Various Opinions on Log Homes

You’re looking for a unique home, one that isn’t a cookie cutter replica of every other home. Much has been written about log homes and perhaps you are wondering if one might be the answer to your desire for a “something different” kind of home.

In your quest to learn about this type of dwelling, you’ll find a number of differing opinions. It is sometimes challenging to separate myths from opinions or determine if one bad experience represents log home living all around.

Keep in mind that log homes are in one respect no different from other types of homes. They are only as good as the materials used, the quality of construction, and maintenance that sustains them post-construction.

What’s Old is New

These types of homes are hardly a new form of housing. They have sheltered humans for hundreds of years. And they keep gaining popularity in today’s housing market. Check out local newsstands and see how many log home consumer magazines are in the racks.

Myths/Opinions

Rarely is there a universal experience or opinion for anything, including homes made of logs. Some people have lived in them and swear they never will do so again; others wouldn’t live in any type of home. Consider some of these more common myths/opinions:

• Energy Efficiency: you may have read that these homes aren’t energy efficient. This may be true – depending. A well-designed log home, built to modern standards by knowledgeable and skilled craftsmen, can be as (or more) energy-efficient than a well-insulated frame house.

• Upkeep: according to opinion, this type of home either requires or does not require extensive upkeep. No home is completely maintenance-free. It is unrealistic to build such a home, let it weather with time, and expect that it requires not upkeep. Every log home needs periodic cleaning, preserving, and coating to protect the structure against moisture, weather, fungi, and insects.

• Settling and Rotting: all houses – no matter what type of construction – settle because land is constantly shifting and settling. Home designers have developed techniques to address this settling issue. Be sure to ask each manufacturer about settling systems when you are considering these homes.

• Fire Hazards: These homes may withstand the devastation of fire more readily because of their thicker walls. The current exterior wall code mandates that materials used must have a minimum of “one hour-rated fire-resistive construction on the exterior side. The typical 6-inch (or greater) log walls have a considerably longer fire resistant level than one hour because logs don’t easily burn; they will smolder for a long time before they actually ignite. Consider that 26 forest firefighters who survived the Topanga Canyon firestorm of 1998 by seeking shelter in a log home!

• Cost/Financing: rumors seem to persist that these homes are costly to finance and insure. Neither of these claims seems to have much credibility these days. Such claims may have been more likely when log homes were less common but should not be stumbling blocks today.

If you have never lived or vacationed in such type of home or cabin, consider giving it a try before you plunge into buying one. Some owners discovered they quickly tired of “so much wood” inside and out. Others found the experience unsatisfactory because they purchased a log home that had not been well designed, constructed, or maintained.

You can find both positive and negative opinions on almost anything when searching the Internet. Take time to research their design and manufacture companies that interest you and (if possible) view some of their existing homes before you make your decision.

How To Get Your Solar Energy Tax Credit

There are a lot of good reasons to go solar for your home or business. Many Bay Area homeowners have a solar system installed to protect themselves and their families against rising energy rates. While it is difficult to forecast exactly how much electricity costs will rise, or how quickly, one thing is certain – they will continue to go up. Conversely, an investment in solar for your home or business not only decreases or even entirely eliminate monthly electricity costs, it can also increase the property value of a home and lower the operating costs of a business. A third and very important financial incentive is the federal government’s generous solar energy tax credit.

The solar energy tax credit allows a homeowner to reduce the amount of income tax that they would otherwise have to pay the federal government. This credit is good for 30 percent of homeowner’s investment in their solar system, including solar panels, a charge converter, battery, and inverter, but only for the next three years. The credit will drop to 26 percent in 2020, and 22 percent in 2021. After 2021, the solar energy tax credit for residential customers will be eliminated entirely. While there is a chance the credit could be extended, many homeowners considering solar are planning to install their systems within the next few years to take advantage of the credit.

For commercial businesses looking to go more green, they can qualify for up to 70% off with solar tax incentives. Not only will you qualify for a 30% Federal Tax Credit but you can accelerate the depreciation of your solar system over 5 short years. These tax incentives are equivalent to 60%-70% of the system cost, leaving you needing only 3-4 years of energy savings to recover your entire investment.

In addition to the financial benefits of the solar energy tax credit, many people choose to go solar because they feel solar energy is a more environmentally responsible solution. Solar energy is both sustainable and renewable. Solar energy provides a zero-emission way to power buildings, and appliances, heat water, and refuel electric vehicles. The more popular and widespread that rooftop or carport solar panels become, the more they reduce the load on coal-burning power plants.

With buildings accounting for 38 percent of all carbon emissions in the U.S., going solar can significantly decrease our carbon footprint. A typical residential solar panel system will eliminate three to four tons of carbon emissions each year-the equivalent of planting over 100 trees annually. Going solar is not only a great way to go green, but taking advantage of the solar energy tax credit – before it expires – is a great way to save some green.

5 Simple Energy Conservation Ideas For Your Home

While most potential home buyers, consider their monthly mortgage payment (including principal, interest, and escrow/ taxes), many, fail to adequately consider other monthly expenses, associated with home ownership. Perhaps the most significant one, is the cost of energy – related activities, including electric, and heart. The purpose of this article is not to examine the many alternative heating alternatives, including solar, geo – thermal, etc, but rather, to review some simple steps, one can somewhat easily take, to make their home more energy – efficient, and friendly. Let’s look at 5 simple, basic, energy conservation ideas/ steps.

1. Windows and doors: What is the Energy Efficiency Ratio of your entry doors? What material are they made of? How are they hung? How much air is seeping out, through the spaces created, because of their alignment? Simply, assuring your door has a bottom sweep, and the spaces around the top, and sides, is reduced/ eliminated, will prevent heat escaping in the winter, and air conditioning, escaping during the summer. What type of blinds, or curtains are you using, and are you using them, to let sun in, when it is cold out, while reducing the entry of the heat of the sun, when it is hot? When was the last time you checked your windows, in terms of air – tightness, energy rating, and tinting (if your local climate indicates doing so)?

2. Insulation: Every form of insulation comes with some R rating. This number indicates the amount of insulation, but are you certain, all exterior walls and ceilings are properly insulated? Doing so, might potentially save a considerable amount of unnecessary energy costs.

3. Energy efficient appliances: Certain home appliances, especially refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners, have become far more energy – efficient, in recent years. How old are yours? Look at the rating, and it will indicate how much energy a particular appliance might be using. When I recently replaced my refrigerator, the new one was far more efficient (therefore, cost less to run), than my 15 – year old model. Similarly, today’s oil and gas burners and boilers are far more efficient, than they have ever been!

4. Water and toilet: Are there any dripping faucets or toilets that continue to run – on? Eliminate the drips, change faucet heads (especially in the shower), and check the efficiency of your toilets.

5. Lights/ fixtures: Begin by making the effort to turn lights off, when you leave the room! What type of light bulb are you using? Many bulbs today are four, or more times, more efficient (use less energy/ wattage), than older ones. Do a lights and fixtures – review on a regular basis!

These 5 ideas may seem basic and obvious, but you’d be amazed how few people consider these. Unless you like wasting energy, and spending more than you need to, using these simple, conservation methods, will save money, and reduce energy waste.

Green Homes for Sale

If you were looking at real estate ads and saw one that stated “green homes for sale”, you may at first wonder why anyone would a listing stating the color of their home. This is not what this type of ad means. It is just stating that the homes for sale are earth friendly and energy efficient. Green homes for sale are being built in an effort to less the carbon footprints we leave behind.

When you purchase a green home they will contains all or some of the following features that are earth friendly.

• Fiber cement siding
• Alternative power system like wind and solar
• Recycled building insulation
• No VOC stains and paints, which stands for volatile organic compound. It is any compound that is carbon-based and will vaporize at standard room temperatures. Some of the more prevalent ones are formaldehyde, acetone, and methane.
• Solar powered hot water heating

Even if you do not live in a green home, there are things that you can do to increase your energy conservation. It will even help contribute to saving our environment. Making your home a green home can help to reduce global warning and save the homeowner money. It will significantly better the environment and require little effort for the homeowner.

Making a green home

• Instead of using the standard incandescent light bulbs start to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). When you switch to the CFL’s you can save per year over a hundred dollars. You can find these lights in the same aisle as your regular bulbs but they are little more expensive. In the United States, if every house switches the type of light bulbs they were using to CFL’s there would be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of one trillion pounds.
• Install a thermostat that is programmable-with this type of thermostat the homeowner can program the thermostat so that the air conditioner or heater is off when homeowners are not at home. The programmable thermostat can be programmed so that it will cool or heat your home shortly before the homeowner arrives home. This change could save the homeowner ten percent or more on cooling and heating costs
• Plug air leaks-this will help the homeowner save money and practice conservation. You can do this by installing weather stripping, keep the temperature in your home from rapidly fluctuating, and caulk windows correctly to stop air drafts.
• Energy Star® rated appliances-these reduce the amount of electricity that is needed to operate them so they have less of an impact on the environment. They will also save on your energy bill.

Designing a Greenhouse As a Tropical Oasis

Living in the cold, wet northern hemisphere is not for everyone, and even those who enjoy the chilly temperatures and snowfall need to take a break in a warmer climate from time to time. Taking a vacation, however, especially for those with large families and individuals who work full time, isn’t always an option. Travelling expenses, along with planning a week’s worth of activities, and trying to accommodate everyone can sometimes be more of a headache than a vacation. A vacation-like ambiance can be made right at home, and doing so is a breeze with the help of a greenhouse and an expert team of designers.

Greenhouses are made almost entirely of glass windows and skylights, which allows the sun to warm the interior, making a tropical climate for both humans and plants. Overheating and sunburn will not be an issue, as long as proper glazing options are considered. Incorporating low emission glass coatings, such as LoE 366, will produce a highly efficient glass structure that will block harmful rays in the summer and insulate during the winter. Ventilation will be crucial to ensure air circulates and does not become stagnant. Ridge vents, eave vents, and operable windows are great ventilation options for both humans and plants. Incorporating a retractable roof skylight will open the structure to the outside on warm, sunny days.

Growing palm trees inside the greenhouse is an ideal way to create a vacation atmosphere, as are hibiscus, and practically any vibrant tropical flower. Before cultivation begins, however, it is important to research the various preferences of each plant in order to ensure the greenhouse growing environment is mutually beneficial for each different species. Once the vegetation has been selected, creating the perfect interior environment will be easy with the help of a greenhouse control system, which integrates all lighting, heating, cooling, and irrigation accessories into one cohesive unit.

Adding a full-sized pool, spa, or other water features will elevate the tropical greenhouse oasis and help produce the total vacation package. Incorporating a water feature inside a greenhouse or other glass structure, though, will most likely increase interior humidity and condensation, especially in a high-performing structure. Condensation has the ability to promote fungal growth in the atmosphere, which can negatively affect both people and plants. Ensuring proper structural ventilation with ridge vents, eave vents, operable windows, and skylights will help minimize and monitor condensation levels and create a comfortable experience for all users.

Greenhouses, whether designed as a freestanding structure or attached to an existing building, are the perfect way to create a tropical vacation spot right at home. Doing this will allow users a relaxing getaway at any time of year and also reduce yearly vacation costs in the long run.