Gunning Daily News

Streamlining Solar to Your Rooftop

December 12, 2013 11:00 pm

The U.S. Energy Department recently announced eight teams to spur solar power deployment by cutting red tape for residential and small commercial rooftop solar systems. Below are some points to keep you up to date on this key alternative energy development.

As part of the DOE’s Rooftop Solar Challenge, these teams in Broward County; at the California Center for Sustainable Energy; the City University of New York; the Clean Energy States Alliance of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont; the Iowa Economic Development Authority; Mid-America Regional Council (MARC); and Washington State Department of Commerce will receive about $12 million – matched by over $4 million in outside funding – to streamline and standardize solar permitting, zoning, metering and connection processes for communities across the country.

The Energy Department’s Rooftop Solar Challenge is a part of a larger effort to make solar energy more accessible and affordable and position the U.S. as a leader in the rapidly-growing global solar market, according to a release.

The Challenge brings together city, county and state officials, regulatory entities, private industry, universities, local utilities and other regional stakeholders to address differing and expensive processes required to install and finance residential and small business solar systems.

During the Challenge’s first round, 22 regional teams worked to dramatically reduce the soft costs of solar, cutting permitting time by 40 percent and reducing fees by over 10 percent – making it faster and easier for more than 47 million Americans to install solar.

The eight new teams aim to further expand the reach of innovative strategies that are making it easier, faster and cheaper for more homeowners and businesses to finance and install solar systems.

The Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, which runs the Rooftop Solar Challenge, is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade.

For more information, visit www.energy.gov/sunshot.


4 Travel Ideas for Seniors to Boost Their Social Circles

December 12, 2013 11:00 pm

Today, individuals ages 67 and older represent 21 percent of all leisure travelers, according to the United States Travel Association. Whether strolling the streets of Venice or admiring the Grand Canyon, seniors are taking off on enriching and culturally eye-opening travel experiences.

Leisure travel is a great way for seniors to make new connections, from broadening their social circles to meeting other single seniors on solo travel. Below are four ways for seniors to make friends—and memories—during their next trip.

Sign up for a learning tour. Learning excursions offer seniors the chance to expand their worldview while interacting with other tour-goers. Educational travel providers, such as Road Scholar, cater to seniors and facilitate group tours throughout the world.

Take a cultural class. From language classes to cooking lessons, new cultural experiences encourage seniors to step outside their comfort zones and bond with others in the same situation.

Pursue a volunteer program. Volunteer travel offers the chance to make friends while making a difference. Consider a travel agency such as Hands Up Holidays, which offers luxury travel combined with volunteer activities—including teaching, assisting in bakeries or helping with gardening projects.

Match up with a buddy. Some websites can help seniors connect with other folks who will be traveling to the same destination. Mingle Trips, for example, will arrange for travelers to meet a new travel buddy close to home before stepping foot onto the plane.

Source: MySilverAge.com.


Safety Tips for Your Home's Largest Moving Object - The Garage Door

December 12, 2013 11:00 pm

(BPT) - The garage door's role in the home has changed dramatically over the last 30 years and most people don't realize it. Consider this: garage door openers have been installed in 35 million homes across the United States, making them one of the most widely used appliances. In fact, more than 70 percent of today's homeowners use their attached garage as their main entrance to their home.

While the garage door is one of the most convenient aspects of your home, it is also the largest, heaviest moving object in your home. This means homeowners need to ensure it is working safely. Industry professionals estimate that one out of 15 garage door openers lack the latest safety features.

To combat this trend and increase knowledge about garage door safety, the professionals at LiftMaster have announced the "Don't Chance It. Check It. Garage Safety initiative."

Here are some safety tips you can follow to make sure your garage door is safe.

* Safety checks. In 1993, Congress passed legislation that required all new garage door openers sold in the U.S. to come with a set of photo-eyes. These sensors, located near the floor along the sides of the garage door opening, alert the system if anything crosses their path and stops the door from descending further. It's easy to determine if your system is operating properly with a quick 3-Step Safety Check.

First, make sure the photo-eyes have been installed no higher than 6 inches above the garage floor.

Second, block one of the eyes with an object over 6 inches tall and try to close the door. The garage door should not close.

Third, lay an object at least 1.5 inches in height across the door's path and press the button to close the door. The door should reverse upon sensing the object.

"With every seasonal change, your garage remains a hub of activity - from parking your car to extra storage for the holiday decorations or sporting equipment. No matter the season, it is always the right time to instill good garage safety habits," says Lou Manfredini, National Home Improvement Expert. "Start with the door and work your way inside. Participate in LiftMaster's Don't Chance It. Check It. Safety Initiative to make sure your garage is in gear with everything from the door to the floor."

* Keep your garage door in tip-top shape. Garage doors, much like cars and other machines, require maintenance in order to run their best. You can keep your garage door running safely and smoothly by making sure all the moving parts are clean and lubricated, especially hinges and rollers.

* Find the right balance. Ensuring your garage door is properly balanced will lead to safer use. To check the balance, close the door and pull the opener release mechanism, allowing you to maneuver the door by hand. A properly balanced door should lift with minimal effort and stay open 3 to 4 feet above the floor.

* Have a backup plan. Much like the rest of your home, your garage door can also be the victim of bad weather. Severe storms can cut power to your garage, making your garage door useless. A battery backup system available on LiftMaster garage door openers guarantees you another 40 successful up-down cycles.

Source: www.liftmaster.com/garagesafety 


Q: How Do You Clear up Bad Credit?

December 12, 2013 11:00 pm

A: It is not easy but certainly doable with both commitment and time.

By law, any unfavorable information in your credit file can stay there from 7 to 10 years. Today, however, a creditor must remove credit blemishes in a timely fashion if you challenge them and they turn out to be false.

The first step in any recovery plan is to get copies of your credit records. You are entitled to free copies if you have recently been turned down for credit. Otherwise, request copies for a fee from the three major credit-reporting agencies: Experian, (800) 311-4769; Equifax, (800) 685-1111; and Trans Union, (800) 916-8800.

If you see any incorrect information, let the credit reporting agencies know. Also contact the companies that reported the negative claims against you.

If the credit report is correct, move immediately to take care of any outstanding delinquencies, tackling a little at a time until you get back on the right track. In fact, make an effort, if at all possible, to repay your debt in full and on time for six months to a year to prove you are working hard to repair any damage.


Word of the Day

December 12, 2013 11:00 pm

Reserve account. An account for money collected each month by a lender to pay for property taxes and property insurance as they come due.


Design Expert Says Stay Classic: Don't Re-Up – Reupholster

December 10, 2013 10:15 pm

When it comes to furnishings and design trends, I like the classics. Linda Gottlieb, interior decorator with Decor&You points out, however, that no home is just one singular style.

Her latest e-newsletter talks about better integrating re-purposed furniture, and how she coaches people on seamlessly blending all the elements in their home together to achieve a trendy, cohesive space.

Gottlieb says difficulty comes when homeowners try integrating two different styles into one space. People want to keep sentimental items out in the open, but oftentimes end up hiding them in basements or cabinets.

Gottlieb has these tips on blending old and new items together to create a unified style:

Reupholster vintage furniture: Gottlieb says make old furniture look new again by reupholstering the item, or buying a new slipcover. Determine which room to put the reclaimed furniture in, and take design cues from that room to target a new color for the piece.

Organize art: Not all artwork costs thousands, Gottlieb says. Paintings by children can liven a room and add color to a more muted space. One way to display the artwork, while still keeping in sync with the style of the home, is to frame it in a unique way that compliments the room.

Color matters: Gottlieb says no matter which element is introduced to a room - an antique item to add a pop of color to a room, or changing the hue of an older item to fit in with the current theme - all items can fit into a room perfectly, as long as the color does not completely clash.

Restore and reuse: An old cabinet or table can look tired when paint is chipped and the color is dull. Gottlieb says restore old furniture by sanding it down and applying a fresh coat of paint. Add a modern twist and texture with a touch of glitter in the paint, or by finishing the revamp with a bead, shell or button motif.

Source: www.decorandyou.com 


7 Food Myths That May Surprise You

December 10, 2013 10:15 pm

We all enter adulthood with few nutritional guidelines drummed into us since we were kids: whole grain breads are better than white…fat-laden chips should be avoided…and many of them are pretty much true.

But as registered dietitian Samantha Cassetty told Good Housekeeping recently, there are at least seven food fallacies we need to recognize as false:

Fresh is better than frozen – Only sometimes. Flash-frozen foods retain more nutritional value than “fresh” foods that have traveled a long distance or have been on the shelf for days.

Sea salt has less sodium – Not true. Gram for gram, sea salt contains as much sodium as table salt. (However, because of its larger crystals, you may be inclined to use less of it.)

Red wine is good for you – Most doctors agree that a glass of red wine can be beneficial. But the recommendation is “one glass.” More each day can be harmful.

Brown sugar is healthier than white - Brown sugar is simply white sugar that has had molasses reintroduced to it. Because of its molasses content, it does contain minerals – but only in small amounts, so the health difference is miniscule.

100 percent fruit juice is best for you – It’s better than ‘juice blends’ that contain added water and sugar. But better yet, opt for whole fruit over a glass of juice, which has more calories than a piece of fruit and lacks the fill-you-up fiber.

Organic foods are healthier - Organic foods are grown without synthetic flavors, colors, sweeteners, preservatives, and pesticides – and have not been genetically modified. Are they better for the environment? Yes. Are they more nutritious? Not necessarily. The USDA makes no claims that organic foods are healthier.

Dark breads are better for you – Dark breads may simply contain caramel coloring and may be no healthier than white bread. Look for the words "whole grain" or "100 percent whole wheat" on the package, and make sure the first ingredient listed is: whole wheat, oats, whole rye, whole-grain corn, barley, buckwheat, or brown rice.

Brown eggs are more nutritious - The only thing the color of an eggshell indicates is the color of the bird it came from. White hens lay white eggs, and red hens lay brown eggs. Their nutritional value is pretty much the same.


Tips for Keeping your House Warm without Burning a Hole in Your Pocket

December 10, 2013 10:15 pm

BPT—The winter months mean celebrating the holidays, reconnecting with family and friends and planning your resolutions for the New Year. They can also mean a sharp increase to your monthly heating bill in order to stay warm and comfortable. If you're interested in controlling your energy expenses while maintaining comfort, the tips below will help you make sure more of your money is put towards presents than power.

* Close the doors to rooms that are not in use. Most of us remember to turn off the lights in a room we're not using but we rarely shut the door. And we end up wasting energy because of it. Don't waste heat on rooms that aren't in use. Instead, close those doors and allow the heat to circulate within a smaller area. Your furnace will have an easier time maintaining the temperature and you'll notice the benefit on your energy bill.

* Invest in a heat pump. Some rooms are simply too important to keep the door closed all of the time. If it's a child's play area or your office, then chances are you're looking for a way to add a little more heat. Investing in a duct-free heat pump system is the perfect solution.

* Check for cracks and gaps around windows and doors. Today's homes are more airtight than ever before but there is still the potential for cold air to enter your home via your doors and windows. Inspect each of these openings and seal or insulate any gaps you find to prevent the loss of warm air. You should also check for cracks and gaps around the door to the attic and at any locations where outside pipes or cords enter your home.

* Cover your windows. Small cracks or gaps in your windows can create drafts and cold air hits your windows and leaves them cold to the touch, transferring those frigid temperatures inside. Prevent that cold from coming into your home by sealing your windows. This simple procedure takes only minutes and will have a dramatic effect on your heating bill. And don't forget that heavy weight curtains can also help keep drafts out.

* Check your insulation. Many homes, especially older homes, are vulnerable to cold temperatures because they lack sufficient insulation. Insulation is commonly found in the attic but it also exists in any outer wall. If you are concerned your home may be poorly insulated, you can check the insulation levels yourself or you can hire a qualified home energy auditor who will check your insulation as part of his overall energy assessment.

The colder months are coming but that doesn't mean you have to feel it inside your own home. Prepare for winter with the tips included here and you'll be ready to enjoy a warm and festive winter holiday season.


Word of the Day

December 10, 2013 10:15 pm

Report of title. Document required before title insurance can be issued. It states the name of the owner, a legal description of the property, and the status of taxes, liens, and anything else that might affect the marketability of the title.


Q: What Can I Do about Unseen Problems Like Toxic Gases?

December 10, 2013 10:15 pm

A: Problems with your chimney, mechanical devices on your heating appliance, and pressure within the home can all cause combustion spillage, the unwanted flow of combustion gases into your home. Present in these gases are toxic elements such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides.

The best way to prevent spillage is to hire a professional – preferably one who specializes in building inspection, indoor air quality, ducting, chimneys and heating equipment – to do a yearly maintenance check of all your combustion appliances. These appliances include a gas-fired furnace, boiler, or water heater, an oil-fired furnace, boiler, or water heater, and a fireplace.