Archive for October, 2009
Long, hot baths don’t have to be a waste of energy. Solar hot water systems can heat the water for your kitchen or bath without running up your electric or gas bill.
In fact, many homeowners are now replacing traditional hot water heaters with solar powered systems, proving to be a revolution in green building. Solar water heaters use collection plates and highly insulated storage tanks to harness the power of the sun, thereby reducing carbon footprints and saving money on energy bills.
Systems are categorized as either active or passive. Active systems circulate the water within the tank using pumps or coils. While passive systems rely on gravity and the water’s natural temperature based circulation. An experienced green builder can advise you as to which system fits with your solar water heating needs. Some factors to be considered include your home site, local building codes, and the size of your family.
Whichever system you choose, the benefits can be astounding. According to some statistics, solar water heating systems can reduce your monthly utility bill, essentially paying for itself in less than five years. Your home builder can also help you to comply with federal tax credit regulations regarding a new solar hot water heating system to further help in covering the costs of the unit and installation. Federal tax credits will pay for up to 30% of the cost of installation of an energy star solar water heating system, but only if the system is installed before the deadline of December 31, 2016.
It’s important to contact your green building specialist as soon as possible to discuss the solar heating options for your home to start saving money and energy. Whether you’re building a new construction or updating the system in your existing homes, it’s a win-win situation for all homeowners.
Do you like the idea of coming home to the lights properly illuminated, a favorite song playing and the air or heat turned to a desirable temperature? What about the ability to open the front door with a keypad lock or fingerprint and no longer needing to fumble for keys? Home automation, better known as smart homes, make this and much more, possible.
Smart homes have the ability to simplify our daily lives into one of freedom and convenience. When building a custom home or undergoing a home remodel, it is important to work with a qualified general contractor who understands home automation. While you may only have the need for a basic package, such as a lighting system, it is still recommended to use a general contractor to assist with the wiring and installation.
What exactly is smart home automation?
A smart home is not just a home of the future, but rather an integrated way to wire a home to a network that controls all of the functions at once. Whether you prefer to use a remote control or wireless access is dependent upon the amount of home automation you wish to have. The heart of the smart home system is the network, which feeds from one main source of wiring and eliminates the need for several components, such as DVD, CD player and lights that are individually controlled.
Home automation systems are available in easy-to-use kits that allow the homeowner the freedom to install timers and wireless gadgets with the ease of a remote. The remote often controls appliances such as lighting, HVAC, and stereos. True home automation, however, is a much more complex system yet features many benefits and simplifies day-to-day activities.
Energy savings are just one of the many benefits of having an automated home, as the homes are typically more efficient. Some home automation systems heat and cool based on the time of day, while others adjust the temperature when someone is physically in the home. The networks can also automatically tell appliances to reduce function levels or go to “sleep,” thus lowering electric bills.
For those only wanting to program the home’s lights and HVAC, smart home technology is not as expensive as one may think. But for those looking for a more complex automated home, there are several exciting advances in wireless home automation and home automation electronics. A few new examples include:
- Programming your thermostat, oven and music from the Internet when not even in the home
- Illuminating the home with light before pulling in the driveway, or out of town to simulate someone is home
- A set of security cameras tied into the lighting system and doorbell
- Having a video feed of your favorite television station and making it visible in every room of the home you enter…and more!
Whatever you envision in a home of the future, chances are likely that it can be done. As technology and imagination continue to grow, smart homes will hopefully one day work in complete harmony to improve our daily functions.