How to Get #Solar #Panels For Your #Home (For Free)

Solar panels are no longer a thing of the future. These shiny slabs are appearing on more and more roofs these days, as homeowners are increasingly looking for ways to save money and reduce their carbon footprint. Solar energy can do just that: save you money while helping to save the environment. But installing panels on your roof isn’t always cheap and easy, and in some cases, it may not be possible at all. Here’s what you need to know about getting solar panels for free.

Solar panels installed on a home in California.
Solar panels installed on a home in California. (Image: SolarCity)

How Solar Energy Works

Solar panels work by allowing photons (which are individual particles of light) to knock electrons free from atoms, which in turn generates a flow of electricity. The panels contain all of the equipment needed to convert the light into electricity – and specifically, into the kind of electricity that can power all of the gadgets in your house. The panels are able to store electricity they generate, so that your lights, refrigerator and such will keep on running at night and on days when they’re not exposed to the sun.

Is Your Home a Candidate?

Solar panels can generate power on overcast days, and some models can even work with a light coating of snow. They do need to be installed in a relatively shade-free area, and in the United States, solar panels will invariably be installed on a South-facing roof, as that’s where they’ll get the most sunlight. If you don’t have a south-facing roof – or if the one you do have is perpetually in shade – you may be out of luck. Some homeowners may be able to install solar panels on south-facing walls or even on the ground if there is available yard space. So if you’re lacking a South-facing roof, you’re not necessarily out of luck.

Free Solar Via Power Purchase Agreements

Ready to leap in to the world of solar energy? That’s great, but it can cost $20,000 (or more) to purchase and install solar panels to power the average American house.

That’s if you do it the “traditional” way. The good news: it is possible to get solar panels installed for free.

One of the easiest ways to get no-cost solar panels is to work with a solar energy provider such as SolarCity, which will install solar panels on your house at their own expense, typically with zero investment from the homeowner. The company retains ownership of the panels – and is responsible for maintenance and repair of them – while you agree to purchase solar power from them to power your house. This agreement, called a PPA or Power Purchase Agreement, is offered by a number of companies, including SunRun, Sungevity, SunPower, and RGS Energy.

By entering into a PPA, you’re agreeing to buy electricity from the company at a set rate, so it’s important to note that your electric bill will not disappear. It may be cheaper than what you’re currently paying, as solar rates tend to be lower and do not increase at the same rates as those of traditional electric companies. You also should keep in mind that not all solar systems provide enough power an entire house; if that’s the case, you’ll still have an electric bill to cover the remaining power you require. And any grants and tax credits that may be offered for installing energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly systems like solar panels will generally not be available to you; the solar companies get those benefits, since they retain ownership of the hardware.

Government Programs for DIY Solar

So, what about those grants and tax credits for installing renewable energy systems in your home? Yes, there are some available, though they vary by state. And they are likely not offering enough money to get all of the money back that you’d spend on installing solar panels. A good place to begin your research is on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Web site, Energy.gov. Here, you can search by state to see the tax incentives available to you. Many of these tax credits top out at $1,000, which is helpful, certainly, but not enough to cover the entire cost of installing a solar power system in your home.

Rent or Own?

Another solar panel installation in California.
Another solar panel installation in California. (Image: SolarCity)

 

If you like the idea of owning your solar panels, but don’t have all of the cash up front, you can lease the system. Most of the big names in solar, including SolarCity, SunRun, Sungevity, SunPower, and RGS Energy, offer some type of leasing arrangement. Leasing is very similar to entering into a PPA – you pay little or no cash upfront, but you make a payment every month for use of the system and the power it generates. The solar company generally takes care of all of the maintenance necessary on the system.

If outright ownership of your solar system is what you’re looking for, be prepared to pay. As mentioned previously, installing and maintaining a system of solar panels to power your house can be pricey. Solar-specific loans are available, however, and some homeowners can use home equity loans to pay. The benefit of owning your solar panels is that your energy bills may zero out. And depending on how much you spend on energy each month, that may be payback enough.

Look your best this V-Day with these simple make-up #tips

50957995Valentine’s Day is all about that special, romantic date where you spend quality time with your beloved. While love is all that truly matters on this day, it’s always nice to add an aesthetic touch to the entire affair with subtle make-up.

For a day date, one should keep it subtle and for the night the make-up should be well defined, says an expert.

Manisha Chopra, founder of SeaSoul Cosmeceuticals, has shared make-up tips to woo your date on Valentine’s day.

For the date during day time:

Keep it subtle – Say no to too much foundation, heavy eye shadow or dark lipstick. Stick to basic and nude make-up. Cleanse your face, moisturise it well and instead of a heavy foundation, opt for a light concealer and some matte compact as base.

Add a dash of colour – For a day date, a fresh-as-daisy look with just a pop of colour is ideal. Stick to light, pretty peaches or shades of rose for the lips. If you must, just add a hint of blush in similar hues for a peachy, dewy finish. Steer clear of reds!

The eyes have it – Smear your lids with some nude eyeshadow. Even a white eyeshadow that’s all the rage these days is perfect when blended with a minimal amount of pink. Apply a thin coat of eyeliner and kohl. Nothing too loud or thick.

For your date in the evening:

Define the make-up well – Adding definition to and contouring your face is a must. After applying a good base and dabbing your face with powder to eliminate shine. Contour your face so that your cheekbones stand out.
Soft yet flirty – A cream blush should be your go-to solution this V-Day. Pick shades such as rose and plum that give you a pretty and flush look. Finish the look off with a warm lip colour, preferably in shades of pink.

Enhance those eyes – Unlike the lunch date make-up, your look for the evening should turn the focus on your eyes. Glamorous eyelashes are a must and curling is the way to go about them. Follow this up with waterproof mascara. Smoky eyes or shimmery bronze eyeshadow are ideal for that magical glow.

How to Make the #Healthiest #Coffee

Coffee’s reputation as a pick-me-up is well-established, but its status as a health food is less clear. Is it really healthy? The short answer is “it depends.” Everything from the ingredients you use to your brewing methods can affect the health benefits of your cup. Here’s how to make the healthiest coffee possible – plus a nutritionist-approved recipe – so you can enjoy your brew, guilt-free.
Keep it simple with black coffee for more antioxidants.

Keep it simple with black coffee for more antioxidants. (Image: thesomegirl/iStock/Getty Images)

 

Get Back to Basics

Sure, black coffee’s sugar-free, low calorie content makes it automatically healthier than a cup with lots of added cream and sugar, but serving your coffee without milk offers other benefits as well.

Coffee naturally contains antioxidants – chemicals that fight aging and lower disease risk – that work best when they’re served without dairy, according to a study in Food Chemistry. That’s because the proteins in milk bind to the antioxidant compounds and prevents them from working properly. If you don’t like the taste of black coffee, gradually reduce the milk you put in to wean yourself off and switch to natural flavorings.

Add Natural Flavors to Balance Acidity

The acidity in coffee can cause unpleasant side effects for those suffering from heartburn or GERD. Adding alkaline ingredients, like cinnamon and cacao powder, to your cup neutralizes coffee’s acidity and adds flavor. These mix-ins also offer their own health benefits. They’re both packed with antioxidants, and cinnamon boosts your natural immunity while Cacao promotes heart health and is naturally high in magnesium. Sprinkle them over prepared coffee, or add them to your grounds before brewing.

Tip

  • Cold-brewed coffee, which is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water for several hours, also offers a lower-acid alternative to traditional brews. Learn how to make it here.
Avoid exposure to plastic by brewing in a French press.

Avoid exposure to plastic by brewing in a French press. (Image: RickSause/iStock/Getty Images)

 

Beware of Certain Brewing Methods

The nutritional value of your cup also depends on how it was brewed. Heat and plastic do not mix, and though quite a few brands use BPA-free plastic, many do not. That means your daily cup of coffee could expose you to BPA, a known hormone disruptor. Even plastics made without BPA could contain other hormone-disrupting compounds, which are released into your coffee during brewing.

Try making your coffee in a French press or look for coffee makers that don’t have plastic parts and use paper or gold filters. If you make your coffee using a pod brewing system, look for reusable metal filter pods to avoid exposure to plastic.

Try This Spiced Cacao Coconut Coffee

Replicate the creaminess of a latte by blending your coffee with coconut oil. Coconut oil is naturally rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which boosts your energy and may help with fat loss. This superfood “latte” is also low in acidity, high in flavor, and loaded with antioxidants. All ingredients used are dairy-, soy- and gluten-free.

Things You’ll Need

  •  Organic coffee
  •  1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  •  1/2 teaspoon raw cacao powder
  •  1 teaspoon raw organic coconut oil
  •  1/4 teaspoon reishi mushroom powder (optional)
  •  Blender

Brew a cup of organic coffee and add it to your blender. Add the cinnamon, raw cacao, reishi mushroom powder (if using) and raw organic coconut oil. Blend on low speed for 3 seconds to incorporate the coconut oil. Pour or strain the coffee into a mug.

Warning

  • Prepare each serving separately to avoid overfilling your blender. Vent the lid so that steam can escape, and keep your blender on a low speed setting.

5 #healthy #Indian #teas

Tea and spices — two things we can’t live without yet are forced to part with in summers.

5-healthy-Indian-teas

How about five healthy chai and masala combinations those are tasty and beneficial. Sip on your favourite cuppas without having to settle for bland green teas or staid iced teas.

Cardamom Tea: It could the best way to start your day with. It not only boosts digestion, relieves headache and stomach cramps but also has a cooling effect on body. Diuretic properties of cardamom also make it a great detoxifying agent cleansing the body.

Cinnamon Tea: Very few know that humble dalchini actually has one of the highest antioxidant content among herbs and spices. It also helps you fight cholesterol levels. A report published in Annals of Family Medicine, a reputed medical journal, stated cinnamon consumption resulted in reduced cholesterol levels. You may want to round off your summer lunch with a cinnamon tea.

Saffron Tea: You’ve heard of saffron scented milk, desserts and dishes but how about a kesar chai this summer! Not only is the taste sinfully addictive but The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods lists saffron as a herb with potential health benefits. Apart from imparting unmatched taste to the tea, saffron also has anti cancer properties, antioxidants that can reduce cardiovascular diseases and ability to protect vision cells. Evening snacks will taste a lot better when wolfed down with saffron tea!

Cumin Tea: If summers mean sleeplessness then look no further than cumin tea. These humble seeds known for their sedative properties have a soothing effect on the body. Cumin also helps in absorption of iron from food. Cumin powder mixed with a mashed banana and had at night is actually one of the most popular home remedies to beat insomnia.

Chamomile Tea: There’s no better digestive and soothing ale than chamomile tea. Round off your dinner with cup of this tea known to relieve anxiety and stress. While benefits of green tea are well documented, chamomile tea is fast emerging as the best solution for skin related problems. Cooled chamomile tea bags can be used to reduce dark circle and soothe puffy eyes.