Go Smart With Home Automation

The continual progress and glamor of technology never cease to amuse us, yet the most rudimentary hurdle faced by every enthusiastic customer (especially in the Indian context) is “Is my money worth it?” Did you ever think that home automation is just an extravagant, eye-catching contrivance without bearing any compelling needs or consequences? If so, then it is time for you to reconsider your opinion and have an informed idea as to what Home Automation is and how critical it is in the context of pocket-friendly energy bills and smart security of your systems.

The technology that makes home automation possible can be overwhelming. In this article, we de-mystify this area for the layman.

Strengthen your understanding of home automation

Without going into much jargon, Home Automation refers to the application of technology to monitor and control several items around your house. Imagine what if everything (not just computers and smartphones) but lights, appliances, electrical outlets, doors, locks, surveillance systems etc. could all be tethered together to a remotely controllable network? The “Smart Home” is usually backed up by internet connectivity and cloud services, and they are a part of what modern-day IT industry calls “Internet of Things” (IoT). The Home automation system usually has 3 components:

Sensors: to detect changes in temperature, voltage, daylight etc,
Controllers: to send and transmit information eg. computers, smartphones etc.
Actuators: to control the mechanism of the automation system.

What can be automated?

Broadly speaking, automation can range from typical mundane events (like programming your front door lock to let you know when your child returns from home) to events like getting a text message when your security system is jeopardized! But for the time being let's discuss automation relating to your electricity consumption as follows: –

Lighting: Motion sensors to switch on lights when needed and switch off when rooms are vacant. Ex. Sensor-based LEDs that switch off automatically
Heating / cooling: Smart devices to learn your preferred temperature ranges and also their timings.Automatically turns down when you are away from home
Appliances and equipment control: Stand-by power controllers with smart power boards that automatically turn off when appliance is not in operating mode.
Energy monitoring: Information on energy consumption (known from the meter board) is transmitted wirelessly to a controller, which allows the user to view the cost, estimated greenhouse emission and also the renewable energy generated by PV solar cells.

Energy Efficiency

Following the trends of what has been discussed above, every electrical device can be automatically powered down when not needed. So automated homes are more energy efficient than conventional homes.An energy efficient home can reclaim the amount spent on automation within two to three years from the reduced power consumption. Some studies have revealed that you can enjoy upto 40-60% reduction in your electricity consumption with home automation.

On a concluding note, we may say that with the advent of modern equipment and technology, home automation is becoming more and more affordable and customized for purchase, rather than being constrained to affluent fantasies. Not only does it ensure security and cozy lifestyle but on a longer run it helps you to go green by the value of energy-efficiency and eco-friendliness.

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Benefits of Solar Electric Power

It seems as though everywhere one looks, there is something being said about alternate energy sources. Be it fossil fuels, geothermal, wind energy, hydroelectric or solar energy, many homeowners are looking for ways to get more at a better rate. In fact, there is such an interest in finding a better energy option, that the solar market has increased in the US by 76% since 2012.

Perhaps one of the most commonly used forms of alternate energy is solar electric power. It has been used for decades in countries all around the globe and is effective at helping home and business owners lower their monthly energy costs – not to mention make them less reliant on area utility companies.

8 Reasons to Swap to Solar Electric Energy
If you are considering making the swap to solar electric energy, then here are some reasons you will want to do so:

  1. Solar electric energy, contrary to what some might think, actually helps create jobs. In fact, the industry creates up to 3x more jobs than the coal or natural gas.
  2. Independence from the power company. Once you have solar panels installed on your roof, you basically have an independent source of electricity and are not dependent on another entity.
  3. Since you are not reliant on the power company, and you can count on the sun to rise and set each day, then you can be certain to always have an energy source. Consider this, 3,000 terawatts of solar energy shine down on the Earth's surface every day, which is 10,000 times the daily global energy use.
  4. While the initial investment for solar electric energy can be a bit pricey, in the long run it can save you thousands of dollars. According to one study, it was found that homeowners who swapped to solar electric energy families saved more than $ 100 per month.
  5. Solar energy does not require fuel combustion nor do you need to be concerned about gaseous emissions, so minimizing your family's carbon footprint.
  6. Because solar panels are installed on the rooftop, you are not losing any real estate in your yard or trying to figure out where in your home they can be placed.
  7. They will last for up to 25 years and require minimum maintenance. After 25 years, the industry guarantees 80% performances.
  8. There are a number of tax incentives available to homeowners who make the swap to renewable energy sources.

Swapping to solar electric energy is easier than ever before. If you are looking for a way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money while maintaining the needs of your family's energy source, then talk to a local sustainable energy provider to get started.

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5 Smart Ways to Beat the Summer Heat

Summer always comes with the heat and increasingly increasing utility bills. It is not affordable for everyone to pay air conditioning bills and enjoy the cool breeze even when the sun is at its best. High electricity cost can put an unbearable stress on your wallet. However, your worries are over now because every cloud has a silver lining. This means you can beat the summer heat and enjoy all the good things about summer without spending too much on air conditioning. What follows are some simple tips and inexpensive accessories that can help you figure a better solution

1. Get some indoor plants

There are certain indoor plants that keep the air around them cool and fresh. Plants use a process called photosynthesis where they use sunlight and water in order to grow and survive. This process makes plants consume energy or heat present in the surroundings. Have you ever feel that space around a bunch of trees is often colder than normal? It is because plants absorb heat from the air which leads to a more healthy environment.

2. Shade your windows

We know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Windows facing those direction can take in a lot of direct sunlight which can turn your house into aasty space where it is hard to breathe and stay comfortable. To prevent this, keep the east and west facing windows shaded during the day so that shades can block the sunlight.

Installing blackout curtains is also a good idea because curtains not only block the heat but also make your place look visually appealing. So, do not forget to cover the sunny side of your windows and doors. It will keep the temperature of your place low and bearable. Beside, open the shade and take off the curtain at night so that fresh air can pass through.

3. Make a good use of your foundation

In most of the buildings, the foundation is the coldest part. It would be a good idea to use basement a lot for all kinds of activities. In summer, foundation provides a cool environment to spend some good family time. If you have not yet established your foundation, make efforts to make it more liveable. Summer heat is probably a good reason why you should finish up your basement and make it a better hang out room for the summer. This will also add value to your home.

4. Wear breathable clothes

It is really important to wear breathable clothing in order to stay cool in the summer heat. High-quality summer clothing is generally designed to be breathable. Most of the workwear gears are made to keep the wearer cool. Linen, for example, is made out of the flax plants. The linen fibers come directly from the stalk of the plant.

5. Use cooling pillows

Heat can make it really difficult to get a sound sleep. This is where cooling mattresses and pillows come into play and help us get good sleep at night. The cooling pillow is a relatively new technique to fight the heat. They are designed with a special gel that makes you feel cool in the summer.

Unlike air conditioning and other cooling devices, cooling pillows do not put burden on your budget. They create cool ventilation without consuming power and making noise. Experts recommend that we should use eco-friendly methods to survive heat. It would be difficult to find something more eco-friendly than cooling pillows. An informative article suggests a list of best cooling that you can buy to make your summer season more pleasant. Following are some of the benefits of using them:

  • Cooling pillows make you fall asleep quickly pillows
  • They help fight insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • They support the body and provide a high level of comfort

Takeaway

One of the easiest techniques to beat the heat inside your house is replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescents bulbs which emits up to 70% less heat. Use plants that naturally cools down the house. Also, install a ceiling fan and place it counterclockwise so the air blows down at you.

High energy bills in the summer can really disturb your budget, but if you use smart strategies such as shading windows and using cooling pillows, you can spend a really hot season while keeping your air conditioning on a lower setting.

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Off Grid Water System – What Are Your Options?

Living off grid comes with its own advantages. You, for instance, will be living in very natural, unpolluted areas, whether you buy a house off grid or you choose to buy bare land to develop your homestead on. However, most aspiring homesteaders fear the water issue that comes with off grid living. If you've been relying on city water that was never disappointed you, then you most definitely are more likely to fear having to deal with no access to water once you make the move.

But fortunately there are still options you can choose from when it comes to off grid water system. A good water system will not only serve your water needs on the property, but also work very well during disasters as far as water goes. There is really nothing as good as being prepared for a bad day and this is what your off grid system should be all about. So what really are your options to have enough water even when living off grid?

Rain catchment system

The good thing about rain barrel systems is that you do not have to pay for the water. All you have to do is get bars and create a system right from your roof and you will have enough water to sustain your needs on your property. If you live in areas that can get quite cold then risking frozen barrels, find a way that you can keep them in better temperatures to avoid such issues. You can build root cellars for them or bury them to counter the effects of very cold months. It is also worth considering a water purifying system for your rainwater so you can drink it with no worries at all. With a good rain catchment system, you only need medium rain to fill up your barrels and have enough to cater to your needs.

Well water system

Digging up a well on your off grid property is a very viable long term water solution. If your land lies low on the water table, then digging the well will be very easy, but if not, then you may need to find an expert who can advise on which point is best for the well so you do not end up digging and missing water. Once the well is all dug up, you can then consider installing a hand pump to pull water up. A hand pump saves you lots of effort and time, especially with wells that are deep, but you can also look for other options for the well you find more suitable.

Cistern water system

Cisterns make very good water options for an off grid property. One fill can serve your water needs for months and you can fill them up by pumping from the river, your well, rain water or getting a delivery. With this water option, you can choose above ground system or a below ground system. An above ground system gives you the option of carrying to the point of filling and then bringing it back, whereas cisterns below ground work amazing in cold climates because they are protected from freezing and are usually larger in capacity.

When looking for an off grid water system, it is important to consider your water needs on the property and also the climate so you can choose a system that serves all your needs effectively.

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Is Your Home a Good Fit for a Renewable Energy Retrofit?

Did you know that the amount of sunlight that strikes the earth's surface in an hour and a half is enough to handle the entire world's energy consumption for a full year? Solar energy has amazing potential to power our daily lives thanks to constantly-improving technologies.

Solar energy systems come in all shapes and sizes. Residential systems are found on rooftops across the United States, and businesses are also opting to install solar panels to offset their energy costs. Utilities, too, are building large solar power plants to provide cleaner energy to all customers connected to the grid.

There are two main types of solar energy technologies-photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP). You're most likely familiar with PV, which is utilized in panels. When the sun shines onto a solar panel, photons from the sunlight are absorbed by the cells in the panel, which creates an electric field across the layers and causes electricity to flow.

The second technology is concentrating solar power, or CSP. It is used primarily in very large power plants and is not appropriate for residential use. This technology uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat, which can then be used to produce electricity.

Every location on Earth receives sunlight at least part of the year. The amount of solar radiation that reaches any one spot on the Earth's surface varies according to:

Geographic location
Time of day
Season
Local landscape
Local weather.

Because the Earth is round, the sun strikes the surface at different angles, ranging from 0 ° (just above the horizon) to 90 ° (directly overhead). When the sun's rays are vertical, the Earth's surface gets all the energy possible. The more slanted the sun's rays are, the longer they travel through the atmosphere, becoming more scattered and diffuse. Because the Earth is round, the frigid polar regions never get a high sun, and because of the tilted axis of rotation, these areas receive no sun at all during part of the year.

The Earth revolves around the sun in an elliptical orbit and is closer to the sun during part of the year. When the sun is nearer the Earth, the Earth's surface receives a little more solar energy. The Earth is nearer the sun when it is summer in the southern hemisphere and winter in the northern hemisphere. However, the presence of vast oceans moderates the hotter summers and colder winters one would expect to see in the southern hemisphere as a result of this difference.

The 23.5 ° tilt in the Earth's axis of rotation is a more significant factor in determining the amount of sunlight striking the Earth at a particular location. Tilting results in longer days in the northern hemisphere from the spring (vernal) equinox to the fall (autumnal) equinox and longer days in the southern hemisphere during the other 6 months. Days and nights are both exactly 12 hours long on the equinoxes, which occurs each year on or around March 23 and September 22.

Countries such as the United States, which lie in the middle latitudes, receive more solar energy in the summer not only because days are longer, but also because the sun is nearly overhead. The sun's rays are more slanted during the shorter days of the winter months. Cities such as Denver, Colorado, (near 40 ° latitude) receive nearly three times more solar energy in June than they do in December.

The rotation of the Earth is also responsible for hourly variations in sunlight. In the early morning and late afternoon, the sun is low in the sky. Its rays travel further through the atmosphere than at noon, when the sun is at its highest point. On a clear day, the greatest amount of solar energy draws a solar collector around solar noon.

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Vaastu Shastra – The Ancient Indian Method Of Improving Your Home’s Aura

The word 'Vaastu Shastra' is actually a single word in Indian Literature, which means the art & science of arranging your house. And this has nothing to do Merely with the appearance of your house.

In fact, the art is concerned with improving the energies that your house possesses and combines the five elements of nature ie fire, water, air, earth and space in a balanced amount.

For instance, if you believe, your house is filled and surrounded by all sorts of positive and negative energies. And these are what determine your health, wealth, prosperity, luck and overall lodging etc.

But again, do not consider 'Vaastu Shastra' as a magical concept and even if you follow its methods wisely, you would never achieve success overnight. In fact, the changes show slow success, but are very effective in the long term.

In the olden times, the architects who designed the house, kept track of the 'Vaastu' tips for home improvement. However, the touch of modernity and the thirst to get their homes the most gorgeous appearance has defied all the laws of this ancient science.

So if you are now facing some home issues due to disregarded 'Vaastu' concepts, here are some important points which you could follow to improve your home's aura without any significant efforts:

· An aquarium in your house could be a fruitful element. Get one and place it in the South-East corner of your house to ensure prosperity.

· A bowl of salt kept at several corners of your house is said to absorb the negative energies and induce positivity.

· The sound of metal bells too is an omen of positivity and you could ensure hanging a few metal bells near your main gate. The tinkling of bells keeps the negative energies away. And this is the major reason why temples have metal bells.

· At the corners of your house which are dark and kept closed, ensuring to keep some holy water. Also, this should be changed once in a week.

· Mirrors should almost always stay away from the bedrooms. These could lead to health hazards and conflicts. If unavoidable, let them face away from the bed, or at least cover them while sleeping.

· Meditation and chanting could have been a good method to induce positive energies in the ambiance.

· Do not take medicines etc. inside your kitchen. Medicines in kitchen attract negative energy.

· A good and visible nameplate outside your house could let the opportunities find you easily, says Vaastu.

These are some of the most prominent 'Vaastu' tips that help your some stay positive and get rid of the negative energies.

If you too are suffering some uninvited problems in your house or life, it's probably the time to check these and inculcate them to get better results.

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How to Save on Electricity in 2018

Solar energy represents an inexhaustible source of energy. Thanks to its unlimited and free supply throughout the year more and more households and electrical appliances and powered by it. However, none of it would be possible without a medium converting the energy from the sun into electricity – a solar panel.

Using a solar powerhouse brings along many advantages. The first and for most people the largest advantage is a lower power bill. Installation of a solar powerhouse requires a decent amount of money as an initial investment but, on the other hand, the sum is not that high and the money will gradually pay back in the form of reduced expenses for electrical energy. Additionally, solar panels do not serve only as the sources of electrical energy production. They can also be used for heating and water warming.

The second largest reason for a solar photovoltaics is the easy maintenance of the whole system. While other types of powerhouses require frequent monitoring this one allows you to go on holiday without having to worry what might happen. While you are enjoying your free time on vocation the solar powerstation continuously generates energy that you can then use. As it does not contain any moveable parts the chances of the breakdown are quite small. Provided service inspections a few times a year The solar complex can run smoothly for several decades.

On top of that, solar powerhouses are environmentally friendly as they do not emit carbon dioxide or other harmful substances.

The only disadvantage is the fluctuating amount of potential energy over the year. Solar panels work most effectively when the sunshine is falling on them directly. The more cloudy the sky is the lower performance they have. Of course, not everyone who desires a solar powerhouse lives close to the equator. Their unique geographical location allows them to fully use the sunlight only during certain times of the year.

Neverheless, latest findings from one of the best world university shows that it does not mean an obstacle for enjoying all the benefits anymore. A powerful and effective solution for such people are 3D solar panels that generate more energy than their 2D versions. Thanks to their flexible arrangement the photovoltaic panels absorb as much sunlight as possible regardless of a year season. Furthermore, 3D Solar Panels are so easy to install that you anyone can do it themselves in less than a day.

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Myths & Misconceptions Of Solar Energy

Myths
We know solar like the back of our hand. That's why, when someone comes to us with a crazy myth about solar, we are more than happy to dismiss it.

Here are some of the most popular myths we like to bust:
* Solar does not work in cold or cloudy places. If that was the case, most of Europe would be without power for half the year and England would have no chance. All solar needs is UV light and cold solar panels actually work better!
* Solar is unreliable. This is one of the most common myths but solar is actually far more reliable than your utility company, particularly with off-grid systems which are not affected by blackouts.
* Solar does not support the Australian economy. Sure, many of our solar panels are built overseas, but thousands of Aussies are employed in the local solar industry – installers, maintenance, sales.
* Solar panels are too high maintenance. False. They do not have any moving parts, so unless there has been some sort of damage you need checked, or your regular maintenance (including an annual clean), your panels should last as long as (or beyond) what the warranty states.
* You have to be rich to have solar. No, you do not. In fact it's more common for middle income earners to have solar. The good thing about solar is the long-term financial benefits are well worth the initial investment.

Misconceptions
Renewable energy sees to be the way of the future. It's becoming more prominent every day, in both residential and commercial holdings, and countries all across the world are changing the way they operate to utilize the best of what they have for free – the sun, the wind, and water.

So what are the common misconceptions about solar energy?

1. Solar Energy is not a 24 hour thing. Yes, it's true that solar ratios on the sun to work and wind power relays on there actually being wind. But there are plenty of systems out there that have back-ups (they might be powered by another renewable source, or could be electric or gas) that will ensure you get the benefits of solar 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

2. It's too expensive. Okay. We admit it. Getting solar on your home or business does cost more than connecting the electricity. But in the long run, you're going to save more than your solar cost you. According to the Clean Energy Council of Australia, based on a 3kW system – you'll save around $ 1000- $ 1200 per annual.

3. Solar systems are ugly and decrease the value of your home. This is simply not true anymore. There are a number of systems available that take up little space on your roof, but provide full benefits. Split-systems, for example can take up a small bit of space on the roof with the reminder on the ground. So your home remains looking amazing, but you get all the benefits of solar.

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Different Forms Of Energy Used In Homes

Although, few focus on energy, and / or energy – usage, when hunting for their homes, since, for, most people, their home represent their single, largest, financial asset, the better one understands, all relevant matters, the better the results. There are many different options, in most areas, for how we will create heat, and electricity, and this article, will attempt to briefly, identify, review, and discuss, 5 different alternatives, and some of the positives, and negatives, of every option, and / or choice. Factors to consider, often include costs, environmental, effectiveness / efficiency, etc. and availability in a specific geographic region, as well as the heating and cooling needs, dependent upon geographic and temperature considerations.

1. Oil heat: Living in the Northeast, many homes are heated by oil. Oil heat varies by changing costs, some predictable, while often, not so! This is often addressed, when a homeowner commits to one particular oil delivery company, and, in exchange for committing to automatic deliveries, is guaranteed, a capped price , which protects him against too dramatic a cost. However, obviously, when there are colder winter seasons, more oil, is used, and therefore, costs rise. Some agree to a Balanced Billing Plan , where they pay a predictable, consistent, monthly installation. This form of heating is reliable, but requires maintaining the burner and boiler, and the wise homeowner, has a Maintenance Contract, to ensure service, if there are any emergencies. Older heating systems were often somethy noisy, but the newer ones, are far quieter, and, generally, more efficient!

2. Gas heat and cooking: When one heats his home, with gas, the concerns of timely delivery are eliminated. At times, this is a less expensive form of heating, while at other times, it's not! Gas is not available everywhere, and, when it is, can also be used for water heating (Hot Water Tank), cooking, and clothes dryers, but, when it's not available, many use propane, for the other purposes, as well as , for heat!

3. Geo – thermal: In the last few decades, another alternative has been discovered, known as geo – thermal. This form is created, stored, and produced, in the earth, taking advantage of the thermal characteristics, in the earth. It uses a heat – pump, to generate energy, etc.

4. Solar: There are many types of solar systems, but, often, the largest necessity, is the location of the property, the amount of average daily sunshine, and if, there are predominately southern – facing, relatively unobstructed opportunities. Recently, for example, Elan Musk's company, quickly assisted hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, by putting solar roofs, on, particularly, schools and hospitals. In some areas, when one produces more energy than he uses, he is allowed to sell – back the excess, to the utility company.

5. Other forms, and combinations: Some homeowners opt for wood – burning systems, and while, relatively, inexpensive, generally require more effort, to maintain, the source. In other circumstances, people decide to use a split system, using one energy source, for a specific purpose, and another / others, for other purposes. For example, in my home, we heat, with oil, but our Hot Water Tank, is heated by gas, as are our cooking fuel, and clothes dryers. This way, while our water and washing needs, are year – around necessities, we do not need to use our oil system, when temperatures are higher, during a significant period of the year.

There is no, single best – way, to address the energy needs, for your home. Each homeowner should consider many factors, including, personal preference, convenience, and needs, and make the best decision, for them!

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Tips on Saving Electricity

For many to think of being without electricity, might be next to impossible. But, at the rate, we are using or misusing electricity, maybe it will not be late before we might end up sitting in the dark. As a good citizen, it's our duty to save electricity. Below are some tips on how to save electricity:

1. Cloths: Always wear clothes that suit the temperature. In winter, you can wear layers of clothing to keep you warm since, switch off the heater.

2. Close doors and curtains: If you want to heat or cool your house, better close the doors and curtains, as this will cool or heat the house faster, consuming less energy.

3. Keep thermostat set: Heater costs approximately 30% of your monthly bill. This means every 20 degrees you set up is actually 10% more on your bill. So in winters 18-20 and in summers at 26 degrees is perfect.

4. Turn appliances off: Be it heater, cooling system, fans, lights or TV, turn off when no one is in the room.

5. Use cold water for washing: Try using cold water for washing clothes in winter. You'll notice a remarkable drop in your electricity bills.

6: Fridge Timings: Many people tend to keep their fridge / freezers on 24×7. If your fridge / freezer is in proper condition then it will be able to maintain its cool for a good time. So you do not need to keep it on the whole day.

7. Insulate Roof: Get your roof insulated. This will make a big difference in your bill.

8. Reduce standby power usage: You may not know this but your charger in standby mode is still consuming electricity. Yes, standby appliances cost nearly 10% of your bill.

9. Save in Kitchen: To reduce cooking time, you can thaw frozen food before cooking and use a microwave oven, as it consumes much less energy. If you use the stove, then place lids on the pots, so the food gets cooked sooner.

10. Use light globes: To save on electricity and cut down on bills, replace all incandescent or halogen light globes with globes that come with energy saving usage. If you have installed light indicators in the switchboards, then remove them as they consume nearly 20% of electricity. Avoid using chargers with indicators.

The above-given points are not so big or hard to understand. Saving electricity is a must if you want a healthy world. More electricity saved is a big step towards a greener tomorrow.

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5 Home Energy Areas To Consider

When most home buyers look for a house, of their own, they consider many factors and considerations, including whether it meets their needs, in many ways, and is affordable, for them. When considering these economic factors / considerations, very often, little attention, is paid, to the continuing costs of utilities, especially for heating, air conditioning, and electric. As a Real Estate Licensed Salesperson, in New York State, for over a decade, as well as a homeowner, and an investor in a few rental properties, I have come to recognize and realize, it's very important, essential, and relevant, to pay keen attention to energy costs and considerations. This article will, therefore, attempt to briefly review, examine, consider and discuss, 5 specific areas of a home, which may have a significant impact.

1. Windows and Doors: Energy studies often indicate, possibly, the largest loser of energy, in most homes, is via, the windows and doors. We often refer to these as drafts, but there are several possibilities, many of which, may be simply addressed. Pay attention to exterior doors, and see if there are areas, which may not be air-tight! A simple adjustment, such as applying seals, etc, along the bottom and sides of the doors, minimize this waste / leakage! Are the windows, energy – efficient? If they are not, examine the Return on Investment, in terms of replacing the inefficient ones, with energy – efficient windows. If the windows are the right quality, also check and review, whether there is a need to seal the sides, etc, with quality caulking. You'd be amazed by, how much energy, might be saved, by addressing these issues!

2. Heating system / alternatives: It's important to have your heating system, examined, and maintained (including Preventive Maintenance), every year, prior to the colder weather. A well – tuned, properly, efficiently performing burner and boiler, not only will save you money, but avoid numerous potential headaches. Some individuals might benefit from using alternative methods, such as solar, geo-thermal, etc, and it is a good idea, to review, whether you might benefit from these.

3. Separate hot water system: While you only use your heat, during certain seasons, you need hot water, year – around! Therefore, it does not make sense, to avoid, wasting money, by running the entire heating system, when you only need to heat your water. Some use solar, for their hot water, depending on location, costs, etc. Others might benefit, from having a separate hot water tank!

4. Insulation: Obviously, the quality, amount, and location of insulation, has a significant impact on energy costs. However, many ignore, the need to insulate, behind light plates, because there is often, significant energy loss, there.

5. Other materials; electric; etc: Examine the materials used, and whether they are efficient, quality, and hopefully, sustainable. Also, make a point of reminding, everyone who lives in the house, to remember to turn off the lights, etc, when they are not needed and / or necessary.

In the vast majority of situations, much of this can be accomplished, at a reliably minimal expense / cost. Do not complain about energy costs – address them!

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How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Climate change is a hot topic and an ever-growing concern. Reducing emissions as well as our carbon footprint is something every Australian can do to help the environment, and reserve it for future generations. Having an energy efficient home is the best place to make a difference. Working towards becoming more eco-friendly at home has incredibly positive effects on our wallets too. Conserving energy and making your home more energy efficient will reduce your power bills and leave you with more money in your back pocket.

There are several ways to make your home more energy efficient, from smart technology to easy DIY options around the home.

Making your home energy efficient with technology:

While they can be expensive, solar panels are incredibly effective at reducing your power bill and are an eco-friendly source of power. The savings solar panels create far outweighs the cost of installation. Solar panels are a great renewable energy source, and do not produce any harmful emissions. Solar panels often generate more electricity than you will need to power your home, in fact, you can send the excess power back to the grid in return for credit – saving you even more money!

Buying energy efficient appliances is also a great way to make your home more energy efficient. Look for the Energy Star rating on appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and more. The Energy Star rating is easy to spot, make it simple to identify the right appliances for your energy-efficient home.

Simple tips to being more energy efficient at home:

These simple tips do not require large investment, but easy behavioral and lifestyle changes which will equate to a significant reduction in energy waste and a much lower monthly power bill.

This includes composting food scraps which you can re-use in your garden as a nutrient-dense fertilizer. This in turn reduces the amount of waste that ends up at the tip. Being aware of your food waste will also selectively make you consider family eating and spending habits and becoming more resourceful to avoid food waste.

Another simple yet effective trick to reduce energy waste is by simply turning off your appliances when they are not in use. Jugs, washing machines, phone chargers, toasters – the list goes on. In each room in your home, there are probably three items that could be unplugged. Consider the waste across the whole household every day, and that results in a significant annual waste that could save you money if avoided.

You can also change some settings on your appliances, or the way you use them, to reduce energy waste. This includes reducing the use of your dryer, using only the cold-wash settings on your washing machine, or reducing your thermostat by a couple of degrees.

You can create draft stoppers with old pillows to stop warm air being lost around your door framing, or cold air creeping in. While you're at it, seal the cracks around your windows using a seal gun for an air tight home.

How else can you make your home energy efficient?

You should also consider insulating your home with underfloor and ceiling insulation. Another slightly more expensive solution, insulated not only adds essential warmth, but also additional value to your home. Be sure to get a professional to install the insulation for you to ensure all areas are covered and the installation is to a high standard.

Before you insulate, you'll need to make sure your roof cavity is free of birds and pests that can end up causing costly damage to the insulation. To do this you'll need to contact bird proofing specialists . They can ensure your roof will be free from pests, as well as keeping them out for good.

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How to Ensure Your Roof Is Ready Before Installing Solar Panels

It's an exciting experience when you finally decide to switch to solar energy. After plenty of research, you've determined that you want to invest in solar panels. You're so excited that you've already started to research solar installers in your area. Still, one little question currently holds you back from making the move to solar: “What else should I do before asking for a quote?”

We suggest checking to make sure your roof is as ready for a solar panel installation as you are. There are three important questions you consider before you make the move to solar energy:

  • What does your roof look like?
  • What is the condition of your roof?
  • How much shade does your roof get through the day?

Your answers can help you determine if it's time to get quotes for solar panels. Let's dig into each question, shall we?

What Does My Roof Look Like?
A quick inspection of your roof is a big first step in determining whether it's ready for a solar panel installation. There are three major factors you should consider:

  • The age of your roof
  • The roofing material
  • Potential obstacles for solar panels

Age of the Roof

The older your roof, the more likely it is that you'll need to do some work before you invest in a solar array. If your roof will need to be replaced within the next 10 years, it's best to replace it before solar panels are installed. This will save you from having to remove and reinstall them when the roof is replaced.

Roofing Materials

While solar panels are routinely installed on metal and asphalt roofs, some roofing materials, such as slate and Spanish tiles, require more care when installing solar panels. If your roof is made of a delicate material, you should talk to a professional roofer for their recommendation on mounting panels on your roof.

Potential Obstacles

Solar panels need to be laid down in straight rows. This means obstacles, such as vents and dormers, can limit how many panels can fit on your roof. A good solar consultant can potentially design around these obstacles, but it can still affect your overall solar potential.

What is the Condition Under My Roof?

Depending on the condition of your roof, you may need to replace it before you install new panels. Inspect your roof for the following signs:

  • Damaged rafters or trusses
  • Leaks or stains in the attic or on walls
  • Mildew
  • Dark, “dirty-looking” spots on the roof

If your roof is showing any of these signs or has not been replaced in the past 10 years, consider getting a roof repair estimate from a professional. Shop around and see what you can find. If the area you want to install panels is inaccessible, consult your home's blueprints for the structure of your roof.

How Much Shade Does My Roof Get?
Shade from trees and other buildings can limit the production of your system. Because of this, it's best to avoid installing panels in shady areas on your rooftop, if possible. If necessary, trees can also be trimmed to optimize unshaded area on your roof. Use Project Sunroof to see an estimate of how much sunlight your roof sees each year and which areas of your roof would be best for panels.

Make Sure Your Roof is Ready for Solar Panels
A little preparation can make a big difference for your solar energy system. By considering three simple questions about your roof, you can put your panels in the best position for maximum production.

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Advantages of Ducted Heat Pumps

One of the largest issues that you may face with your home is the fact that some rooms are hotter or cooler than others. We often hear complaints from people who talk about certain parts of the house that are too hot in the summer, and rooms that are far too cold in the winter. And these are the types of issues that are easily resolvable, especially if you are using ducted heat pumps. But what are these heat pumps, and how do they work?

Understanding Ducted Heat Pumps

The idea behind a ducted heat pump is that you are going to have the hot or cool air that is being created by your system going into all the rooms of the house in equal measure. That means you are going to find that your rooms are now a very even temperature, no matter what the season. These days, people like to have their homes at an even temperature throughout the year. For instance, if you enjoy having the house at 20C whether it is the summer or winter, you will be able to use these pumps to achieve that result.

But when you are thinking about getting these pumps installed, make sure that you are using a top company for the job. There are so many companies in the area that offer services related to solar power, energy efficiency and heat pumps. It is vital that you choose a company that you know can get the job done for you. Why? Because with such a technology, you are only going to get as good a result as the people who are competing the installation. It is not the case of just buying the most expensive heat pump solution, and installing it on your own. The installation matters even more than the equipment.

Combining Heat Pumps with Solar Power

It may sound like an odd combination, but the perception of using heat pumps along with solar power is not unusual. These are both methods that will help you achieve energy efficiency and a more comfortable home. With solar power, you now have a year-round solution for the electricity needs of your home. You will not be paying hundreds of dollars in electricity bills during the winter and summer months. And if you are using ducted heat pumps, the amount of energy that you use on heating and cooling during those months will be a lot lower.

The goal is to create an environment where you are comfortable when you are at home, whether it is the dead of winter or the peak of summer. The most affordable way to not only power the various lights and appliances in your house, but to run the heat pump and your heating and cooling systems, is solar power. Talk with a company in your area that offers these services, and you will be able to learn about the products that would work best for your home. You will be surprised at the affordability of these products!

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How Shading Can Limit Solar Efficiency

If you've made the decision to go solar, then you're probably in the process of making sure your roof is solar ready. You will systematically go through inspections to determine the health of your roof, whether it needs replacement of repair and several other considerations. One such consideration is the amount of shading your roof gets.

Whether it's caused by trees or even your own chimney, shading directly affects the efficiency of your solar unit and can cost you 20% -40% of the total output of your system.

Keeping this in mind, here are 5 ways you can help limit shading on your system:

  1. Bypass Diodes
  2. Panel Orientation
  3. Designing around obstacles
  4. Micro inverters
  5. Trim nearby plantation

Bypass Diodes:
You may be asking yourself is, “how does the overall output get affected by shading?”. Great question. Solar panels are mostly connected in the form of a series. If the first cell / module in the series is being shipped, it will produce less energy. This energy will then travel to the adjunct modules / cells, decreasing your overall output

Good news, Bypass Diodes can prevent this from happening. These can be connected to the cells of your solar panels and will limit the power loss to the shaded areas instead of the entire system. The final output is still decreed as compared to a system that receives no shading but will be significantly higher than the output you would have had you not installed bypass diodes.

Panel Orientation:
Oddly enough, solar panels can be the source of shadings if they are not installed at the right orientation. To prevent this from occurring, installers typically give 5-10 meters of tilt to the row in the back. This not only prevails the panels from being shaded by each other but also helps cover less space and allows for the addition of more panels.

Designing Around Obstacles:
Small obstacles on your roof (chimneys, for example) can also shade a part of your system. While you are inspecting your roof for solar readiness, be sure to discuss these obstacles with the installers. Typically, Solar installers custom design the arrays and their placements in a way that prevails them from being shaded by obstacles on the roof.

Micro Inverters
Micro inverters are relatively new to the world of solar energy. Instead of one large inverter connected to your entire system, your system will have several micro inverters connected to each solar panel in your array. These not only help increase the output of your system but also protect the system from the damage caused by high voltage outgoing DC electricity.

Trim Nearby Plantation:
This one is pretty obvious, but you would not believe the number of customers who experienced shading issues with their systems all because they did not trim their trees. If you are seriously considering going solar, do yourself a favor and buy a tree trimmer or hire a landscape architect to help take care of this problem. Remember to keep an eye on their growth through the years.

Now that you know how shading can affect your solar system's efficiency and the ways in which you can prevent it, you can do a shading analysis of your roof before you dive into the installation process. If these measures are not enough to prevent your system from shading, you can consider installing ground mounts for solar instead.

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