Pro Saving Tip: Generate Your Own Energy With Solar Panels

Over the last decade, the solar industry has seen a 49 percent rise in its usage.

From the good it does for the environment to the amount of money it’s possible to save by investing, there’s no questioning why the increase has come. Even with the steep increase in its usage, a large portion of the United States still doesn’t fully understand the benefits of solar panels.

To understand the benefits, you must first understand how it works. Then the goodies can start flowing in.

Read on to learn how to generate your energy (and become energy independent) with the help of solar panels.

Where Does Traditional Power Come From?

Lett’s start with the basics.

Electricity is produced from a turbine pushing a fluid (liquid or gas) through a generator. There are different kinds of turbines used in the United States, like steam turbines, combustion (or gas), water, and wind. The most common turbine in the U.S. is a steam turbine.

To work this turbine, hot water and steam must be produced by burning fuel in a boiler or capturing heat from a fluid.

Now, what’s burned to capture the energy needed to create electricity? Fossil fuels. That’s right — coal, geothermal energy, petroleum, natural gas, nuclear energy, or even solar thermal energy.

This electricity is produced by a company that you then pay it to use.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Switching to solar panels allows you to avoid burning fossil fuels altogether, and lets you go straight to the source — the sun.

Solar panels are made of photovoltaic cells or a solar cell made from silicon. When sunlight hits the silicon, it begins producing direct current energy. This energy can’t power most appliances in your home.

With the help of an in-home converter, that energy is changed to alternating current energy, which can be used to power appliances and other things in your home.

When you switch to solar panels, the separate electricity company is cut out. You’re taken off the traditional power grid and placed onto your own. In fact, you’re actually able to contribute to the power grid.

Excess energy produced by your solar panels is sent to the grid, which some utility companies pay you for.

Why Should You Make the Switch?

Well, the most obvious reason is avoiding the burning of fossil fuels, a nonrenewable energy source. In turn, you’re exchanging it for a cleaner, renewable energy source.

The power grid you’re on right now (unless you’ve already installed solar panels) is used to power everything in your area. Businesses, offices, towers and lines, all of the homes in your neighborhood.

Because the sun is the source of your electricity and not that power grid, you’re less likely to experience a power outage or blackout.

Since you are no longer paying the electricity company to supply energy to your home, you end up saving money.

How Much Do Solar Panels Really Save You?

The short answer to this question — it depends on your area.

Across the country, utility prices have gone up by an average of 3 percent per year over the last ten years. When talking about savings with solar panels, it means the amount of money saved from your normal electricity bill.

In states like New York, the monthly savings sit at $73.41. Over 25 years, that number grows to $23,670. In Charlotte, North Carolina, monthly savings sit at $72.99. Over 25 years, that number climbs to $23,533.

In different areas of California, the savings over 25 years range from almost $40,000 to $42,000.

Other Benefits

Adding solar panels also increases your property’s resale value. Like a new bathroom or home addition, solar panels are an upgrade.

You’re also entitled to a rebate on your solar panel investment with the solar Investment Tax Credit. In 2020, that tax credit sits at 26 percent of the amount you invested. In 2021, it drops to 22 percent. After that, the amount back sits 10 percent for businesses.

Some requirements need to be met before you’re entitled to the rebate.

Will They Damage My Roof?

You want the best solar company to install your solar panels.

A lot of homeowners are skeptical of solar panels because of the potential damage they may bring to their home’s roof, but this fear is often unnecessary.

Because holes need to be drilled into essential parts of your home’s roof, it’s understandable. These holes are for the lag bolts needed to hold the solar panels in place.

Holes may lead to leaks, right? Not necessarily. The bolts are designed to withstand extreme weather and have flashing surrounding each one to keep water out. Flashing is also placed on any corners your roof might have (i.e. where the horizontal plane meets a vertical one).

The flashing gets covered with material to keep it dry, and the holes get filled with sealant to keep water out of them.

Unless your roof was in poor condition beforehand, or the contractor you hired was not a licensed professional, there should be no damage to your roof. Accidents happen though, and it’s smart to ask any company about their workmanship warranty before signing anything.

This warranty helps in the rare instance that damage does occur to your roof at the hands of your solar panel installation company. 

The Risk is Worth the Reward

When it comes to solar panels, there isn’t any huge risk. In this case, it’s all benefits. But some may see the time, investment, and energy needed to transition on their part as daunting, which it is.

Making the switch to traditional electricity (something that has likely always been around for homeowners in this generation) to solar panels is a big one, but it’s also a freeing one.

Straying from energy-consuming utility companies to venture out on your own toward an eco-friendly home is new for a lot of people, but it isn’t impossible.

If you’re curious to learn more about saving money and eco-friendly living, check out the rest of our blog.

7 Amazing Berries to Grow in Your Backyard This Year

Are you looking for something a bit different to grow this year?

Growing berries in your garden add a splash of color, and they’re a tasty treat for all the family. But if you’ve never branched out into berries before, you might not know where to start.

Don’t worry! Read on to discover the 7 best berries to grow in your backyard this year.

1. Acai

Due to acai health benefits, and the fact they’re pretty rare they can be an expensive choice. But they’re the best berries to grown indoors or in containers. The dwarf acai berry palm will grow 20-30ft tall if planted in the ground. If grown in a planter, the size reduces to around 10-12ft.

It will take around 3 years, sometimes longer, to mature and produce berries. This isn’t a low maintenance option though and can take time, space, and patience. You’ll need a large container for it, or you’ll need to keep replanting as it grows.

A subtropical, warm climate is best for acai palms to grow in, so they might not be the best choice for colder areas. Though, you can use a greenhouse for them if you have one large enough.

2. Strawberries

A real family favorite, you can plant your strawberries in spring, summer, or fall. Fall is the best time though, as your plant’s root systems will grow and strengthen in the cooler months. You’ll be ready for a bushy growth come spring full of vitality.

If you plant in spring, you’ll have to disbud these young plants as they’ll grow flowers. Otherwise, they can pinch back runner and you won’t get as healthy growth the next season.

To get a longer lasting harvest season, plant two types of strawberries. One early, and one late fruiting. Your local agricultural center will be able to recommend varieties for your area.

3. Blackberries

If you’re looking for something tasty and functional, blackberries are a great choice. Their big, floppy, rambling nature makes them great hedging plants. And it’s fun for all the family to pick from them when they fruit. It’s a quick, easy way to hide an ugly fence or section off an area.

Of everything on our list, blackberries are the easiest berries to grow. They can survive in cold, harsher climes due to their hardiness. They also function as climbers. So, train them over arches, pergolas, and trellises to create a decorative feature. Get creative!

They even work for backyards where you’re short on space. You can get varieties that don’t have thorns and are compact, designed to grow in containers. Here are a few extra tips to get you started:

  • Blackberries are self-fertile so you don’t have to worry about getting loads of plants to get a good crop.
  • Plant in the sun; the more sun the more berries unless you’re in a hotter climate then they do need some shade midday.
  • Provide regular watering during their first growing season to get their root system extensive and deep.
  • Put down a 3-inch organic mulch layer each year but keep the mulch 2 inches from the crown to stop any rotting.

4. Raspberries

Don’t plant brambles, better known as raspberries, until early spring or late fall. Give them room to grow and don’t put them anywhere you want something ‘pretty’ to be. You can control the spread by planting in raised beds or digging them out on a regular basis.

Provide mulch for your raspberries and it’s a good side to use a fungicide as a preventative. This will help prolong the life of your raspberry patch.

To keep them tidy and well maintained, cut them back after each fruiting season. You can also prune out some of the older, brown stalks in winter (or very early in spring). It might not be the most attractive option, but the berries are great on yogurt and for pies and jams.

5. Blueberries

Another great option for container growers is blueberries. They’re a treat to eat and to look at. In spring, you’ll get delightful, scented flowers, and in autumn they turn fiery in color. And in the summer, you get that beautiful crop of delicious berries.

They need an acid (ericaceous) soil to grow in, but you can get this at your local garden center. They’re low maintenance but you’ll have to wait about 3 years for any fruit. In the meantime, at least they’ll make a beautiful patio decoration.

If space is at a total premium, there is a very compact variety of blueberry called “Top Hat”. But whatever your variety, water them with rainwater. Lime in tap water can reduce the acidity of your soil as time goes on.

6. Currants

For a pretty looking berry bush, the current bush may be a good choice. It’s got dainty, lobed leaves much like fancier maples. They branch out and have an airy appearance, with tiny berries that come in red, white, pink, and black shades.

They’re also a great option to fit into more formal, strict landscapes. You can train them into standard shapes. Current bushes even work as stand-alone ornamental plants on patios or porches.

The berries themselves (redcurrants, blackcurrants, and whitecurrants) are some of the best berries to grow for jams and jellies. They also work in cooking sauces and for decorating desserts. They also take well to freezing, so you can enjoy them all year round.

7. Gooseberries

If you’re thinking of getting currents, consider getting gooseberries alongside them. Gooseberries grow particularly well when you plant them near current bushes.

For better tasting berries, position them away from the harsh afternoon sun. But make sure they can get plenty of cooler, morning sunlight.

Give them regular sprinklings of potash (or a berry fertilizer) around the base. This encourages prolific fruiting and flowers throughout the season.

Pick half the crop in midsummer to get bigger berries. The unripened berries you can use in wines, sauces, and pies. The berries left behind are quick to grow in size and will be sweeter.

Don’t Miss Out on the Best Berries to Grow in Your Backyard

So there you have it! Now you know the best berries to grow to give your garden that extra wow factor.

You can use the berries in jams, jellies, pies, wines, and sauces all made in your own kitchen. They’ll also add a pop of color to the garden and be an interactive treat for friends, family, and all your guests.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our other blog posts today.

7 Newborn Baby Necessities Every New Mom Needs

Did you know that more than 140 million babies are born around the world every single year? And many of these babies create a new mom as well!

If you’re among those new moms, congratulations!

You’re probably feeling a whole range of emotions, from excitement to stress. There are so many things to do before the baby arrives. Well, we’re here to help you cross at least one thing off your list – your new baby necessities!

Listed below are 7 of the most important baby supplies you should put on your registry or purchase yourself. Once you have everything on this list, you can approach your due date with confidence, knowing you have everything that your baby will need in his or her first days.

Let’s get started!

1. Car Seat

A car seat is the first thing on this baby supplies list for a reason. Not because you’ll be taking your newborn everywhere you go necessarily, but because you won’t be able to leave the hospital without one!

That’s right, you must have a car seat and it must be properly installed before you can take your baby home. Now, for a newborn, you’ll need an infant car seat. These are always rear-facing and most can easily snap in and out of the base, making it a portable baby seat as well.

This makes it perfect for when your baby falls asleep in the car! Instead of waking him up to bring him inside, you can take the entire seat in with you.

2. Bottles and Accessories

Bottles are a must for any new mom, whether you plan to breastfeed or not. Many mothers have to supplement their own milk with formula. But even if you don’t, it’s always a good idea to use your breast pump or haakaa to create a backup supply that you can store in bottles in the fridge.

You shouldn’t be the only one waking up to feed the baby in the middle of the night, after all! Plus, with a supply of milk and bottles, you and your partner can leave baby with a grandparent and take a night off every now and then.

Along with bottles, a breast pump, and a haakaa, you’ll need a bottle brush to clean them thoroughly after each use. You might not want to commit to a certain brand at first. Buy a few and find out which your baby prefers, then invest in more of that brand.

3. Bassinet or Crib

Your baby probably won’t be sleeping in their own room at first – not to mention there might not be much sleep happening at all! Nevertheless, you need to buy a bassinet or crib for your baby to sleep in until they graduate to their own room.

Bassinets are easier, as they’re smaller and can be moved from room to room if needed. You can also find co-sleepers that attach to the side of your bed, allowing you to have the experience of sleeping right next to your baby while keeping them safe in their own space.

4. Baby Carrier

Yes, you can use your car seat as a baby carrier for short distances, but you’ll also need something that you can carry your baby in for long stretches of time. Look for something that will allow you to have your hands free while holding your baby, such as a ring sling or a wrap.

There are also more structured baby-wearing options available on the market. These have a similar appearance to a backpack rather than a piece of cloth. Cloth carriers tend to be more comfortable, but you should pick whatever feels right for you.  

5. Stroller

Along with your car seat and baby carrier, you’ll need a stroller to take your baby for those calming walks around the neighborhood in the evening. Consider strollers when car seat shopping, as many car seats can be snapped into a stroller as well.

Some strollers are convertible and can be adjusted as your baby grows. They might be a bigger investment upfront but can save you money in the long run when you don’t have to purchase a second stroller. Your baby will need a traditional upright stroller when they’re able to sit up on their own. 

6. Baby Clothes

One of the most fun baby supplies for newborns is clothes. If you’re itching to fill your baby’s closet with miniature clothing, we don’t blame you! But while baby clothes are a necessity, remember that your baby will only be a newborn for so long.

In actuality, many babies are born too tall for newborn clothes! Instead of filling their closet or dresser with newborn clothes, buy a variety of sizes. Get some newborn, plenty of 0-3 months, and even some 3-6 months to start with.

7. Diapers

Diapers are a newborn baby necessity. However, as with baby clothes, it’s important to keep sizes in mind when you’re shopping. You’ll likely need some newborn diapers, but don’t stockpile them, you’ll only end up with a mountain of diapers you can’t use.

Instead, buy a box or two of newborn diapers (you can always get more!), a few boxes of size 1, and plenty of sizes 2 and 3. 

Use These Newborn Essentials to Be the Best New Mom You Can Be

Being a new mom is one of the most exciting times of a person’s life – savor every moment!

Going into the process can feel overwhelming, as there’s no handbook for being a parent, but with the right tools and your mother’s intuition on your side, you’ll be a natural.

For more great tips on being a new parent, take a look at our blog!

Raising Smart Kids: 5 Science-Backed Tips You Need to Know

Are you looking to boost your children’s intelligence? Are you trying to give your kid a headstart when it comes to school and the real world?

There are a ton of different scientifically supported ways to raise smart kids. Let’s go through some of them now!

1. Read To Your Kids

Immersing your children in the written word is an important part of raising your child’s intelligence. So, make sure you start reading to your children as early as possible! Try out baby books to get your kids interested in reading when they’re still little so that they’ll stick with it later on.

2. Limit The Screen Time

While it’s impossible to completely stop your kids from using screens, it’s important to limit their time staring at a screen, especially when they are little. If possible, experts recommend that you limit your child’s screen time to two hours or less a day. Instead, try out books or other activities with your kids, where possible, and save the TV for after dinner time.

3. Talk To Your Kids

Talking to your kids, especially before they learn to talk, is helpful for teaching them how to verbalize and express yourself. And, don’t limit yourself. Explaining difficult concepts and issues to your kids while they’re still long can help them with creative problem solving, understanding different perspectives and understanding difficult issues in the long run.

4. Get Them Into Hobbies

Having diverse interests is an important part of raising smart children. Plus, many of these hobbies have different benefits for your kids’ intelligence.

Exercise, like competing in sports, can increase blood flow to the brain which can increase their intelligence. Studies have shown that participating in music can help make children smarter as well.

And, these are just a few of the many hobbies your kids might enjoy. Find out what your kids are interested in so that they’ll want to stick with the hobby or activity they start out with.

You can even try out riddles for smart kids or smart games for kids so they can start getting an idea of what they are interested in before you commit money to something that may not work out.

5. Teach Them Hard Work

It’s important for kids to understand early that hard work pays off. Not just so that they’ll be successful in their careers, but so that they’ll be successful in school, and ultimately university! Teaching your children responsibility (in age-appropriate ways, of course) is a great way to help your kids learn to raise their intelligence on their own!

Happy Kids Are Smart Kids

While experimenting with the above is fun to try, it’s important not to put too much pressure on your children. Happy kids are smarter kids, after all, since they have more room to be creative and explore their creativity. So, while you try and raise smart kids, make sure you’re having fun.

Are you looking for more information on childcare, parenting, and related topics? Check out some of our other articles today!

Top 5 Quickest Ways to Earn Extra Cash

Due to the ongoing pandemic, a lot of people face drastic changes in their work and finances. Sources of income end up hampered or halted, making it even harder to make ends meet. In such a situation, most turn to side hustles or alternate cash flows to get by.

Today, we will look at five ideas on how you can get quick cash in case of such a situation. These methods can help you get the money needed to get through the day. Some of these even provide you the means to earn a living.

Curious about these particular methods? Read on to learn about each of them.

1. Selling Clothes

If you have clothes that are in good condition and are dispensable, you can have these sold. The good thing about this is that you can conduct this both offline and online.

Check out local consignment shops within your area to expedite the process. You can also try sites like Poshmark to help you find buyers. When online, make sure to have clear and well-lit photos to showcase the best of the clothing you plan to sell.

2. Conducting Online Surveys

An online method that you can try your hand on is by conducting online surveys with websites like Survey Junkie. This method is quite effortless in terms of time commitments, letting you take surveys during your free time or breaks.

You can get about $45 an hour, or even more when you qualify in some sites. Try these out as these surveys take about five minutes or less to complete.

3. Taking on Quick Gigs

Another is to try out quick gigs that you happen to be good at. Sites like Fiverr, let you offer your services using the skills you excel in. These could be a good starting point for freelancing as well. Graphic designers and other artists are often scouted on these sites, so do your best!

The usual rate for Fiverr is at $5 per gig. Recent changes, however, have expanded further to offer a higher rate. This is a setup that you can consider as a source of income.

4. Taking on Short Term Loans

This method works as an emergency measure that’s useful when you need quick cash to make ends meet. These short-term loans tend to be of the no-credit-check variant. As long as you have the means to pay back as soon as possible, it will work in your favor.

Try this option for quick cash even when you are at crossroads, struggling to find a job after a previous one.

5. Offer Online Courses

This is both a side hustle idea and a good starting point towards a new career. All you need is a good amount of effort and investment. 

Consider teaching something you excel at. If you have a knack at sharing your skills and teaching others, you can check out the website Teachable. Here you can develop an interactive course that can help others learn.

Try These Methods to Get Cash Quick

It pays to have other ways to get cash, especially when they can come quick and fast when you need them. Weigh your options and research. You will have something that can help you turn your situation around.

Did you find this financial guide useful? We also have other articles talking about a variety of topics, such as finances and more so don’t hesitate to check them out here today!

Simple Cleaning Schedule for Working Moms

Keeping the house clean when you’re a working mom is no easy task. Simply put, as a mother, you already have a hundred and one different demands on your time and attention.

Front and center of those demands are paying attention to your kids and keeping the income coming in with high performance at your job.

That’s why cleaning the house can often fall to the wayside. If you’re finding yourself in an unkempt house more often than not, it’s time that you adopted a cleaning schedule for working moms.

In this article, we’ll present you with such a schedule that you can start implementing in your home’s routine today.

Cleaning Schedule for Working Moms

When thinking of a cleaning schedule, one can split things up into daily, weekly, and seasonal endeavors.

On the daily cleaning list, only a few things need to be done. This will include doing the dishes, making the beds, making sure that the kitchen counters are wiped off and food is put away, and ensuring that all surfaces remain dust-free.

When it comes to the weekly cleaning schedule, there’s a little bit more that’s involved. You’re going to want to vacuum carpets and sweep and mop all hardwood floors. On top of that, you’ll want to thoroughly clean the bathroom, as that’s one of the places in your home most susceptible to dirt build-up.

For seasonal endeavors, it’s time to start deep-cleaning projects. You’re going to want to move furniture out of the way to clean up all those hard-to-reach spots with your vacuum cleaner and broom.

You will also want to do a thorough check of the rooms in your house that you may not normally clean, such as the pantry, A/C and boiler room, and storage closets.

Can You Outsource Cleaning?

If you’re a mom with a busy schedule, then you know just how hard it can be to make time for these menial cleaning tasks. It might be time for you to take a look at hiring a cleaning service to keep things spick and span in your home.

Additionally, it may surprise you to know that the cost of house cleaning becomes remarkably affordable when you only hire the service for deep cleans every so often.

Keep the House Tidy!

At the end of the day, when you keep the house tidy, you feel more productive. A clean home can greatly improve the quality of your life. That’s why adopting a cleaning schedule for working moms is so important.

And if you can spare the cash, it’s important to think of hiring house cleaning services as an investment. Done right, you can easily get a positive return on that investment in terms of time that you save and can now invest in your family and your career.

If you’re looking for more home and family advice, you’re in the right place! Be sure to take some time to check out the rest of the articles available on the website before you leave!

Put the Razor Down: 5 Underarm Waxing Benefits

Did you know that the standard human hair has a diameter of about 75 microns?

A micron is the millionth part of a meter or .00004 inches. Human hairs can be long and straight or they could become curled and twist around multiple times.

This is exactly what happens with underarm hair and why you should consider underarm waxing, instead of shaving your armpits. The underarm waxing benefits are numerous and they can prevent curly hair follicles from growing into the skin and cause infections.

Keep reading to learn the underarm waxing benefits and how long does underarm waxing lasts.

1. Don’t Worry About Underarm Hair for Weeks

As you probably already know, waxing works by removing the hair follicles together with their roots. This means that the hair will take longer to grow back afterwards. You will be able to walk around and not worry about armpit hair for longer as new hair takes weeks to regrow.

The reason for this is simple. Your body will eventually have to build back the hair roots first and then spend resources to grow new hairs. This process takes time and it’s totally safe and healthy. Most people wax their legs and other parts of the body to reap the same benefit.

2. Enjoy Softer Armpits 

One of the main advantages of waxing your armpits involves having a softer skin on your armpits. It will feel more pleasant to the touch and waxing might even be able to unclog some pores, allowing your skin to breathe better.

3. Don’t Have to Deal With Cuts and Bruises

Shaving any part of the body can be slightly stressful as there’s always a risk of cutting or bruising the skin. Although today’s razors have become very safe, there’s still a chance of accidentally cutting the armpit skin while shaving. 

You don’t have to worry about such things when you’re waxing your armpits. You just apply the wax and remove it together with the hair follicles and their roots. There’s no cuts, no bruises, no bleeding, and no money spent on new razors each month.

4. Waxing Also Exfoliates the Skin

Skin exfoliation is recommended if you want to enjoy a more beautiful, shinier, and softer skin. The exfoliation process removes dead cells, dust particles, and other impurities from the skin. Waxing can automatically exfoliate your armpits, so you don’t have to do it later on. Check out this underarm wax technique to learn more about waxing your armpits.

5. Get Rid of Ingrown Hairs

As mentioned earlier, curly hairs tend to grow inside the skin and this can lead to infections and mild pain. It’s difficult to remove ingrown hairs and most people do it when the infection becomes too serious to ignore.

Waxing removes hair follicles completely and the new hairs tend to grow straight. This has been observed in people who regularly wax their armpits. If you don’t want to deal with ingrown hairs again, consider ditching your razor and start waxing the armpits.

Now You Know the Underarm Waxing Benefits

As you can see, there are plenty of underarm waxing benefits you can reap if you start doing it regularly. The first session might be difficult, but once you learn the ropes you’ll ask yourself why you haven’t tried armpit waxing earlier.

To learn how to wax your armpits and what tools and techniques to use, make sure that you check out the other articles on our website.