may seem silly, but the color of the roof can have a large impact on its ability to absorb or retain heat. Studies have proven that dark-colored roofs keep what’s underneath them 10 to 15 degrees warmer than the material under light-colored roofs. This is simply because dark colors absorb light, while light colors are more reflective. Darker colored roofs are popular in colder places that get a decent amount of snow in the winter since they absorb heat and help the snow melt away faster.

 

Material

The material the roof is made of also impacts the internal temperature of your home. Asphalt and metal roofs are the most popular materials to construct a roof with, and each has pros and cons, but an asphalt roof only reflects about 30 percent of the light, while a metal roof reflects the majority of the light rays and can keep your home an even temperature all the time. This perhaps makes it the best choice when it comes to roofing material. But, if you’re not a fan of how metal roofs look, you don’t have to settle. Most roofing materials are now constructed to offer a “cool roof” option. These materials have been designed to absorb heat and reflect light to regulate the temperature of your home. Although they may be more expensive up-front, the energy savings can make them worth it in the long run.

 

Construction

It’s important to keep in mind that, while you may pick the perfect color and material for your roof, the most important part is the construction of it. Most professional roofers, like Acoma Roofing, Inc., will tell you that ventilating the attic area properly is the best way to keep your home cool in the hotter months. On the other hand, proper insulation is an extremely important part of keeping your home warm in the cooler months.

 

Each of these things plays an important role in regulating the temperature of your home. But, it’s important to remember that every home does not have the same roofing needs. Be sure to consult with a professional to determine what type of roof will fit your style and needs.

BrookeChaplan

No matter your stance on global warming, everyone can agree that living “green” is a good idea. After all, it’s always good to take care of the environment and save a lot of money in the process. If you’ve gone down the green living path, you may think you’re living just about as efficiently as you can. However, if you haven’t considered your heating system, all those other green living practices could end up negated. Here are a few ways to ensure your heating system is matching the green goals of the rest of your lifestyle.

Filter Woes

Even if you have a newer heating system, a dirty filter will quickly make it largely inefficient. Dirty filters make it much harder for the system to ingest air, causing the blower motor to work harder, resulting in increased electricity usage and extra wear and tear. It’s a good idea to check your filters at least once a month to see if they need to be changed, though if you live in a dusty climate or frequently have your windows open, you may want to check your filter more frequently.

Working Hard

Before the cooler weather really sets in, it’s important to have a professional HVAC company take a look at your heating system to ensure it’s in peak operating condition. Dust and dirt can accumulate on various components throughout your system, causing it to operate less efficiently. In addition, individual components within the system may wear out or stop working altogether, requiring replacement to ensure your system works well.

Empty Spaces

If you have a central heating system, it’s important to ensure that your system is only heating the parts of your home that are actually occupied. Otherwise, you’ll be paying extra money and using extra energy to heat air that will never be enjoyed. You can direct the heat by closing the registers in unused rooms, and then keeping the doors closed to those rooms so the cooler air within them doesn’t cool down the rest of your home.

End of the Road

At some point, even the highest-quality heating systems will need to be replaced. As your system heads toward the end of its life, it will continue to become less efficient, no matter what steps you take. It’s important to have your new system installed by qualified HVAC professionals to ensure that it’s installed properly to ensure it can heat your home efficiently for many years to come. Then, once you have it installed, it’s important to follow the tips above to keep it working at its best.

Keep the Cold Out

The best way to keep your heating system from working too hard is to prevent the heat it produces from escaping your home. This is only possible through proper insulation techniques, from wall and attic insulation to proper caulking around doors and windows. When you combine proper insulation with an efficient heating system, you end up with a powerful combination that will keep you warm and comfortable while allowing you to maintain your green lifestyle.

BrookeChaplan

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When spring arrives, a new growing season begins. This is a time when you expect your yard’s dormant vegetation to become rejuvenated. Unfortunately, many people are dismayed to realize that their lawn is not as green and healthy as they hoped. If your lawn is patchy, has brown spots or is showing other signs of trouble, you may use some of these tips to revive your lawn and to get the curb appeal that you desire.

Kill the Weeds

With warm spring temperatures and hydrating rain showers, weeds that were dormant all winter will sprout up quickly. Weeds will crowd out your grass. Eventually, you may have a yard full of weeds rather than healthy grass. You may also have brown or bare spots as a result. There are a few different ways to get rid of weeds. You can pull the weeds out by hand. You can also apply various products to the lawn. For example, some broadleaf weed killers will kill the weeds and not the grass. You may decide to kill all vegetation by applying various household products to the soil. This will give you a blank slate to plant new grass.

Aerate the Soil

If your lawn is looking generally unhealthy, the reason may be because of compacted soil. Soil has a tendency to become more compact over time because of various weather conditions. When it is firmly compacted, water and fresh air will not be able to reach the plant roots as easily. Professional aeration can loosen the soil and ensure that vegetation roots have access to the fresh air and water that they need for optimal health.

Plant Grass Seed or Plugs

Regardless of whether you have decided to start from scratch and use lawn installation services for a brand-new lawn or you simply want to fill in some patches of dirt, bringing new grass into your space may be necessary. To determine the right approach, consider your budget as well as the current state of your lawn. It makes sense to kill weeds and prepare the soil through aeration and even fertilization before planting new grass seed or plugs.

After you take these steps, remember that regular yard maintenance is required to nurture your lawn back to health and to maintain it in a healthy state. This includes regular mowing and edging, watering and fertilization. If you continue to struggle to achieve the beautiful curb appeal that you desire, using professional lawn care services is an excellent idea.

BrookeChaplan

Now that you have decided to build your dream home, you may have taken bold steps to locate the ideal lot or acreage site to build on. The impressive natural beauty of the land may have drawn you to it and instilled a sense of peace as you walked the lot. Understandably, you want to retain these same natural features that drew you to the land. Each lot and building project are unique, but these are some of the strategies that can be used to preserve the natural features that you have fallen in love with.

Plan around Trees

There are few natural features more beautiful than a centuries-old tree that has lush, healthy branches as well as deep roots and a huge trunk. These heritage trees tell a story of their own, so you understandably want to keep them intact on your land. If space permits, consider designing your home’s layout around the trees. These trees can be a true focal point to the landscape, and they add curb appeal as well as property value. Creating a floorplan and layout that takes the preservation of heritage trees into account is a smart idea.

Build into Cliffs and Ledge

If your lot has a dominant cliff or ledge, you may be able to build right up to the rock wall or even into it in some cases. Rock boring hire is available to help you anchor your property into the rock. By doing so, your home may become a part of the natural beauty. The rock may also act as a natural protective feature, and it could promote energy efficiency. It makes sense take full advantage of cliffs and ledges when they are present on your property.

Hire an Experienced Architect

These are only a few of the many features that you may want to preserve or take advantage of in your floorplan. In some cases, such as if you have a very large estate lot with ample space to lay the home on the land, special effort may not be required to preserve coveted natural features. However, other properties may require bold or monumental efforts in order to achieve your preservation goals. Hiring an experienced architect who has a proven track record of creativity and success in this area is advantageous.

As you see, there are many creative ways to preserve your land’s treasured natural features. Identify the features that are most important to you, and speak with various contractors about the preservation options available.

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