10 Things You May Not Know About Solar Power

1. Solar power is the most abundant energy source on Earth.
Every hour, more solar energy hits the earth than all of humanity needs for an entire year. Solar panels harness this clean energy source by using photovoltaic cells.
2. You can use solar power to run your entire home.
It’s a cheaper, safer, and green solution to running air conditioners, hot water heaters, appliances, etc.
3. Solar power has a long history
The potential to harness solar power was first discovered in 1839 (a year after the first coal fired power plant was built) by Alexandre Edmond Becquererl. He found how to create an electrical current in a conductor that was hit by the sun rays, in other words, the photovoltaic effect. The creation of modern silicon photovoltaic cells was completed in 1954 at Bell Labs. Since then, the efficiency has increased more than four times, while the price has decreased significantly!
4. Solar is the world’s most popular form of new electricity generation
Due to decreased cost and increased efficiency, solar has quickly become the preferred new electricity generator. More than 73 gigawatts of new solar power was installed in 2016!
5. Solar power produces no pollution
Apart from the pollution given off during manufacturing, solar power is one of the cleanest, most sustainable, and most renewable resources in the world. However, not all panels are created equal. SunPower panels are the only solar panels to have achieved a Cradle to Cradle certification, meaning the panels are manufactured in the most sustainable, ethical way possible.
6. Solar power improves world health
The burning of fossil fuels creates toxic pollution, which has an impact on global health. Pollution affects as many people as HIV or malaria, and has serious consequences on children, older adults, and all living plants and animals. Solar power reduces the amount of fossil fuels used, meaning less pollution is going into the air, and into our lungs.
7. Solar panels can increase your home value
Initial studies have shown solar panels can increase your home value an average of $20,000, a higher payback percentage than a kitchen remodel.
8. Solar can help lower electric bills
Depending on where you live in Texas, you may be able to take advantage of net metering (your system is hooked up to the electric grid and you sell back excess energy you produce). If you decide to finance, there is a possibility your monthly loan payment will be less than your average electric bill. Solar can help you save money from day one!
9. Solar systems come with a warranty
Most solar systems come with a warranty. The warranty we offer at SunPower by Freedom Solar is a 25 year warranty on product (guarantees the quality of the system), 25 year warranty on service (repair or replace defective panels) and 25 year warranty on power (guarantees highest power production).
10. You don’t have to buy solar panels outright
There are multiple ways to afford solar, you don’t have to pay cash to reap the benefits. Low interest loans are available to solar system owners, as well as other financing options.
By: Freedom Solar
Contact them for the latest info!

An Inspiring Letter From Celebrity Kim Lewis

Hey Everyone!
What is ‘ethical design’ really?
Well, I say it is an art form of design that goes far deeper than the surface. As a designer, I remember that moment in my career when I questioned whether or not my work really mattered. How does it leave a positive impact on the world? How can I use my work to help people? How do I “create with purpose?”.
A few short months after leaving ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition“, I found myself in a van on a red dirt road in Ghana, West Africa. Pencil in hand, volunteering with my team; in a 3 day journey to Kumasi, we drew an art therapy center for children who had been rescued from trafficking. We saw firsthand how creativity can empower lives and awaken souls.
The art center was such a success another non-profit asked us to design one for girls who had been rescued from sex trafficking in Cambodia. A year later, I found myself in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Renovating a tiny boat outside of Battambang, the art center offers just enough space to transform bruised souls, inspiring confidence and worthiness through a crayon.
Ethical design is a choice, and one we all have the power to make. Whether you travel overseas to create, or you’re right here spreading your gift in the industry, you have the power to change lives through design!
After being the Production Designer for several television shows, I found myself on FYI’s “Tiny House Nation”. Cramming a dining table, stairwell and pantry into 90 SF on paper, I was intrigued, challenged, and for the first time, drawing a house I could see myself living in.
Two years later, and I just moved into my own tiny home, with my new husband and an 80 lb lab puppy. It’s a lifestyle you may or may not choose for yourself, but I’m excited to share honestly how it’s been. “The good, the bad, and the ugly,” as ‘they’ say…
With our local “Community First! Village” and tiny home initiatives around the country spreading like wildflowers, I’m excited to make you a believer. My hope is to challenge you to see this tiny home ‘trend’ as another way to foster ethical design choices for our community and nation.
If you’re a skeptic of tiny homes, come sit on the front row of my seminars at the Austin Home & Garden Show, Jan 13 & 14 at the Palmer Events Center. Click here for appearance schedule!
Can’t wait to see y’all there!
Be inspired,
Kim Lewis

Ready to get outside the season, but don't want to fight the mosquitos?

We know, you have tried it all! And you have bathed in OFF and NOTHING WORKS… UNTIL NOW!
Mosquito Shield can give you several reasons why they’re the leader in residential tick and mosquito control, but the real vote of confidence comes from their customers. Over 90% of Mosquito Shield® and Tick Shield® customers repurchase season after season. To help bolster that confidence, only Mosquito Shield and Tick Shield carry an unconditional satisfaction guarantee. Something we’re happy to say mostly collects dust.
With that said, several things clearly set them apart:
• Their proprietary Mosquito Protection Blend™ (MPB) is the product of over 15 years of continual research and development — more than any other mosquito control company of whom they’re aware. And, they’ve enlisted the help of leading companies like Bayer to assist in the testing of our products to help ensure their impact and effectiveness.
• Mosquito Shield and Tick Shield provide provide your property with multiple modes of control working to both kill harboring mosquitoes, no-see-ums, black flies and other flying insects as well as ticks, while simultaneously repelling airborne insects and working to prevent new infestations within the treated perimeter.
• Mosquito Shield and Tick Shield were the first to provide customers with flexible treatment schedules that help to improve results during seasonal periods of mosquito breakouts or peak populations. They don’t sell treatments because a single treatment simply doesn’t work. By monitoring the weather and mosquito population, they are able to provide a worry-free, season-long solution.
• State-of-the-art routing software enables them to deliver on their flexible treatment schedules and better serve and communicate helping to improve operating efficiencies and satisfaction. Meanwhile, their sprayer equipment may look similar, but it too has been engineered to deliver product more effectively and efficiently while Mosquito Shield and Tick Shield technicians receive more training. Their technicians aren’t just trained on how to properly apply the product, but also on mosquito and tick behavior and species identification, helping to improve the overall service they provide to their customers.
Come learn more by stopping at booth number 207 at the Austin Spring Home & Garden Show, March 24-26 at the Palmer Events Center!

Come see Pete Nelson, the Treehouse Expert, at the 2014 Austin Fall Home & Garden Show!

Pete Nelson, the Treehouse Expert as seen on Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters”, is the visionary, tree-loving head honcho (and creative genius!) of Nelson Treehouse & Supply. Pete will talk about building treehouses safely and his experiences on the show. His treehouses have been featured on numerous national TV shows and newspaper articles and has been dubbed “The Treehouse Man.” Pete eats, sleeps and breathes treehouses!
Azzanarts will also be building an custom tree house at the entrance of the show!

Keep it cool, keep it efficient and keep it affordable!

Austin, TX is known for having a laid back attitude, “keeping it weird”, amazing BBQ, local music and hot summers. The summer has started and we are well on way to hitting triple digits. When you aren’t at the lake or at the pool, cooling down indoors is vital to surviving the heat. How do you stay cool and keep your home’s energy bill down?  Here are ten tips to save and beat the summer heat:

  1. Getting an AC tune-up is not just a suggestion.  It is important to keep your system properly maintained so that it doesn’t struggle in the peak summer months. You can save up to 20% on your cooling bills just by having your air conditioning unit serviced twice a year.
  2. Check for leaks in your homes’ duct-work. Leaky duct-work waste 20-40% of your heating and cooling energy.
  3. Weatherization isn’t just for the winter months. Adding “green” insulation and sealing air holes in between door and window transitions help cool air from escaping and warm air entering the home.
  4. Upgrade to “Energy Star” products. Old appliances and equipment are “energy hogs”; they waste money and valuable resources.
  5. Take advantage of rebates on efficiency improvements from the City of Austin to reduce your expense on upgrades.
  6. Be sure that your AC unit is properly sized. Get assistance from an energy auditor or air conditioning contractor.
  7. Keep your ventilation clean. The dirtier they are, the harder your AC system needs to work. Switch from disposable filters to reusable air filters. Disposables are excessive, expensive and fill up the landfills.
  8. Shorten your showering time and follow with a cool rinse. It will be refreshing and you could save 2.5 to 10 gallons per each minute you reduce!
  9. Turn on ceiling fans or room fans. This helps circulate air movement and contributes in cooling the room so that you can set your thermostat higher.
  10. Stay hydrated! If your body temperature is cooler you won’t need to have the thermostat set so low.

Don’t let the cost of the summer heat ruin your summertime fun! Keep your home cool and energy bill low. Call the experts at Affordable Air Conditioning and Plumbing to sign up for a Maintenance Membership to save on tune ups, repairs and service. And remember, “Keep it cool, keep it efficient and keep it Affordable!”

A Home & Garden Tip From Goodness Grows in Austin

(Owner: Heather McLean)
“An empty space is just a place, waiting to become.” Often an unused corner of your property can provide a whole new perspective and we can create a separate garden room. These raised planters provide the perfect environment for our client to grow fresh flowers, herbs and veggies.