Going Green: Benefits of Powering Your Home with Renewable Energy

Energy gathered from naturally-replenished sources like waves, tides, rain, wind and sunlight has become an important factor in the modern world. While many companies are looking for new ways of implementing green energy to power their businesses, renewable technology has found its way into our homes as well. While for most homeowners the main reason remains the economic benefit of reduced monthly energy bills, other, not less important benefits are slowly but surely becoming recognized as well.

The cost of energy today and tomorrow

Although electricity prices in the U.S. have held steady for more than two decades, mainly due to industrial deregulation and the abundance of natural gas, financial and economic forecasters today agree that higher electricity price for consumers is the only viable solution. On the other side of the world, The Grattan Institute says that the latest high wholesale electricity prices are the “new normal” that Australian politicians need to be honest about with voters. Adding to that the federal and state governments’ decision to keep aging legacy assets – old coal-fired plants – in working condition is far from a long-term solution for a problem that only a strong bipartisan energy and climate change policy can solve.

Before you go green

Before you decide to commit to solar panels, you need to make sure your home’s electrical installations are in order. Keep in mind that many countries enforce stringent regulations concerning DIY electrical work. In order to avoid legal problems, and potential insurance revocations, you should hire an expert electrician to inspect, update or remodel your electrical system for higher energy efficiency, recommend LED lighting options, as well as suggest home automation solutions that save power on their own.

Solar panels and shingles

Solar photovoltaic panels can be placed either on your roof or on a specially designed array in the backyard. Another solution for going solar is to use solar shingles, which are becoming more and more popular among homeowners who want to preserve the traditional home design or period roof features such as gables, mansards, and towers. These photovoltaic roof tiles are installed in the same way as regular ones. The main disadvantage of solar systems is that they are active only when the sun’s up, so it pays off to invest in a solar battery, as well.

Wind turbines

Although much less common in residential areas than solar panels, wind-generated energy is actually a much more stable source than solar energy. With an appropriately sized turbine, an average home can cover all the household’s energy needs. The disadvantages of wind turbines are their high-profile and the noise they make which often limit their use to remote farmsteads and off-grid residential areas. One way or another, before committing to this energy source, make sure you check local regulations on the matter.

Geothermal systems

The most ‘earthbound’ source of clean, renewable energy, geothermal heating systems can reduce your home’s carbon footprint by eliminating the need for electricity used for heating or cooling your home. The typical home system uses a geothermal heat pump (GHP) that needs 25 to 50% less energy than regular HVAC systems. The equipment included produces virtually no noise and takes much less space, making it suitable for almost any home design. Make sure you check your property’s geological and hydrological characteristics before committing to this source.

Once reserved only for wealthy, tech-savvy innovators and visionaries, renewable energy has always been all around us, now becoming more commons in the suburbs as well. By using renewable energy to power your home you can reduce or even eliminate your utility bills, while government incentives for renewable technology can make the investment even more cost effective.

 

About the author: Mike Johnston is a home improvement blogger and DIY enthusiast from Sydney. He is a regular writer at Smooth Decorator and contributor on several interior design, lifestyle, real estate and eco blogs. Mike’s goal is to create and share meaningful content that helps and inspires people.

Keeping Your Home Secure

Whether you’re going out of town for a week or heading to the grocery store, your home and your belongings are at their most vulnerable when no one is there. Nearly three-quarters of all household burglaries occur while no one is home, and that’s primarily because burglars want to get in and out of the home as quietly as possible. That means protecting your home and your possessions from burglary is a matter of making it as difficult as possible for burglars to ply their trade. Although news reports can focus on sophisticated criminals who research their victims before striking, the vast majority of burglars are amateurs. These criminals act impulsively, burglarizing a home because they see an immediate opportunity for a quick score. There are numerous ways homeowners can protect their homes by making them much less inviting for these criminals. Here are a few examples:

Keeping Your Home Secure created by SABRE.

 

10 Structural Problems To Look Out For In Your Property

Proper property maintenance is critical in making sure your home lasts your family a very long time. If you do an excellent job of taking care of your property, it will last several lifetimes. There are many things you need to check to ensure your home stays in tip-top shape.

Usually, home inspections are required only when one sells or purchases a home. To be on the safe side, conduct a personal investigation whenever the need arises. It is imperative to inspect your home when a natural disaster such as floods, earthquakes or even fire occurs.

Better yet to always keep an eye out for any telltale signs of structural damage such as small cracks or mould. Here is a complete list of what to keep an eye out for when observing any potential hazards for your home.  

10 Structural Problems

Water Damage

This refers to any possible damage caused by excessive moisture and improper drainage. It is possible for water to seep into your home from the smallest crack or tiniest hole in your roof or walls.

Once moisture gets into your home, it will accumulate on the most sensitive parts of the foundation. Prolonged exposure to moisture will cause all sorts of water damage and even mould.                              

When water damage sets in; it will be expensive to have fixed.

Plumbing

Give all the visible pipes in your plumbing system a good once over every six months. It won’t hurt to double check each section to verify a leak-free plumbing system. To ensure your drains are always clear conduct a cleanse of the pipes maybe once a month.

That includes all the bathroom fixtures, bathtubs, sinks, taps, showers, laundry area and everything in between. Make sure they are all in good working order. Another thing to check on would be the trees around your property.

Some trees that are too close to your underground pipes can cause damage to them due to their roots. Overgrown roots could grow through various pipes, and they are known even to puncture septic tanks. To be safe and for some peace of mind, have your home surveyed by a professional to find out if there is any damage to your pipework.

Be careful where you position the trees around your property and replace the pipes that have been damaged.  

Trees Causing Damage

The sight of tall, large trees in your property is something to behold, especially if you live in the city or suburbs. They are great to have around the borders of your property lot. However, having them too close to the house itself can be a bad thing as well.

Trees that are positioned too close to your home can end up causing structural damage to your house. A tree’s roots are extremely strong and can even puncture the cement and concrete foundation of your home.

Tree roots have also been known to puncture septic tanks if they are made from thin metal, hard plastic or concrete. A punctured septic tank is not very pleasant to say the least and will cost a substantial amount to fix or replace.

Another danger of having trees too close to your house are overhanging branches. Branches that are looming over your home’s roof pose a great danger to the integrity of your rooftop. A strong wind or thunderstorm holds the possibility of the branch crashing down into your home.  

Pruning your trees with a loper or a saw to keep wayward branches from your rooftop is a must. Correct pruning will prevent any disastrous scenarios of falling branches and damaged rooftops. Be careful with over pruning as that can also lead to the death of your beloved tree.

Heating/Cooling system

Making sure you have a smooth running HVAC(Heating Ventilation & Air conditioning) system is also essential. There are six ways you can to keep your HVAC system running like brand new and free from any significant headaches.

Check on your HVAC system yourself. Usually the outside unit is left alone and sometimes forgotten until the day that the air conditioning stops working. Cleaning the outside unit is part of basic maintenance and it won’t take long to do. If you don’t want to do it yourself, schedule a service call.

When a HVAC system fails, more often than not it is due to a problem with the electrical system. The capacitor, contactor or condenser fan motor are the three parts most likely to give out due to lack of maintenance or overuse. Check on these to keep your system running well.  

Change your HVAC air filter once every three months. Doing this simple task can save you up to fifteen percent on your electric bill. Regularly replacing your air filter will also keep your indoor air cleaner and will allow your HVAC system to work smoothly.

Keeping your indoor temperature at a comfortable level is also a good way to make sure your HVAC systems lasts a long time. If the temperature in your home is set to freezing during the summer and you never turn it off then that will put a lot of stress on the systems many parts.

Overloading may cause one of those pieces to break down which will merit an expensive service call to repair or replace the broken part.   

Go around the empty room in your home and make sure the air vents to those rooms are closed. There really is no point in cooling or heating an empty room, you are just throwing money out the window.

Foundation Problem

The foundation of the house is one of the most Important focal points on the structural integrity of a home. If there is a lot of moisture getting into the foundation that can be one of the main reasons for a crack in the foundation.

It is best to always check the foundation for any horizontal, vertical and particularly stairway cracks on the foundation of your home. During a natural disaster such as an earthquake, it is vital to double check if your foundation was damaged in any way.

If your windows or doors are not closing as they should anymore, one possible reason could be a shifting foundation.

Uneven Flooring, Ceiling and Walls

An excellent way to quickly scan your ceiling, walls and flooring is to use a flashlight or torch. Using the powerful light beam of a flashlight will allow you to view the imperfections on these surfaces commonly not seen with the naked eye.

If there are unusual depressions on the surface, then that would indicate that there is something wrong which would prompt you to investigate further.  

Driveway

The driveway is a vital part of your house; this is where your expensive cars pass every single day. Even though it is finished in cement or concrete, it is still prone to wear and tear and can get damaged just like anything else.

If there are large trees near your driveway, then the roots of those trees can burrow under your driveway which may cause some damage. Fortunately fixing a driveway is fairly straightforward and can be quickly resolved.  

Pest Damage

Check with the neighbours or local community about any ongoing pest infestation and check to see if you are affected by the outbreak. An easy method to check if you have pests in your home is to test any exposed wood and try to observe for any hollow sounds.

Check if the piece of wood is soft or even spongy that is a good indication that you have a pest problem, which in this case would be termites. Check if the pieces of wood in your home are falling apart or if small holes are popping up that is another sure sign of a pest infestation.  You can also check on

Insulation

Go up to the attic to check on your insulation. If your roof incurred damage over the past several months without you noticing, then your insulation could be one of the first things affected. Replace any insulation that has been damaged to keep your home energy efficient.

Roofing

This is the central shield of your home; the roof protects your house from all the elements. The blazing heat of the sun, tumultuous rains, heavy snow and maybe even hailstorms. Your roof takes a lot of beatings, and you need to make sure that it can handle what nature dishes out.

When you check and see there are damaged areas in your roof then go ahead and make the appropriate repairs as soon as you can. Your roof needs to always be in the best shape possible. The smallest crevice or hole can lead to a series of other structural problems.

Having a well-maintained roof will prevent any significant headaches like moisture or pests from getting inside your roof and rotting the wood.

Conclusion:

Schedule a specific period for you to go around your home and conduct a personal inspection of all the vital parts of your house. It is essential to make sure that each separate system is in good working order.  

Doing this task of personally inspecting everything once or twice a year will be all that is needed to keep your home maintained. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, in the case of home maintenance, these words have never been more accurate.

 

Author bio

Guy is a home improvements and gardening blogger. When he purchased his first home – a fixer-upper – he had to learn a lot about doing renovations and various jobs around the home and garden himself. Now he passes his knowledge on via his blog Guy About Home.

5 Homeowner Problems Self-Storage Can Solve

Unused furniture. Excess appliances. Family heirlooms. The million and one things you don’t use, haven’t used, or have no plans of ever using.

What do you do with all these things?

Self-storage is the Answer.

As a homeowner, you would want to use all available space in the best way possible. Over the years, you could have accumulated numerous bits and bobs. You might also have noticed that your personal effects and possessions have accrued and are now crowding your space.

You can regain some much-needed space in your home by placing some of your knick-knacks and even some valuable items in a rented storage unit.

By renting the right storage unit, you can do away with these homeowner problems in a jiffy:

Problem #1: Clutter everywhere

Whether you live with a family who seems to have collected a gazillion things over time or you live alone and have a penchant for hoarding, signing up for storage can greatly reduce clutter in your home.

There’s no use keeping things around when you or your housemates no longer have a use for them. If you simply cannot bring yourself to let go of some items, you can simply store them in a clean and safe storage module.

Problem #2: You need some space

There are situations and events in life that you might need some space – literally and figuratively. Whether you’ve decided to move out of your parent’s house, live independently since you’ve found a good job, or you’re going through a separation, the things you have collected over time may need to be temporarily stored.

Your new living quarters may lack the necessary space to house all of your belongings and storing it in a different place can be the solution. Until you have sorted out what items you want to live with and where you want to put them permanently, your personal effects can wait comfortably in the confines of a dust-free storage unit.

Problem #3:  Valuable collectibles and collections simply lying around

You might be lucky to get hold of family heirlooms or have the good fortune to procure priceless works of art, vintage pieces, or exclusive collections.

With the value of these assets, you just don’t want to leave them at home where burglars can easily get them. You can safely store your prized possessions in a modular storage facility that practices clever handling of your goods, has a temperature-controlled environment, and round the clock security.

Problem #4: Multitasking means multiple zones

If in case you find yourself donning several caps – spouse, parent, carer, career person, and all around superhero – you might find yourself at a loss for space to store all the tools you need to do your multiple jobs.

If your home doubles as a working space, you can opt to store some things to help you organise and declutter your working space. Divide and conquer your home items from work tools and store those that are not often needed in a rented unit.

Similarly, if you are running an e-commerce business in the comfort of your home, you can also consider a modular storage facility as your stockroom. Safely stow slow-moving stocks, inventory, or office supplies in the storage facility so you won’t have to deal with mounds of work-related goods in your abode.

Problem #5: Construction concerns

Storage solutions can be extremely beneficial when you do not have a place to store your possessions while you’re having a new home constructed or if you’re making renovations to your place.

Protect your belongings by renting a storage unit where you can keep your goods safe and dry while your house is undergoing maintenance or construction. This way, you reduce the risk of damage to your home items by removing them from the construction site.

Safe and Secure Storage Solutions

With the abovementioned concerns, a safe and clever storage solution is the best route to go for.

Choose a storage company that offers modular storage units. This will ensure that all your goods are directly loaded into specially constructed modules which are then cleverly sealed and delivered into a clean and secure storage facility. This means no double handling and your items will remain dry, clean, and in the same condition as when they were loaded originally.

With modular storage solutions, you can free up your mind from worry and more importantly, get more space.

 

AUTHOR BIO

John Pfeiffer has been the proud owner of Ashtons Removals for over 40 years. His attention to detail, a product of his accountancy background, and his emphasis on training and empowering his team members, has ensured the vast number of Gold Coast families who have been moved by Ashtons Removals, have had their furniture and effects moved undamaged and with minimum fuss.