Kathy Foran - REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West



Posted by Kathy Foran on 3/15/2015

Everywhere you turn people are saying "go green". More and more people are looking for alternatives to heat and power their homes. One alternative is solar energy. There are both benefits and pitfalls to solar energy. The Benefits •Solar power is predictable. It is easy to predict how much electricity your system will produce because the amount of sunlight that hits your roof doesn't vary that much. This means it is also easy to predict how much you will save in electric bills. •Solar power will lower your electric bill. Solar power will offset the usage of conventional electricity especially in places where the price for grid power is high — like California, Hawaii and much of the northeast. •Solar power is safe and clean. Solar energy systems produce emissions-free electricity. •Installing solar panels may also help you qualify for a tax credit. For more information on energy tax credits click here. The Pitfalls •Solar power can be predictable but it is also variable. In other words, it can be predicted on a long term basis but not on a daily or even weekly basis. For example, solar panels won’t produce electricity at night. •Solar power can be a more expensive alternative in the short term. The price of solar panels continue to fall but there are many aggressive financing options. If your state has no tax incentives and electricity prices are relatively low solar would be an expensive option for you. •Some homes just don't work. The roof must be in good condition with an unobstructed southern exposure. If the house is surrounded by trees and tall buildings solar panels will probably not work. A ground-mounted system is an option only if you have sufficient space in your yard.





Posted by Kathy Foran on 8/11/2013

Odds are, you don't give your electrical outlets and switches much thought beyond safety and an occasional surge protector purchase.  However, many new kinds of switches and outlets are now on the market, any one of which could be a major boost to your home's convenience and ambiance, and could even make your home a little more fun to be in. USB Outlets - Many of our cell-phones, laptops, tablets, and other personal electronic devices utilize a USB port for charging purposes.  With the addition of an outlet with a built-in USB port, the days of trying to find room to charge your electronic devices is over.  No more unplugging items in order to charge your phone or laptop.  If you choose to wire this new outlet yourself, you're only looking at spending $20-$40 dollars per outlet. Programmable outlets and light switches - Not only are these outlets and switches a great way to manage your home's power usage, they are also quite affordable.  These types of outlets safely turn off power after a certain amount of time, and most come equipped with a built-in surge protector. Programmable light switches work in the same fashion, which makes them ideal for kid's rooms.  Both of these will run an average of $25-$50, depending on the features. Hands-free light switches - These have been around for a while now, but while the idea isn't new, the technology has improved greatly.  Some come with body-heat detection, motion sensors, AND a time delay, which fixes the earlier issue of the lights shutting off once they didn't detect movement. The infrared light switches are paired best with smaller rooms, but sound-triggered switches (remember The Clapper?) work very well in large rooms.  For versatility, look for a unit that offers multiple lights settings.  Also, be sure that spontaneous noises, such as a loud TV or crying baby, won't accidentally trigger the lights to shut off.  These switches start at $20 dollars for simple sound-trigger options to as much as $200 for the infrared models. LED touch panel lighting - LED touch panels allow you to simply touch a panel to turn on a light, or a stroke of a finger to adjust the amount of light in a room.  Not only do these varieties make your home look sharper, they also save a lot in utility costs.  While these have been enjoyed in Europe for some time now, American manufacturers are starting to take a keen interest in developing these technologies here.  These can be ordered online for about $70-$100 per panel, and are starting to catch on here in the states.  The price will eventually become more affordable once domestic manufacturers start churning them out.





Posted by Kathy Foran on 11/4/2012

Energy costs can really take a toll on our monthly bills. But you can take control of these costs with a few simple steps. And to help out, programs like Mass Save (Masssave.com) and www.energystar.gov will help homeowners save even more. Did you know that even when you turn off appliances, such as your TV, they still use energy? With all the electronics in your house, the energy use can really add up in a year. A quick easy way to control these costs is to get an advanced power strip, where there are multiple plugs for electronics that need to always be on (i.e. your cable box) and those that don't (i.e. you TV). The power strip will automatically turn off those electronics that are in the "don't keep on" sockets when the electronic in the "master" socket is turned off. Mass Save estimates that you can save $30 annually by using one of these on your entertainment system. Mass Save and Energy Star has a variety of other ways to save on energy from product savings (on things like light bulbs and power strips) to rebates for buying energy savings appliances. You can also get a free home energy assessment to help you get started on improving your home's energy savings. And if you are low income, there are programs to help you save on costs even more. Each state has it's own energy savings programs, so even if you aren't from Massachusetts, there are resources available to you. Be sure you contact your state's energy department to find out more about ways to save.