Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Photovoltaic Systems - Energy From The Sky

As people search for alternatives to fossil fuel energy, solar energy emerges as one of the cleanest and most practical sources of electricity. Solar panels can be installed on rooftops or any area that receives a lot of sunshine. The solar panels consist of a photovoltaic system that converts the energy of the sun into electricity.

Photovoltaic systems have existed since the 1950s but only in recent years has the technology matured to the point of making it a viable alternative to power utilities. Indeed, most solar systems do not replace the utility company, instead they work in conjunction with it to produce extra electricity that can be fed back into the grid.

One of the main problems with solar power is storing it for use during non-daylight hours. Batteries can be used but they are expensive and have a limited life span. As an alternative, excess solar electricity can be fed back to the power utility company for a credit, and then power can be drawn when needed. In a sense, the utility company becomes the storage device.

Most municipalities have legislation requiring power utility companies to accept electricity produced by solar panels or wind turbines. This system benefits everyone – there is less dependency on fossil fuel power plants and electricity costs are reduced for owners of photovoltaic systems.

Photovoltaic cells produce electricity by using specially treated materials such as silicon that convert light into power. They can be of almost any size and are suitable for providing electricity for small items such as calculators or watches right up to complete industrial complexes. Because they can be wired together, an array of solar cells can produce enough electricity for residential or commercial needs.

The main requirement, of course, is sunlight. This makes solar power most practical for southern areas such as California and Arizona. But it can also be used in more northerly areas as a backup power system. As the technology advances, photovoltaic cells are able to produce usable amounts of electricity even in low light conditions.

About The Author
Ross McIvar is the leading author of http://www.alternative-energy-guide.com/.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

How to Keep Your Bathroom Looking Showroom Perfect

Those beautiful bathrooms you see in fancy kitchen and bath showroom stores that feature elegant crystal clear glass shower doors, polished fixtures, imported tile and marble always look spotlessly clean. How do they do it?

In your bath at home it's probably a different story. Having unsightly water spots everywhere, like your glass shower doors, walls, fixtures, and mirrors, can leave your bath looking embarrassingly unpresentable all the time.

Well, believe it or not, there is an easy way to keep your bath looking "showroom-perfect" all the time. Best of all, it does not take the employment of a full-time cleaning staff or a huge amount of special effort. The trick is to squeegee the glass shower doors, tile, marble, and mirrors immediately after bathing, while the surfaces and you are still wet. The procedure takes just seconds and helps you avoid a huge cleanup job later. And, secret be known, it's kind of fun ....no kidding!

The only thing you have to remember to do after squeegeeing is to leave the squeegee in the bath so it is handy to reach the next time you need it. I know what you are thinking....isn't leaving an ugly industrial-looking squeegee in the bath kind of like trading one problem for another? No wants to leave an unattractive squeegee in the bath....right? No worry, there is one squeegee which has been specifically designed for the bath and it's a beauty. It is known simply as the Clerét Bath Squeegee. It is very unique in appearance – not the typical t-shape, janitorial-looking squeegees found everywhere – and it almost looks like a statue when stored in the bath because you can stand it on end. Very cool!

Let's talk function: one swipe of the Clerét Bath Squeegee shows why it was awarded the Gold Medal for Design Excellence and selected as Consumer Product Of The Year by the Industrial Designers Society of America. What's really neat about this product is that unlike regular window type squeegees, it has two super-soft wiping blades that work on both flat and textured/contoured surfaces, providing incredible streak-free cleaning. In addition, its clever, compact form allows one to reach difficult corners. And last but not least, it has been ergonomically designed to reduce the strain on the hand and wrist.

So the next time you see one of those fancy bath setups you'll know how they keep everything so clean! AC-0003

About The Author
Al Hansen heads Cleret, Inc., where you can buy the best squeegees for your home, car, boat, and more online. Visit Cleret today at http://www.cleret.com/ to learn more about the squeegees' unique design and to buy a set for yourself or a friend.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Professional Decorating Tips for Fireplace Mantels

Although fireplace mantels were originally used for cooking and heating, contemporary mantels have become the key focal point for setting the decorative style and atmosphere of a room. You can utilize simple accessories to enhance the room, or go all out with themed holiday decorations to transform the entire space for any special occasion.

Paying attention to basic design elements such as color, texture, balance, and size will help pull your decorations together into a beautiful display.

Getting Started

Professional designers often start decorating projects by jotting down ideas for the mood they'd like to create, and then collect an assortment of items to emphasize that style. They might not use everything they've found, but having things on hand means they can play with different combinations until hitting on the best design.

Spend some time considering how you'd like the type of event you'll be hosting. Are you having a flashy black tie cocktail party, or a relaxing springtime brunch? Maybe you'd just like to find new ways to freshen up the everyday look of a room? Either way, remember that different combinations of colors as well as the style (Victorian, modern, retro, country) of items you use will affect the overall mood of your room.

Choosing a Backdrop

To begin, you'll want to select an item to be the focal point of the display. Often this will be a painting or wall hanging that is placed on the wall just above the mantel, or even resting on the mantel. You can even change the focal point to match the occasion or season.

If you'd rather group several paintings together you'll want to only use a few items on the mantel itself to keep things from being overwhelming. The larger the item or grouping the more attention it will draw. A mirror is always a good choice to use as a large backdrop. It not only helps make the room feel larger, but reflects and draws attention to the other pieces you've placed on your mantel.

Don't forget to light your backdrop. Whether you use candles or install spot lighting, you'll want to make sure that the focal point isn't lost in the shadows.

Placement & Shape

The next step is to create a 'path' for the eye to follow, moving from the main focal point down and across the mantel. By using a variety of heights and sizes, and even texture, you can develop an interesting landscape that commands attention.

You can create a symmetrical design by centering one item on or above the mantel, and surround it with a series of identical items on either side. Each half of the mantel is a mirror image of the other. You can also layer items by height, with shorter items overlapping larger pieces. This style is often used to create a sense of formality.

Asymmetrical designs are usually the most popular, as they create a sense of motion by having different items on each side of the mantle. The key to this form is to keep the weight of items balanced visually. For instance you might have two larger objects on one end of the mantel, with a grouping of five small objects on the other end.

A radial design is created by placing objects around a central. The center item, regardless of shape, acts as an anchor. This kind of arrangement is best done similar to a symmetrical format; otherwise it can become too busy.

A layered look with lots of pieces and filler (such as greenery or garlands) works well for fall and winter, but is often too heavy for other seasons. One exception might be if your mantel is located in a large banquet or great room with high ceilings, otherwise keep things minimal by leaving breathing space between items.

Wrapping It Up

Whatever design style you select always be sure to follow safety precautions when using the fireplace. Do not place any items too close to the hearth itself, and use a protective screen to prevent ignition from sparks.

If you don't actually use your fireplace that often try placing decorations below in addition to on the mantel. You certainly wouldn't want a black void to detract from your display. A layered arrangement of white candles and greenery can be stunning for any occasion, but you could also do something as simple as a stack birch logs. Another alternative is to cover the hearth with a painted fireplace screen.

There are hundreds of options to choose from when decorating your mantel, but the same basic principles always apply. Using these designer techniques can help turn a ho-hum room into a memorable space that can easily be changed for any type of occasion.

About The Author
Kristene Markert is a writer and consultant for MissionStone.com; a manufacturer of custom cast stone fireplace mantels that have been featured on numerous home remodeling tv shows.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Home Warranty Doctor Is In!

Would you go to your real estate agent for advice on the stock market? Probably not. While your real estate agent does help you with a different kind of investment – your home – that doesn't make them automatically qualified to give you advice on the latest IPO from Wall Street.

When you want good information you go to the authority. You go to the expert on the topic! Want investment information? See an investment specialist. Got a cough and fever? See a doctor. Want to buy a car? Go to the dealership.

But when you're looking around at many choices, which is the right one to choose? Which one, among your many choices, is the authority on the information you want?

In the home warranty industry it's hard to tell. You type in "home warranty" in a search engine and several companies come up. Who do you choose? Which one will tell you the information you need to make good decisions... and which ones will try to sell you something you don't need?

Here are a few ways to help you discover which home warranty company is the authority on the home warranty industry. Search for home warranty websites and compare them. What do you notice?

Many home warranty companies try to "straddle the fence" and cater to their paying customers AND their service providers AND realtors all at the same time. When push comes to shove, how much of their time are they going to spend on you? (Hint: if only one-third of their website is spent on you there's a good chance that only one-third of their attention is focused on you). How can a home warranty provider be an authority in the industry when they're so busy trying to be all things to all people?

Most home warranty companies tell you what kind of policy you should have. They'll tell you that you need all your ceiling fans covered... even if you don't own any ceiling fans. And they'll make you pay for them. How can a home warranty provider be an authority in the industry when you're the expert on your home... but they're telling you what should be covered?!?

How many home warranty companies provide you with unbiased industry analysis in the form of reports, RSS feeds, and whitepapers to help guide you through the decision-making process? A site that does that is an authoritative site. Met Home Warranty provides homeowners, home buyers, and home sellers with more than just home warranties. Through their authoritative site they provide industry information with current technology, an innovative Design-A-Plan system that caters to your specific needs, and a downloadable PDF whitepaper to help you understand everything you need to know about a home warranty.

So for a new home, go to a real estate agent. For a home warranty, go the industry-leading authority: Met Home Warranty. The home warranty doctor is in!

About The Author
Aaron Hoos writes for Met Home Warranty. Met Home Warranty is an industry-leading authority on home warranties for home owners, home buyers, and home sellers. Their website, http://www.methomewarranty.com, provides information, resources, and a whitepaper.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Water Damaged Carpet, What Can Be Done?

Water damage can come in many varieties, from a spilling a single bucket to a complete basement flooding. How you approach your carpet clean up will also depend on the quality of the water if it is clean water, like rain water, or is it from a sewer backup. Each situation should be evaluated on an individual basis, but here are some general guidelines.

First the obvious try to stop the water at the source to eliminate further damage. Check behind the walls as water may be trapped in the insulation or behind the vapor barrier. Next remove all furniture from the room, lift up the edges of the carpet and remove the uderpadding and discard. Extract as much of the water as possible, try to do this soon as you can, as bacteria and mold can set in quickly. Note – depending on the size and scope of damage it may be worth calling in a professional. After you have extracted as much of the water as possible treat the carpet with a disinfectant. Finally prop up the carpet to let airflow get under the carpet and put fans throughout the room to speed up the drying process.

Unsanitary water has many more health issues and concerns and you must take some precautions. Using rubber gloves and rubber boots is a must. I would recommend calling in a professional technician to handle this type of problem. The damage may not be isolated to just the carpeting it could extend to the drywall, insulation and wood studs. This type of water damage if not handled properly could pose a serious health risk.

About The Author
Randy Heslip is a regular contributor to www.vacuum-reviews-cleaners.com where you can find more information to help you choose the right vacuum for your cleaning needs. Article may be reproduced if resource box is left intact.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Landscaping...How Does Your Garden grow

The landscaping of the exterior areas around your house should be as personal in taste as your interior decoration.

A driveway and garden are usually the first impressions a visitor has of your home. They should always be as trim and well cared for as your house itself.

Naturally, landscaping, like most things, depends on individual taste. Some people prefer a wild, natural look in gardens and outdoor areas. Others prefer the clipped hedges, planned walks, planting and ordered flower borders of the stylized English garden.

Before planning your landscape, check the zoning regulations of your community, if you live in the city. This must be the first step, as many zoning laws determine the limitations on the height of trees, shrubs and other foilage, and their placement. Interior and corner lots often differ in these respects.

The cost of landscaping varies with each house, as does the planning. The location of the house on the property, the size, shape and elaborateness of areas planned for trees, shrubs, lawn and flowers are of course the controlling factors. The larger, more intricate garden naturally cost more than a smaller area.

Here are some good basic pointers to remember when planning your landscaping.

Privacy - Shrubs, bushes, a cluster of trees can serve as screens from adjoining properties, walks, roads and create a park like effect at the same time. Clever landscaping of a patio, terrace or swimming pool adds to their usability and attractiveness, also provides perfect privacy.

Integration - A driveway should be fully blended with the foilage to create an attractive first impression of your property. The proportion of trees, grass, shrubs, bushes and flowers should be carefully balanced with concrete, graveled, asphalt or flagstone driveways to dispense with a paved, sidewalk effect.

Shade - A single, large tree may be a joy to look at, but make sure it does not obscure the house or shade it too much. Plant a tree or cluster of trees at the edge of the lawn, so that you get the most benefit from the shade on hot days. Make sure the trees do not overhang swimming pools or sun patios, and obscure the sun. Also bear in mind that trees near a pool mean falling leaves and debris to clean out of the water constantly.

Levels - A garden on flat land can be planted with little regard to change in grade (level). Some land is not totally flat, so do not overlook grading problems in your plans. However, a garden that has more than one level is more interesting and much more effective designs can be achieved. But, naturally, the cost are higher.

Drainage - If you are designing your own garden before calling in a landscaper, remember to settle the drainage problems first, or discuss it with the expert. You don't want puddles, ruined turf or plants, so settle the drainage system in the beginning.

Basic Planting - Once your design is complete, you have two courses you can follow in the planting plan. If your budget allows you to do the whole planting job at once, the sequence should be as follows: plant trees and shrubs first, then sod or seed your lawn. Should it be neccessary to carry your landscaping over a period of years, plant lawn first, add trees, shrubs and flowers later when you can afford it.

Plans - Your garden requires landscape plans, just as the interior of your home. If you have definite ideas about what you want, and the effect you wish to achieve, draw up some rough plans on graph paper. Then you can discuss the project fully with the landscaper. If you are an amateur gardener and wish to do your landscaping yourself, you will not need a set of plans to determine each area of your property.

About The Author
Lisa French is a freelance writer of home decorating articles and webmaster for Decorating-Country-Home.com. Use of article requires an active link to http://www.decorating-country-home.com/landscaping.html.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shower Tray and Shower Enclosure Installation

Making the decision to install an additional shower in your home takes some careful planning and the first consideration is where you plan to install the new shower unit.

If you are not using the existing space where the bath tub presently resides then the location of the new shower must facilitate the plumbing in order to leverage adequate water flow and waste, otherwise the project becomes two folded as new pipes will have to be installed and routed.

Selecting the right shower tray

Depending on available space and budget there are numerous shower enclosure and shower tray options to choose from. Shower trays come in an array of dimensions from square, rectangular and quadrant for corner units with coinciding shower enclosures to ensure conformity in the bathroom. Purchasing a shower tray made from acrylic filled with heavy weight stone cast resin is one of the best choices, since they are durable and quality produced these trays are free from shrinkage and cracking. Their practical design offers a skid resistance base and provides ample standing room when showering.

Water drainage from the shower tray should also be taken into account at the design stage since the shower tray sits at floor level means the waste hole will need to be recessed. To make the installation less labor intensive it is recommended that you either seek the advice of a professional or hire a contractor to install the primary plumbing.

Keeping in mind when it comes to installing the shower tray it is always best to fit the shower tray first before purchasing the shower enclosure since tiles and sealants can alter the size of the shower tray. Furthermore, never comprise value and quality when it comes to sealing the shower tray. It is extremely crucial to use a watertight sealant around the shower tray; improper application of silicone sealant may cause your shower to leak causing extensive water damage in the bathroom. Also, depending where the shower is located, water can seep through the floor, destroying the ceiling to the room situated below the shower unit which could lead to expensive repairs.

Installing the shower enclosure

Once the shower tray has been installed only then should you choose a matching shower enclosure. Today's top trends in shower enclosures are easy to maintain frameless glass designs and since there is no frame there is less chance of lime scale or dirt build up in these styles of enclosures. Prior to selecting the shower enclosure, make sure proper measurements haven been take to allow for the additional height of the shower tray to balance out with ceiling space, this is extremely important especially if your have a low ceiling. Before the actual installation of the shower enclosure, carefully examine it for solid construction, placing the enclosure on the tray only to later find out there may be design flaws in the unit will lead to double duty and frustration. Testing the enclosure for leaks is suggested, according to shower manufacturers, spay bottle testing is one of the best methods to test for leaks. By simply spraying between the glass and the adjoining frames will determine if in fact there are any water leaks, at which time the unit is returned in exchange for a new one, preventive measures prevent additional work.

Written by Shelley Murphy on behalf of www.victoriaplumb.com an online retailer of bathroom furniture, steam showers, shower enclosures, whirlpool spa baths and bath related products serving the United Kingdom.

About The Author
Shelley Murphy of www.trendmx.com brings with her over 10 years of Search Engine Optimization and e-marketing strategies to web based businesses. Holding two BA's in English and Journalism Communications her writing skills have been a great asset for both onsite writing and monthly newsletters publications.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Entrepreneurial Holiday Guilt for Creative Professionals

Guilt, guilt, guilt. Guilt is a terrible feeling and is often self-inflicted by creative entrepreneurs, especially during the holidays.

Most people who work for themselves say they chose to do so because they wanted to "control their time." People who value time over money, recognize that time is a precious commodity that cannot be created, bought, or borrowed. You have to use it wisely or else it is gone.

Having the luxury to control how, with whom, and where you spend your time is one of the bonuses of working for yourself. So, why is it that an overwhelming number of female entrepreneurs also say they feel guilty when they are not working on their businesses or with a client between the hours of 9 am to 5 pm?

To be truly happy and successful as an entrepreneur, you must break the corporate-created walls of time and learn how to set your day according to your needs and the needs of your clients. There is no law chaining you to your desk eight hours a day between 9 am and 5 pm.

Here's my advice: stop feeling guilty about when you are working and when you are not, and ditch the idea of playing by rules set up by other organizations. Make sure you benefit from the freedoms of entrepreneurship and maximize your time by performing regular activities such as food shopping at off times like 10 am on a Tuesday or having your teeth cleaned at 2pm on a Monday. You will spend less time waiting in line, you will be less stressed, and actually have more time to devote to your clients and other activities, then if you went on a weekend or during a busier time.

Of course, be sure to take a day or two off completely during the holidays to go gift shopping, ice-skating, or for decorating your home. Give yourself permission to enjoy your life and do something for yourself, even if it is on a week day between nine and five. You deserve it.

Happy holidays!

About The Author
Kirstin Carey is the author of "Starving Artist No More: Hearty Business Strategies for Creative Folks". Kirstin knows that most creative professionals hate sales, contracts and discussing money. She consults creative folks on the business side of creativity so they make more money, attract better clients, and love what they do. Get proven strategies and insider secrets to help creative types like you get the business help you need at http://www.MyCreativeBiz.com.

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