Why to Opt for Solar Energy

Making a huge change to the way you approach energy is not easy. When you have relied on electricity to power, heat and cool your home forever, you are probably not going to want to rock the boat. But sometimes we have to look a little outside the box if we are to find the solution that works the best. When you consider the benefits of residential solar systems, you must prepare yourself for the fact that change is never simple. But you should also know there are many reasons to move ahead with your plans.

The fact remains that when you are looking for a sustainable and safe energy solution, solar is always going to rank at the very top of the list. The problem arises because most homes or apartments you would purchase are already hooked up to a traditional electricity grid. It means you would have to go through the expense of having a residential solar system installed on your property. But you can rest easy knowing there are plenty of top companies in Australia that can provide you with such a service.

And another thing you should know about solar energy is the fact that you are no longer going to have to deal with an electricity bill for another day in your life. Not only are you contributing to the environment by generating sustainable electricity, but you are most definitely going to save money in the long run. The tough part arises when you have to get the solar panels and other items installed on your property, because such a project and upfront expense always scares people. But you can talk with an expert about the potential savings and how quickly you would see a good return on your investment.

These solar panels are not only a useful addition to domestic homes. Commercial solar systems are very viable and are currently used in many businesses and factories across the country. If you look into the current rebate incentives and the way government incentives are put about, you may even notice some business benefits associated with getting a solar panel system set up on your location. But most importantly, with a commercial solar system, you are getting access to the type of freedom that you did not have before – the freedom to heavily reduce your power bills, in some cases up to 85%.

Types of Eco-Friendly Home Siding

There are several options for making your interior home environmentally-friendly. But what about your home’s exterior? Can it also be altered towards eco-friendliness? Yes! A home’s siding can be functional, visually appealing, and eco-friendly all at the same time! If you are in the market for new home siding, you may want to consider an eco-safe siding material. Continue reading to learn the different types of common materials used for environmentally-friendly home siding.

Metal

Steel metal siding is a popular choice among homeowners with a “green” agenda. That is because most metal siding is made from recycled metal, such as junk cars or construction scraps. You see, metal is easily recyclable and abundant, so it is a viable source for eco-friendly home siding. It is also durable and easy to install.

Wood

Wood is a renewable resource. It is abundant, natural, and locally-sourced, making it a great option for eco-safe siding. It is also very easy to install, convertible, recyclable, and sustainable. Most wood siding comes from Douglas Firs, Cypress trees, Redwood trees, Pine trees, and Cedar. It is recommended to use wood materials that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified.

Brick

Although bricks are man-made commodities, they are constructed from renewable, natural resources like shale, clay, and water. This makes brick a wonderful, “green” siding option! It is made from natural resources so it is biodegradable and safe for the environment. And not only is brick siding eco-friendly, it is long-lasting. Brick can last for up to 200 years!

Rock

Although rock is not a common home siding option, it is an environmentally-friendly one. Using rocks is labor-intensive and time-consuming, but it renders a stunning look that holds up for years to come. Rock is a great choice because it is natural, energy-efficient, and locally-sourced.

Fiber Cement

Fiber cement home siding is made from recyclable ingredients like cement, sand, and wood pulp. And since the makeup of fiber cement emits few dioxins when burned, it is an eco-friendly option. It can be manufactured to resemble higher-end materials like wood or vinyl, but for a much cheaper cost.

Stucco

Like fiber cement, stucco is also made from using recyclable, natural ingredients, like water, cement, sand, and lime. This chemical-free combination gives stucco an eco-friendly appeal. It is also natural, energy-efficient, and easy to install.

Farming With Integrity and Gardening Responsibly

There have been some major shifts in the production of food in the last 40 years. Conventional farming with pesticides, GMOs, and long rows of veggies that strip the soil of life are no longer the only means of farming. There is a new slant to farming that encourages the grower to use their intuitive knowing in order to be the best farmer they can be.

According to Tasha Miles from the Grow Network, “In humans, a ‘feeling’ that helps us see beyond present circumstance to some future outcome is called intuition. It is the intersection between what we consciously know, unconscious details we may not even be aware we have noticed, and our resulting formulations on how to use that information.” If we apply this intuitive ability to gardening, then more and more ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions for solving new and different gardening problems will be discovered. These intuitively inspired changes can transform the way gardening is done and change the way food is grown. A farmer’s ability to tune into the needs of the plants, soil, insects and environment can make a difference in sustaining a positive balance in the world rather than depleting the earth’s resources.

Still curious to know more about what I’d researched, I sat down with my son Joel, who has a green thumb and a degree in horticulture, as well as years of experience working on many different organic, local and permaculture farms. I asked Joel if permaculture is the best system of gardening, and he answered by saying that, although permaculture is a viable method of farming, it is not really meant to feed a lot of people. He explained that the idea behind permaculture is to harmonize with the land and its terrain, and at the same time, to have as low an impact as possible. With this in mind permaculture farms often can feed the people who live and work on those farms, though they are not designed for high crop yield.

The man who first devised the idea of permaculture, Bill Mollison probably had an intuitive flash in 1978, when he envisioned this holistic form of farming. He wanted to sustain the earth’s resources rather than deplete them.

Another method of growing crops is organic farming. When I talked to Joel about this he shook his head and went on to teach me that although food can be labeled “organic” by the FDA, it may not really be completely organic. He explained that as long as no chemicals or GMOs are used in the growing of the crops, then that farm can be certified organic. However, these crops can also be labeled organic if they have been treated with natural fertilizer which contains the bones of cows that were not organic or GMO free. While intuitively this just feels wrong to trick the consumer, the farm industry is counting on the ignorance of the shopper to overlook this important detail. Joel said it takes a lot of integrity and a very high ethical standard to grow crops completely organically on all levels. He suggested it is beneficial to get to know your farmer. If you instinctively don’t feel good about the farmer and their practices, then I suggest you shop elsewhere.

Perhaps another option may be that each of us plant organic food in our backyards and not have to deal with farmers at all. However, after my experience with building a garden with my daughter where we spent hundreds of dollars to terrace the land, prepare and enrich the soil, plant the plants, install irrigation, put up trellises and water and compost the garden only to have a tiny yield, I was left feeling like it was a waste of time and money. But again, I am not a gardener. I will humbly leave it to the experts. I was not able to develop an intuitive connection to the plants and soil. Instead, I was mechanically following a gardening book’s take on building a backyard garden. I developed a much deeper appreciation of the insight and skill it takes to plant and harvest a healthy and fruitful garden or farm.

Since I rely on farmers to grow my food, it is important that I educate myself on the integrity of different farming practices and choose to buy my veggies and fruits from a reliable source. Although there is not one right way to grow food, the farming practices that work with sustaining the environment and not polluting the earth are the most intuitively positive approaches to growing food. Hopefully over time, more and more people will be guided to tune into the needs of the land and find complimentary ways of farming that can sustain us all in a healthy way, for ultimately each of us is responsible for the planet and for our ecosystem.

Tips For Choosing The Perfect Garden Log Cabin

There is a new and excellent trend in garden design recently, and it is spreading like wildfire. People are choosing to build miniature log cabins in their gardens as a secondary dwelling. It is cute, functional, and a great addition that adds value to your home (and gives you a little escape in the middle of your yard).

If you have been considering building or transplanting a log cabin for the garden, here are ten tips for choosing the perfect one, and loving the results.

1 – Consider Its Purpose – Why do you want a log cabin in your garden? This question is more important than you might think, because it is what is going to give you the best ideas moving forward. For example, if you want something that is more like a gazebo only with more protection, you are going to create a more open looking cabin with, say, large bay windows and doors. But if you want something more like a Hobbit hole, you need to know it before you begin your designs.

2 – Go With a Guest Cabin – One of the greatest ways to design a more functional log cabin is to make it an actual residence. Guest cabins are a great idea because they establish a secondary dwelling for people to stay, and adds some serious value to your home. You may think that you need a lot of property for this, such as an expansive estate, or many acres of land. But that isn’t true; more people are building guest cabins in their gardens right next to their primary house.

3 – Diversify Your Surrounding Plants – This is more for the aesthetic of the cabin, and has more to do with the garden than the dwelling itself. Sometimes people won’t take into account the way the garden itself looks, and how it appeals to the design of the cabin. Or they fail to realize that the simple, rustic appearance of the dwelling will mean countering it with diverse plant life. Try and be more creative in your choices, or it will all look very bland. And on the other side of things, when you select your cabin design keep in mind how it will look in the garden itself.

4 – Look Into Eco Friendly Options – There has long since been an (incorrect) belief that log cabins are less environmentally friendly than other forms of housing. Once upon a time that might have been true, given the use of lumber and some of the chemicals used to treat it. That hasn’t been the case for decades. Responsibly harvested, or even recycled lumber is available. You can find many stains and sealants that are safe for the environment. It isn’t hard to remain eco-friendly when building your cabin, if you just shop around before making your final purchases.

5 – Treat It Like Your Home – Log cabins require maintenance, so you have to take that into account from the very beginning. That being said, if you treat it the way you would your primary home you will find it much easier to keep up with those required tasks as you go, before problems occur. Get it inspected once a year. Restain and reseal every few years. Treat it for pests. If it has its own electricity and plumbing, make sure they are properly tested regularly to avoid shorts or broken pipes.

6 – Be Careful Who Contracts – There are any contractors out there that can provide a log cabin building service, or who can transplant one already made – an easy option since garden cabins tend to be small and easy to transport and setup. But this is a major purchase, and it isn’t one you should rush into. The wrong contractor can turn the process into a logistics nightmare, not to mention a financial and even legal one. Do your due diligence when looking into providers, whether they are building, or have already built the structure. Find out what other customers have said, and look at their BBB rating and licensing/insurance info. Be wary of any red flags.

7 – Think In Terms Of Future Use – A friend of mine and her husband chose to build a log cabin in their garden. But when they did it they didn’t intend to use it for more than some occasional parties in summer. Instead, they were focused on what uses there might be in the future. They have a daughter who is currently 14. As she gets older she will want more privacy and independence. But there is value in staying home through college (like avoiding the costs of a dorm, or off-campus housing). They built their cabin so they could offer her a house to live in the future.

8 – Make It an Escape Nook – Another way you can look at your garden cabin is as a fun little escape nook. That will inform the dimensions of the cabin itself, as well as indoor features you might implement. Think of a cabin for instance that has a built in wall bookcase, and a reading bench by the window. Or a cabin with an entertainment center and bar. It is a home away from home, so design it that way.

9 – Bring the Garden Inside – One of my favorite examples I have seen of garden cabins was one that turned it into part-greenhouse. So it was able to maintain a garden all year long, even as everything died outside. In Winter you could wander into the cabin and see the flowers and plants, smell their sweetness, and get a little taste of Spring even in a blizzard.

10 – Consider Your Log Cabin For The Garden an Investment – Ultimately you are investing in a major renovation that is going to improve the value and function of your overall property. So when you are designing your cabin keep that in mind, especially when it comes to price. You could go the cheap route and have something you kind of like, or invest fully and have something perfect.