What are the Advantages and Disadvantages Of Solar Energy?

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages Of Solar Energy

Solar energy is a leading way that people are moving towards living green. Many homeowners who have good access to sunlight are choosing to install solar panels on their homes instead of opting to use expensive energy from their electric companies. If you are thinking about installing solar panels on your home, there are advantages and disadvantages of doing so that you should be aware of so that you can make a more informed decision.

Understanding solar power

When people use solar power, it is created by converting the sun’s energy into electricity. Solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electric energy that you can then use to power your home. Most home solar systems use photovoltaic cells to convert the sunlight into usable energy.

Advantages

The most obvious benefit of choosing solar power is the benefit to the earth. There are also a number of added benefits of solar panels.

1. Solar energy is renewable

At our current rate, the world will someday run out of oil. The U.S. consumes one-quarter of the world’s oil while only producing 3 percent. Unlike oil, the sun is a renewable energy source, and its output should remain dependable for a minimum of 40,000 years.

2. Solar power can be free after installation

While the installation is expensive, solar panels cost very little after the initial cost. The panels do not have movable parts, meaning that they are unlikely to be damaged. This means that you can expect minimal solar panel repair bills.

3. Solar power is good for the environment

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each household emits an average of 20 metric tons of pollution every year. If you install a solar power system, you can eliminate up to four tons of carbon pollution each year. While one home doesn’t really affect the global pollution problem, collective efforts around the world can help.

4. Solar panels offers a good return on investment

Installing solar panels offers a good return on investment. Studies have shown that solar systems offer better returns than do five-year CD accounts in almost 90 percent of the U.S.

5. Solar panels may offer tax incentives

In the U.S., there is a move toward making greener choices, and some states offer people who install solar panels some tax incentives for doing so. The incentives vary from state to state, and not all states offer them. You can determine if your state offers tax incentives by going to energy.gov.

6. You can sell the excess solar power that your panels produce

It is common for solar panels to produce more energy than is needed. Electric companies will pay people who have excess energy, which should factor into your return on investment. It also helps to reduce air pollution and to reduce energy costs for everyone.

7. Solar panels increase the values of homes

Installing solar panels raises the value of homes. If your home is in an area that is undergoing rising electricity costs, your home will likely see an even bigger increase in its value.

8. Solar panels are quiet

Solar panels make absolutely no noise, unlike such things as an HVAC system or a window air conditioner. This means that you can sleep better.

Disadvantages of solar panels

While there are many advantages to installing solar panels, there are also some disadvantages with doing so.

1. Expense of installation

Solar panel installation is expensive. On average, U.S. homeowners can expect to pay from $9,800 to $15,000 to install solar panels.

2. Sun requirements

Homes need to have a lot of sunlight in order to use solar panels. For places that do not have much sun, they may not make sense. Some homeowners use adjustable mounts to track the sun’s arc each day.

3. Bulkiness

It is important for your home to stay warm at night in the middle of the winter. When the sun goes down, solar panels use batteries that have charged up throughout the day. The batteries may be bulky.

4. Solar panels may need repairs

While repairs are rarely needed, it is important for you to understand what can cause damage and their potential costs. Weather damage is the primary cause of needed repairs, including damage from hail, wind and severe weather conditions. If the damage is very severe, it can cost a few thousand dollars to repair your panels.

The move toward living green is only increasing. Solar panels continue to be on the forefront of environmental choices for homeowners. If you want to learn more about installing solar panels on your home, call us today.

Important Attic Insulation Factors You Should Consider

Important Attic Insulation Factors Your Should Consider

Installing insulation is not a fun or glamorous home improvement, but it is one that should not be ignored.

Although insulation doesn’t get as much attention as a new coat of paint in your dining room or a new designer front door, it can save you a significant amount of money and make your home much more comfortable throughout the year.

Lower Energy Costs

If you live in an area that gets cold in the winter, you know that keeping your house warm can get pretty expensive. Although turning down the thermostat and wearing more clothing at home can help lower your energy costs, the problem might actually be your unfinished attic. Installing insulation is a project you can complete on your own in just one weekend and that little bit of extra work can save between 10 and 50 percent on your heating bill this winter. The even better news is that it also works for your air conditioning. If you live in areas where the temperature rises significantly, attic insulation can also lower your air conditioning costs by stabilizing the temperature in your home.

Don’t Use Your Attic for Storage

The best way to insulate your attic is to install it in the floor, but if you have covered the floor with plywood to use it for storage, you will have to limit how much insulation you can add. Consider removing the attic flooring and layer additional insulation on top of the old. Although this means you will have to find another location for your holiday decorations and clothes from three seasons ago, the energy savings will more than make up for relocating your stored items.

Choose the Right Insulation

If you are installing the insulation by yourself, you can choose either loose fill or blanket insulation, commonly called batt. Loose fill insulation is packaged in bags and then blown into place using machinery you can rent from a home center or a local rental agency. If your attic has unusual or nonstandard joist spacing or if there are many obstructions, this may be the best option. It is also recommended if you are topping existing insulation or in low-clearance attics. Batt insulation is sold in rolls of various thickness and widths. Batt works best in attics with standard joist spacing and few obstructions. It does not require any special machinery to install.

Tips Before Starting

Here are a few tips to follow before you get started on a do-it-yourself insulation installation.

  • Check to see what insulation you have installed already and remove any compressed, water-stained or moldy insulation.
  • If your home was built before 1900 and the insulation is lightweight, grainy with shiny flecks, it may contain asbestos.
  • Have it tested and if it contains vermiculite, you will have to have it professionally removed.
  • If you live in a warm climate, the Department of Energy recommends an R-30 value. In cold climates, an R-49 value is recommended. R-38 is recommended in temperate climates.
  • Check with your state’s energy office or your local utility to see if there are any rebates or other financial incentives for improving your insulation.
  • Measure the square footage of your attic to determine how much insulation you will need. Loose fill insulation lists the required depths on the bag and how many bags you will need to cover 1,000 square feet at those depths. Use the width and length of the product to determine how many batts or rolls you will need. Always purchase one extra bag or roll to account for errors or mistaken measurements.

These simple tips can help you save a significant amount on your air conditioning and heating bills just by adding insulation to your attic. For more information on insulation installation, contact us by phone or visit our website.

Residential Holiday Lights: Installation Tips For Your Safety

Residential Holiday Lights Installation Tips For Your Safety

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that almost 15,000 people will be injured while holiday decorating this year, a statistic that continues to climb each year. The most common injuries reported stem from falls, either from ladders or roofs, as people install holiday lighting. Before you begin your decorating this holiday season, it is important to learn how to install holiday lights safely.

Tools You Need

The first step in understanding how to put up Christmas lights safely is to understand the tools you need to complete the project. Tools that can make the project go easier include a drill, staple gun, ladder and hammer. Light clips and gutter hooks allow for easy installation and removal. Be sure to use extension cords designed for outdoor use. It is recommended that you choose LED holiday lights in order to keep energy costs down. Timers and remotes also make turning the lights on and off much easier.

Before You Begin

Take inventory of the holiday lights you already have and what condition they are in. Check for cracked bulbs, frayed wires or other damage. Throw out any strings that have even minor damage as they present a fire risk. Test each string of lights to be sure it works properly. If you need to purchase new lights, check to be sure what you purchase is rated for outdoor use. Indoor lights are not protected from rain or snow which can lead to shorts or blown fuses. If you need to use extension cords, try to keep them at a minimum and only use those rated for outdoor use. If your ladder is not in good shape, you should purchase a new one that reaches at least six feet higher than the highest point of your lighting.

How to Install Holiday Lights

Once you have gathered your tools and purchased the lights you want for you home, it is time to begin decorating your home. Make sure your ladder is firm and fully open. It is highly recommended that you do not climb a ladder alone, but have a friend or family member assist you. Be sure you do not place the ladder in ice or water. The first step in how to put up Christmas lights safely is to install the gutter hooks. Do not carry both the hooks and the lights up the ladder. Instead, snap each hook onto the gutter and ask your assistant to hand you the lights to hang them. Take your time as rushing is what often leads to injury. Follow the same steps to install light clips to the roof. Many homeowners have stopped using nails or staple guns as they can damage the roof, but if you must use them, be sure to attach the nail or staple to fascia board.

Other Safety Tips

Always unplug the lights when you are sleeping or are leaving the house. A timer is a great way to make sure the lights come on and go off regularly. If you notice a burnt bulb, be sure to replace it with the same wattage. Wires should never be run through doors, windows or high-traffic areas.


ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

There is nothing more festive than a home brightly lit for the holidays, but if you don’t follow tips for how to put up Christmas lights safely, you may not enjoy your holiday due to an injury. If you need advice on how to install holiday lights, contact one of our experienced customer service representatives by phone or online today.

What You Need To Consider When Buying Exterior Doors

What You Need To Consider When Buying Exterior Doors

Your exterior doors are what is visible to the rest of the world. They are what people see as they walk up to your home. Exterior doors create curb appeal, energy efficiency and provide an entryway into your home.

You want to choose doors that match your style, your home and offer guests a warm welcome. Because there are so many options to choose from, there are a few tips you need to consider before choosing your doors.

Door Replacement

If your exterior doors have cracks, are warped or rotting or have holes and scratches, it is easy to see that they need to be replaced. However, other door issues may not be as evident. Check to see if there are drafts entering your home around the doors by holding a match, candle or lighter close to the seams of the door and moving it around. If the flame flickers, your door has a draft and should be replaced.

Door Terminology

When you begin looking at outside doors, you may be confused by some of the terminology used. Some common terms used by door manufacturers have the following meaing:

  • Caming – Strips of metal are used to join segmented glass
  • Casing or trim – The moulding that surrounds the doorframe
  • Inswing – The door opens in
  • Left Handed – The hinges on the door are on the right side
  • Lite – There is glass in the door
  • Outswing – The door opens out
  • Panels – Rectangular patterns on the door used for decorative purposes
  • Right Handed – The hinges on the door are on the left side
  • Stop – A strip of wood around the door that keeps it from opening too far

Good First Impression

The first and last thing a guest sees in your home is your entry door. You want that door to make a good first impression. One thing to determine is the best material for your entry door to be sure it is durable and will make that good first impression for many years. Wood gives your home a traditional look but they are expensive and can be costly to maintain. They are also prone to warping and rotting. Steel doors are strong and durable, resistant to fire and do not warp or crack. They are also less expensive than wooden doors. However, steel doors can be boring and must be painted to give an attractive appearance. This means repainting them over time as paint fades or chips. Fiberglass doors are available in styles that look like real wood but without the cost or maintenance. Steel and fiberglass doors are the most energy efficient.

Other Outside Doors

It is important to remember that your front door is not the only entry door for your home. Patio doors are also important as they provide access to your backyard, deck or patio. There are many options for patio doors including sliding doors that allow ample light and ventilation. You can also get swinging doors with large glass panels that allow in natural light. If you have space, a French door leading to your patio can add an elegant touch.

Storm Doors and Hardware

Two things to keep in mind when choosing your exterior doors are a storm door and the hardware you will use. Storm doors are a door’s best friend as they protect your door from the elements. A storm door is critical if you have decided to use wooden doors. They also add a layer of insulation to your door. You also want to be sure to choose doorbells, locks, glass and doorknobs that highlight your door and your home décor.

If you need to replace your outside doors, contact us by phone or through our simple query form to learn what options are available. Our knowledgeable staff can help you choose the right doors for your home.

Do I really Need a Building Permit?

Do I really Need a Building Permit

Most people who begin a remodeling or construction project on their property don’t like to think about building permits. Many people believe that obtaining a permit will trigger a new tax assessment of their property which could lead to higher property taxes. Others believe that the project is just too small to warrant the cost of a permit. The fact is, whether or not you need a permit depends on where your property is located and what the ordinances are in that area.

Building Permit Requirements

To determine if a permit is required in your area, the first step is to call the local building department or zoning office. Most cities and counties have planning and zoning departments who can answer questions about your project and advise you whether a project requires a permit. In most cases, changes to the electrical, plumbing or structure of your home will require a permit. This could include outdoor decks, large sheds or screened porches, even if they will not contain electric or water. Even some indoor projects may require a permit, especially if you are moving walls that could be load-bearing.

Why They Are Important

Too often, people believe that a building permit is simply a way for the local municipality to make money. In reality, permits are designed to protect the homeowner. A permit triggers inspections as the project progresses. A building inspector will confirm that all codes are met and that the structure is safe for use. For example, in areas where hurricanes are common, building codes often include special material requirements that have been designated as hurricane proof. In areas where snow and ice are common, structures may be required to hold greater weights than in areas that do not see as much inclement weather.

Stand Alone vs. Attached

Most codes make a distinction between whether an added structure will be attached to the home or will be a stand-alone structure. In some areas, stand-alone structures, such as playhouses or storage sheds, do not require a permit. However, in most areas of the country, any structure that will be attached to your home, such as a garage, will require a permit as the new structure will require the framework of your home for support. This could mean the new structure may jeopardize the integrity of your home if it is not properly constructed. A permit will insure that the addition is properly constructed and attached for your own safety.

If you are considering an addition to your home, contact Tri-County Exteriors today to learn how they can help you with your project. They can answer any of your permit questions and will work with you to create the addition to your home that meets your needs.

Simple DIY Decorating Projects You Can Do This Weekend!

Simple DIY Decorating Projects You Can Do This Weekend

There are a lot of benefits to tackling household projects yourself, especially when it comes to the financial aspect.

Start with simple projects that are easy enough for every skill level, and save a considerable amount of money buying the materials from a local hardware store.

Each of our ideas can be completed within a weekend from the beginning to the end.

Freshen Up the Flooring

Whether you have a hard surface or cushioned carpet throughout the house, adding area rugs and runners is a cheap and easy way to add style. This is the perfect project when winter is around the corner because rugs add comfort and insulation in any room.

Add Crown Molding

Make any room seem larger than it really is with the easy addition of crown molding. Hardware stores usually have corner pieces that simplify the do-it-yourself installation to complete a very clean look. It might be a good idea to update the existing baseboards to look more modern and match the color of the crown molding.

Clean and Decorate the Fireplace

The majority of the year, the fireplace only serves as a decoration in the center of the room. Once the cold weather has passed for the year, thoroughly clean the fireplace so that it can be decorated with indoor plants or artwork. If you are up to a larger project, you could take the opportunity to change the appearance of the fireplace with paint.

Organize and Redecorate Shelving and Bookcases

If you are like most homeowners with cluttered shelves, spend the day organizing all of the videos and books. It is going to be a major improvement when the shelves look tidy, and it will be much easier to locate specific items. Don’t be afraid to throw anything out that you no longer have an interest in using to free up some space.

Change up the Lamp Shades

Some of the most beautiful lamp shades look like a carefully planned art project. There’s no reason to spend a lot on new lamp shades with a few artistic additions to your existing decor. Add new fabric or adorn the lamp shades with beads so that it adds more uniqueness to the entire room.

Update Cabinet Hardware in the Kitchen

Antique knobs and handles can start to look drab if everything else has been updated. There is an entire aisle in the hardware store dedicated to cabinet and drawer hardware that you could easily install within a few minutes. The most time consuming part of this project is choosing between some of the great looking styles that are available.

Install a Tile Backsplash in the Kitchen

A longer weekend project involves picking out ceramic tiles to create a brand new backsplash. It might start off slow, but it should move along steadily once you get the hang of the installation process. Placing your own tile is going to cut a lot of the cost out of make a major improvement in the kitchen.

Make Picture Frames Uniform

Collecting new frames throughout a few years is pretty much a guarantee that they are mismatched. Without going through the trouble of replacing each of them with new frames, take everything down and add some paint. When everything is a unified color, they will give off the impression that they are all matching.

Redesign the Bedroom Decor

Pick out a few items that you would like to change in the bedroom and start redecorating. It doesn’t take long to add a fresh coat of paint, and then you can find matching curtains and a new comforter. By updating major visual elements, it will freshen up the entire room in as little as one weekend.

Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal With These Exterior Paint Colors

Increase Your Home's Curb Appeal With These Exterior Paint Colors

 

The outside of a home is the first impression that every person will get, especially if you’re trying to sell. Interior renovations and decorating often take the first priority to enhance the feeling inside the home.

An updated exterior is not a major expense, but it has the potential to make a tremendous improvement to the home’s curb appeal. Start with one of the most popular color schemes to make your house more attractive.

Traditional Black and White

It’s hard to go wrong with a classic exterior color that stands out against contrasting accents. Start the project with a clean white or off-white and find ways to incorporate solid black trim or shutters for a great look.

With these colors, it’s easy to find matching fixtures and other exterior features without trying to find the right hues and shades.

Earthy Green and Brown

Colors that are found in nature are smart for the exterior of a home because they look great with outdoor landscape features. Darker shades are usually recommended in established neighborhoods so that you do not end up with a house that stands out for the wrong reasons.

If you do want to feature a splash of another hue, use opposite colors on the color wheel. Remember to use bold colors very conservatively and use the neighbors as a reference if needed.

Shades of Blue

Different emotions are brought out when in the presence of certain colors, like the calmness that comes with shades of blue. A light or dark blue paint can be easily accented with gray tones, but be aware that it isn’t always a safe exterior choice.

It’s not considered an earthy color so stick within a grayish blend rather than select a pure blue for your walls. When in doubt, get the advice of an expert to find an appealing shade of blue for the home.

Neutral Tones

The easiest color type to work with on an exterior is neutrals, like a cream or taupe. It’s a great place to start cleaning up the main walls so that striking colors can be added to the front door, shutters, or window trim.

Enhancing curb appeal is easy if you keep in mind that every person is not going to have the same taste. A classy color is always smart, and the neighbors will definitely appreciate the effort to stick with a safe choice.

The exterior paint combinations mentioned are going to give you a great place to begin planning your project. Not only a fresh coat of paint increase value, a smart color choice is going to make your home look practical and stylish.

5 Things To Look For When Choosing a Roofing Contractor

5 Things To Look For When Choosing a Roofing Contractor

A new roof is a major expense that a homeowner should see as a long-term investment. The quality of the job is very important, and choosing the right contractor to handle the project is going to provide the best result. Use the following guidelines to start narrowing the selection of roofers based on the most important factors.

Choose a Roofer Local to the Area

An expert that is familiar with the location is going to understand the typical weather conditions and climate. This ensures that the type of roof recommended and installed will be suited to handle adverse conditions so that you do not have to worry over the integrity of protection.

Experience

A handyman or general contractor may not have the relevant industry experience necessary to handle roofing work. Rather than get overwhelmed with dozens of contractors willing to take on the job, do the research to find someone with at least 3 years of experience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you feel confident with the reputation and knowledge of a specific contractor.

Recommendations

Everyone has a roof over their home, so why not start your search with a few personal recommendations? Ask around to find out the names of professionals your friends and family have worked with previously, especially if they were given great service.

Testimonials

The Internet has provided business professionals an opportunity to advertise their services to a wide audience of potential clients. Check out the customer testimonials to get an honest review of positive and negative experiences others have reported. Some may be featured on the site of the roofer, but don’t forget to check out review sites for an unbiased opinion.

Warranty

Manufacturers that create the materials used in roofing offer warranties that will come in handy if there is ever an issue. Homeowners need to be aware of the protection they have on their finished product by reviewing the warranty with the contractor ahead of time.

It is important to feel confident in the skill and knowledge of any roofing contractor you are interested in hiring for a replacement installation. Always verify that they are licensed, insured, and able to provide the peace of mind provided by an exceptional product. We are happy to take on the responsibility of providing our roofing services to any local client. Take a moment to fill out the contact form so that we can schedule a consultation visit to your home.

4 Summer Projects for The Exterior of Your Home

4 Summer Projects for The Exterior of Your Home

Early summer is the best time to start planning small outdoor projects to get ready for the seasons of nice weather. Maintenance is important to anyone that cares about the appearance and value of their home exterior. Take advantage of the sunny weather by getting down to business taking care of the necessary chores you’ve been avoiding the rest of the year.

Every home has different features, but you can easily complete some of these tasks without a major time commitment. Begin with the quick fixes to shorten the list before committing to the major home improvement projects.

Clean the Gutters

Clean the GuttersLeaves, sticks, and other outdoor debris gradually accumulates in the gutters between cleanings. The longer these materials are allowed to sit, the easier it is for them to cause surface stains. The pollination cycle of spring also deposits materials that stubbornly cling to the gutter surfaces. Give them a thorough scrub to remove the pollen and stain discoloration for the next few months.

Wash Your Siding

The great thing about equipping the home with a high-quality siding is the minimal maintenance required for upkeep. Using a siding cleaner, work your way from the bottom up to scrub away any dirt, mildew, or mold on the surface. Although these substances do not cause aggressive wear, the integrity of siding will decrease from continuous exposure.

Repair and Clean Your Deck

Maintaining an outdoor deck is a smart way to make sure that your investment is not a waste. Put in a little work by clearing out any debris lingering between the floorboards. Ignoring such a minor detail allows the moisture to linger and potentially lead to rotting. Sweep the surface of the deck so that it is easy to check for splintering areas, water damage, and rotting of any boards. If you notice that any nails are sticking up, use a hammer to secure them into place. Check the rails to ensure that they are tight and also make sure the bolts securing the deck to the house are still holding strong. The final step is to use deck cleaner and then apply a special deck sealer to protect the surface until next year.

Clean your Outdoor furniture

The durable materials of outdoor furniture are able to easily withstand constant weather exposure without much consideration. Remove any built up grime and dirt to get a good look at the quality of existing paint or stain. Freshen up the furniture with a suitable non-toxic paint if it appears faded or lackluster.

If you need any help with outdoor maintenance projects or you are considering a new addition for the home, fill out our contact form to receive an estimate.

Optimize Your Small Outdoor Space

Optimize Your Small Outdoor Space

If you’re among the millions of homeowners downsizing to a smaller house or condominium, your exterior space will likely shrink, too.

In most cases, having fewer square feet simply requires prioritizing your favorite outdoor choices, so you don’t crowd a site.

Decide what to include by focusing on elements that will provide the greatest pleasure and use, as well as fit your climate, property’s orientation, topography and budget.

Start With a Plan

Balance the layout. Proportion how much hardscape you need for dining or sitting, versus softscape, which contributes to color and softness but requires more maintenance, says landscape architect Stephen H. Wlodarczyk of Botanical Decorators.

Choose color wisely.

Limit your palette in a small space to a few choices, and remember that white offers advantages for contrast. A white, silver or gray “moonlight” palette is easier to spot at dusk and night than green and other dark colors, says landscape designer Jean Marsh, owner of Jean Marsh Design.

Layer lighting.

Light your outdoor spaces as you do indoor rooms for aesthetic and functional needs. Outdoor lighting offers other advantages: You enjoy your yard from the indoors, at night, and deter burglars. Numerous LED options are energy efficient and conceal unattractive wiring and are barely visible themselves.

Add storage.

Include a place to stash outdoor cushions, bikes, tools and hoses.

Ellison Jane (2015 February) Optimize Your Small Outdoor Space. Retrieved on February 7, 2015 from HGTV.com

Financing Options

Revolving Line Of Credit * Special Financing Where Available * Make Monthly Credit Card Payments Over Time * Easy-To-Use Online Account Management And Bill Payment Options
FINANCING OPTIONS

Your Trust Matters To Us