The largest solar provider in the United States, Solar City, has launched its new solar loan program that is going into effect in 14 new states across the US. This is making it possible for consumers to immediately pass less for solar than they do for their traditional electric bills and is a historic tipping point for both environmentalists causes and the solar industry in general. For everything up to this point it has long been the case that people only justify their move to solar for environmental or sentimental causes, given the high cost of installation and maintenance. However, all that is about to seriously change and its a beautiful things. This is all part of a movement to make our homes more efficient. 

This was announced this week and Solar City is unveiling its new solar load program in 14 new states to test the waters before they go world wide with the platform. “We can now offer a loan that makes it possible for many customers to pay less for solar from day one, and still receive thousands back in tax credits on top of that. This program will allow thousands of additional customers across the US to install social this year and start saving money immediately, and we expect to work with multiple lenders, that will allow us to expand to several new states by the end of the month with the same kind great terms for out customs.” Says the acting CEO of Solar City.

The terms of the new loan agreement will look something like a 10 year loan with an annual percentage rate as low as 2.99% if you decide to go the 20 year route it an annual percentage rate would be just under the 4.99% threshold.

This is going to allow customers to prepay their entire balance or prepay a portion of their loan to lower their monthly payments at any time, with no fees or penalties which is huge for consumers. The reason this is so big is that a lot of wanting to avoid a solar loan is because it is just that, a loan. People know that they will be locked in for years and years and will end up paying way more than what the product is even worth. Today all that is changing and if you ever get the chance to pay it all off at once, whether its a bonus at work or diligent savings you can pay it all off in one swoop and save yourself from the mill stone that is perpetual debt.  

Solar City is going going to be implementing these new initiatives in Arizona California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington D.C. with new locations expected to be announced in the coming months. This is going to be a slam dunk deal for Solar City and as we can see non of their competition is offering anything near as insisting as these them. With time being of the essence it is going to be interesting to see if they can scale in time or if they will fall flat.

 

Whether you’re towing a teardrop or a multi-story tiny home, you’re likely to appreciate having access to electricity in the middle of whatever isolated forest. More often than not, that means installing a secondary battery next to the primary battery under your hood or to be towed around in front of the camper.

This can cause a lot of confusing, mysterious, and potentially very dangerous electrical problems for you unless you take the proper precautions. Step one? Install a continuous duty 12 volt direct current solenoid or relay to protect your vehicle’s primary battery from needless (and often perilous) draining. A solenoid makes it possible for your secondary battery to receive charge from the primary battery when the engine is running, but not to sap energy from the primary battery when it runs out of juice. That means you don’t have to risk needing to jump your car all alone in a desert or difficult terrain where few people pass by.

taco buikdHow do solenoids work? Solenoids disconnect the charge line between the primary and auxiliary batteries when a car’s ignition is turned on. If possible, it’s a good idea to power your solenoid using your car’s fuse panel, which is generally located under the hood or behind a plastic lid under the dashboard. You can use a test light to figure out which fuses are energized then the ignition is on but are not energized when it’s not.

When you’ve found one like that, you can use the male end of a spade terminal to wire 12 volts of power to your solenoid with 16 AWG wire; it should plug into any vacant fuse slot in most vehicles. Want a simpler option? You could use a standalone 12 volt power socket that is only energized with the engine running.

If your vehicle doesn’t have extra 12 volt power sockets, you can probably get away with wiring directly to the fuse panel.

Once you’ve got your start battery safely protected from your house batteries, you’re set to saux2tart focusing on exactly how you’d like to wire your home. It’s nice to have two batteries for your living quarters. You’ll also probably appreciate having an inverter rated to at least 1,500 watts, potentially rated to 2,000. That way you can change the 12 V direct current from the batteries to 110 V alternating current, and then you can start to use standard appliances in your home like water boilers, blenders, toasters, microwaves, egg beaters, air conditioners, and whatever else you deem necessary in your mobile paradise.

As for a brief overview of what all the wiring will look like, you start from the positive end of the vehicle start battery, connect it to a circuit breaker, and then to the solenoid. The solenoid is connected to the ground and to the automobile’s fuse box, in addition to one of two secondary batteries. These secondary batteries are connected to each other, and each is connected to a 1,500 to 2,000 watt inverter. This creates 120 V of alternating current, prime for usage by your appliances in your home.

 

Tiny homes which are defined as being personal dwellings ranging from about 50 to 300 square feet, are becoming more than a cute trend and are putting their foot in the doorway of the millennial home buyer market. This is a trend that did not happen over night, but the speed of change that is occurring says you should get on board now and beat the curve before it becomes the next overly priced hipster lifestyle fad. This is one of the most cost effective decisions you will ever make. lkjlkj

The beauty of tiny home living is in respect to the fact that this is the work of a largely counter culture in conjunction with the maker phenomena. What this means is that if you go on the internet right now you could make it your full time job to read plans and tutorials on how to make and live in a tiny home and not run out of material to read for quite some time. So if you go at it you won’t do it alone necisarily and will save a lot of money of someone to design it. Moreover, there are a lot of kits so even if you have very limited building skills they make it very simple for you, so much that they do all the cutting and jointly with CNC cut components. From there its just like you’re building a model or a Lego set its so simple.

As we all know no matter what city you go to in the united states, if it even has a little bit of character chances are you are being priced out of living there, or are dramatically settling for something you don’t really want. People are willing to pour thousands of dollars into a housing system that gives you a roof over your head while your there but nothing for when you leave. This is a headache and will never allow you to retire in peace. So if you are going to take this as a serious en devour you should consider making it a five year plan. Save a little bit here and there, whatever you can, and in time you’ll be able to build your own tiny home. In time you’ll be able to be an actual owner of something, and have something that you only put money into for maintenance and general upkeep, but it won’t be a drain, it will be an investment into something is equity with a retained value.

“a lot of people come to the tiny home movement because of finances. They are looking to get out of the rat race, to get out of debt, things like that and it seems like a lot of people stay because of the lifestyle.”  Says Ryan Mitchell an tiny home expert.

gogo“it was just the effort and time took to maintain a large house and we filled it with a lot of things that we didn’t necisarily need and didn’t really add any value to our every day life or experience.” If we want to break the cycle of debt and spending of frivolous things for rooms we hardly go in with cheap crap from pier one, then we should consider tiny homes on a large scale.

 

The kitchen is the heart of any home. It’s not just where people go to prepare their daily meals; often it’s a place where family members catch up with each other, daily events are recounted, disagreements are hashed out and reconciliation is made. No matter where you go, you’ll find that people gravitate towards food, and that’s where house and greater culture undoubtedly develops.

kitchen2That means when it comes to designing your own kitchen, you’re not just deciding the details of your food prep; you very well might be making crucial home improvement decisions that will affect the way people gather and feel in your home. The stakes are high, but don’t worry; there are steps you can follow to ensure that you plan out your dream kitchen to compliment your dream home. This article will teach you how.

The first step? Assess your kitchen needs. Every home owner is different and has different expectations and needs for their food prep process. Make a list of what you want, what you can actually afford, and what you undoubtedly need to keep your kitchen running smoothly. You may want to prioritize the items on your list so that when monetary boundaries eventually surface, you already know what items can be cut and which are the foundation of your kitchen’s proper functioning. Remember, just because you can’t afford your own fresh doughnut maker yet doesn’t mean you’ll always have to go without it.

Then you need to keep your budget in mind. It’s easy for home projects to begin to spiral out of control, price-wise, so it’s imperative that you make sure to lay out a budget beforehand as well as some plan-B’s that still allow for you to remain underneath your financial ceiling- just to be sure that you’ll be able to keep your head above water.

It’s important at this stage that you consider whether you want to hire a profession to help you to design your kitchen. It can be overwhelming for a novice to encounter the myriad of decisions involved in kitchen remodelling, so you may want to save yourself the strain and get someone you can trust to take the reigns.

kitchen3Whether you opt into getting professional help or decide instead to take the task on completely yourself, at some point you are going to want to take pen to paper and really get to designing your ideal kitchen lay-out. There are some websites that can help you with this and provide advice for, say, which appliances tend to be handy to keep together and how much counter space you might need based on how many people meals tend to be prepared for.

Perhaps the most important element to planning your kitchen is how large that kitchen will ultimately be. If the space in your house doesn’t really allow for your ideal size, come to grips with this fact early and see how much space you can salvage by using petite appliances, for example. Kitchen shape is generally seen as the second-most important factor.

With good space becoming ever scarce in most urban environments and housing prices steadily rising people have been finding shelter in tinier and tinier dwellings. Traditionally this has been looked at as a down grade, but given a recent change that is sweeping the country that reconsiders how we view our living space and how to do things in a more efficient manner. The problem is that most people even if they are willing to down size find it difficult to know how to do it right, So here are just a few of the many things to consider when getting the most bang for your buck in your tiny home. It is also important to note that these practices can benefit people of any size home, and the consideration of space efficiency is something that should be considered.
Wall Mounted Folding Furniture:

This is a great way to open up a tight space because when the desk is not in use it folds nicely into the wall. This is the same principle as a Murphy bed but can cover just about every surface you need. From desks to dining tables to general work surfaces this opening up allows you to have several rooms in one given the fact that they are mo-dual and you can do any set up mixing and matching floor layouts until you get the right feel in mind. Additionally by extending the fold up area where the surface will sit only a few inch you allow for the space specific items to be there such as your spices for the dining room, or pens and pencils at your desk. This is a great tool for efficiently because itmurph makes it so you do not need to gather and relocate specific items to complete any task, you are always set to do the task at hand for the area specific table.  So remember permanent bulky furniture is your enemy and you want things that are multi use capable of storage. This principle also applies to thinking about appliances, For example you can have fordable rods to dry clothing to eliminate the need for large expensive and noisy dryers.

Sliding Storage:

This is another way to utilize space that is many times neglected. One way to utilize a greater amount of cabinet storage space is to use the depth next to your fridge that is being wasted. To do this you merely put a six inch shelf on a track next to your fridge that can run roughly the length of your fridge and you are able to triple the cabinet space that is inherent to traditional front facing shelves. Another way to utilize the dead spaces of your home that are not being used in a major way is to take advantage of staryour stairs. you can have two shelf systems. 1 would be to utilize the space of the kick board and have pull out shelves; where another is to use the space perpendicular on the ground level and use the space under the stringer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The old platitude “Use it or lose it” is applicable even in the world of home refrigeration. In other words, if you want your refrigerator or freezer to work more efficiently, you have use all possible space or you’ll lose some of your refrigerating capabilities.

enery efficientThis is because each time you open your freezer, you allow cold air to escape and warm air to flow inside. Studies have found that the majority of the energy your freezer uses, for example, is attributed to simply retooling the air that flows inside the freezer when you open it. If your freezer is totally full, there’s less room for warmer air to take up and the items in there help to cool down any air that does sneak in. That means keeping your fridge full will translate into less energy used to keep it cool.

However, only big families can fill their fridge to the brim without food inevitably going bad. That’s where it becomes helpful to back your fridge or freezer with non-food items, just to keep your cooling efficiency up. There’s a lot of items that you can choose between, but here’s a few examples.

Newspaper will help you if you move food items towards the outer sides of your freezer and stuff the interior spaces with newspaper. Bag of shipping peanuts can help too; they take up lots of room in mostly empty freezers, and the bags can be molded to fit whatever spaces your food has left.

Ziplock bags full of water also help with energy efficiency. They’ll take up space and even freeze and keep your food cold if there’s a power loss or a busted fuse. Don’t want to risk a leakage? Fill plastic to-go containers with water for the same purpose and stack them on top of each other like building blocks. They’re much easier to take in and out according to how much space you have, and they can still fill small gaps in your fridge. Another possibility? Fill a milk jug with water for the same purpose.

packing peanutThis is, of course, all assuming that you don’t have enough food to keep your refrigerator or freezer full. Maybe you do, in which case placement of the items can also help you to achieve top freezer efficiency. It all starts with defrosting and drying your freezer and moving your food items towards the front and sides so that you can grab them quickly and easily when it’s time to take them out. Then you fill the interior central cavity with whatever non-food item best fills the gap; that means milk jugs, packing peanuts, tupperware full of water, and the like.

A word to the wise: when you’re packing your freezer for energy efficiency, you can go too far. Don’t fill it to the brim with packing peanuts or newspaper. In fact, you’re going to need to leave air space around the edges and top of your freezer’s thermostat can sense the temperature of the freezer and keep your food frozen.

Your fusebox holds the secret to the control and distribution of the electricity in your house. It’s important to know where it is in case you ever need to turn off the electricity due to an emergency, and in general it’s safer for you to understand how it works so you don’t make any mistakes and are better prepared to deal with emergency electrical situations.

The fusebox is sometimes locate din the garage or outside the main house. Sometimes they’re inside the house, however.

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Once you’ve found the box, you have to see if it’s a Fuse or Circuit box. The difference lies in whether you see round, glass topped shapes or small tubes with metal ends. If you see either, you’re looking at fuses. If there’s switches that you can toggle, you’re looking at a circuit breaker box.

If you’ve got a fuse box, you might want to go to the hardware store and purchase a few extra fuses just in case one fails. Be sure to pick fuses with the proper amperage (amperage is the measure of the amount of electricity that an electrical appliance uses).

It also makes sense to keep a flashlight near your fusebox, and to make sure that flashlight’s batteries work and are fully charged. It’s also helpful to keep some rubber gloves near the fusebox.

So contained within your fusebox is a main switch, fuses and/or circuit breakers, and Residual Current Devices.

The main switch allows you to turn off the electricity supply to your home. You might have more than one main switch if your home has electric storage heaters or something of the like. In that case, you may have a separate fusebox.

The residual current devices are switches that trip a circuit under dangerous conditions, instantly disconnecting the electricity.

The circuit breakers are automatic protection devices in tech fusebox that switch off a circuit it they detect a fault. They’re about the same size as the fuses but give more precise protection so that only the faulty circuit is switched off and you don’t lose access to the electricity in your entire house. When they ‘trip’, you can just reset the switch once you correct the fault and everything should function swimmingly.

circuit breakerSometimes instead of circuit breakers you’ll find fuses, which are rewirable and have a special fuse wire running between two screws. When a fault or overload flows through the fuse wire, it heats and melts, breaking the circuit and disconnecting the faulty circuit. This is the easiest way to keep you safe.

If and when a fuse blows, the first thing you should probably do is unplug all appliances that are plugged in to receive electricity from the overloaded circuit. Then be sure to turn the main breaker off within the box. This is very important for your safety! Toggle the main On/Off switch to the “Off” position. Find and wear your gloves when working in the fuze box and remove any jewelry, and also be sure to wear rubber-soled shoes. If you need a ladder to reach the panel, use a non-conductive wood or fiberglass one.

I know what you’re thinking: impossible. How and why would any good housewife bring it upon herself to sharpen her precious stainless-steel blades with something as mundane and likely to scratch as sandpaper. You already have your sharpening stone oiled under your sink anyway, so what’s the point in looking any further for knife sharpening needs?

sandpaperWell it may benefit to tell you that there are many different ways to sharpen knives with sandpaper, and you can pick whichever one best suits you based on your very own preferences so, benefit number one, you actually get to make a decision about something for once.

Before you rush forward in excitement, you likely want to clean your knife of any dirt or food particles. Grab a brick or a block of wood from your back yard, cover it with sandpaper, and then run the blade of the knife (lying flat) across it in a circular motion. Remember, you want to spend an equal amount of time on both sides of the knife to ensure cutting equality. Make sure you give each side at least a few minutes.

Another method: if you keep the knife at about a 22-degree angle and stroke it across sandpaper, making sure the tip is also making contact, you can sharpen it that way too. To get a 22-degree angle, make sure the knife edge is against the sandpaper at a 90-degree angle, then a 45 degree angle, and then 22-ish will be right in the middle of that. You don’t need must pressure with this method, just make sure to move the knife away from you as you draw it across the sandpaper.

whetstone2You may be more familiar with methods involving whetstone, as most people are. Here’s the thing about wet stones: they’re non-disposable and require you to waste precious oil on them for preparation. They also are slippery and, considering you use them to sharpen knives with, not the best thing to be putting a pressured blade against. Finally, the surface can be corrupted by continuous knife sharpenings, making the wet stone less effective and potentially more dangerous (if the stone causes your knife to slip in different grooved paths, you may find yourself accidentally losing control of a very dangerous motion).

Sandpaper, on the other hand, is familiar to most and has great traction, meaning that you have that much more control over where it’s going and, as a result, where your knife is going. It’s also disposable, cheap, and comes in a variety of grains to better suit your particular knife sharpening project. If you want quick knife sharpening without the hastle of summoning your own elbow grease, you can even use a power sander on the blade of your knife to be chopping up even the toughest meat in seconds. Just be sure to wear goggles and non flammable clothing; sparks will fly!

Ok, hope this article helped you with all your knife sharpening needs and please tune in later for more appliance related advice!

When it comes to maintaining your emotional and financial well-being, the same tried and true phrase applies: little things can make a big difference.

What if every time something in your kitchen went wrong, instead of seeing a dent in your fun money, you saw a chance to experiment and better your understanding of physics and the world around you? With some basic knowledge of kitchen appliance repair and maintenance, you can make this optimistic perspective a reality.

whetstoneLet’s start off easy: keeping your knives sharpened. No matter how nice your knives are, they’ll dull eventually and if you buy inexpensive knives, they probably weren’t very sharp to begin with. If you want to amp up your blade game, you’re going to need to go out and buy something called a whetstone, preferably with one course and one fine side. The night before you’re planning on sharpening your knives, put the whetstone in a deep pan and cover it with household or light machine oil. Let it soak for at least eight hours then wipe any loose dirt off of it using a soft cloth soaked in mineral spirits (also called white spirit, mineral turpentine, petroleum spirits). Just so you know, when you’re not using the stone you can just keep it in a sealable plastic bag or a box with a lid.

So now the whetstone is prepared for use: oil its surface lightly and hold the knife you’re sharpening with the blade at a 30-degree angle to the stone. If your knife is very full, use the course side of the whetstone first. If it just needs a little tuning up, skip to the fine side.

Now it’s useful to discuss what a bevelled edge is. A bevelled edge refers to an edge of a structure that is not perpendicular to the faces of the piece.  A knife’s bevelled edge is its sharp edge.

bevelled edgeOk, you’ve got your knife and your prepared whetstone. Now you push the full length of the blade’s bevelled edge gentle but firmly away from you, at a diagonal across the stone. Turn the knife away from you and repeat the same motion at the same angle. Make sure to do the same number of strokes on each side. By alternating the strokes, you’re able to avoid allowing any tiny burrs to accumulate as you’re sharpening. Remove any debris on the knife with a soft cloth.

If you’re working with carving knives and other fine stainless steel blades, a fine-grit silicon carbide slipstone will be a better choice than whetstone. It’s also better to use smaller, circular motions to sharpen these kinds of knives. Again, make sure to sharpen both sides to keep them even.

Sharpening steel is great for touch ups; you can simply pull a knife’s cutting edge across a length of steel (make sure these sharpening motions are always in the opposite direction of your body!), stroking the entire length of the blade from handle to tip. Again, make sure to do this on both sides.

Scissors can benefit from a little maintenance as well; after all, dull scissors are really frustrating and practically useless. Instead of replacing them, sharpen the old pair on lightly oiled whetstone just like a set of dull knives. You probably can get away with just using the fine side of the whetstone. Make sure you only work them on their bevel edge; scissors sharp on both sides are pretty dangerous.

Home decor trends come and go; pictures of Ronald Reagan used to be new and exciting household additions, but now unless those pictures are outfitted with secret surveillance cameras that look out from between his lips, they’re old news. What with the technological era gearing up to be the beginning of the rest of our lives, home decor needs to have a new age twist to be considered fun and up-to-date. Here are some tips for creating the perfect tech vibe in your home or business without emptying your wallet.

cup holder furniturePut Cup Holders in All of Your Furniture

Whether it’s an armchair, a desk or a water cooler, it probably could use a cup holder. Cup holders are an excellent example of timeless technological advancement. Not only do they create a place for you to put your coffee cup when you’re typing on your smart phone, but you can fill unused cup holders with flowers, mardi gras beads and colored rocks depending on your mood. Cup holders are also good for candy wrappers and the paper that individual straws come in.

Wrap Your Refrigerator in Tin Foil

Simultaneously stylish and ironic (which makes it even more stylish and ironic!), wrapping your refrigerator in foil will give your kitchen that space-age look without requiring you to break the bank on a fridge made of tin foil.  This can work with ovens, microwaves, toasters, egg beaters, kitchen cutlery, organic basil and other tin foil dispensers.

Make Decorative Displays with Neighbors’ E-Waste

Earn points in your cul-de-sac by  offering to take the neighborhood’s E-Waste to the dump once a month. Once you’ve accumulated enough broken laptops, cracked smart phones, floppy disks and old generators, just save any pertinent data that might be stored on them to your external hard drive and then you’re free to start prying things open! Make a decorative wreath for your front door using power cables and spare glass or glue some broken Wii’s together to make a throw pillow.

dog roombaMake a Roomba Costume for Your Dog

Roombas are the delight of all tech-savy homeowners, and just because you can’t afford a maid robot doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun! Create a home-made Roomba costume for your small dog using a 3D printer and the copyrighted Roomba design; just program the printer to leave a space in the center long and wide enough for your pup to stand in, attach a harness around him that connects to the Roomba shell, put a shoe box over his head and body to keep his furry body out of sight and let him roll around as he pleases! The only drawback? Your Roomba’s box-like addition will make it seem like an earlier model; just tell your friends you splurged on a vintage collectible and you’re home free!