Comparing Solar Shingles and Solar Panels

In capturing solar energy for your home, solar shingles are thinner and lighter than solar panels, making them much easier to install and adjust.

When it comes to solar energy, you have a choice with solar panels and solar shingles. Many people have heard of solar panels, but have no idea what solar shingles are or the benefits they provide.

Solar panels can be an obnoxious and often very heavy hassle during installation.
Solar panels can be an obnoxious and often very heavy hassle during installation.

The federal government gives you a 30% Federal Tax Credit to install a photovoltaic device on your house (this includes solar shingles). There may also be more credit if you put in solar thermal or hot water unit.  Additional tax credits are given by state governments also give tax credits.  Energy state tax credits differ by state. Please check with the IRS, your state tax board or your accountant. Tax laws continually change.

What Are Solar Shingles?

Solar shingles are photovoltaic devices that create electricity from sunlight. They are made out of a wire and a photosensitive waterproof product. They serve the dual purpose of protecting your home from the elements and generating an electric current from the sunlight. They are often much thinner than solar panels and are lighter as well making them easy to install and adjust if necessary. They usually come in a darkened color and can often be mistaken with normal shingles.


How Do Solar Shingles Work? 

Solar shingles work very much the same way that solar panels do. They are made of wire a photosensitive waterproof coating that allows them so collect energy from sunlight as well as protect your home.

More specifically the surface of the solar shingle has a special coating that knocks an electron from the photon of sunlight as it hits the shingle. The loose electron travels through an electric travels through an electric circuit where it is collected with other electrons. The mass of moving electrons are used to generate electric current which then flows into the system of your house. Some models of solar shingles can even convert the electricity to heat to be used directly.

Where Do Solar Shingles Work?

They work mostly anywhere (even in cloudy places).  The shingles can be used during scattered sunshine or even overcast days. Of course they do work better in areas with high levels of sunlight, especially the southwest. But to give you a bit more perspective the country with the most PV devices is Germany, and the American Solar Energy Society has stated that all 50 states in the US get better sunlight than Germany. If you are wondering if your house will work, the answer is most likely.

Why Choose Solar Shingles?

A benefit that solar shingles hold over solar panels is that they are hard to notice. Passerby will often think them to simply be darkened shingles. You can cover your whole roof to further this effect or keep them small and simple. Either way they are unobtrusive. Another key benefit of solar shingles is that solar panels can be an obnoxious and often very heavy hassle during installation. Solar shingles are light and often much simpler to install.

If you have installed a number of solar shingles on your house and you also live in a sunny place you may find that you have an excess of energy. This is a great thing, because the excess energy is fed back into the power grid and a check from the electric company or a credit on your electric bill. You may be able to make money off your solar units. Make sure to check with your local electric company to understand how you receive these funds as the method is determined by your state law.



solar panel image by Wikimedia Commons



3 Benefits to Starting Your Own Garden

Starting your own garden gives you fresh, healthy vegetables in your back yard. It is also relieves stress, reduces depression and a great exercise.

Starting your own garden is a good idea. You not only get healthy food from your back yard, but it is also a great exercise. Gardening has a history that dates back to ancient times, before humans even had a written language. Archeological sites show that Homo sapiens not only gathered various vegetables, fruits, roots, and nuts, but also grew and cultivated them.

Gardening can be therapeutic and can alleviate depression on top of getting food readily available in your back yard.
Gardening can be therapeutic and can alleviate depression on top of getting food readily available in your back yard.

Gardening certainly has its roots in survival, but it has survived even in the modern world, where food is readily available in the grocery store. So why would anyone have a garden of their own? Here are some benefits of starting a garden of your own.

1. Stress relief

Sure, there are times when the plants just aren’t growing right, moments when you need to contact pest control services for an infested garden, but for the most part, gardening is a wonderful way to relieve the stress in your life.

It all has to do with directed attention, which is your ability to voluntarily focus and direct your thoughts to performing a certain task. However, long, sustained directed attention is difficult and tiring, leading to directed attention fatigue, something that far too many people suffer from—just imagine all the emails, tweets, status updates, phone calls, and work that’s thrown at you throughout the day. This fatigue leads to irritability, distraction, stress, and the classic brain fart.

Fortunately, this fatigue is reversible, and that’s where gardening comes into play. Gardening requires involuntary attention, which means it doesn’t take much mental effort to tend to your garden or enjoy nature. Placing yourself in such a natural environment and taking part in easy, repetitive, soothing tasks gets your eyes uncrossed and your brow unfurrowed (albeit a little sweaty).

2. Alleviate depression

If you’re feeling down in the dumps, planting a garden may be just what the doctor ordered. The lift in spirits could come from a wide range of factors associated with gardening. Spending time in the sun is known to increase production of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found primarily in the gut that helps to boost mood, among other things.

Gardening also poses an element of care-giving. You’re responsible for turning these few seeds into large plants, flowers, or veggies. This is just like caring for a pet. Being charged with the growth and well-being of something outside yourself increases your sense of worth and purpose, both of which can help comfort depression.

Other scientists have a slightly more radical idea about how gardening can ease depression. Soil is rich with a variety of natural chemicals and bacteria, including Mycobacterium vaccae. This harmless strain of bacteria has been shown to trigger the release and metabolism of serotonin, improve cognitive function, and potentially treat a variety of diseases. Digging around in the soil may actually make you feel good at a physiological level.

3. Exercise

While it’s not as strenuous as training for a marathon, gardening certainly gets your blood pumping and sweat moving. Weeding, planting, digging, sifting, and all the other repetitive tasks of gardening present excellent low-impact forms of exercise that require some strength and stretching. This makes gardening a great activity for those who can’t perform more vigorous exercises.

The best part: you’re more likely to stick to this exercise because it’s not exercise just for the sake of it. There’s a reason for doing everything. You’re motivated to want to perform better as it means being able to pull up weeds better or dig faster.

If you’re looking for a healthier, happier life, your best solution may be to plant yourself a garden. Good luck and happy planting.



home grown tomato image by Wikimedia Commons


Hiring A Professional to Repair Your Boiler

A boiler repair specialist can change filters, ensure proper maintenance and fix your boiler malfunction more quickly than you can do yourself.

One project that you might want to pass onto a professional would be repairing your boiler. Keeping your home running properly can be challenging in a tight economy. There are many projects that you can tackle on your own to keep the costs down.  If you find that your boiler stops working properly you might want to take the time to contact a specialist in boilers. They can help you find answers to your boiler malfunction issues far more quickly than you could do yourself.

If your boiler stops working, contact a professional to make sure all of the moving parts are properly oiled and not broken.
If your boiler stops working, contact a professional to make sure all of the moving parts are properly oiled and not broken.

Taking the time to make sure that you get the job done right is essential. Hiring a specialist in boilers provides you with the professional support you need to get the repairs made.

A specialist in boilers will want to look over the boiler to be sure that all moving parts are properly oiled and not broken. If they find any parts that are broken they will work hard to make sure that they are replaced. In addition to making sure that all moving parts are working properly the professional will take the time to change any filters in your boiler so that there is no contamination getting into your boiler so that it is working properly. The debris can cause your boiler to malfunction and cause damage with time. In addition, it is wise to have the specialist in boilers change any filters in the duct work of the home. This will insure that the air you are breathing is clean.

If the professional in boilers find that your unit is old and inefficient, he or she might recommend that you consider replacing it with a newer unit. This expense can be easily offset by the savings that you will see from using a new boiler to heat your home. As your boiler ages it begins to work less efficiently causing your energy bills or fuel bills to rise dramatically. In addition, as the boiler gets older it is going to need more and more repair work, which can also get expensive. You can save these expenses by having a professional in boilers install a new boiler that is going to be more efficient.

When the professional installs the boiler they will likely want to install new thermostats as well. These are typically digital and programmable in style. This means that you can set the thermostat to go to a specified temperature during certain times of the day. This is a good way to save money by only using the amount the heating that you need at the given time. In addition, digital thermostats can more accurate in their readings. A more accurate reading means that your boiler will not need to work as hard to get the job done correctly and to provide you with reliable heating throughout the home.

Before you decide whether to replace your old boiler or not, make sure that you get a couple of estimates on the job. You want to see the materials that will be used, including the boiler itself, as well as the labor costs on the page. Make sure the boiler that is going to be installed has a warranty on it and that you understand the limitations of that warranty. The professional should also guarantee their installation and be willing to back it up. Hire a professional with a good reputation to do the job so that there is no mistaking that they will do it well. You will want to make sure that you hire a licensed contractor that carries insurance to handle the work ahead.


boiler image by Wikimedia Commons

Published by Articles for Small Business

About Garage Door Repairs

You should not do your garage door repair yourself. You might cause more damage. Many garage door issues can be fixed without buying a new one.

When you have a problem with your garage door, the last thing you want to do is buy a new door when you have the ability to have your garage door repaired by a professional. There are many different problems that can occur and cause you to need garage door repairs, and the type of repair that you’ll need for your garage door depends on the type of door that you have on your garage. Two of the biggest mistakes that people make when they have a problem with their garage door is trying to fix the door on their own, or buying a new door instead of having the current one repaired.

If your garage door is damaged and in need of repair, do not be too fast in getting it replaced. Trying to fix it yourself can be dangerous. Contact a garage door professional.
If your garage door is damaged and in need of repair, do not be too fast in getting it replaced. Trying to fix it yourself can be dangerous. Contact a garage door professional.

The first mistake of trying to fix the door yourself can end up resulting in even further damage, which will end up costing you more on the repairs than it would when you hire a professional for your garage door repairs. The second mistake of buying a new door will end up costing you a lot more money, because more often than not, the issue can be fixed, and the cost of fixing the issue may be very cheap.

If you do not have experience with fixing garage doors, it may seem like the problem is actually bigger that it is. When you hire a professional for your garage door repairs, you may be surprised to see how simple the solution actually is. By looking into the websites of the garage door professionals, you see different types of problems that can occur. When you see the way these issues are fixed, you can see why hiring a professional is always the best choice when it comes to your garage door repair.

When you have a rolling garage door that stores inside of the top of the garage, sometimes the motor within the mechanism that moves the door up and down can burn out. Simply replacing the motor is generally all that is needed to get the garage door back up and running once again. Other times this type of garage door can have a kink in it, which will stop it from rolling up correctly. By finding a local professional from a local who provides garage door repairs can fix this kink in the door by using a special rubber hammer, and your garage door will be back up and working correctly in no time at all.

Another issue that occurs with garage doors takes place with sliding garage doors. These doors may be operated by a motor, or you may need to move the door manually. Either way, sometimes the track that the door glides upon can become damaged, and it will need to be straightened out in order for the door to work smoothly once again. Other times the door itself may have a kink in the lower region which is causing the garage door to get stuck while moving along the track. Other times, if the garage door is run by a motor, it may have burned out, and depending on how old the motor is, you may still have a warranty on it, which will allow you to get the garage door back up and running free of cost, other than the cost of labor.

When you hire a professional for your garage door repair, they will first come out and examine the door and then find the cause of the problem. Once they have determined what is causing the garage door not to work correctly, they will take the steps needed to get your garage door back up and running, and you’ll save a lot of wasted time that you could have spent on trying to repair the garage door yourself, or the money it would cost to completely replace the door that is installed on your garage.


garage door image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Feng Shui Tips for a Perfect Bedroom

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese interior design method in achieving energy flow, peace and harmony by the arrangement of furniture in your living space.

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese interior design technique. The main goal of this technique is achieving harmony and peace of mind by arranging furniture items in your living space so that they ensure the free energy flow. As a consequence (or benefit), people inhabiting that particular space will be charged with the positive energy that has been produced by and reached through the Feng Shui technique. By applying this technique, you are going to achieve a balance and calm in your bedroom. When reaching that state, you will be able to function without stress (or at least under less stress) and your sexual life will be improved, too.

bedroom with illustration of air flow
Feng Shui is an interior design for the free flow of energy.

According to this technique, the bedroom needs to be filled with fresh air as much as possible. To make that possible, you should get rid of unnecessary things from your bedroom. Feng Shui generally recommends lessening the amount of things and items in your home. If there are a lot of things, energy will be wasted on them and your space is going to be inefficient in terms of energy. To ensure that the air flows freely through your bedroom, you should buy or get thin, relaxing curtains.

Also, the window(s) of your bedroom should be opened as much as possible, even in winter. Apart from that, do not go for large carpets in the bedroom. They accumulate negative energy and dirt, which then affects the energy balance of the whole bedroom and people sleeping in it. Instead of thick carpets, ordinary or shaggy rugs could serve as a fine alternative. They are easily cleaned and removed, more importantly, and they do not stop the air flow in the bedroom.

Appliance and Gadget-Free Bedroom

To make your bedroom completely fengshuish, you should leave all the appliances and gadgets in another part of your home. TV sets and mobiles emit radiation which affects the positive energy reached through the free air flow in the bedroom. It is not also radiation that harms the surrounding space, but also the role of technical devices in the bedroom. If you want to practice Feng Shui, it means that you need to devote yourself completely to it. Also, if there is another person with you in the bedroom, the more newly created positive energy you share, the more you will feel. Complete commitment to your partner and the energy field of the bedroom should be mutually exclusive with appliances and gadgets. However, music can actually enrich the sensation, so a CD player is allowed.

Colors in Feng Shui bedroom

This technique promotes only human skin-like colors for the bedroom. These colors have a soothing effect on human eye and brain, as well. Applying these colors will only add to overall tranquility of the room and it will also amount to the general energy level in the room. Shades of these colors can be used in different parts of the bedroom. For instance, if the wall is beige, the rug can be light brown. Through different colors, you can make a real visual palette that could symbolize the color variety and beauty of various peoples and races in the world.

Minimalistic Home Décor Ideas for a Modern Living Room

Minimalism in home improvement is a simple decorative system. It pays to have only necessary things to have more space or when one moves constantly.

Minimalism, when it comes to home improvement, tends to be the prevalent decoration philosophy today, especially. Beside that, minimalistic décor has been governing private homes as well for a while. Since the world is changing rapidly today, people do not have enough time or energy for large and thorough analysis, which reflects to every part of our lives.

Design minimalism has been spreading since the 1980s and the yuppie-era.
Design minimalism has been spreading since the 1980s and the yuppie-era.

Songs are much simpler and shallower today than thirty and forty years ago. Books do not comprise larger-than-life heroes or complex philosophical issues like before. Films that we watch today are brimming with special effects and superheroes but they do not have any deeper messages. It is all normal and natural in websites, affiliate internet marketing and the sped-up materialistic world that we are currently living in. The modern home lifestyle has introduced the same tendencies into architecture and interior design.

However, design minimalism did not suddenly appear yesterday. It has been spreading since the 1980s and the yuppie-era. It is a school example how a rat race, combined with a high level of alienation leads to individualism and overrated consumerism. When people started living for money and their primary joys, the aesthetics of the space that they were living in did not matter that much. The only force and motif was practicality. That is the core reason for such a popularity of minimalism.

Neutral colours, impersonal shapes

Minimalism advocates maximum neutrality. You never know when a working person will be transferred to another city or another state and he or she must be ready to take only the most necessary things with them. Because of that, minimalistic homes have only the most essential items, which make living in them ultimately practical and plain.

Based on the economy of the 1980s, flats serve only to stay the night and get ready for the next workday. Due to that, minimalistic home décor veers towards as neutral colours as it gets and no personal traces. Furniture must be functional and its shapes regular and practical, to be good for anyone who moves in such a flat. If you want to buy a TV-set or a hi-fi, you need to incorporate them with already existent lines and colours. So, the best option is purchasing either black or white appliances, to fit them into the already existent arrangement.

A bar between a living room and a dining room is another popular solution. It serves as a physical obstacle that divides the space and thus creates mental division between different areas of the flat. This is important to make people think their flats are actually larger than they really are.

Curtains and rugs in minimalism

While minimalism mostly stresses out the practicality and pragmatism of modern human-centred world, it needs one important thing from nature – sunlight. Minimalistic living rooms crave for light, because the natural light comes in as a surrogate for items that have been left out. Of course, you can install various tapes of lights and chandeliers in your rooms, but lack of natural light from the outside spoils the whole concept of minimalistic home décor.

That is why minimalistic flats do not need heavy or dark curtains or shades. The best options for such flats are Venetian blinds, so that you and every future tenant can adjust them the way he or she wants. Curtains should be present, but not too emphasized. They are here in case of temperature extremes, to prevent scorching sunlight to melt down the air and to spend less electricity on the air-conditioner.

Rugs in a modern minimalistic living room do take an important position, since they need to be the cohesive item over the flooring of the living room. The most appropriate option is that modern rugs follow the colours and shapes of the surrounding furniture. If your living room is predominantly white and black, with sharp lines and no ornaments, the rugs should follow suit and be in accordance with that model. Avoid vivid and colourful rugs with excessive Oriental patterns. Rugs with one or two patterns with straight lines are more adequate for a minimalistic living room.


living room image by Wikimedia Commons

How to Save on your Monthly or Annual Energy Bill

You can save money on your energy bills by adjusting the thermostat of your water heater and refrigerator; and not put hot food inside the refrigerator.

Our monthly or annual energy bills tend to fluctuate, which can be rather bothersome. We often hear how the cost of energy is going to rise and we worry because we need to save money. This article will help you save as much money as you can on energy bills.  With the help or advice of your plumber, you can follow these tips each month to help you save money in the long run.

Get your home a solar powered heating system and you will help yourself as well as the environment.
Get your home a solar powered heating system and you will help yourself as well as the environment.

Bathroom plumbing

Water heaters

The first place you need to start with is your bathroom. Careful use of the water heater can save you up to 10% on your monthly energy bill. A two kilowatt heater working one hour will spend two kilowatt hours, which amounts to 150 kilowatt hours per month, if working two and a half hours per day.

To save some hot water, all you need to do is set the thermostat on the heater between 50 and 60 degrees Celsius. Then, instead of taking a bath, take a shower. That way you save considerable amounts of hot water and electricity. Don’t forget to check for fouling from time to time as it also increases consumption.

Solar panels

One of the best ways to save hot water and electricity is to switch to solar panels. The solar systems with solar vacuum collectors and other elements for solar accumulation of energy are a clean energy system and an ideal solution for any household. The biggest advantage, of course, being huge savings on your energy bills.

The world is experiencing an energy crisis and an acute contamination of the Earth’s environment. This has led us to think twice about our energy consumption and to consider using solar energy as a way to solve the problem. So don’t waste any more time and get your home a solar powered heating system. You will help yourself as well as the environment.

Washing machines

A washing machine uses one to two kilowatt hours, and it usually works for three hours. By turning it on every other day, you spend 45 to 90 kilowatt hours per month. If you want to save energy on washing machines, turn them on after midnight and use shorter washing programs. This will also save you 10%.


Your fridge and stove can save you 6%, respectively. Set the thermostat in the fridge to 3 or 5 degrees Celsius. Avoid placing hot pots inside the fridge and always use lids. Clean the fridge on a regular basis.

As far as the stove is concerned, the gas burners, or other electric heating elements on your stove will use 1.5 to 1.8 kilowatt hours per one hour. The heaters inside the oven use 2 to 4 kilowatt hours. The pot you are using to cook should be the same size as the burner. Don’t forget to cover the pots during cooking.

If you are using the oven, don’t set the thermostat to the maximum and avoid opening the oven door. Each time you open it, you decrease the temperature by 15 degrees Celsius.


solar water heater image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.