Yes!! How? Simple! Go solar!!
Even in Arlington MA and throughout the northeast, it's possible to rely completely on solar energy to power your home. Not only that, but it's cheaper than ever before. With recent advancements in technology and improved production methods, the cost of solar is coming into parity with the regular cost of electricity. Add in the various state and federal tax rebates and incentives and you could recoup the installation cost within months - then start making money by feeding excess electricity back to the grid!
Here's a very rough and simple example, using my own latest utility bill.
* Latest monthly kWh usage = 295
* Desired result: 100% solar power
* Required system size: 2.84 kW generation
* Average sun radiance (Arlington, MA) = 4.31 kWh/meter squared per day - this is the average power the sun would generate for my location in about one day.
Based on very rough estimates from the solar power calculator at FindSolar.com, I would need at least 283 sq. ft. of roof surface covered in solar panels at an estimated $22,718 initial installation cost. BUT - after the Massachusetts and Federal tax rebates and other incentives, the final cost to me would be roughly $5,833!
Don't be scared off by that price, however! As a Massachusetts resident, consider this: $5,833 divided by my average monthly utility bill of $75 results in a payback period of roughly 78 months. Keep that number in mind, because here's the good part: Massachusetts residents can take advantage of the MassSAVE HEAT Loan program, which provides for a loan of up to $15,000 at 0% interest with a 7-year (84 month) payback period. Taking out a $5,833 loan at 0% interest and paying it back over 84 months would make your monthly payment just $69.00! Sure - it may only start off as a $6 monthly savings, but as time goes on, your utility rates WILL rise, but your solar power will always be FREE. Your savings will only grow over time.
A final word - don't forget about the increase in your property value! Depending on the improvements you make, your home's value will increase roughly $25-$35 in value for every $1 saved on your utility bills. With the projected lifespan of today's solar equipment to be 20-25 years, you'll more than end up making money with your new solar-powered roof, whether or not you sell your property within that time frame. Lastly, cities and towns are not allowed to tax you for any part of your property occupied by alternative heat-generating equipment, so your local property taxes will not increase...AND, the same portion of land is exempt from MA property taxes for the first 20 years! These are all great selling points when it comes time for you to move on.
For more information on solar power and a listing of some local Eastern Massachusetts solar vendors, visit my Eco Friendly Partners page. To find a green home for sale near you, visit the Avenue 3 Real Estate web site, where you can search for properties for free.
Until next time, Peace!
Eating locally-grown food, even in the Boston MA area, has become a new trend within the green, sustainable living movement, taking it's queue from the organic food initiative. With sustainable agriculture, locally-produced food integrates production, processing, distribution, and consumption on a small scale, creating sustainable local economies and a stronger connection between farm and table. In other words, you DO know where your food comes from!
Arlington MA has a great Farmer's Market on Wednesday afternoons, from June through October. Belmont MA has another good one on Thursday afternoons, also from June through October, while Cambridge MA has multiple markets on various days from June through November. You can easily find a local farmer's market in the Greater Boston area online.
In addition to attending farmer's markets and purchasing local produce, you can also help grow your own - saving you even more money and travel time. Arlington MA has a program called the CSA Farm Share (community-supported agriculture), wherein you partner with a local farmer to, in effect, grow your own produce. You select the farmer you want to work with, the amount of land you want to share, the dollar amount you're willing to pay, and then reap the fruits of their labor during the growing season! To promote the concept, there is an upcoming CSA Farm Share Fair in Arlington MA on February 25, 2010. The venue is the Park Avenue Congregational Church in Arlington Heights, 50 Paul Revere Road, and it begins at 6pm. There will be at least 15 different farms represented, along with a local honey bee farmer, and a local fishery. For more information on the Fair, visit the Arlington MA CSA Share Fair web site.
This is a great way to share in the bounties of the local farming economies. Since the food doesn't travel far and fewer resources are devoted to transportation and middleman expenses, you can save money, eat local, and be green all at the same time!
Well, here are 14 Valentine Day ideas you can afford and enjoy !
Don't think about what you can't do today, think about having a romantic celebration without spending a lot of money. You can personalize the day without breaking into your savings... and if you're not spending money you'll be moving closer to ultimate goal of property ownership! Personalizing your celebration and letting your loved one know how you feel about them can be very easy:
1. Recreate your first date together. Where did you go? What did you talk about?
2. Frame a new, special photo of the two of you and display it in your home or in your wallet.
3. Haven't purchased a place to call your own yet? Put the money you may have spent on a expensive dinner in " someday we're buying a home account" or the real estate account.
4. Leave a message on voicemail with a silly or romantic poem.
5. If you both usually walk together leave wild flowers, favorite cookies,etc. in a hidden spot and surprise your Valentine during your walk...be creative, The Minuteman Bike Trail in Arlington, Lexington and Bedford is a great option.
6. Make a CD featuring the songs that have been important in your relationship. Slip it into their car CD player with a note.
7. Write down 14 favorite memories of your life spent together so far. Invite your partner to add to the list and then... Buying a home or housebuying experiences are usually included in this list...
8. Write down special ideas, dreams for the future.
9. Instead of an expensive dinner go to a restaurant you have always wanted to try and order a bottle of wine and appetizer at the bar...
10. Go to the beach with a thermos of hot coco, cookies, brownies and blankets...dream about owning a waterfront condo.
11. Spend the weekend and plan your summer vacation, could be just a summer weekend...
12. Write about the first time you knew you were in love.
13. Build a fire, open a bottle of champagne and search for property on the Avenue3re.com website.( Cuddle close on the sofa with one laptop and cruise through the A3 website......talk about kind of property you think you might like to own someday.
14. OK decide you're just going to go for broke and forget about saving money, I suggest... The Splurge: A Venetian Valentine, at The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Sunday, Feb, 14th 6:30 - 9:00, Art, Romance, Food & Drink, Entertainment....$195 per couple.
Minuteman Bike Way
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Avenue 3 Property Search