How to Decide If Solar Panels Are Right for Your Home

Solar panels can provide clean electricity for your home, helping you to save money on energy costs while also doing your part to help the environment. However, not all homes are suited to solar energy. Here’s what you need to know to determine whether solar panels make sense for your home.

Can you afford solar panels?

Gone are the days when you had to shell out thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars upfront to buy solar panels. You’ll have a lot of other options available to you these days, including taking out a personal loan, financing the project through the solar panel company, and leasing the panels from the company. Depending on where you live, you may even be eligible for state or federal subsidies or rebates to encourage you to go solar.

Take the time to request quotes from several solar companies, and be sure to research the many options in your jurisdiction. This way, you’ll have all the information you’ll need to work out which option makes the most sense for your budget. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised that solar panels are much more affordable than you might think.

Do you get plenty of sunshine?

Of course, you’ll need to have plenty of sun on your roof throughout the day to make solar panels worthwhile, or enough space on your property for a ground-mounted system. If you have a large tree that shades the bulk of your property, or if you live in an area where the weather is often cloudy, solar panels may not be cost-effective for you. Think about the layout of your roof and the typical weather where you live to determine whether you’ll get enough sunshine to produce the necessary electricity to reduce or your electric bill enough to make the project worthwhile.

Are there any local or HOA requirements?

Some jurisdictions have regulations regarding solar panels, so you’ll want to ensure you are complying with any laws in your area. If your home is in a community with a homeowner association (HOA), you may also have to comply with their rules and bylaws. Be sure to do your research in advance and request approval so you don’t end up getting fined for not following the rules.

Get Started with Solar Today

You’ll never know how much you could save with solar panels until you start looking into it, so start your research today. You could save a lot of money on your electric bills while also potentially adding value to your property and preserving the environment, so it is in your best interest to at least check out the possibilities.

How to Make a Fire Safety Plan

No one likes to think about the possibility of a fire in their home, but this is one situation where it definitely pays to be prepared. This is especially true if you have children or pets in your home. Read on to learn how to develop a fire safety plan to ensure you and your loved ones are as safe as possible in an emergency.

Plan Multiple Routes Out of Your Home

Depending on where the fire starts and how much of your home it consumes, you may not necessarily be able to use the most obvious exit. Of course, the best way to get out of your home in a fire is the quickest route, but you may not have access to it if fire is blocking it. In addition to identifying the fastest way out, be sure to have several contingency options at the ready as well.

This is especially important if your home has two or more levels. If a fire is blocking the stairs, how will you get your loved ones out safely? Think about as many possible ways to get out of every room in your home as you can, and make sure all members of your family are familiar with their exit routes, no matter where they are.

Consider All Members of Your Family

Small children and pets will likely need assistance in the event of a fire, so you and any other adults in your home will need to plan who will take on which responsibilities. For example, you might tend to your children while your partner handles the pets, or vice versa. The important thing is to ensure that everyone will be taken care of and that no one will be forgotten. The last thing you want to have to do is run back into a burning house to rescue a forgotten hamster on the upper floor.

Do Several Practice Runs

All that planning can quickly go out the window in the stress and chaos of an actual emergency, so be sure to practice your fire exit plan frequently. This will instill the exit routes and procedure in your and your loved ones’ minds so everyone can get out safely without panicking. Make sure your kids understand the importance of this practice as well to ensure they take it seriously and pay attention to the details. With practice, you and your family will be well-prepared in the event of a fire.

How to Choose Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential for any home, so you should ensure that your house is equipped with them. You should have detectors in the main living areas on each floor, including in every bedroom and the kitchen. This way, you’ll be able to identify problems in the most important areas as quickly as possible. However, not all detectors are the same. Here’s what you need to know to pick appropriate ones for your home.

Types of Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

First, you’ll need to choose between individual and combination devices. With individual devices, you’ll have separate detectors for smoke and carbon monoxide. As you might have guessed, combination devices can detect both smoke and carbon monoxide from a single device. While combo options can be a bit more costly, they’ll take up less space on your ceiling, keeping the overall look clean and uncluttered.

You’ll also have to choose between wired and battery-powered options. In general, battery-powered detectors are cheaper and easier to install, though you’ll need to replace the batteries periodically. It is also a smart idea to test them frequently to ensure they are working properly. If you opt for wired detectors, consider choosing the kind with backup batteries to ensure they continue working in the event of a power failure.

Finally, modern smoke and carbon monoxide detectors also come in smart versions. These devices connect to your home’s internet connection, enabling you to monitor them from your smartphone or other mobile device. This way, you can check on your home while you are at work or out of town to ensure everything is safe. These devices tend to be the most expensive, but they’ll also give you the greatest peace of mind, especially if you travel frequently.

Adding Sprinkler Systems

If you live in an area that is prone to fires, you may wish to add overhead sprinklers to your home as well. In fact, some jurisdictions actually require them, so be sure to check the laws in your area. Modern sprinkler systems can sync with your smoke detectors, activating the sprinklers in case of fire.

Upgrade Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Even if your home already has detectors in place, you may wish to upgrade them to more modern versions. This will give you the greatest amount of protection for both your home and your loved ones. You may even be able to save a bit of money on your home insurance. Get in touch with us to learn more.

How to Evaluate and Choose Energy-Efficient Appliances

Today’s modern appliances are much more energy-efficient than their predecessors, and some are even better than the rest. When shopping for appliances, you’ll likely be overwhelmed by choice, so it is important to know what you are looking for. Follow these steps to find the right energy-efficient appliances to meet your needs and fit within your budget.

Choose the Right Size

Particularly for air conditioning and heating units, it is crucial that you select the appropriate size for your home. If you choose an HVAC unit that is too small for the size of your home, it will have to run much more frequently and stay on longer to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. This constant running will negate any energy-efficiency savings you might have reaped. Most appliances in this category will identify how many square-feet they can accommodate, so be sure to pay attention to this metric.

Look for Energy-Efficiency Settings

When choosing a dishwasher, for example, be on the lookout for devices that enable you to adjust the wash settings. For dishes that are only mildly dirty, you won’t need to use as much water or wash for as long as you would with heavier loads. The same goes for washing machines. Those with sensors can regulate the amount of water used based on the size of your load, and you should be able to adjust the soil level of the clothes as well.

Consider Both Upfront and Ongoing Costs

While it is true that energy-efficient appliances tend to be more expensive than their standard counterparts, that is not the only cost you need to consider. Check the label to determine the annual operating cost as well. With an energy-efficient appliance, this amount will typically be much lower, so you could save a lot of money over the years. Be sure to factor in these savings so you can weigh them against the initial cost of the appliance to determine your break-even point.

Think about the Environment

While energy cost savings may be your primary concern in choosing an energy-efficient appliance, it is important to also consider the benefits for the environment. In using less energy, you’ll be less reliant on non-renewable resources, which can help to preserve our environment for future generations.

Tips for Saving Money on Heating and Cooling Your Home

If you’re like most people, you like to keep your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the year. However, running your heater or air conditioner constantly uses a lot of energy, and your electric and gas bills can seriously add up over time. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can reduce your energy costs to save money without having to sacrifice comfort. Try these helpful tips, and watch the savings roll in.

  • Check window and door seals. Doors and windows are among the worst culprits for allowing inside air to escape, so it’s important to check the seals around them on a regular basis. Inspect them once at the beginning of the summer and again going into winter. Watch for any cracks, broken seals, and other signs of deterioration. In general, replacing these seals is not very expensive, and this small repair can make a big difference in your energy bills over time.
  • Upgrade your insulation. Your roof is another common area for cool air and warmth to escape. While your home was likely built with insulation in the roof, the insulation materials can deteriorate over time, causing them to be less effective at regulating the internal temperature of your home. Rodent and other pest activity in your attic can also wreak havoc on your insulation, as these little critters use the materials to make their nests. Especially if your home is older, you may need to upgrade your insulation, as technology has come a long way over the decades.
  • Use a programmable thermostat. If you keep your home at a constant temperature throughout the day, you’re likely wasting a lot of energy when you aren’t even at home. Rather than having to remember to adjust the thermostat before you leave for work each morning and when you return home in the evenings, invest in a thermostat that you can program. This way, you’ll be able to let your house get a bit hotter or colder while you are away, then have it come back to a comfortable temperature before you get back. By shutting off your system when you are out of the house, you can reduce your energy consumption dramatically.

Of course, the old standby tips of opening windows in the summer and putting on an extra layer in the winter still hold true and can help you reduce your energy costs even further. It’s all about striking a balance between comfort and affordability to find what works best for you.