Archive for September, 2014

Solar Panels that Plug into Electrical Outlets

Solar Panels that Plug into Electrical OutletsWhy is it that we cannot easily purchase solar panels that plug into electrical outlets to generate electricity? We are not actually sure. But there are a number of areas that we believe contribute to the situation and until the costs of solar panels change, it is not likely that we will see a disruptive change to electrical generation in the near future. We have listed a number of areas that need to change to enable this disruptive technology to really have an impact.  We are going to do more research on all of these areas, but this is our first foray into this subject area and reflects what we have initially found. Your comments are welcome.

Basically at this time the cost of equipment makes it prohibitive to invest in this technology for consumers. The amount of money you might save is insufficient to cover the cost of buying the inverter, the panels and meters you need to measure your savings.

Why Solar Panels that Plug into Electrical Outlets are Not Being Used

Solar Companies are looking for large contracts to install and operate solar farms. Solar installations that are roof mounted or mounted on large pedestals. They are not interested in retail sales of small systems.

Why don’t We Have Solar Panels that Plug into Electrical Outlets

The economics are just not there. The initial up front cost for the equipment has a very long payback for this equipment. It does not make sense from an investment perspective.

We Need an Entrepreneur – Solar Panels that Plug into Electrical Outlets

There are people who are developing the electric vehicle, again large companies aiming at the large retail market. But so far there does not seem to be any entrepreneurs that are aiming at the retail markets. We need the costs of solar panels to drop significantly for this to happen. Apparently Tesla is planning to build a large solar panel factory in the US that will bring the costs down. Perhaps this will be the disruptive step that will bring a disruption to the huge electrical generating business.

Repair Window Frames

Repair Window FramesAlways repair window frames before you repaint. In this situation as you can see from the picture, this window frame needs major repair. For some reason the wood of the window frame has begun to rot. We are not sure if this is dry rot or wet rot. But never the less the window frame is becoming compromised. It is only a matter of time before the window will need to be replaced. It is not even at a spot where water can collect and cause the wood to soften and begin to rot. Never the less it has started.

Many people, upon seeing this would just have the window replaced before it cause water leakage, however in our case we decided to repair window frames and get at least another year or two out of this particular window. We are do it yourself home repairmen and so it does not cost much to make the repair and we can do this work ourselves. If you pay someone to paint and repair your windows,  the cost can quickly get out of hand, you may be further ahead to just replace the window with vinyl frame windows which require no maintenance! It is all about cash flow and overall cost. Decide what is best for your own specific situation.

Repair Window Frames – Then Paint

We removed all of the paint and as much of the rotting wood as possible. Fortunately it was only half an inch deep and the frame of the window is not compromised at all. Once this step was completed, we filled the hole with caulking. This is exterior caulking, white in color and suitable for this sort of thing. Most important it can be painted. It may take a little longer to dry since the caulking is quite thick, so you have to wait at least 24 hours before painting.

Repair Window Frames – Steps to Follow

The standard steps to repair window frames and painting are as follows:

  • Scrape all loose and chipping paint from the window frame
  • Use a wire brush to remove any hard to get at places
  • Use steel wool to smooth the wood and introduce a rough surface to any remaining paint. This is important for adhesion of the new paint, especially if you are using semi gloss paint
  • Apply caulking to all joints and repairs that may be needed
  • Once caulking is dry apply at least two coats of paint to all areas of the window frame that has been exposed down to the bare wood.
  • Recheck yearly to repair window frames as needed.

If you are not able to do this work yourself, you may need to hire someone who can do the work. Make sure they properly scrape the old paint, sand etc before repainting the windows. If you are down to the bare wood, you will need to repaint twice to provide two coats of paint for protection. For more information about repair you can do around your home, click here.


Scrape and Paint Your Window Frames

Scrape and Paint Your Window FramesHomeowners should scrape and paint your window frames at least once per year or at least check them every year as a minimum. Consumers must remove all loose paint and caulking before repainting their windows. This one looks pretty bad and there has been some water damage which has darkened the wood underneath. Fortunately it has been caught in time. We scraped the cracking paint off. Removed any existing caulking and now will let it dry for a few days before re-caulking and then painting.  If you fail to do these relatively inexpensive repairs, the wood will rot. It will allow even more moisture in causing damage to the wall inside. This will increase your overall cost of repairs dramatically.

We will discuss the details later in this post, however we wanted to mention that if you are paying someone to repaint your windows for you, you must always make sure that they scrape and remove any loose paint, then caulk all joints before repainting. Most will just place a coat of paint over existing paint which is a total waste of money and time.

Scrape and Paint Your Window Frames – check for soft wood

Step one is to first inspect your windows, especially the window sills checking for any soft or rotted wood. If there is you must either repair the sill which is usually the location of rotting wood or replace the windows completely. If the wood is ok, and you can get another year out of it at least. Your next step is to scrape the windows. You will want to remove all loose paint, bubbling and flaking paint.  Sand with steel wool to roughen up the wood and the existing paint surface that is still adhering to the surface. Once this is completed allow the wood to become fully dry. Some dampness will indicate that moisture was getting though and it is time to repaint your windows.

Scrape and Paint Your Window Frames – Allow Wood to Dry

Once the wood is completely dry, it is time to re-caulk all joints that could allow moisture to enter between the joints of the windows. Allow this to dry and also make sure that you are using a caulk that is paintable.  Once the caulk is dry, usually about two hours,  you can then begin painting your windows. If there is exposed wood, give this area at least two coats of paint. Either use primer and the main paint or give it two coats of paint using the final color. This will help to ensure that you leave no areas that are uncovered by paint.

For more information about repairs around your home and saving money, click here.



Top green upgrades to save energy

Top green upgrades to save energyThe bottom line for most consumers when it comes to saving money on energy and choosing the top green upgrades to save energy is what is the upfront cost of the upgrade. In other words, if you have a refrigerator which might not be the most energy efficient, are you going to spend a thousand dollars, plus or minus, to replace it because you may save a few dollars of electricity a year. The answer is probably not for the majority of people. On the other hand if you have to replace because it stopped working and the repair costs are too expensive to make it worth while to repair it. In this case you may decide to select the most efficient model when it comes to refrigerators as long as the price of the fridge is competitive. You might even have to comparison shop for awhile to make sure you get the best deal, but at least you save money on the purchase as well as on the operating costs.

What are the Top green upgrades to save energy

If you are going to spend money on reducing your energy usage the following list of steps to take will make sure that you gain the most from what you spend.

Insulation – adding insulation to your attic will increase your energy savings dramatically especially if there is old or no insulation at all in the attic.

Water use – decreasing water use is easy if the entire family gets involved. turn off those taps, upgrade toilets and use water efficient shower heads, etc

High efficiency furnace – will decrease the amount of fuel you use as well as the electricity you use to run the fan. Most high efficient furnaces use DC motors which are much more efficient.

Use energy Star appliances – always purchase energy star appliances when you buy replacements. examine the details and assumptions behind the numbers that they advertise.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFL’s or LEDs – This can be another large savings especially if you leave lights on all of the time such as a hall light at night or outside lights.


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