BrookeChaplan

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  1. We are still a few months away, but the earlier you start preparing for the cold season, the better. Winter seasons are often characterized by high energy consumption, and now is probably the best time to start thinking about ways to cut down the cold weather utility costs. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, about 50 percent of homes in the US use natural gas for heating during cold seasons. One of the biggest challenges for these homes is the sky high heating costs they have to endure during winter. However, there are some tips homeowners can utilize to control the costs of energy in the winter and save money. Here are three of them: Install Better Windows Replacing windows is one of the most worthwhile home improvements you can make before winter. Old, thin, single pane windows don’t do much to keep out the cold air. If your windows have been around longer than anyone can remember, it’s probably time to replace them. Energy-Star rated windows and specialty storm windows recommended by professionals like Valley Glass Utility can provide great insulation in your home and keep that precious warm air inside. This means lower utility costs and a nice cosmetic change to boot. Caulk Doors, Siding, and Windows Air leaks can increase the cost of heating and cooling your house by a significant amount, pay attention to them. Start with the big gaps, like broken or jammed windows, poorly hung doors, and damage to the exterior of the home. Once those are done, you can focus on the harder to find problems. Air leaks are common where wiring, duct work, and plumbing goes through floors, ceilings, and walls. You can find these small leaks by passing your hand close to suspect areas and noting any change in temperature. If that isn’t working, you can turn off fans or HVAC systems and hold a candle near potential leaky areas and see if the flame flickers or moves. Sealing leaks with caulk can save more than enough money to pay for itself, and can easily be done in an hour or two for even a large house. Replace or Clean the Furnace Filter It's important to clean or change the furnace filter on a regular basis, especially when it is running every day. When a furnace can 'breathe' easily, they use much less energy. Check the manufacturer's manual for information regarding the replacement of furnace filter – some require changes every three months. The cost of replacing the furnace filter will depend on the furnace. On average, furnace filter replacement costs range between 10 and 50 dollars. Depending on how often your furnace runs, how dusty your house gets, and the age of the furnace, you may want to replace it more often. A huge chunk of your home budget goes towards heating costs, especially during winter. Taking a few measures to make your home more efficient will go a long way for your budget, and will make cold weather stay outside where it belongs.
  2. Transitioning your home's electrical system to include solar power can provide a huge number of financial and environmental benefits. Installing a solar power generating system on your roof or in your yard has the potential to greatly reduce your electricity bill while also reducing your carbon footprint and helping to protect the planet. In this way, going green with solar power is truly a great thing to do. Unfortunately, making the transition isn't always as simple or straightforward as it seems. Despite the price of solar systems and installation continuing to drop to new record lows, the fact is that solar still remains prohibitively expensive for many homeowners. As well, the overall success of your solar system depends in large part on how and where it's installed and the quality of your equipment. For these reasons, it is essential that you pay attention to the following tips in order to help you overcome any potential obstacles and hopefully simplify your transition to solar. Always Have a Solar Feasibility Study Performed Not all homes are suitable for solar power and even if your home is suitable, you'll still need to know where the best spot for the panels is, how many solar panels you'll need and how much energy you can expect the system to produce. A solar feasibility study helps you answer all of these questions in order to ensure that you get the best possible system for your home and your energy needs. Most reputable solar installation companies will offer this type of study for free. In this way, you'll not only be able to ensure that you get the best possible system, but you'll also be able to compare the prices, products, and services offered by each company to find the best possible deal. Purchase Everything Up-Front When deciding to go solar, you will typically have the option to purchase all of your own equipment up front, lease the equipment from a solar company or sign a Power Purchasing Agreement with your power company, in which case they supply and own all of the equipment. Although purchasing your own equipment requires a much larger initial investment, it is well worth it since your investment will provide tangible goods. Otherwise, you'll end up paying for something that someone else still technically owns. You will generally be able to qualify for a variety of local, state and federal rebates and tax incentives to help offset the initial costs. However, if you're still unable to afford what it costs, it's well worth it to try to get a loan to cover your solar transition in order to help you meet your energy goals. If timing is the only thing holding you back, searching regionally for something like “Texas payday loan” can help you find short term lenders you can use, so long as you’re prepared to pay them back ASAP. The energy saving benefits of your solar system should help to offset any interest payments you make on the loan. Buying your solar equipment out right also gives you the ability to sell your solar panels or other equipment should you ever decide to upgrade, and the solar system obviously boosts your home's total value. All of this makes a loan more than worth it in the end. Make Any Necessary Repairs or Upgrades Ahead of Time In addition to the solar feasibility study, you'll want to make sure to have your roof inspected to ensure it can fully support the solar panels. If the inspection discovers any leaks, structural damage or other issues, it is essential that you have them fixed prior to the solar installation. Similarly, if your roof is only a year or two away from needing to be replaced, you should definitely consider having it done now. Otherwise, you risk having to have the solar system removed to fix the damage and then starting all over. Forget about the DIY Route Although you can read numerous articles online about DIY solar, the truth is that installing a solar system is something that's best left to the professionals. The complicated electrical work required is not only incredibly dangerous for anyone other than a certified electrician, but any wiring issues also have the potential to destroy your solar system or potentially even burn down your home. At the very least, wiring issues can harm the efficiency of your solar panels. The actual installation of the solar panels should also be left to a trained professional since the exact position, angle and orientation will directly influence how much energy they can create. Therefore, if you want your solar system to be safe and work properly, it is imperative that you have it professionally installed. Solar power is now more accessible than ever, and there truly has never been a better time to make the transition to clean, green, renewable solar energy. However, a poorly designed or improperly installed solar system will still be a huge waste of money. In this sense, it is essential that you get the expert advice and financial assistance you need to ensure your transition to solar is a success.
  3. Pollution is a serious problem that is having a major impact on the world. While the pollution problems in places like China tend to get more publicity, the truth is that the United States is also facing major pollution problems. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that at least 40% of American rivers and streams are in poor biological condition due to pollution, which makes it necessary that everyone does their part to reduce their environmental impact. One of the most important things you can do to protect the country's waterways is to focus on your plumbing and/or septic system. The wastewater that your home produces can be a major source of pollution if not handled correctly, so here are a few ways you can do your part to help the environment. Watch What You Pour Down the Drain One of the main problems is that all wastewater eventually ends up in our streams and rivers. This water is first cleaned at a wastewater-treatment facility, but these treatment facilities are much more effective at removing bacteria and biological contaminants than they are at removing chemical contaminants. It is advised that you never pour any strong chemicals, adhesives, or other potentially dangerous substances down the drain and instead dispose of them as instructed. This includes cleaning products, nail polish, and many other household items. Additionally, you should never flush your old medications, as these are another major source of water contamination. Consider Grey Water Recycling An easy way to reduce the impact of your wastewater is to limit the amount that you produce. To this end, gray water recycling is one of the best and easiest things you can do. With this type of recycling system, the gray water that comes from your sinks, showers, dishwasher, and washing machine is reused instead of being sent down the drain. The black water that comes from your toilets will still end up in the wastewater-treatment facility, but the rest of your water can be used for watering your lawns and landscaping. Check the Condition of Your Plumbing or Septic System A properly maintained, functioning sewage system or septic system is designed to prevent environmental contamination by ensuring that the wastewater doesn't come into contact with the environment until it has been properly treated. However, a leak in your plumbing or sewage could eventually lead to toxic conditions around your home due to the sewage contaminating the surrounding soil. Similarly, it is essential that your septic system is properly installed, placed in a suitable location, and functioning properly to reduce the risk of polluting the surrounding area. If you are considering a septic system, consult a company like Rob’s Septic Tanks Inc to ensure it can be implemented safely. It is also very important that you have your plumbing or septic system inspected regularly by a professional in order to ensure that your wastewater doesn't harm the environment. The fact is that wastewater is always going to be a primary cause of pollution, which means that everyone should do what they can to minimize the damage. While you'll never be able to fully eliminate the impact your wastewater has on the planet, you can at least reduce the damage by being diligent and responsible.
  4. Making your business more environmentally friendly has the potential to help lower operating costs over the long term, while also ensuring that you and your employees are doing your part in order to protect the planet for future generations. However, going green can also benefit your business in another major way by allowing you to attract new environmentally-conscious customers. Unfortunately, many of the most common green business practices take place behind the scenes—meaning there is no way that your customers will know about all that you're doing. For this reason, you may want to consider using the four following methods, which will help your business appear as green as it actually is. Restrooms Using biodegradable green cleaning products is a simple way to reduce your company's environmental impact, as soaps and other cleaning products are a major source of water pollution and contaminants. In this sense, you should really attempt to use green products wherever possible. However, one area where this is especially true is in any restrooms your customers may use. Installing low-flow toilets and water-saving faucets is a good start, but you'll also want to make sure that you provide biodegradable hand soap and only use post-consumer recycled toilet paper to show customers proof that you take environmental responsibility seriously. Landscaping Exterior landscaping can be a huge waste of water. Luckily, it isn't all that difficult to make your exterior landscaping more environmentally friendly. One option is to landscape using only native plants. As well, you may want to consider installing a system that allows you to take advantage of rainwater in order to irrigate your landscaping. Not only are your customers sure to notice, but installing this type of system may also allow you to qualify for special rebates and tax credits. Vertical Garden Although it may not do much to improve your business' sustainability, installing a vertical garden in your lobby or office will go a long way towards improving the overall appearance of your location. Not only that, but all those plants will continuously produce oxygen, which will help to improve indoor air quality and make your business a more pleasant place to be. These can be tricky to install, though, so consult with a company like Advance Plant Services if you need help. Solar Solar panels are a sure sign that a business is attempting to be more environmentally conscious. Unfortunately, a full solar-power system is still beyond the financial reach of most companies. Nonetheless, even just installing a few solar panels and a solar-power backup generator can easily make your company appear greener, while also ensuring that you'll be protected in case of a power outage. In this day and age, going green is one of the best things a company can do—both in terms of its bottom line and for attracting new customers. Still, it is important that your customers actually know about your new green practices, which is why it’s a good idea to try to incorporate as many of the above ideas into your business as possible.
  5. Many people are now realizing the need to go green and remain environmentally friendly with their construction efforts. There are plenty of ways to make that happen: using green building materials, opting for energy-efficient options in your home, and even considering energy-producing options like solar panels. One of the most critical parts of the construction process, however, is the planning period. Less Waste Planning ahead will help reduce material waste. Construction projects have the potential to be incredibly wasteful. With the average building project yielding around 3.9 pounds of waste per square foot, it doesn't take long for your "green" construction project to become incredibly wasteful. Planning ahead, however, can help you substantially reduce the amount of waste by preventing you from having to go back and redo work, wasting materials unnecessarily, and more. Quality Assurance Working with the right construction team makes a big difference. Hiring quality services can keep your construction project both timely and efficient, saving substantial resources along the way. Construction crews who are dedicated to green construction will avoid wasting energy and resources throughout the construction process. Do your research on construction crews in your area that have worked on eco-friendly projects before, and make sure you talk with the company before you hire them to ensure that they have your goals at the forefront of their minds while working on your project. Speaking with companies like Robar Boring Contractors Pty Ltd can make achieving your goals much easier. Research Planning ahead will help prevent you from missing green options. There are a wide range of sustainable building materials and other eco-friendly options that you can add to your construction project. The problem is, if you don't know about them, you can't add them to your project! You may be familiar with solar panels on the roof and using windows that will help keep your home at a more even temperature throughout all parts of the year, but have you thought about how your home's insulation can affect its environmental impact? What about the materials used to design your kitchen or bathroom? Prior planning will ensure that you're using the right materials throughout your entire construction project. Planning ahead is vital to most construction projects. It saves time, energy, and expense, especially when it helps you avoid last-minute changes. When you're aiming for an eco-friendly construction project, however, the need to plan is even more critical. With the right forethought and planning, you can ensure that your construction project is as eco-friendly as possible.
  6. The process of flipping a home is increasingly common, and it involves fixing up an older, outdated home for the purpose of turning a profit. Flipping can be lucrative, but it can also be wasteful. Some people are looking for green ways to flip homes. These may be ways that limit waste or that make the future owner’s use of the home more environmentally-friendly. If you are thinking about green-flipping a home, these are some excellent project ideas to consider. Install Solar Panels The source of energy that a home uses can play a major role in how green the building is for future occupants. The sun provides a steady stream of renewable energy to homeowners each day, and solar panels are responsible for capturing and converting this energy. Installing solar panels and a full solar energy system on the building can eliminate the need for homeowners to use fossil fuels for energy. This can have a dramatic impact on how green the home is for years to come. Replace Old Windows Older windows, typically, are poor insulators, and they can allow an incredible amount of thermal energy transference. This can decrease how energy efficient the home’s HVAC system is. Modern windows may have two or three panes of glass as well as an insulating layer of gases between them. They may also be better sealed than older windows. As a side benefit, updating older windows can also improve the interior and exterior look of the home with beautiful results. There may be tax credits for the installation of energy efficient windows that can help you to save money on this project. Add New Insulation Another idea to consider when green-flipping a home is to improve the building’s insulation. Old fiberglass insulation can slouch down in walls or even deteriorate or rot. New spray foam insulation has a higher R-value for decreased thermal energy transference. It also will hold its shape and remain in place for long-term protection around the home. Some of the side benefits associated with adding spray foam insulation to the home include noise reduction for improved ambiance inside the home as well as improved air quality in the building. Choose Reclaimed or Recycled Materials There are many aspects of a flipping project that are designed mostly to improve aesthetics of the home, and using new materials is common in these projects. However, new materials may use natural resources and may increase pollution. A better idea is to use reclaimed or recycled materials as much as possible. You may even be able to reuse some of the materials in the existing home. For example, you could refinish an existing wood floor or expose decorative shiplap that may be buried underneath drywall. In many cases, exposing and refinishing beams in a historic home incorporates the character of the home in beautiful ways. You can also use reclaimed materials from other buildings to further decrease the use of new materials. Replace the Appliances From the HVAC system and water heater to kitchen appliances and more, appliances can use a substantial amount of energy. This is particularly true when the appliances are older in age. Modern appliances that carry the EnergyStar rating are green, and you can easily improve the look and function of the home when you select the right appliances to use when flipping the home. While renovating a home for the purposes of flipping it can generate a substantial amount of waste and pollution, it does not have to. The use of recycled materials can keep waste to a minimum. You can also limit waste by making extensive plans. Taking educational courses like Success Path can help you make better plans to get the job done right. In addition, there are multiple green projects that you can work on throughout the home that can make the home energy efficient and green. Consider incorporating some or all of these project ideas into your next flip project for incredible results.
  7. 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.
  8. It's happened to the best of us. You're unwinding after a long day at work on the couch, cozied up with a glass of wine and feeling utterly relaxed when suddenly a gross spider or centipede scurries across your coffee table. Gone is that feeling of relaxation, replaced with formication and unease. While some earthy types might be okay sharing their home with pests, the majority of us want them out. If you're in a situation where pests are disturbing your sense of ease and contentment in your home, then ask yourself these three questions before taking action. Is It Something I'm Doing? Most pests will take up residence in your home regardless of your housekeeping skills. However, there are some situations where to be put it bluntly, it might be your fault. For example, unswept hardwood floors and dusty ceilings can create a paradise for some types of spiders. Messy kitchens where food particles are allowed to accumulate can create a paradise for ants and roaches. The best first step is a day of hardcore cleaning in your home. While not guaranteed to get rid of your pests, it might help. Is It Fleeting? There are some periods throughout the year where we see an increase of spiders and centipedes, such as late spring and early fall. This coincides with their mating habits. Some infestations are in fact fleeting and will go away on their own. However, if you've been repeatedly seeing pests for longer than two months, you might need to take action. Can I Eradicate Them On My Own In A Safe Way? The short answer to this is "no." There are lots of commercial insecticides available at home supply and hardware stores, but most professionals dislike them for two reasons. First, they're generally not as effective as the chemicals used by the pros, sometimes rendering them a complete waste of time. Second, the average person doesn't take precautions for safety, such as wearing a mask and removing pets from the area. Eradicating insects is generally a job that is best left to the professionals like those at Allstate Pest Control, especially if you want those pests gone for good. After you've considered these things, you'll be able to make a decision about how you want to deal with your pest problem. No one wants to share their home with creepy unwanted guests, but thankfully, there are steps you can take to solve the problem.
  9. Some people don't see the value of conserving water unless they live in a desert or drought zone. They fail to recognize that fresh water resources can dry up at any time or become polluted by nearby agricultural and industrial processes. No matter where you live, reducing water waste when landscaping is critical to protecting this life-saving resource and the environment. You can decrease the amount of fresh water used for your landscaping by following these three simple tips: Build a Patio Since grass is the primary feature of many landscape designs and requires a lot of water to thrive, homeowners should always decrease the amount of grass in their landscaping. One of the best ways to do this is with a paving stone sitting area or patio. A properly sealed patio surface prevents water-greedy weeds from growing between the stones. You can also design the surface in a way that channels rain run-off directly to nearby plants. You can check out companies like Paving Stone of San Diego to find the right size, shape, and style of pavers and other materials you want to use. Install Rock Gardens A patio isn't your only stone landscaping option. Many homeowners who care about water conservation invest in a variety of small, medium and large loose natural stones in wide bands, geometric shapes and other patterns with or without plants for ground cover. Some people also install large boulders surrounded by small plants that use little water. A serene Japanese "Zen" rock and rake garden is another option. Some homeowners even replace grass with painted square pavers designed to duplicate a life-size chess, Scrabble or other popular game board for outdoor play with family and friends. Swap Out Plants Unlike grass and many common seasonal flowering plants that need a lot of water every day to maintain their healthy appearance, succulents like cacti, agave and aloe retain water longer so that you don't have to water them as often. Even though moss species need moist environments, moss is another option that can store enough water from short daily misting to survive periods of dryness. It also rejuvenates quickly after a dry period when it's re-hydrated. Additionally, both succulents and moss are more diverse and colorful than grass and they don't require maintenance via gas-powered mowers and trimmers that also cause environmental pollution. Always keep in mind that with all plant-based landscaping options, misting and drip irrigation works better than a sprinkler because they use less water in a more targeted and efficient fashion. It is possible for you to have a beautiful landscape and reduce water waste. Start redesigning your landscape today.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Many homeowners notice that their water consumption escalates each spring as the outdoor temperatures increase. This extra water consumption can be a drain on your budget, and it also indicates that you may be unnecessarily contributing more than your share to a water shortage issue. By taking a few steps around the house, you can reduce water waste this spring, save money in the process and promote the health of the environment. Watch for Signs of a Hidden Water Leak Some homeowners have water leaks in their pipes and are unaware of the issue. When frigid temperatures are in place, the pipes may be partially frozen and barely allowing a trickle of water through. However, when temperatures rise, the water flow and water waste may increase substantially. Watch your water bill for unexplained increases. Pay attention to the yard for signs of lush, green areas despite the fact that you have not watered recently and that it has not rained. Listen carefully to the sounds of your quiet house to determine if you hear dripping or trickling. These are among the most common signs of a hidden leak. Repair Plumbing Leaks Quickly While some leaks are hidden, other water issues are obvious and even annoying. For example, you may have a toilet that runs for no apparent reason or a slow drip in the kids’ bathroom sink. These are easy to overlook, but they can contribute to significant water waste. For most leaks, contact a plumber like those at High Speed Plumbing Inc. immediately to schedule repair service. The longer it goes on, the worse it can be for your home. Make Upgrades to Conserve Water Even if no leaks are present in your plumbing system, there is a good chance that you and your family members are using more water than you need to. There are many steps that you can take to conserve water, such as investing in low-flow toilets and faucets. You can also use a rainwater collection system to capture rain. This water can be used to irrigate the lawn and gardens, for flushing toilets and more. The use of water is a necessary part of life, and you may rely on the convenience of having water available on demand in your home. However, some people are using more water than they need to unnecessarily. This spring, take the time to look for water leaks that may be causing wasted water. Then, take the additional step of looking for ways that you and your loved ones could conserve water. These efforts can help you to save money and to enjoy a more eco-friendly home.
  15. Going completely green is a feat that few people can actually accomplish - especially those with busy lives and/ or families. But there are always smaller steps that anyone can take to live a greener lifestyle. While you may not be ready to live in a 300 square foot tiny home, there are a number of relatively simple and steps you can take to leave a lower carbon footprint - and sometimes even save some money in the process. Here are 4 green home improvements you can do yourself. Composting Landfills in North America are filling up and closing down. Nearly 1/3 of all landfill waste is composed of compostable materials. Composting allows you to create a thick, nutrient-rich humus for your lawn and garden while diverting as much as 30% of household waste. Not only does composting offer a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers, but microscopic organisms in compost help aerate the soil and ward off plant disease. Lay Synthetic Grass With water prices skyrocketing, not only will this upgrade help you go green, it will save you a lot of green - and manpower. Eco-friendly synthetic grass requires no water, no mowing and stays green for years. No more mowing the lawn every week in the summer or having to pay someone else to do it. With synthetic grass, you can use your water and your compost on a beautiful garden instead of your lawn. Install Solar Panels Solar panel systems can be purchased for as little as a few thousand dollars but will save you significantly on your monthly energy bill. For around $10,000, you can purchase a system that could allow you to go off-grid entirely. If you can’t go for 10k, solar power companies like Renogy usually have a wide range of solar kits at varying prices and sizes to fit any budget. Today's solar energy panels are easy to install and can be up and running in an hour or less. Upgrade your thermostat Not only are today's thermostats more intuitive, they are also far more sensitive to air temperatures. A decade ago, thermostats would detect when the air temperature rose or dropped about 8 degrees above or below where the temperature was set at to heat or cool the house about 8 - 10 degrees above or below the set temperature. This meant people regularly turned their heat up to high to stay warm or the air too low to stay cool. Today's thermostats are capable of regulating heating and cooling systems to stay constantly within a few degrees, so you can set your temp where you are comfortable and keep it there. Going green doesn't have to cost a fortune, nor does it have to be a significant hassle. In fact, some eco-friendly products are actually superior to their more harmful counterparts. Where green products were once generally more expensive than the more harmful products, now green solutions will often save you green.