Category : Home Remodeling

Green Energy – Some Lesser Know Green Energy Sources

Popular Green Energy Sources: Solar Power And Wind Power

Mention green energy and most people can visualize solar panels and wind mills. Solar power and Wind power are our major sources of green energy. Both combined contribute about 3.5 percent of our current electricity needs. A bigger contributor which has been contributing a significant percent of our energy needs is the hydro-electric power.

There are several major hydro-electricity projects worldwide the most recent example of this is the Three Gorges Dam in China which is biggest hydel-power project in the world. Despite being a green energy source the environmental impact of hydel projects are enormous. They cause severe displacement problems for thousands if not millions of people living in the areas marked for creating enormous reservoirs for the water in order to generate power and irrigate farms. Also, hydel power in many countries is dependent on copious amounts of rainfall and this is seasonal in some countries.

Solar and wind power are also to a large extent dependent on the prevailing weather conditions. But if proper locations are selected then on most days these areas get enough sun and wind to generate the required electricity. Deserts are the preferred locations for installing solar panels. The large areas of open desert land available which are otherwise unusable can be best used to generate huge amounts of solar electricity. Large tracts of desert lands in the US are being put to this very use. It is estimated that Sahara desert in Africa can generate enough green energy in the solar electricity to power the Earth several times over. Same is the case with wind power. Presently most installations are onshore. It is estimated that moving them offshore will significantly improve wind power generation.

Lesser Know Green Energy Sources: Geothermal, Tide, Wave Power And Bio-Fuels

Moving on the other lesser known green energy sources which are making steady progress in the race for becoming sustainable and clean energy are tide power, wave power, geo-thermal power and several bio-fuels. Tide power makes use of the power of tides. As the tides come in they rotate the turbines installed on the sea shore and help generate electricity. These are particularly useful in areas where regular and high tides are seen through the year.

One problem is of course the excessive amount of corrosion that installation suffers near the sea shore. Wave power is also a similar set-up except that this is steadier as the ocean waves occur more frequently and regularly. As the waves come in and withdraw the turbines are first rotated in one direction and in reverse to help generate electricity.

Geothermal power is another exciting possibility that has received significant press. For nearly a century or more this technology has been in use in countries like Italy. But, it has not reached significant commercial success. This is a readily available resource in every part of the world. This technology uses the heat of Earth’s core to heat water to high temperatures and derives the energy from this super-heated water.

Deep holes have to be bored to reach the Earth’s core and water under high pressure needs to be pumped in to reach these depths. It is an engineering challenge which needs to be addressed to achieve levels that will be able to replace current fossil fuels as a primary source of electricity. Currently, hot water springs and hot sources available on the surface are being used. But, to make real impact we need to dig in deeper.

Bio-fuel is another source of green energy which is generated by converting plant and other human waste into energy producing fuels. To generate huge amounts of bio-fuels that can sustain our population’s energy needs large tracts of arable land are needed.

This is not possible as the same land is also need to produce food for hungry billions. This can cause social turmoil. This also needs highly efficient agricultural practices that maximizes farm production. Brazil and to some extent US are the only two countries that have achieved this level of competence and are the world leaders in production of bio-fuels. In fact about 80 percent of Brazil’s vehicles are powered by ethanol a bio-fuel.

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Green Energy Business – 4 Things To Know Before You Jump In

Green energy business as a concept has been bubbling for years – but things are now coming to a boil. In 2010, almost $50 billion from the Federal stimulus package went to green energy business and innovations that promoted higher energy efficiency and renewable energy technology. The U.S. President’s State of the Union address in 2011 stated the objective of having 80% of the nation’s energy come from green energy or renewable energy sources by 2035.

All this indicates a boom coming shortly in the green energy business space. Where Government invests, there’s sure to be a future market. Just about every developed country offers incentives, tax credits and other benefits to home owners and businesses alike that shift towards clean green energy for their needs. And renewable energy technology is inherently more efficient.

Stimulated by these benefits, home and business owners are in turn approaching contractors, window and door makers, landscapers and builders about installing green and environment friendly systems. The timing was never better to launch your own green energy franchise or business. But you’ll have to do some homework first.

What Exactly Is Green Energy Business?

Green energy is a source of power or energy that is environmentally friendly and non-polluting. While it is sometimes used interchangeably with the term ‘renewable energy’, there are stricter norms for defining green energy when it comes to claiming eligibility for tax breaks or rebates, subsidies or support from governments.

Green energy business is a broad term that includes involvement in various facets of producing, distributing and consulting upon green energy initiatives. With the current trend being to implement green technologies in every facet of life, this is a booming area of expansion and growth which many savvy and forward thinking business people are eagerly exploring.

Identify Your Green Energy Business Niche

The umbrella of ‘green energy business’ covers a slew of micro-sectors that is growing more diverse day by day. There are many things that can be done from a green standpoint. And this is simultaneously an opportunity and a danger. Small businesses need to research and identify their specific green energy business niche (such as solar energy business) before charging ahead, or else they may get stuck.

Most green energy business revolves around electricity. Many small businesses know little or nothing about electricity and its distribution. Renewable energy may bring to mind wind farms with hundreds of windmills turning turbines that throw off megawatts of electrical power, but those green energy business ventures are in the realm of big, deep-pocketed investors and manufacturers.

Getting into the wind turbine business and building wind farms or similar huge renewable energy sources can require serious investment capital. It is also inherently risky, with a lot of time and effort being expended into research that may or may not work. A typical green energy business venture to manufacture power generators that are fueled by renewable energy could cost $8 million or more.

As one alternative energy business entrepreneur put it, “You not only have to come up with something different in the green energy business arena – it has to be something different that actually works!”

But there’s still room for small players in the big field. On the periphery of green energy business, there are many opportunities with low start up costs that still retain high profit potential. Some of these include:

  • selling green energy or technology
  • installation of green energy systems
  • research and development, with a view to selling it to bigger companies

Most renewable energy operations like wind energy business are funded by wealthy corporations. Some of them will actually be generating power without an established system to distribute it to end users. Buying up the surplus power at wholesale rates and then selling it directly to consumers at retail price is what made Ambit Energy, a green power business, the fastest growing company on the 2010 Inc.500 list. And there are many such ways to profit from green energy business.

Take Advantage of Green Energy Incentives

State governments are offering residents and business owners a range of grants, tax breaks, and rebates for taking green energy initiatives. By tapping into this scenario, a green energy business can quickly build a customer base that goes on to purchase expensive installations and ongoing upgrades of environment friendly technology.

When households are offered incentives to upgrade home heating and cooling systems, install solar panels, purchase energy efficient appliances or make weathering improvements, it is a natural extension for green energy business owners who meet such needs to step up to the plate and serve these specialized needs.

Many green energy business ideas can stem from this. You can act as consultants about the best systems and changes to consider. Or you can act as installers and repairers who will actually implement these changes for clients. This sort of assessment/retrofit work can keep a small business engaged in green energy projects without ever having to step into the hyper-competitive arena of providing comprehensive green energy solutions to buildings.

Contracting As Green Energy Business

Government agencies could save $200 million annually on energy costs according to the U.S. Department of Energy. And small green energy business can bid for contracts that these agencies are required to put out for modifying and upgrading their facilities. This makes for several exciting renewable energy business opportunities.

While a new small business won’t get big contracts right away, it is possible to work your way up by delivering on your promise and doing a good job. Getting green energy contracts from governments isn’t easy or non-competitive. But if you know your niche, have a clear understanding of what it takes, and can deliver what you contract for, this can be an ideal way to break into green energy business.

And in this area, being a small business can actually be an advantage since there are programs specifically meant to counsel businesses that are owned by veterans, women, or below a certain size, on how best to bid for and secure such contracts. What’s more, you can even sub-contract for work from bigger contractors who win federal contracts directly.

Getting “Green” Certification

In a competitive marketplace, having your business “green” certified carries significant advantages. Residents looking for energy efficiency or wanting to switch to renewable energy are more likely to work with a green certified energy business than another. Federal agencies are even required by law to seek out such businesses.

Standards for green certification vary by region. Complying with them and getting certified is an indication that you know what you’re doing. It carries a credibility boost in the eyes of your prospective customers. As a green energy business, this can be one of the smartest decisions you’ll make.

With residents, businesses and government all moving towards clean renewable energy sources, and offering incentives, rebates and grants for green energy business and their clients, this is the best time to be involved in green energy as an entrepreneur and go green business. The race is global. The stakes are high. And financing is abundant. Break in, find your niche, and reap rich rewards from your green energy business.

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Luxury Bathroom Design – How To Craft Your Dream Bathroom

Interest in luxury bathroom design has exploded, with savvy homeowners porting ideas from spas and high end hotels to the home. While in a prior era, people might visit a European spa to relax, de-stress and re-energize themselves, the modern house owner wants the same experience… right at home. And luxury bathrooms are being designed to fit the bill.

No longer is a bathroom simply a utilitarian portion of the house where you retire to complete your toilet. Luxury bathrooms transform the traditional role of a bathroom into an integral portion of the house – and for good reason. A modern luxury bathroom has amenities and facilities hitherto found only in the most posh resorts and expensive hotels.

Luxury bathroom design can soothe or excite the senses, letting you a modicum of deep relaxation or intense enjoyment rarely before possible. Probably because they work hard to earn money, many home owners feel like spending it so they can walk back home into something special.

But luxury bathroom design isn’t all about accessorizing with very expensive fittings and vanities. It should also add value to the home, and that’s possible because some of the more exotic and luxurious materials like gold, marble and diamond are also very durable and sturdy.

The Luxury Bathroom Spa

A luxury bathroom design will match an equally resplendent master suite or bedroom, extending the same enjoyable experience as a user moves from one into the other. Radiant heating of floors are default settings in today’s upscale constructions. Luxury bathroom design adds a higher dimension of enjoyment.

Bathtubs let you soak in air baths that stream jets of hot air through water, massaging you gently with bubbles. Whirlpool jets and other bathing technologies enrich the bathing experience further. An interesting development is when sound vibrations are transmitted through water, providing the ultimate in deep relaxation.

Or if you prefer showering to bathtubs, then custom showers with a variety of rain showerheads and LED shower heads that are controlled electronically are the new trend in luxury bathroom design. You can preset the temperature of your shower, pipe music into the bath, optimize water use and even have a steam bath.

Wall mounted needle jet shower sprays can create a relaxing experience, one that can relieve stress and promote health. Many luxury bathroom ideas are grabbed from hotels that smart home owners visit in the course of their global travels.

Luxury Bathroom Fittings

Luxury items are finding their way into bathrooms in the form of vanities, lighting, vessel sinks and cabinets. Innovative luxury bathroom design even makes room for cappucino dispensers and a small fridge inside the bathroom. It isn’t only in the fittings that creative designers are leaving a mark, though.

Materials and finishes that discerning home owners choose can create aesthetic appeal along with a real boost in value of the asset that’s their house. Stone, gold and handcrafted tiles for floor and wall material can create amazing visual effects while simultaneously enhancing the value of the building.

Glass is another luxury bathroom design material that can create stunning effects. Used in sinks, floors and for toilet cabins, this can produce a sleek and attractive option that’s a stark contrast from stone. It is such unusual combinations that really leave a mark.

Luxury Bathrooms With Sound And TV

Maybe you once listened to the radio while you were in the shower, but modern luxury bathroom design integrates music and video into the very structure of your room. Home theater systems are built into the design, and the shrinking cost of flat panel TV screens has accelerated the adoption of this technology into bathroom design.

An interesting innovation is to have a flat screen TV embedded into the bathroom vanity mirror. When turned off, the surface behaves like a regular mirror. When the TV is turned on, it transforms itself into a display screen, which can play movies, TV shows, or even serve to browse the Web.

Wireless transmission has evolved to the point where you no longer need to be physically linked to the hub from where video streams to other rooms. This means you can build in DVD players into vanities, or place speakers into recesses around your shower, and have them play back media which is inserted into a player in another part of the building.

In all these exciting ways and more, you can transform your bathroom into a state of art home theater, a fashion showpiece, or a personalized spa. Luxury bathroom ideas that make this possible are valuable and worth studying before taking action. Plan smartly and take your time to explore various choices, and soon you’ll enjoy your bathroom in the lap of luxury!


5 Easy Tips To Hire Home Building Contractors

Home building contractors can make your home remodeling project a dream come true – or turn it into a living nightmare. It all depends upon you selecting the right kind of contractor for the job. When you plan, blueprint and construct your home or remodel an older building, the most important thing you’ll have to get right is the choice of home building contractors.

And there are many different specialists, making the decision even harder. You may prefer to hand over all the work to a multi-talented specialist or a firm that employs relevant experts. Or you may prefer to find the best person for a specific task and entrust them with only that area. Regardless of the approach you’ll want to find home building contractors who can best serve your needs.

What Should You Ask Home Building Contractors?

There are several screening queries you can pose to potential contractors in order to assess their suitability for your work. Here are some of the most useful ones:

Do they appreciate your budget, deadlines and convenience? Are you impressed by their track record and portfolio? Will they be willing to provide you with references to check on their work? Are you going to hand over everything to them, or be involved yourself? As individuals, do you feel you’ll work well together with them?

All these are not cast in stone, but will give you a fair idea of whether or not a particular home building contractor will be the right one to handle your project.

Which Home Building Contractors Should You Look For?

No longer is the term “home building contractor” a catch-all phrase for a handyman who can build or remodel a house. There are multiple sub-specialties beneath this generic term, and knowing a little about each will be helpful when it comes to picking the person to work with.

  • Architects are highly qualified home building contractors who detail your plans, list the materials necessary and even draw up blueprints for other pros to follow. If it is a part of the contract, architects may continue to oversee the project while it is being executed. Because they tend to work with other specialists in the course of any project, architects can usually provide you with referrals for other home building contractors as well.
  • Draftspersons are in charge of creating technical drawings for the design ideas outlined by architects and other specialists. Drafts are done on computer simulations using CAD/CAM programs. Once you have a finalized floor plan, a draftsperson can make blueprints based on them so that you can take it for approval by an engineer before proceeding with the work.
  • Structural engineers are home building contractors who will handle any structural changes or repairs with your home. Sometimes it may be a legal requirement for your project to have stamped drawings approved by a structural engineer so that the building department approves it.
  • Interior Designers are home building contractors in a sense, and are involved primarily with remodeling and renovation projects. These experts are trained in design elements and the intelligent use of space. They may offer valuable insight right from the stage of finalizing your floor plans, and can be most helpful with planning the interior layouts in your home.
  • Kitchen and Bathroom Designers are niche home building contractors who specialize in these areas only. When you’re planning a high-end redesign or remodeling project, these are the experts you want advising you on how to go about the work.
  • General Contractors handle projects needing other sub-contractors like carpenters, plumbers, painters, roofing experts and electricians. General contractors may take on both new construction projects as well as home remodeling.
  • Design Contractors are home building contractors who offer architecture and construction as their portfolio of services. They are one-stop shops, making it convenient for home owners to deal with a single firm. Some design contractors will even take care of garden and landscaping components.

As you’ve seen the simple idea of hiring home building contractors is by no means easy, intuitive or risk-free. Whenever you’re hiring people to help with your home remodeling or building, be careful not to obsess over the titles they give themselves, and focus more on the kind of work they’ll do on your project. And choosing a professional home building contractor based on how good a fit they are for your project is ideal. For the pro, it’s a job. For you, it’s a special place you call home.


Professional Lawn Maintenance – Beautiful Lawns Without The Hard work

Do you know that you can have beautiful lawns without the backbreaking work needed for their upkeep? Professional lawn maintenance services do all the work while you enjoy the beauty of your well maintained lawns. Everyone loves to have beautiful lawns that are well-mowed with perfect paths with no overgrown grass or weeds sticking out of them. But, maintenance by professionals costs a lot of money. You can opt for some low cost options.

Planting and growing ornamental grass in your yard and garden is a wonderful low maintenance way to add beauty with color, texture, and interesting focal points. Ornamental grass tends to grow quite high in many cases and can grow as tall as 20 feet, they don’t usually need to be trimmed or cut in the same way regular yard grass or bushes do. Planting these in bare spots of your yard can create a brand new look in the area. The grass can be used for naturalizing multiple areas of your yard, or it can be added to flower beds and gardens too. Some might grow tall enough to block your flowers from receiving enough sunlight. So choose the ornamental grasses you plant in flower beds wisely.

Unlike regular grass, ornamental grass are not affected by pests or disease and don’t need trimming. Trimming ornamental grass can damage them. There are a wide variety of ornamental grasses to choose from.

Having a beautiful lawn full of deep soft grass is probably the dream of almost everyone. Most of us however, feel it’s too difficult to attain. In reality though, it’s fairly simple to do. You can engage professional lawn maintenance services to do the job for you. The first step to having a deep lush green lawn naturally is to prepare the soil for the best possible results. Test the pH levels of your soil. If your soil pH is not quite right, enrich it with some natural compost, or by adding some natural elements to it such as lime or sulfur.

Once you have your soil balance properly, the lawn services company will turn it over a few times to remove any extra weeds, fungus, or unwanted plant material. This is necessary if the lawn has a lot of weeds in it. The lawn service professionals will spread new grass seed. Select grass that is hardy can take your family’s foot traffic and withstand weeds. Some grass is more subjective to diseases and weed invasions while others will choke out the weeds and keep them at bay naturally. There are also grasses which will naturally look more brown or “dead” at certain times of the year, so if you want green grass year round you’ll need to know which kinds provide this look.

Spread a thick layer of organic compost across your lawn before spraying the seeds. Most professional lawn maintenance companies use straw mats with seeds embedded in them. This allows you to simply lay the squares or ribbons of straw across your yard and apply water. The straw holds the seeds in place and protects them from being eaten by birds before they can germinate and take root.

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A Few Garden Tools To Buy From A Garden Shop

Gardening newbies are at a loss about the tools and other gardening related needs. They often go to the garden shop and find themselves at a loss about what to buy and what to leave out. The number and variety of tools on offer at the store can be quite confusing too. As the gardens grow our need for more and better tools increases in order to care for it in the best way possible. So here are some of the most basic gardening tools that any gardener will find useful.

Here’s a basic guide to buying the right tools at garden shop:

Garden Trowel – A garden trowel is simply a small hand held shovel which is useful for container gardening work, as well as working in smaller garden beds. A small trowel comes in handy for scooping soil out of a bag and into a pot, from one pot to another, or for digging small holes in the lawn to place starter seedling plants in.

Garden Fork – There are actually two types of garden forks. One has a long handle like a rake, and it is useful for turning compost bins, but the type we recommend for beginner gardeners is a handheld fork. These come in handy for preparing new garden bed areas which have grass or weeds in them, because you can rake them along the ground to break up the soil while also tearing up the roots of the grass and weeds. These can also be useful for getting a new plant hole dug when the ground is hard and dry.

Gloves – Garden gloves should be one of the first things you buy, particularly if you’re using hand tools or taking care of thorny plants such as rose bushes. Wearing garden gloves will save you from getting blisters from the tools, and they’ll help you to not get pricked by thorns or cactus spines. Garden gloves are also useful though, just for keeping the juice of certain plants and flowers off your skin. Some plant juices will cause a rash, itching, or burning sensations when they touch your skin, so wearing gloves helps prevent those problems too.

Pruners – Garden pruners come in a variety of shapes and sizes, plus they actually have different names depending upon how big they are. For beginners though, and people with small gardens, pruners are small and handy for trimming back flower plants or vines, clipping off dead stuff from the plants, and pruning the flowers and plants into desired shapes and sizes.

Watering Can – A watering can is not essential to a gardener, but most of us like them anyway. They’re also handy to have on hand for watering those areas of the garden which aren’t easily reachable with a garden hose. Another thing watering cans are great for though is to use for your more tender plants and flowers. Sometimes a water hose puts out water too fast and too hard, and the stream can damage delicate flowers. So using a watering can for this is a much more gentle way of giving your plants and flowers a drink.

This list is of course just the very beginning of the types of tools and supplies you will need for your gardening adventures. Over time these needs will increase. This garden shop guide to tools is excellent place to start though, particularly if you’re new to gardening, or if you have a very small garden area for now.

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Commercial Lawn Maintenance – Landscaping Ideas And Tools Of The Trade

Using commercial lawn maintenance to upkeep you lawns is a great idea to enjoy the benefits of beautiful lawns without the drudgery involved. There are several landscaping ideas and styles you can choose from for your own home garden.

a. Formal style uses lots of straight or symmetrical shapes like square, circles, rectangles. Here you will everything is order. Nothing is random or out of place. Plants are arranged closely, pruning and trimming to keep the plants in proper shaped is usually followed in style of garden landscaping.

b. In the typical English garden there is emphasis on harmony between the house and the garden.

c. Informal kind of landscaping works well with small, cozy cottages. Flower beds or herbs arranged in beds with curved or blunt edges with plants placed aesthetically rather than in strict symmetry is more suitable to this style of garden and landscaping. Window boxes and a profusion of flowers with heavy use of vines and creepers over the house makes style very special.

d. Oriental or Japanese garden style is found suitable for small backyards. It uses rocks, evergreens and water. There are several types of Japanese gardens each completely different from the other. A variety of plants and rocks create interesting angles with this style.

e. A Combination of formal and informal garden styles often comes with a brick or stone walkway that gives the garden its formality. This walkway then leads to the back where you will find a circle of plants. The arrangement of plants resembles the English garden style but it has no formal borders.

f. Wooded landscaping suits a house that has backyard with woods and a ground that is sloping away from the home.

Whatever the style of your lawn the service provider will maintain it for a fee. So, decide on a style that suits your budget and plan for the monthly service fee that will be charged by the professional lawn service company.

If lawn maintenance services costs are on the higher side. You can use several tools of the trade to do the job in a professional and efficient manner. Also, these tools help make the job of lawn maintenance easy and quick.

The types and quality of equipment will determine the health of the plants. Defective tools can damage your precious plants. Also, they are uncomfortable to work with causing back pain and damage hands. To avoid this, professionals usually buy the best tools for the job. It must have the right amount of power to be energy efficient while also being able to do the job without causing any strain.

Here are some gardening tools used by commercial lawn maintenance services and gardening experts to make their job easier.

1. Garden Shredders

JCB SS2400 is a garden shredder that received five stars out of five from the gardening equipment reviewers at many online professional gardening communities. It has a 2400 watt motor and comes with a silent gear crushing system. It is great tool to improve and make your shredding fast and simple.

Ryobi ESR – 2240 Electric Shredder is another tool that is easy to assemble and use. This garden shredder suitable for pruning up to 40mm. It comes with wheels that are inbuild and a plunger which makes it highly portable.

2. Hedge Trimmer

Bosch AHS42-16 Electric Hedge Trimmer is another tool that comes highly recommended by various experts. It has 420 watt output and great for trimming.

3. Lawnmowers

Brill 78370 Luxus Push Reel Mower has a large top cover that protects your bushes and hanging flowers from being damaged while the grass is being mowed. American Lawnmower Deluxe Light Reel Mower 1815-16 is a push-mower and so does not cause pollution as no fuel is burnt, but is not suitable for tall grass. These two tools get double thumbs up from professional users.

4. Cultivators

Mantis Tiller Cultivator is used for cutting through hard, compacted soil. Making vegetable plots, flower beds is easy with this tool. It is also useful for aerating and clearing moss. It also comes with a free border edger which is a superb tool to create clean edges between the paths and flower beds.

5. Leaf Sweeper

Agri-fab 26 Push Leaf Sweeper suited for for small lawns and yards and comes with 200 liter collector. It also comes with height adjustment feature.

Commercial lawn maintenance can be costly for some. Using some of the above tools you can do your own maintenance at the fraction of the cost charged by the professionals and be the proud owners of a beautiful yard.

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