Are Solar Panels a Good Investment?

Solar panel systems have become less expensive over time. This technology is also known to be cheaper than using the traditional power provided by your local utility company.

This is due to their energy saving abilities which can offset the initial costs of solar panel installation. Facing ever-increasing electric bills has driven many homeowners to ask themselves if solar power is an option. And if so, are solar panels actually worth it?

What they inevitably find, after a little bit of research is that by installing a solar power system, you can effectively take control of your energy expenditure. As fossil fuels continue to soar in price, so too do the possible savings of solar power increase. Essentially, once you have your solar setup, your savings will begin immediately.

How To Go Solar

Those who want to go solar can buy or lease their solar systems. There are also multiple financing options available. Leasing is often the best option for households.

Once your new solar panel system is installed and activated, you will essentially become part of a revolution in renewable power that is poised to put old-fashioned power companies on their heels.

You may be wondering how much money you can expect to save when going solar. This depends on the size of your solar system, whether you buy or lease, and your rate of electricity consumption.

Will My Solar Panel Investment Pay Off?

The short answer to this common question is, yes. There simply isn’t any doubt about it. For anyone currently not collecting and utilizing solar power, adding a solar collection system to the home means accessing an untapped and endless natural resource.

For most, the question is how to make ends meet through the initial investment and break through to the savings. The vast majority of households that buy even a single solar panel usually see their investment returned in no more than ten years after purchase. But, this is only just one cost angle.

There are a number of ways in which running solar power is guaranteed to pay off. Solar is reliable, much more so than many people think. Even in poor weather and overcast days, solar panels still collect energy. Even when covered with snow and ice, solar panels still process light from the sun.

To put it simply, if you can see light outside, your panels can produce electricity. The life expectancy of a solar panel is well over thirty years. Plus, very few, except for the most complex systems, need more than very basic maintenance.

Going Green with Solar and Saving

Using solar panels also comes with the knowledge that you are joining the incredibly important green energy movement. This is an effort to decrease our dependency on fossil fuels.

With utility prices projected to continue increasing in the foreseeable future, there’s no better time to go solar. Power companies and utilities will continue to exploit consumers for as long as they can.

So, when will this exploitation end? That decision is up to you. Once you install a single solar panel and begin seeing the benefits of free energy, you will only want more.

Boilers When to Repair and When to Replace

There’s no straightforward rule, or a tear and wear meter, that tells you when to replace your HVAC or boiler unit. This makes it hard to tell the exact time to do a replacement and when to run repairs.

To most people, the current financial situation will determine whether it is time to repair or just buy a new heating and cooling system.

The easiest way to tell whether you can do some repairs or simply replace your HVAC is by looking at a couple of tale-tale indicators. To identify these behavioral indicators, you will have to assess your system.

Analyzing Your HVAC System

The decision to replace or repair will depend on the age of your system, its efficiency, and if you’ve run similar repairs in the recent past. When analyzing your current system, look at things like:

  1. How often have you had to do repairs or replacements in the last three months?
  2. Is your house any bigger or more complex that it was when you bought the system?
  3. Are you happy with your system’s efficiency?
  4. Does the system fit into your current home automation plan?
  5. How old is the system?

The Age of Your System

The average lifespan of heat pumps and air conditioners is 10 to 12 years. A furnace, on the other hand, can keep on working for 15 to 20 years. The actual lifespan will always vary depending on brand or model durability and how heavy you push it. Age, in this case, is a contributing factor that will help you choose whether to replace or repair.

How Often Have You Run Repairs In the Recent Past?

Frequent repairs and replacements are the strongest hints that your heating and cooling system has outlived its usefulness. If your system is beyond or almost at the quoted lifespan and costing you too much to maintain, you will be better off buying a replacement. The repairs will accumulate and end up costing you more in the long run.

According to Consumer Reports, you should straight out consider a replacement if the repair costs are more than 50 percent of what you will spend acquiring a new system.

Running Obsolete Technology

HVAC systems will almost always get the job done no matter how obsolete they might be. You will only feel the pinch when you begin looking at your utility bills or try to incorporate a smart thermostat.

Technological advancement improve A/C technology tremendously, making it an eco-friendly decision to do a replacement every 10 or 15 years. Most HVAC technicians will advise you to replace your system if it is more than 15 years old. Go online and get competitive uk boiler quotes from the big reputable sites. This will give you access to the latest technology and improve on your power efficiency.

Increased HVAC Demands

Doing a home extension or stretching your HVAC to the patio will put some extra strain to your existing system. A small HVAC will struggle to heat or cool a bigger house. It will break down more often and will end up consuming more money in repairs while putting a heavy strain on your heating and cooling utility bill.

Active utility rebates and tax waivers are a good reason to upgrade your current HVAC system. Some federal tax credits will cut you some slack if you own a high-efficiency system. Local utility companies will give you rebates and power credits for replacing your old system with a better and more efficient system.

If the rebates, estimated savings in power bill, and less repairs are inviting, you shouldn’t think twice before replacing your HVAC system. Staying prepared and expecting to do a replacement after 10 or 15 years is the best way to avoid being caught off guard when your systems begins to fail on you.

Keeping Efficiency Levels High

Buying the perfect-sized A/C unit for your home and doing regular maintenance will keep efficiency levels high while extending the lifespan. Maintenance addresses small problems before they trigger a chain reaction that will force you to undertake long expensive repairs on your otherwise ‘young’ heating and cooling system.

How To Save on Your Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen and bathroom remodeling are amongst the best ways to add value to your property. With kitchens being more of a social center than a cooking center, most homeowners are happy with a spacious room that looks immaculate. We are dreamers. Sometimes, our dream kitchens would be beyond our budget. So how can you save on your kitchen remodel without shattering your visions?

Let’s face it, we are dreamers. Sometimes, our dream kitchens are beyond our budget.

An average kitchen remodel will cost you around $18,500. This will vary depending on your kitchen size and ambitions.

Know Your Limits

The first step to saving on your kitchen remodel lies in knowing your limits. Keep your dreams within range and always be realistic. Once you are at peace with this, begin tweaking things and make some compromises that won’t drive you far from your budget and design concept.

Save on Cabinets

Cabinets could take a big chunk of the total budget. You will save tons if you avoid replacement by refurbishing what you already have. Some sanding and resurfacing will do justice to still presentable cabinets. A slightly more expensive refacing job will salvage most of the old but decent cabinets.

The money you save on your cabinets can go into exotic granite, tile, solid surface, or decorated concrete counter tops.

If replacement is inevitable, ready-to-assemble or semi-custom cabinets will cost you far less than building custom pieces. Even though they offer limited options in material, finish and style, they’re still a decent solution that will save you money.

Alternative Countertop Materials

Granite is the holy grail of countertop materials. As expected, its allure and appeal come at a cost. If you can’t save on other aspects of your kitchen remodel (for instance the cabinetry), you might have to partially or fully forfeit granite.

A partial forfeiture is where you combine two surfaces on your countertop. Use some cheaper solid surface on the outside perimeter and throw in some granite on the island. This will make your kitchen look amazing while cutting the cost in half.

Don’t Move Wiring or Plumbing

Keeping your sinks and electronics where they are will save you the pain of having to rewire or run new piping for your kitchen. You will have to cut the floor, the wall, and the ceiling to access the mechanics. You will also need to pay for the new components and labor.

This leads to additional costs that could otherwise be avoided. If you are replacing your cabinets, get something that will fit into your current kitchen layout. Don’t venture into what needn’t be fixed to make your kitchen great again.

Changing The Appliance

There isn’t a shortcut that will save you money when replacing appliances like the cooker, your fridge, dishwasher, or the microwave. Focus on the long run money back incentives by choosing high-efficiency units.

An Energy Star rated fridge will save you between $200 and $1100 in its lifetime, while an efficient dishwasher can save up to 1300 gallons of water.

Remodel In Stages

Sometimes, remodeling budgets only become a bother if you want to do everything in one go. Spreading out the remodel costs over time can cut you some slack, allowing you to save for the next project. Backsplashes can come later after the cabinets. Adding glass to your cabinet doors can also come later.

Dividing the job into junks might not cut down on the costs that much but it will cut you some slack in lump sum investments.

Expensive Remodeling Project

Kitchen remodeling is bound to be expensive. If you plan it right and make the right trade-offs, you will always end up with a look you are proud of. Always remember to go for the best alternative possible. The whole point to stepping down on costs is to look great, not cheap.

The Top 7 Home Decorating Tips From The Pros

Giving your space a new look is easier than ever with some home decorating tips from the pros. No matter if you’re moving to a new home or sprucing up the living room, the following tips and tricks can help you along the way.

Let’s take a look at the top 7 tips that will help you decorate your home like a pro.

Create Space With Color

If you have a room that feels a bit cramped, color can help. Using a lighter paint color on the walls can help give the room a larger feel. This will reflect the natural light and give the illusion of a larger room. In contrast, painting your walls a darker color will make your space seem smaller.

Brighten Darker Spaces

If you have a space that doesn’t get as much natural light as you would like, mirrors are a great tool. With a well-placed mirror, your room will instantly feel lighter and brighter. Mirrors with decorative frames and designs can also be used as an alternative to art pieces.

Bring The Outside In

Plants and other greenery are an inexpensive and beautiful way to spruce up any space in your home. They are a great accessory to any room.

Large or small, a few or a lot, plants are a beautiful addition to any space. Greenery can not only add color and texture to a room, they can offer holistic benefits as well. These can include:

  • absorption of pollutants
  • cleaner inside air
  • balancing the humidity in a room

Soften the Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floors are beautiful in any room but can often lack texture and personality. To fix this, add a throw or area rug.

This is a great way to give the comfort you might get from carpeted floors while adding some fun to the room. The possibilities here are endless and offer a great opportunity to show your personality.

Give Your Room the Slip Treatment

Despite popular belief, slip covers are truly magical things. Inexpensive, and effective, slipcovers can change with the seasons or your whim. This is a great way to give any piece of furniture a sprucing-up.

Slipcovers can give the room a sophisticated look without the huge price tag. Additionally, this trick helps keep spills, dirt, and stains from ruining your favorite pieces.

Size is Everything

Of course, you want your space to feel comfortable and welcoming while looking great. The trick here is to pay attention to size.

For instance, in the living room, the coffee table size makes all the difference in the world.

Choose one that is no more than two-thirds as wide as your sofa. Keep in mind your coffee table shouldn’t be taller than your sofa either.

The 60/30/10 Trick

No matter what color palette you choose for a room, the 60/30/10 trick works like a pro. When working with three or more colors, balance is important.

The main, dominant color should be used for 60% of the room. Secondary colors should be kept to 30%, and any accent colors should stay at 10%.

So how does this actually work? Balance the color palette in your room by painting the walls in your dominant color.

Use the secondary color for your upholstery and fabrics in the room. Floral arrangements and other accents like pillows and art pieces can be used for your accent color.

Decorate like a Pro

Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest differences in a room. Giving your space a new look and feel doesn’t have to empty your wallet and bust the budget.

With these fantastic and simple tips from the pros, you can achieve the look you’re going for with ease. From elegant and sophisticated to warm and rustic, your space will always be gorgeous and inviting.

Window Replacement Cost For Hurricane Windows or Impact Windows?

It is important in buying replacement windows to understand how windows are made and replaced. Some factors may be different depending on what part of the country your home is located. Though I am writing from my experience in the Columbus, Ohio area, my hope is that you will be able to find much useful information on the best way to replace your windows, no matter where you live. Thorough window replacement cost information was found throughout the internet on public domain such as Wikipedia and also very good info on the site window-guide.com

Hurricane shutters and impact windows are a great way to add an extra layer of protection during extreme weather. So what is the difference between hurricane shutters and impact windows? We’re glad you asked! Let’s take a look at each type and see what makes them so great for coastal areas and other regions prone to extreme weather.

What are Hurricane Shutters?

This is a budget-friendly alternative to the more costly impact windows. They come in a wide variety of styles and colors to seamlessly blend into your home’s decor. The accordion style shutters are attached to the side of the window and fold out when in use. Shutters are a great first line of defense against damages from not only debris but also UV rays.

There is a downside to this these protective shutters, however. When these shutters are in use, they do not allow light to enter. It’s also important to remember that hurricane shutters can’t always ensure your windows don’t break. So, this shouldn’t be the only steps you take to protect your home and family during a storm.

There are shutters that can suit any need. It’s important to choose the right shutter that best fits your unique circumstances. If ease of use is important, you should consider accordion styles and automatic closing systems.

For limited budgets, plywood or aluminum panels are a great choice. For those looking at value and performance, steel panels offer great protection too. Keep in mind that installation of the steel panels will take a bit more time and effort during installation.

What are Impact Windows?

If your windows fail during a hurricane, it will cause a rapid and drastic increase of air pressure. When this happens, another part of your home must give way to release this pressure. This release can explode through the loss of another window, a door, or even your roof! The structure of your home will become unsteady, leaving you vulnerable to even more extensive damages.

Impact resistance technology has made incredible advances in recent years. With proper installation, these laminated windows are able to withstand Category 5 winds and debris. Impact windows are a great way to protect your home from catastrophic damages during extreme weather.

Things To Consider

The initial cost of impact replacement windows is significantly higher than hurricane shutters. This is because a much stronger frame is often needed to offer the best protection and performance.

But, these impact windows these impact windows can pay for themselves during the very first storm. Considering the benefits, installing impact windows are certainly worth consideration.

The glass used for impact windows is designed to work in the same way automotive glass works. This glass is specially constructed with a protective coating between layers of glass.

These layers go through a tempering process to increase strength and durability. The coating between the layers also strengthens the glass and, more importantly, prevents it from shattering and becoming dangerous debris.

But you can’t forget about the frame. The window may be able to withstand higher wind forces, but if your frame is in poor condition, the window may fail. This is why it is generally recommended that your existing frame is replaced with a reinforced frame to add strength and protection.

Protection That Matters

No matter what you choose to install in your home, something is always better than nothing. Protecting your family and home is most important, so why not take advantage of extra protection during extreme weather and see storm impact window costs online to get a better idea of what your options are? It’s always a good idea to call a few local professionals and get a more accurate idea of your options and installation costs.

Home Improvement Mistakes to Avoid

Strategic home improvement projects will always increase the worth of your property. A few tricks and suggestions can help with renovation and refurbishment.

However, some people make costly mistakes during the process which they should not. Knowing some of the common mistakes during the renovation process is one of the best ways to avoid them. Here are some popular mistakes most homeowners do without knowing.

Overdoing it

The process of making a house a home takes a lot of hard work. This happens when you feel like you have to do everything you have always desired in one go. The road towards creating a dream home can be intimidating. Also, remodels and renovations are time-consuming. If you decide to do everything on your own then chances are that you will break down.

You need to consider the possibility of hiring an expert to handle the project on your behalf. Handling the budgets, purchases, and the actual remodeling can take a toll on even the most industrious person. The pressure doubles if you have to juggle your daily work with the renovation project.

Lowballing and going cheap

There is a difference between inexpensive and cheap. While one is good, the other is unacceptable and always ends up being expensive in the end. Take advantage of great deals and offers without compromising on quality.

Just because something costs less than you expected does not necessarily translate to excellence. Work with an interior designer who knows where to get the best prices without compromising on quality. Do not hold on too tight. After all, high-quality fixtures tend to cost more but will definitely last longer.

Overblowing your budget

Some homeowners become too excited and are willing to do just about anything to achieve results. This will make you inconsiderate and more often than not overblow your budget.

You need to be careful when making budget computations. It is advisable to calculate twenty percent above the actual cost. It is always better to have extra than dealing with less. You do not want the pressure of having to look for more money when in the middle of a project. It can be inconveniencing. Get cost estimates before starting any project.

Taking inaccurate measurements

Accurate measurements are the basis of pricing. Taking the wrong measurements will affect the cost of your project. In fact, measurements make the core elements of a remodeling project.

If expert advice is anything to go by, you should take measurements more than once before making any purchases. If you get this wrong then you are likely to make an expensive mistake that you will have to pay for in the end. Be on the safe side and take at least four measurements.

Mismanaging contractors

Remember that the project is yours and the whole control belongs to you. The experts that come in to fix everything should not intimidate you. You should be ready to find local tradesmen by investigating trusted home improvement costs and advise accordingly. If you notice that something is going wrong then you should be ready to point it out. Don’t let your contractor intimidate you into silence.

You should take matters into your own hands and manage the contractors effectively. Ask all the questions and seek clarifications anywhere you need. After all, you are paying for the services and the project does not come cheap. You cannot risk getting substandard work for fear of controlling your contractors. Even so, make sure you are reasonable and give the contractor space to work.

Choosing to go with trends

Rather than make the mistake of going with the in-thing, consider choosing appliances that will serve you in the end. Do not worry about the trendy pink fridge that will change next year. Always look at the bigger picture and choose to make changes that will last. A classic look will never compete with trends.

Always remember that keeping it simple gets the work done and keeps your home timeless.