Make Your Roof Work for You

Most people do not realize that there is a tremendous resource shining on the top of their roof. The sun offers a way to save thousands of dollars while helping to clean up the environment. Your roof could easily be used to generate solar power that comes with an assortment of benefits for you and everyone else who lives on planet Earth.

Affordable conversion to solar power

Homeowners and business owners can get in on the new Solar purchase power agreements known as PPAs and the cost to get into these programs is usually minimal with low or no down payments for financing. The total cost can be spread out with affordable pay as you go terms. The company that owns the solar power system completes the installation of your solar powering and also provides maintenance and monitoring services. Solar power provider rates are far less than the rates charged by electrical utility companies.

How much you will save

The addition of solar panels to your roof can net you a savings of at least a hundred dollars a month in most states and more, depending on your power consumption levels. These are averages that are put forth by One Block Off the Grid. If you’re financing your solar power system it is possible that the savings will make the payments for you so it truly does amount to a win-win situation all the way around. It takes most home and business owners approximately five years to pay off the costs of conversion with cost-efficient payment plans and seventy-five percent of the population with solar energy use this option.

Benefits of adding solar panels

Homes equipped with a solar energy option have lower energy costs but there are other benefits that help to increase the overall value of the home. It increases the attractiveness of the real estate market. Comparisons show that houses featuring good energy ratings that translate into energy efficiency average a twenty percent faster rate of sale and earn about seventeen percent more than similar homes reliant on electrical utility services.

Solar panels also qualify for tax breaks and incentives. These are offered by the respective states and localities. It is worth checking out because it can help to increase your financial bottom line at the year-end. You can earn SREC (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) credits annually and the state of New Jersey is a good example of how the average solar customer earns between five and seven thousand dollars in these credits per year.

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to make the switch to solar energy is that it is a clean and efficient way to contribute to the health of the environment. In addition to all of the financial benefits, what really matters is that we are contributing to the health of the planet for future generations and making preparations for the future of renewable energy sources. Changes will eventually come whether we participate now or not. Making the conversion to solar power is a step in the right direction and there are more reasons to do it sooner rather than later than there are to wait.

Surprise at the Renovation Site

Sooner or later, you are going to have to deal with pests and roaches as disgusting as it may be. No one likes to see these nasty critters out and about. It means calling an exterminator who will come with a giant spray can full of toxic, potent chemicals. Beware your pets. They can be harmed. But this is the typical solution as most people simply don’t know what else to do. Pest control is not known to have environmentally-friendly solutions.

I just encountered a horde of these crawling black beasts at a renovation site. Now I had to think on my feet. My crew and I brainstormed responsible ways to kill the invading pests with ecology in mind. What did we do? Of course, we went online in search of new products for sale that could help. We also split up and each went to a nearby hardware or building supply store in search of something safe for humans. I knew that the application of orange oil worked for termites as an alternative to costly tenting. Surely there had to be something else besides roach traps and a bomb. I hated the thought that chemicals would permeate every inch of space and linger there to be breathed in by the workers—and me.

In my search online, we found this site and a product called Combat MAX. I love the name and would buy the product for that alone, and fortunately it was not like the others as I had feared. Not so also for Hot Shot, an equally catchy name. So, we did encounter some non-toxic products that were suitable for our needs. I vowed to bring to the renovation site no pesticides no matter how extensive the infestation. Given the need for new solutions to an old problem, many companies are working on safer products. It is easier now to find something acceptable. The innovations are based on plant ingredients and oils. I found recipes for make-it-yourself solutions if you can find the specific plants required. Given this difficulty, I say buy a ready-made mixture. You won’t have to mess up your kitchen sink or the utility one you may have in the garage. Plus, you must have sharp knives to cut up and process these plants. The oils come in vials so there is no issue about storage there.

The moral of this blog is that you can be environmentally attentive even in an area that has not been known to have this designation. The world is changing and we have a green approach to every aspect of our practical lives. Every time something new happens, you must automatically think, “how can I solve this problem in the most ecological way.” If sustainability is ever at issue, by all means you must be oriented to promote it to save our dwindling resources. Spreading the word is a great way to get others on board. Join me in making a concerted effort every day of your life.

Better Insulation, Better Ideas

Working in the construction industry has given me some fair insights into how insulation can impact the building owners and the environment. Choosing the type and grade of insulation as well as the thickness will impact the overall energy efficiency of any structure. Some materials are manufactured with the planet in mind and these are my personal preferences to maintain our operations as being eco-friendly to the highest possible degree. I’d like to share my insights about which insulation types are the better alternatives for a more innovative approach to energy conservation.

Types of insulation and which is the best

The best insulation depends on the application and where it is needed. For example, homes which are already built most often take advantage of loose fill insulations because they can be pumped into existing walls without the need to remove any materials other than a small hole which is plugged and refinished after the process is completed.

Blanket, Batts and Roll insulation

This type comes in a format that is fairly easy to handle and to cut into precise measurements to fit into any size space. The materials used vary from Mineral wool; fiberglass; plastic fibers or natural fibers. This type is generally used when insulating structures with unfinished walls, foundation walls, floors, and ceilings. It is installed by fitting the batts or sheets in between the beams, studs, and joists. These are the most popular type for do it yourself enthusiasts and for contractors who are working with spaces with few obstructions. It is a fairly inexpensive type of insulation and when the recommended thickness is observed, it is quite effective.

Concrete Block Insulation

Foam board is the standard type of insulation used for concrete blocks. Some brands feature the infusion of foam beads into the concrete for increased R-values. These are generally placed on the exterior of the wall during new construction on the interior for existing structures. These require an expert skill level for installation and are often dry stacked and surface bonded. They help to increase the R-value of the walls for greater energy efficiency.

Loose-Fill/Blown-in Insulation

This type of insulation as alluded to earlier is the best choice for insulating existing structures. The most common materials for this type include cellulose, fiberglass or mineral wool. It is effective for use in enclosed existing walls or any open wall cavities, in unfinished attic floors or any other hard to reach places. Special equipment is needed to blow it into walls and other spaces, or it can be poured into other vacant areas if there is ample workspace.

Modern Insulation is eco-friendly

Most insulation materials manufactured today including cellulose, fiberglass, and mineral wool are made with recycled materials that were once considered to be waste. Fiberglass has a high content of recycled glass, mineral wool is 3/4 recycled industrial waste and cellulose is made from recycled newsprint.

Better materials with Better Benefits

The newer insulating materials are eco-friendly and they re-use materials that were once considered waste and clogged our refuse sites. An additional benefit of using the recommended insulation to seal air leaks in a building is the dramatic impact that it can have on monthly utility costs and occupant comfort. Yet another dual benefit that comes out of the situation is that we’re using far less energy while saving money to boot. I can’t make a stronger case for why your home or business should be thoroughly insulated.

Ways to Cut Your Power Dependency

I wanted to write a blog for fellow souls, those who value being green and supporting sustainability ideas. Let’s all rally around a good cause and save the planet. It is as simple as that. We don’t want to punish any businesses excessively, but we do want to stop chemical dumping practices. We want consumers to make smart choices in their products and to recycle when they can. We want, in short, more awareness and I depend on you to help me spread the word. Being green is being practical so it takes a certain kind of mind to be ecological in spirit. I value people who don’t turn their heads away from facts. I say, get real and face reality before it is too late. Now I am not one of those scare mongers so keep reading. I just want to remind people of their responsibility as citizens and to do their best to comply with what we already know about saving resources. We want to repurpose wood and metal in the construction industry and to avoid taxing the planet to give us more and more supplies.

Meanwhile I am here to provide a few handy tips that are easy for everyone to do like unplugging your phone charger when you are not using it and the job is done. I also advise using power strips and turning off lights when you are not at home. I am all about cutting power dependency today. Just look at your utility bills and you will know what kind of user you are. If you are average, then so be it. If you rank in the over-usage range according to the data, it is time to listen up. I don’t care if you can afford to be wasteful. Let’s just make an effort to conserve energy.

Here’s one idea you can adopt with little money and no effort: a fan. Yes, this simple old-fashioned device can help cut energy usage, especially in the summer when the air conditioning unit is operating at maximum level. If you want a more modern design, buying one of the best tower fan models on the market is a must. Even in winter, they circulate the air (remember, warm air needs to be moved from the heat source to be most effective) and keep you warm. No need for excessive heating from your central system.

So, I really love the idea of a fan and I recommend that you do as I did and put one or two in your home. Maybe it is not possible to get offices on board, but surely you can value the energy savings and great décor that a fan adds to your space. They come in virtually all sizes and colors. You can customize your rooms with painted or wood-stained options. Anything you like. But we all know that it is not about interior decoration. Installing a fan is the least you can do to get green and start changing your wasteful ways.

Small Project: Home Gym

I enjoy a change of pace now and then. Recently I was asked to build an addition to a house that included a customized home gym. I loved that they planned to fill it with boxing equipment for their daily fitness workouts as I, myself, like a go-round with a boxing bag when I can. I admire people who are committed to health. It usually is a trait of those who can call themselves “green.” Somehow these interests go together as values. It is all about living well–taking care of yourself, recycling, using non-toxic products, and promoting sustainability to save our dwindling, precious resources. If health concerns are the egotistical side of the coin, then so be it. It is no sin to dwell on yourself and your longevity.

Because of my interest in boxing, the client asked me to select the boxing bag. I was more than willing and knew right out of the box (pun intended) that you can’t go wrong with Everlast. You can buy the kit online for a 70-pound, heavy bag that also comes with gloves and hand wraps. The bag has a custom filling that consists of natural and synthetic fibers blended with sifted sand. I bet few of you knew that! The gloves and wraps protect your hands against possible abrasion from the bag. Someone was thinking ahead. It also, by the way, comes with an adjustable height customization chain and a bungee cord that adds greater resistance to the bag. So, you can see, you don’t just select any brand. There is a lot more to it.

When the project was done and the gym was ready for use, complete with the best boxing bag around, I was asked to come and try it out. I suppose the client wanted to verify the room’s functionality, something that I had, of course, guaranteed. Were they putting me on the spot; I don’t think so. They were not mean spirited. I think it had to do with thanking me for a job well done. I was happy to oblige. We set a date and I appeared in gym attire ready to test the bag for all I was worth. I had a great time, and no they didn’t observe which made me feel more comfortable. I adore these kinds of considerate clients and interesting projects. They usually turn out well. It makes me think that I would love to have a home gym myself, if only I had room. Maybe I could put it in the basement or the garage, even a spare room never in use. I could then get my own Everlast and test its mettle. I would save so much time not traipsing back and forth to the gym. There is a lot to say about convenience and saving time. When you do, you seem to have more energy for other projects and interests.

Green Construction Tip: Tankless Water Heater

Today’s blog is all about prevention. There are people who think ahead, plan wisely for the future, and anticipate problems and therefore have solutions waiting in the wings. And then there are those who do not expect anything to happen and who act only after the fact when something requires their attention. In effect, they do not act, but only react. I think you will agree that this is not the pest posture to take toward the unforeseen events of life.

Take a friend of mine whose old tank hot water heater was not working. He knew it but chose to ignore the problem, thinking it will be okay and the old tin monster will live to see another day. Oh, so wrong. The old tin monster leaked and caused basement flooding. Water seeped into all the nooks and crannies destroying some of the valuable items he was storing. Plus, he had to hire a flood cleanup service and this always costs a pretty penny. It doesn’t come cheap, and you really can’t do it yourself. You need the right equipment to extract the water and giant heaters to dry the area. Excess humidity is not good for any area of the house as it can cause mold. Now there is a nasty problem and one that is very hard to deal with. But you must as mold can cause illness in your pets and entire family. So, there was a lot at stake with my friend chose to ignore the condition of his old unit. There is a price to pay for procrastination.

On the other hand, I believe in prevention. I would have bought a new tankless hot water heater from the Home Water Center the minute I saw signs of deterioration in function. I think they are a better choice in any case when it comes to environmental concerns. New construction nowadays most often includes this option. For the rest of us, it takes up less space, is easy to install, saves on utility bills, and always provides enough hot water on demand as needed. People can take one shower after another and still get the right temperature. For the purposes of this blog, let me mention that there is no risk of leaking and flooding with modern innovations. It is a win-win situation all around. Even if they cost a little more at the start, the savings will more than make up for it.

Of course, my friend finally got his own tankless hot water heater at last. All his reticence made no sense and there were consequences. If he had been in a “green” zone sooner, he would have headed off a potential nightmare. It is easy to go this route. You can go online and see the different models and sizes that suit the size of your home. You can also acquire them for offices. In my opinion, there is no alternative. I never pass up on a chance to be environmentally friendly. We all want to save energy, and with a tankless hot water heater, you definitely will.

Before You Toss Patio Furniture, Try This

Being green and valuing sustainability is not just another cause. Someday it may be a matter of life and day. I know many of you ignore the problems of the planet because it seems too much to bear. What can a person do when there is so much at stake. It takes government commitment, but citizens can play their parts in supporting environmental programs. Meanwhile I suggest you educate yourself by attending conferences, reading green literature, and doing research to find organizations to join. That is all you have to do to keep the rest of us happy. The more we join forces, the faster change will happen. You can also help spread the word as you can at home and at work. Encourage people to listen. I do it by telling stories that they can relate to such as the need to cut power by installing simple ceiling fans.

My blogs are about conserving resources and recycling anything from metal, to used wood, to appliances. Don’t throw out an old stove that will just add more bulk to the landfill when you can have it repaired. You can be green in so many ways. You probably can think of more than I can. Today it is about that used patio furniture. Some people just want to throw anything away before they consider repurposing. I have a friend who had some rather nice pieces that had gotten rather dirty, to the point of grimy, and he wanted to toss them in the garbage can. He wanted to buy new items which means energy waste in manufacturing something you already have. Energy is not finite and it is expensive. Power is limited and we only should use so much given the number of us humans there are on the planet.

I told my friend to STOP and listen and consider the consequences of throwing away things that show a speck of dirt. You just want an excuse to go shopping. My suggestion is to buy or borrow a good electric power washer to bring anything and everything back to life. You can wash down the garage floor, clear debris from the sidewalk, clean exterior walls, and much more. In fact, you can use it on the patio furniture and it works like magic to restore chairs and chaises lounges to their original glory. It is as simple as that. Now you are saving money and being green at the same time. My friend agreed and did as I suggested for you. I am super proud of him. He now has a new focus on things.

Power washers come in different sizes for commercial or residential/personal use and you can choose from gas, electric, cold-water, or hot-water pressure washers depending upon their purpose for you. The key to cleanliness is the high-powered nozzle, the right hoses, and any special cleansers. They can run up to a thousand dollars for a mighty motor. Not everyone needs to spend that much, but you can spend more. This is not to scare you into breaking your budget, but in making a different point.

Upcycling Building Materials

As a contractor, I place a high value on upcycling building materials and encourage everyone else who hasn’t thought about it, to start doing the same. This strategy is one of the best ways that we can reduce the impact that our business has on the environment. While recycling is very good and I place it high on my list of priorities, it came to my attention just how valuable upcycling really is.

Decreased Production and Fewer Disposals

All of us who are involved in the construction industry from architects, engineers, developers, and builders to property owners and site managers can make a difference. Upcycling starts when the inception for a building is first being discussed. It involves making the decision to include a green approach to design as well as in the material choices and construction. Using each resource in the most efficient ways possible reduces waste that ends up in our landfills and the need for increases in production. We can cut back on the use of resources by using better planning that takes this important topic under consideration.

Benefits for Upcycling

Since billions of dollars go into the planning and construction of buildings that are designed to last for ten to thirty years, the first obvious sign of waste is right in front of our noses. With the use of a little foresight, the money could better be spent on structures that will hold up for much longer periods of time. Instead of hiring a demolition crew to come in a decade later, a stronger and more reliable structure could be erected that could be repurposed or at least remodeled with less refuse generation. This would decrease the cost of building and refuse management drastically but it needs to start with the professionals who are in charge of ordering construction and authorizing the design specifications.

Leaving the Disposable Mentality Behind

Our society has moved towards a disposable mentality for the sake of convenience for the past few decades and it has reached epidemic proportions. We seem to thrive on convenience with the use of eco deadly materials for our fast food, our homes, electronics and the wonderful manufacturing plants that process our disposable goods. It has entered the construction industry in the form of disposable buildings. It is a mentality and therein lies to the difficulty for effecting any large-scale change. While in the majority of cases, money is not the issue as much as convenience and moving on from one project to another. Planners who take this route are not thinking about environmental impacts, but now is the time that they should. As the professionals who are shaping the landscape of this planet, it’s time that we all unite in a common cause to cut down on the amount of waste that we’re generating and start working together to reduce the waste we produce while conserving on every possible resource.

Two Worthy Goals for Upcycling

If nothing more can be attributed to the value of upcycling, we can certainly see the benefits we’ll gain by reducing our carbon emissions footprint and reducing the waste that is clogging our waste management systems. Every contractor that contributes to the cause is making a difference. When associates ask why you employ green strategies, you’ll have the opportunities to open their eyes a little wider to the reasons why they should consider taking the same approach. Partners in conservation are formed over a lifetime of negotiations and information sharing and with a little effort; we can make progress towards these goals.

Peaceful Trip

I love outdoor sports and welcome any opportunity to enjoy water recreation whether it be in a lake, a river, or at the shore. If I don’t mind driving awhile, I have access to snorkeling or kayaking as my mood dictates. A friend asked me to join him for an open weekend and I suggested we opt for the boat this time. He has an inflatable kayak which is so easy to transport. He told me that he had thought of buying a regular one since he enjoyed the activity, but immediately noticed that it is heavy and causes drag on the roof of a car. He knew that would get my attention given my green nature because it means that the car uses up more gas. He is right. I don’t believe in wasting energy so why not go for the inflatable kayak. Your time on the water is virtually the same. You are zipping along at a nice pace as you take in a gorgeous day of fresh air and sun. Even a darker day is fun. You can’t control Mother Nature, but sometimes we get lucky as our great Instagram photos tell.

Sometimes things go awry and there is trouble inflating the kayak. Other times we forgot food and water and had to go on the hunt. While ashore, we can encounter critters and pests who want to spoil our day. Or we can lose sight of our car and have to walk for a mile or more to find it. Oh, for a peaceful trip! That is our goal. But we handle any adversity that comes our way. The most important point is that the kayak is solid, durable, and reliable. Inflatable isn’t a negative word. They are just as sleek, fast, and performance oriented as the other kind, but they are so much lighter. Some have an innovative design that is intended to be safe and stable. Plus, they don’t cost as much as the rigid models.

Kayaking is a dream in inflatable boat. My friend and I can pack it in a bag that is a fraction of its full size. This is called stowable portability. When I first saw this kind of kayak, I was impressed with the breakthrough in construction. When I first took a ride, I also saw the value of high-performance paddling. Bravo to the manufacturer of our particular boat. It is tough enough for whitewater due to the thick hull material. This is not a flimsy item and it sets up in a mere ten minutes. They are suitable for beginner or experienced paddlers alike so I can recommend it to anyone young or old. We knew we made a good choice when my friend bought it. It has provided many hours of outdoor enjoyment and fun. What a great value in boating today. I say go for it.

Meanwhile we had a wonderful time with no mishaps. It was a day of flat-water paddling, a scenic view, and exercise of a unique kind.

The Solar Powered Generation

The generation that we’re now living in has a valuable resource in solar energy. Solar power is clean and reliable but the greatest feature is that it is a renewable energy resource. Using the energy of the sun for power will reduce the amount of pollution that we are producing while helping to conserve what is left of our non-renewable natural resources for future generations.

A quick glance at the process for creating solar energy

Energy from the sun is converted into usable energy through the use of solar powered photovoltaic (also known as PV) panels, which convert the rays of the sun into electricity. This is accomplished by an excitement of the electrons in silicon cells with light photons that are produced by the sun. An inverter is used to make the conversion to DC electricity. The process may seem complicated at first glance, but in reality, it is a fairly simple concept and it is a process that is just gaining in popularity but its use is not as widespread as it needs to be.

Benefits of Solar power in this generation

We’re at a stage in our evolution when we have clear signals that our environment is suffering from the effects of pollution. It is affecting our climate and resulting in drastic weather changes and a poorer quality of the air that we breathe and the water that we consume. In addition to this, we’re using up natural resources so quickly that soon there will be none left. This means that the resources we currently rely on to power our vehicles, homes and businesses will be gone and we’ll have no choice but to develop different sources of electricity. Now is the time to take action and start making the conversion instead of waiting. By adopting solar power, we can help to clean up the environment with huge reductions in carbon emissions.

Additional advantages of solar power

Solar power can result in lowering the utility bills. While some may view the cost involved in switching over as a burden, in the longer run, a solar system will pay for itself. Once this milestone is reached, overhead expenses for businesses and utility bills for homeowners is less than what those who rely on other energy sources are paying on a monthly basis. The process of generating solar energy is silent and it doesn’t contribute to noise pollution and solar electricity power plants produce no emissions.

What we have to gain from solar power

In addition to saving money in utility expenses, the switch to solar power is a step in the right direction for taking a green approach to everyday living. When you are making a contribution to the generation of a cleaner green power source from your solar electrical system, you’re reducing pollution by cutting down on the need for fossil fuels. You leave a smaller footprint in the delicate ecosystem and you’re helping yourself in the process.

Smarter Landscaping Ideas

I think that most of us are aware of the need to conserve water as a precious resource that is also at risk for depletion. Many countries around the globe are now experiencing shortages that are costing them the health and lives of their citizens. While we’re still in a good position to do so, it’s time to start planning ahead with more water smart landscaping plans.

How the water smart system works

The advances that we’ve made in technology are amazing and very useful. There is actually an application called the WaterSenese Water Budget Tool and it is really useful in planning a new landscape to maximize its water efficiency. It works by calculating the size of your yard and your climate based on the zip code of your home or business. The app lets you know where you stand with regard to available water resources for your area. Here are some tips that can help you in landscaping for a smart water system.

Go with native plants

The plants that are found naturally growing in your region are the ones that are the most likely to thrive under the climate conditions. By selecting low water requiring species, you cut down on the amount of irrigation that is needed throughout the year. Some of the more exotic plants often found in lush moisture laden climates are likely to require larger amounts of water.

Configure planting in conjunction with water requirements

To get the most out of the water that you’ll need to use for irrigation, put the plants with the most similar watering needs in close proximity. This is an excellent way to cut down on water waste. Your plants are also more likely to thrive if you use this type of grouping system. Under or overwatering will affect the overall health of the plant so you win twice with this system. You’ll have your own little system of hydrozones that can also have an aesthetic appeal.

Reduce water runoff

A lot of water gets wasted on hills and slopes. Once the plants are watered, the rest runs off into areas that may not need the drink. If you do use hills and slopes in your landscaping, a smart way to approach the situation is to tier the plantings so any runoff will spill onto plants that are in need of the water. This is a great way to maximize the use of every drop of water.

Plant native grasses with high water retention

This might take a little research on your part, but there are varieties of grasses that are native to your region that will do well in your climate with minimal amounts of water. Those that form a heavy turf tend to soak up water and retain it for a reduction in the need for watering.