Call it not-so-alternative energy. What were once considered way-off-grid energy options are now available in most U.S. neighborhoods. Solar, wind and geothermal energy systems can easily complement the basics provided by your local utility, and in most cases, the utility actually helps you add green power through valuable equipment rebates and energy credits.
Alternative energy sources have the potential to make big contributions to home comfort and overall savings, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon traditional energy sources like electric, gas and oil. A combination of standard and alternative sources is becoming a common solution thanks to consumer-friendly, utility-approved technologies that supplement existing systems to provide energy savings.
Here’s a closer look at each option for alternative energy currently available to homeowners:Solar Power Solutions
There are several ways to harness the power of the sun’s rays for improved efficiency and comfort of your home. Leased solar systems allow you to enjoy the benefits of a customized solar panel array without massive expense, requiring only a minor monthly fee while the system delivers immediate solar power results.
Hybrid and strictly solar water heaters use solar panels and an efficient heat-transfer system collect and circulate the sun’s heat, warming up your household water supply for cheaper dishwashing, laundry and showers. Super-compact solar collection systems can help power everything from rain barrel water pumps to skylight dimmers.
Also consider the power passive solar improvements like your home’s shade sources (overhangs, awnings and landscaping), windows and window coverings, and construction materials with the thermal mass to effectively absorb and store solar energy during daylight hours.Harnessing Wind Power
You don’t need a whole wind farm to turn everyday breezes into electrical power. Manufacturers are introducing smarter, ever-more-compact wind turbines that effectively and affordably generate electrical power for a standard home. The new small wind electric systems are not only non-polluting but also keep the power on when local utility outages let you down.
Wind turbines often have a low enough profile to capture the wind without gathering negative attention, but it’s important to investigate local zoning and permit requirements before shopping for a wind power solution. Without proper clearances, this reasonably priced energy investment can turn into an expensive addition.Geothermal Sources
Geothermal heating and cooling components draw upon the earth’s natural warmth to provide power and performance. It’s not a new idea as people around the world have been going geothermal for thousands of years but geothermal is generating renewed popularity through technologies that easily complement existing systems.
The geothermal heat pump is the most common, and is far more clean, quiet and efficient than its standard air-sourced counterpart; in fact, Energy Star-rated geothermal heat pumps are over 45 percent more energy efficient than standard models. Though specialized planning and significant system costs are involved, the substantial energy savings produced make for a brief payback period with this green power investment.Green Power Guidance from Energy Star
The Energy Star program was created to guide consumers to energy-efficient products that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants while offering savings on energy bills and superior performance. These include such solutions as solar water heaters and geothermal heat pumps, and you can get specs, buying guidance and current info on tax credits and rebates with a visit to www.EnergyStar.gov.
How do you know if adding green power is the right choice for your home? That depends on a variety of factors, including the cost and availability of fuel sources, the expense of purchasing equipment, and the fuel’s impact on the environment. Different installations require different permits, and the style, size and situation of your home impact how much power can be generated. Check with your local power provider to confirm capacities and compatibilities, and figure out how much alternative power you must generate in order to reduce your home’s use of traditional energy sources and earn local energy credits.
So if you do the math and find that the alternative energy equation works out in your favor, you can have the best of both worlds by combining standard and “new” sources and systems to power your home. That way, you can integrate significant savings while having the backup needed to live comfortably and protect the integrity of your home’s vital systems.
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From Source Article: moneypit.com
DIY Farmhouse decor is hitting stores shelves like crazy. Whether you’re into the floral arrangements, greenery, wall art, or rustic pieces… you’re bound to find something you like these days. The problem is – some of those adorable prearranged faux flowers sell for $20 or more!
Well, with a few creative strokes, you can save your money because and create your own rustic, farmhouse decor charm with items found at the dollar store! Follow along to be inspired and find out how you can create affordable, eye-catching decor for your home.Rustic Milk Jug Vases
There are a variety of vases you can find can find at dollar stores or thrift stores to fit a DIY farmhouse decor. For this rustic decor piece, you will want to focus on finding vases that mimic old milk jugs. Paint you jugs with a matte or chalk paint, and put a few of your favorite faux flowers inside. The dollar store carries an assortment of gorgeous faux flowers. To add more detail, consider wrapping some twine around the top of your vases, or sanding over your paint to give a more distressed look.Cheese Grater Wall Decor
Who would have ever thought that a cheese grater on your kitchen wall, would turn so many heads?
This DIY farmhouse decor piece is crazy unique and looks amazing. Find a box-shaped cheese grater from the dollar store or thrift store. Paint your cheese grater if you want it to be a specific color or sheen. Find an old cutting board, or pick one up from the dollar store. Next, close off the top opening portion of the grater – try to glue in a thick piece of cardboard. Then turn it upside down and attach it to your cutting board (use E6000 for a durable hold). Place kitchen utensils or faux flowers in the opening of the grater… and don’t forget to hang up a towel to match your kitchen decor.3. DIY Farmhouse Decor Topiary Balls
This is a simple way to add some faux greenery to your space and add some dimension to your room. You will need candlestick holders – preferably thicker holders, faux greenery, and a round base (either a floral styrofoam sphere or a smaller ball from toy section). All of these materials can be found at Dollar Tree. You will then cover your ball with adhesive and attach your moss. Feel free to use something other than moss if you would prefer. Complete this home decor piece by attaching the moss ball to a candlestick holder. See a secondary option, here.4. Cheese & Sugar Shaker Decor Photo credit: Sadie Seasongoods
Pick up a few cheese and sugar shakers from the dollar store to complete this DIY farmhouse decor project.
Upon gathering your shakers – be ready to create some adorable farmhouse floral arrangements. Begin by painting your shakers whichever colors you prefer… a milky white/beige chalk color does an excellent job at giving the distressed, rustic farmhouse look. However, if you have an accent color that you want to be more present, try using your accent color.
Once painted, put lids back on and insert florals through the pouring holes! It is as easy as that.5. Tiered Trays Photo credit: The Happy Housie
There are so many different ways you can create tiered trays for your home. Piece together trays and bowls to hold your fruit, store your jewelry and hair accessories, or create a tiered tray to show off your floral arrangements and burn candles.
Pick out the materials you want to use. This can all be found at the dollar store, but if you’re looking for unique pieces consider checking out what the thrift store has to offer. To piece your tiered tray together, use E600 glue – it is meant for glass and is very strong. If you’re using plastic or lighter-weight materials to create your tray, hot glue will work fine.
Bonus Tips:Spray paint over items you wish to change the look of. Painting your materials is also a great way to provide a different finish (matte, glossy, etc.). Use various shapes such as plates and bowls for the top tier. Practice your placement before you glue anything in place. 6. Serving Platter Wall Art Photo credit: Who Said Nothing in Life is Free?
The final DIY home decor piece is simple and the design possibilities are infinite.
Begin by purchasing a serving platter from the dollar store. Paint the platter if you desire with your favorite colored paint. Spray paint works wonderfully, but be sure you are applying smooth and even layers. Complete this project by adding your favorite quote to your platter, welcoming guests to your kitchen, or printing out a picture of your favorite farm animal(s) and stenciling their shadows onto your platter. The great part about these dollar store serving platters is that they weigh nearly nothing, so you can simply glue on a sawtooth hanger and hang your sign wherever you please.
From Source Article: moneypit.com