Gunning Daily News

2012 Energy Innovation: Bioheat Lowers Emissions

January 9, 2012 5:32 pm

Energy costs are expected to rise in the New Year, so I went looking for some trendy heat saving tips. The Energy Communications Council is talking a lot about Bioheat, a cleaner burning, renewable product that can be blended seamlessly with the heating oil you already use. It lowers emissions.

The Cape & Islands Self-Reliance Corporation (reliance.org) reports that bioheat works in any regular heating fuel application, like home heating oil equipment, commercial boilers, and diesel generators, without any modifications.

Bioheat burns cleaner than regular heating oil, reducing many air emissions by 15-20%; it reduces the demand for oil; and the environmental impacts associated with drilling, transporting, and refining.

Also, the biodiesel component of bioheat is biodegradable, and bioheat breaks down more quickly than pure heating oil if there is a spill. And according to the Massachusetts nonprofit, burning heating oil produces toxic air emissions like carbon monoxide, particulates, and smog forming compounds.

Bioheat reduces all of these emissions, making the air around your home healthier. That's why organizations like the American Lung Association and the Environmental Protection Agency are strong promoters of biodiesel, so perhaps it is a practical and environmentally-conscious alternative to explore in 2012.

New Survey: Saving Takes Priority for Young Adults This Year

January 9, 2012 5:32 pm

Young adults have made saving a priority this year—ahead of losing weight, living healthier and other typical New Year's resolutions—as financial concerns take a toll on their friendships and personal lives, according to a new survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Ad Council.
The organizations released the results today to coincide with the launch of a new series of public service advertisements on behalf of their national Feed the Pig financial literacy campaign, which helps 25- to 34-year-olds take control of their finances and add saving to their daily lives.

According to the survey, nearly three in four young adults in the Feed the Pig demographic are worried more about personal finances because of today's economy. Asked how those concerns are affecting them, almost half, or 48 percent, said they are socializing less with friends; 38 percent said they are losing sleep; 34 percent said they are distracted at work; and 31 percent said they are short-tempered with family and friends.

The majority want to get on stronger financial footing this year, with 94 percent of 25- to 34- year olds saying they are at least somewhat likely to make saving a priority, more than those who said the same about living healthier, 90 percent, or losing weight, 78 percent. Even so, almost four in 10, or 38 percent, said they have a hard time socking away even $25 a week.

"Young adults, debt laden and savings starved, are literally losing sleep as they struggle to put in place financial foundations to support their ambitions," says Jordan Amin, CPA, chairman of the AICPA's National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, which oversees the profession's financial literacy programs.

"Given the state of the economy over the past couple of years and its impact on young adults today, these tools are an important resource to help them navigate their financial lives. We know that young adults have a hard time saving for their future and that they are living beyond their means," says Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "I am confident the new work in this successful campaign will help ensure they are including regular savings as an essential part of how they manage their money."

Sources: www.feedthepig.org, www.aicpa.org , www.adcouncil.org

Word of the Day

January 9, 2012 5:32 pm

Tax credit. An allowed deduction that can be subtracted from your income tax. If you are entitled to a $1,500 credit, and your income tax would otherwise be $10,000, the credit would reduce the tax due to $8,500.

Question of the Day

January 9, 2012 5:32 pm

Q: Does the seller take the furnishings once the home is sold?
A: Normally. This is because the fixtures – personal property that is permanently attached to a home, such as built-in bookcases or a furnace – automatically stay with the house unless noted otherwise in the sales contract. Anything that is not nailed down is negotiable, including appliances that are not built in, such as washers and dryers.

Raising Money-Savvy Kids

January 6, 2012 5:16 pm

Adults aren’t the only ones making money-smart decisions these days. In fact, the 2011 Free Enterprise National Survey found that 64 percent of high school juniors were interested in starting or owning their own businesses. And, 15 percent of respondents had already started their own business.

Additionally, The 2010 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation's Youth Entrepreneurship Survey found that 40 percent of students between the ages of 8 and 24 would like to start a business in the future, or already have done so.

Do your kids keep asking what they can do to earn more allowance? Do they know how to save up for something they want? You might have a budding entrepreneur on your hands. From setting up a lemonade stand on the corner to creating smartphone apps, kids are learning the ropes of running a business early.

Yet with all this interest in entrepreneurship, few students are getting this information from school. According to the Council for Economic Education, only 15 states require public high schools to offer a personal finance course, and there are no national standards for an entrepreneurial education.
If you have a budding entrepreneur in the family, what can you do to encourage and equip them to take on the challenges of starting and running a business?

Kim Danger, personal finance expert and founder of www.MommySavers.com, says that even if you're not a business-minded person, you can help your child or teen grow in this area.

"It's never too early to start learning about financial matters, whether it's managing their allowances or starting their own dog-sitting service," Danger says. "In addition to talking with them about money matters and being a good role model when it comes to finances, there are some things you can do to help them get some real-world business experiences."

• Take them seriously. If they have an idea for a product improvement or a service they can provide to neighbors, don't dismiss it. Listen to the idea and ask them questions to help them figure out how to make that idea a reality. Even if they don't make a dime, they'll get a boost in confidence and some lessons in planning and critical thinking that will pay off later.
• Don't do too much. It can be very tempting for adults to take over a project and "do it right," but kids need to learn from mistakes, and to take responsibility for decisions and their consequences. Entrepreneurship means facing a lot of challenges that require persistence, patience, determination and creative problem solving. They'll miss out on all those lessons if you do the legwork for them.
• Make sure it's a labor of love. It's one thing to come up with an idea to make some short-term pocket money. But starting a business takes a lot of time and effort, so it needs to be something that they can be passionate about. Starting a pet-care business when they don't really love dogs will not end well.

"Kids have energy, imagination and creativity that could very well lead to the next big idea or make a big difference in their world," says Danger. "All they need is some encouragement from you and they can start creating their own future today."

Word of the Day

January 6, 2012 5:16 pm

Survey. An exact measurement of the size and boundaries of a piece of land by civil engineers or surveyors.

Question of the Day

January 6, 2012 5:16 pm

Q: What guidelines should I follow to find a contractor?

A: Always exercise caution and be comfortable and confident about your final decision. This means selecting a competent and reliable contractor with a track record who can complete the job without hassles or negative consequences. What you can do:
• Get word-of-mouth referrals. Ask friends, family, co-workers and neighbors for the names of established, local contractors in your area; avoid the telephone book.
• Call trade groups. When all else fails, contact local trade organizations, such as the local builder association or the Remodelors Council, an arm of the National Association of Home Builders, for the names of reputable members in your area.
• Associate with licensed contractors. Many states require contractors to be licensed and bonded. Contact your state or local licensing board to ensure the contractor meets all requirements and has a decent record. The Better Business Bureau and the local Consumer Affairs Office can also tell you if any complaints have been filed against the contractor and how they were resolved.
• Conduct interviews. Talk with each contractor, request free estimates, and ask for recent references. When dealing with several different contractors, make sure they’re bidding on similar project specifications and quality of work. Remember, the lowest bid isn’t always the best.
• Check insurance information. Most states require a contractor to have workers’ compensation, property damage, and personal liability insurance. Ask for proof of this insurance and get the name of the insurance company to verify the information and to ensure that all minimum insurance requirements are met. You could be held liable for any work-related injury if the contractor is not covered.

Word of the Day

January 6, 2012 5:16 pm

Tax basis. The price paid for a property plus certain costs and expenses, such as closing costs, legal counsel, and a commission paid to help find the property.

Question of the Day

January 6, 2012 5:16 pm

Q: Are there specific questions I should ask a contractor?

A: According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, sometimes it’s not the responses you get that are important, but what you don’t get. So you should trust your instincts and pay attention to the information that is obviously missing. Nevertheless, here are some questions NARI suggest you ask before signing that remodeling contract:
• How long have you been in business?
• What is your approach to a project such as this?
• Who will be working on the project? Are they employees or subcontractors?
• Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
• Does your company carry workers’ compensation and liability insurance?
• How many projects like mine have you completed in the past year?
• May I have a list of references from those projects?
• Are you a member of a national trade association?
• Have you or your employees been certified in remodeling or had any special training or education?

It also wouldn’t hurt to inquire about how trash removal and clean up will be handled and the times workers will begin and end work – this is not only for your convenience but also for your neighbors, who have to endure the noise and fewer parking spaces that may result from your project.

Rehab Your Place; Taking on Large-Scale Projects

January 6, 2012 5:16 pm

As 2011 turns a new leaf and a new year, I am looking back on some of the best—or most tried and true—consumer advice dispensed during the past year, all while looking forward to some of the top trends and issues expected to top consumers' agendas in 2012.

Picking up on the continuing trend of rehabbing expected in 2012, some great advice on larger-scale rehab projects came our way in 2011 courtesy of the National Park Service’s Technical Preservation Services—the nation's leading provider of information and guidance on the care of vintage/historic buildings.

In exploring the agency’s Standards for Rehabilitation & Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Building we learned:

• Using shutters, operable windows, porches, curtains, awnings, shade trees and other historically appropriate non-mechanical features reduces heating and cooling loads. Consider adding sensitively designed storm windows to existing historic windows.
• Retaining or upgrading existing mechanical systems whenever possible is the way to go. Reuse radiator systems with new boilers, upgrade ventilation within the building, and install proper thermostats or humidistats.
• You can greatly improve energy efficiency of existing buildings by installing insulation in attics and basements. Add insulation and vapor barriers to exterior walls only when it can be done without further damage to the resource.
• In major spaces, seek to retain decorative elements of the historic system whenever possible. This includes switch-plates, grilles and radiators. Be creative in adapting these features to work within the new or upgraded system.
We also learned when renovating a vintage/historic property, design climate control systems that are compatible with the architecture of the building: hidden system for formal spaces, more exposed systems possible in industrial or secondary spaces. In exposed areas, avoid standard commercial registers and use custom slot registers or other less intrusive grilles.

Size the system to work within the physical constraints of the building. Use multi-zoned smaller units in conjunction with existing vertical shafts, such as stacked closets, or consider locating equipment underground, if possible.

Then, maintain appropriate temperature and humidity levels to meet requirements without accelerating the deterioration of any historic building materials. Set up regular monitoring schedules, and have a regular maintenance program to extend equipment life and to ensure proper performance.

To view the entire guide, start by visiting Technical Preservation Services at www.nps.gov/hps/tps.