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The Benefits of Solar Panels on Your Property

The Benefits of Solar Panels on Your Property

Thanks to the desire of individuals to start doing a better job of protecting the planet and the variety of tax breaks available to homeowners who make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, there has never been a better time than the present to “go green.”

Photo: Energy One Solar

From implementing rain barrels to capture runoff from roofs to installing energy-efficient windows and doors to reduce the costs of heating and cooling homes, there are many ways to make your residence more environmentally friendly. One of the simplest and most effective ways to go green is to utilize solar panels on your property. When used correctly, solar panels can absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity, helping to reduce—or even replace entirely—your need to rely on traditional methods for powering your home.

Photo: Green Mountain Energy

Although solar panels were first invented nearly two centuries ago, when in 1839 Alexandre Edmond Becquerel first discovered the photovoltaic effect that explains how sunlight can generate electricity, the development and use of solar panels didn’t become popular until the middle of the 20th century. The efficiency and popularity of solar panels have grown exponentially in the past several decades, and with the upfront costs of installing such systems on your property decreasing significantly in the past several years, thousands of homeowners are opting for solar options each year.

Photo: HGTV

Whether you’re considering going green and installing solar panels on an existing property—or you’re building a brand-new custom cottage and find yourself wondering if solar panels will be a good fit—the following information about the benefits of solar panels will help you decide if switching to solar will work for you.

Photo: Conservation Law Foundation
  1. Clean Energy: The most obvious and important benefit of bringing solar panels to your property is the fact that these products produce clean energy with no negative effects on the environment. Because the panels absorb sunlight and transform it into electricity that can be used for power, you will no longer be reliant on the use of fossil fuels—such as coal, oil and natural gas—which emit harmful gases and have the potential to leak or spill, contributing to both pollution and global warming.
Photo: National Geographic
  1. Renewable Option: Another key benefit of powering your home with solar panels is that solar power is a renewable source of energy. Unlike the finite sources of fossil fuels that power traditional electricity today, solar power will remain an option indefinitely because it derives its “fuel” from the sun. Although the exact timeframe is a hotly contested issue, many scientists argue that if we continue at our current rates of usage, the world’s reserves of finite fossil fuels could be depleted by the end of the 21st century.
Photo: Lime Energy
  1. Reduced Costs: While promoting green energy solutions is undoubtedly a reason many people opt to switch to solar power, perhaps even more important to many homeowners is the fact that solar power has the potential to reduce the amount of money you will pay to heat and cool your home and to provide electricity for your property. According to Solar-Nation.org, implementing a solar power system on your home can save homeowners between $47 and $187 each month in the first year alone.
Photo: CAM Solar
  1. Increased Property Value: As if saving hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on your electric bill weren’t reason enough to switch to solar, real estate experts suggest that outfitting your residence with a solar panel system can add serious value to your home should you decide to sell it down the road. In fact, CostOfSolar.com suggests that an investment in solar power will pay for itself several times over the course of just 25 years after installation. Plus, the organization also estimates that the retail value of a $500,000 home can be increased by as much as $20,000 once a solar panel system is implemented.
Photo: Zero Energy Solutions
  1. Incentive and Rebates: Searching for even more savings? When you install solar panels on your property, you automatically become eligible to receive a series of tax credits and rebates as a reward for going green. The most popular of these programs is the federal residential renewable energy tax credit. According to Energy.gov, U.S. taxpayers can claim a credit of 30% on qualified expenditures for solar energy systems placed on personal residences that are owned or used by the taxpayer.
    Photo: Discount Home Improvements
    Plus, some states even offer renewable energy incentive programs in which electric companies actually pay qualifying homeowners for their green energy contributions with cash or credits. In these scenarios, installing a solar energy system on your property won’t just help you save money each month—it will allow you to earn some extra cash too.

Creating an Outdoor Oasis in Your Own Backyard

The summer season is fast approaching, and with the promise of sunny skies and warm temps comes the desire to spend as much time as possible enjoying the great outdoors. While many homeowners are content to simply set out a patio table and chairs and to string a few strands of colorful outdoor lights along deck rails, creating an outdoor oasis in your own backyard can be done simply and without spending a fortune on extensive renovations.

Whether you’re searching for an easy and inexpensive way to dress up your deck for the summer or you’re looking for a more intensive overhaul of your patio or backyard, the following tips will provide options for creating an outdoor escape regardless of the size of your budget or the space you’re working with.

Photo: FindingWinter.com

Selecting Outdoor Seating Options

Perhaps the simplest way to give your patio, deck or backyard space a brand-new look without racking up serious costs is to swap your current seating situation with something more sophisticated. Ditch your basic fold-up lawn or camp chairs and opt instead for inexpensive-but-better-quality seating from a local home improvement store. From coastal cottages to mountaintop retreats, Adirondack chairs are a popular option that provides both comfort and style no matter where your humble abode is located.  

If you’re on a limited budget, purchase lightweight plastic Adirondack chairs that can easily be moved from one spot to another. If you have a little more money to spend and want to give your backyard a more sophisticated appearance, solid wood Adirondack chairs are the way to go. In addition to being a versatile style of seating that looks great in backyards from the city to the suburbs and virtually everywhere in between, one of the biggest advantages of opting for Adirondack chairs is the fact that they come in a wide array of colors, so you’ll be sure to find something that coincides nicely with the rest of your home’s outdoor décor.

Photo: MemorableDecor.com

Arranging Your New Seating

Choosing a type of seating is a key element to enhancing your outdoor space, but equally important is making sure you have enough seating for guests and that you place it in a pattern that best accommodates the space you have available. While you may only need seating for yourself and your immediate family on a regular basis, having plenty of extra seating for guests is a must if you plan on doing any outdoor entertaining at your home this season. If you don’t have the space to keep additional seating outside all the time, opt for stackable chairs and store them in your cottage’s garage or utility closet. This way, you can easily retrieve your chairs and set them out when you know guests will be coming by for an event or party, without cluttering up your outdoor space should they not be used frequently by your own family.

Photo: Home Depot

Ensuring you have enough seats for everyone who attends an event or get-together at your home is essential, but it’s also important to remember that seating should be arranged properly to assist with the flow of communication and movement. Many decks—particularly those on the sides of beach homes and cottages—are long and skinny and require chairs to be placed in a row; however, if you want to facilitate an open conversation among friends and family, try your best to arrange chairs in a cluster where guests will be facing one another.

Another great way to encourage interaction among guests is to arrange the chairs in a circle so no one is left out of a conversation. Placing a fire pit in the center of the circle of chairs is an excellent way to add a focal point and enhance the ambiance, even if it means you have to relocate your seating space from the decks to the backyard, where more room is available for such seating. That said, if your coastal cottage has a view you want to enjoy with your guests—such as the ocean, sound, canal or saltmarsh—make sure you also offer options where you and your guests can kick back and relax on a deck with a scenic view of the world around you.

Photo: Cybball.com

 

Planting Flowers and Potted Palms

Nothing says creating a natural environment in your own backyard quite like bringing a variety of potted plants and flowers into your outdoor living space. Develop the illusion of relaxing on a deserted island by purchasing and planting native species of palm trees along the perimeter of your backyard or patio. Just make sure the specific types you pick will successfully grow in your geographic region before shelling out a significant amount of money on trees or shrubs that won’t make it through the season.

Photo: Pinterest

Don’t have room for standard-size palm trees or ferns in your outdoor living space because you reside in an apartment or condo—or because you simply want to bring the oasis to an upper-level deck where they won’t likely fit? That’s not a problem. Just swing by a local nursery or home improvement store’s garden center and select species of plants or palms that stay relatively small and do well in portable container pots. Be sure to spend a couple of weeks scoping out the amount of sunshine that area of your yard or deck receives on a regular basis so that you choose the species of plants or palms you want to plant wisely.

Privacy, Privacy, Privacy

Whether you want to use your revamped outdoor area for yourself and a small group of family members on a regular basis or you intend to use it primarily for large outdoor parties and events, the space you create won’t feel like much of an outdoor oasis if you can feel your neighbors’ prying eyes on you while you soak up the sun, sip on a cocktail or enjoy a good book in your favorite new set of seating. To truly create a sense of privacy, the obvious choice is a privacy fence that surrounds your entire yard and stands tall enough that neighbors and passersby can’t see over the top. If you live in a condo, however, or if you are renting your current residence and aren’t permitted to put up fencing, the next best options are outdoor tapestries, blinds, latticework fencing, dense netting and privacy shields.

Photo: Pinterest.com

A wide array of privacy options that are suitable to be set up outdoors and will easily withstand UV rays and strong winds that commonly occur in coastal regions are available online or at your local home goods store. Whatever you select, make sure you fasten it securely and don’t create any type of eyesore for your neighbors to look at from surrounding properties. Once you have added sufficient privacy features to your backyard, patio or deck, you can gather up that guest list and invite your friends, family members and coworkers over to enjoy an afternoon or evening in your newly renovated outdoor oasis that will make you regret spending a single moment inside since you now have your very own piece of paradise right outside your back door.

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