Home Improvement Ideas for an Energy Efficient Home

Many people think about whirlpool tubs and designer kitchens when they consider a home improvement plan, but there’s increasing interest in energy efficiency as an attractive feature in a home. With gas and electricity prices on the rise and green issues now high on many people’s agenda, energy efficiency can increase the selling price of a home.Improving a home’s energy efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean investing in an expensive solar power system. A few simple changes and improvements can result in more effective use of gas and electricity, and lower monthly bills. Unlike some home improvement projects, making better use of energy is something you can develop over time. The following home improvements can bring substantial savings over a year.Plug leaks and improve insulation.Most homes are poor at retaining heat, and this can get worse as a home shows signs of age. Small leaks and gaps around windows and doors are often the cause of valuable heat loss. Cracks in external walls and loose roof tiles are another common source of warm air escaping.A range of products is available from any DIY store to tackle the problem of losing heat from leaks and cracks around your home. Expandable sealant and weather stripping are cheap to buy and easy to apply. This is a home improvement project you can complete in a weekend. If window frames are beyond basic repair, consider replacing them. Fitting new windows to your home isn’t cheap, but it’s a home improvement project which will deliver returns on the investment.Look at energy efficient lighting.Incandescent light bulbs are being phased out in some countries as they use so much energy. Modern compact fluorescent bulbs and light emitting diode bulbs are just as bright, and use around seventy percent less energy. Switching to energy efficient bulbs throughout your home can be expensive, but the savings on electricity bills will soon cover the initial costs.Lighting is one of the main uses of energy in most homes, and it’s worth looking at how you light each room and what the room is actually used for. It’s possible to make better use of natural daylight in some rooms, and there may be very little need for light bulbs. Painting rooms in pale colours and clever use of mirrors can make a room appear might lighter.Introduce some alternative energy.Solar panels have fallen in price in recent years, and installing a basic solar energy system is cheaper than many people believe. There’s a misconception that a home has to be a in a warm climate to make use of solar energy, but daylight rather than bright sunshine is all that’s needed. If you have a south facing roof and live in an area with good daylight hours, you have the potential to generate some electricity from the sun. You can start with just a few solar panels and build up a system over time.Green and renewable energy technology is developing at a rapid pace, and geothermal energy is becoming a practical option for home heating. A geothermal heat pump can be used to heat or cool your home and supply hot water. A small wind turbine is another option for creating some green energy for your home. Anything you can do to reduce your home’s reliance on traditional energy sources will save you money and make your home more attractive to most potential buyers.Make use of technology.Intelligent thermostats and smart meters are now commonly available, and they can deliver significant savings on your home energy bills. Most families waste around twenty to thirty percent of the energy used at home, and modern technology can help you to understand this and make better use of the gas and electricity you are paying for.

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What Is Pop Art? Contemporary Artists

Over the past five decades Pop Art has necessarily evolved alongside of mass media and popular culture. Original artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselman brought art out of stuffy, high-end galleries and made it accessible to everyday Americans. Since then, Pop Art has experienced various waves of popularity. During the 1980′s, a style developed called Neo Pop Art which featured pop icons, animal figures and contained embedded psychological evaluations. Today, three contemporary artists are redefining this art form with vibrant colors, bold outlines and playful themes.Few realize that before Carlos A. Navarro became a celebrated artist, his original career path was in the corporate world. After years of spending long workdays in what he refers to as “too structured” of an environment, Navarro left the business world to rekindle his passion for art. In 1992 the artist was approached by a family friend who offered him work painting a mural for a hotel on South Beach. Although the job eventually fell through, Navarro had already developed various sketches, and decided to commit them to canvas. This was the humble beginning of what has developed into a phenomenal career. His work is a fusion of traditional Pop Art with Miami, Cuban, and other contemporary influences. His pieces have been featured in the Smithsonian, as well as various exhibitions and festivals.Tim Rogerson describes his own work as a “jigsaw puzzle of color to form an image.” Long recognized as a rising star in Pop Art, Rogerson is best known for his vibrant and detailed renditions of common Disney characters. This artist attended the prestigious Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. He majored in Illustration, and was awarded the 2003 Best Artist Award, as well as the 2003 and 2004 Best of Ringling Award. When recalling his experience at the art school, Rogerson said “I was a very traditional art student and explored all the works from the old masters to modern art.” Since graduating in 2004, Rogerson has contributed his artistic abilities everywhere from SS Designs to Disney. His style has been called prolific and inimitable. He is now considered one of the best Pop Art artists in the world.Romero Britto began his career in Recife, Brazil. He grew up among eight brothers and sisters and had an extremely humble childhood. However, his innate creativity allowed him to fill his life with vibrant colors and images. Many of Britto’s first projects are little known, but led to his discovery and notable mark on the art world. He is a pop culture phenomenon who’s depiction of exultant and joyous figures have brought smiles to the faces of millions. When questioned about his inspiration for his work, Britto replied “I believe that every human being should try to do good for someone else. There are so many different ways to do it. My art can be an instrument for helping people… What a good feeling – that I can do that with my art…” He is one of the most iconic Pop Art artists of the past decade.Together, Romero Britto, Carlos A. Navarro, and Tim Rogerson are forging a new style of Pop Art. They have definitively broken with the Pop Art of Warhol, Lichtenstein and Wesselman, and have instead created a more contemporary and widely attractive identity. However, they have preserved the original intent of making art more available to the masses. These artists have blurred the line between art and retail design, as they have licensed gift collections, house wares and jewelry. Their use of sharply contrasting colors and playful themes has garnered public adoration, while demanding the respect of the high-end art world.

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Using High Deductible Health Insurance Plans to Lower Cost of Health Insurance

Everyone knows that health insurance costs in America are rising at unsustainable rates, and many are looking for ways they can save. High deductible health plans (HDHP) are often overlooked when searching for health insurance. It’s a shame this is the case, because HDHPs can be a great way to save money on monthly premiums and can provide similar protection as other cadillac plans.Let us first take a closer look at what a high deductible health plan is and how we can define it. The basic concept of an HDHP is by having a high annual deductible, one can purchase a plan with a low premium because of more exposure to health care costs. High deductible health plans must meet a minimum deductible dollar amount to qualify, and there must be a maximum dollar amount which the maximum out-of-pocket expense may not exceed. In Virginia, many health insurance companies have these high deductible health plans set up so the maximum out-of-pocket is nearly the same as their most expensive plans. A lot of times, health plans with lower deductibles and countless benefits will have a coinsurance rate after the deductible is met, where you pay that percentage of the health care cost until you reach the maximum out-of-pocket. Many high deductible health plans in Virginia are without coinsurance, which allows the out-of-pocket maximum be the same for the various health insurance plans. If you can live without some benefits of the cadillac plans, HDHPs can protect you from the catastrophies equally as well while keeping money in your wallet.Another area to explore regarding HDHPs involves Health Savings Accounts (HSA). An HSA is a monetary account through an insurance company, bank, credit union, or investment company where you can place money into and watch it grow with interest. In order to set up an HSA, you must have an HDHP, as the two go hand in hand with each other. The account must be qualified as a health savings account, and any contribution made to the account can be written off as an expense for tax purposes. Therefore, if you need to withdraw money from your health savings account for a medical expense, you can pay that expense with pretax dollars and write the procedure off as an expense.High deductible health insurance plans can be a valuable alternative to a standard health policy. When coupled with a health savings account, you can use pretax dollars to pay for medical expenses to relieve some of your tax burden. HDHPs generally always have lower premiums than health plans loaded with benefits you may not need. By using an HDHP, you can be protected from catastrophic events and lower the cost of your health insurance.

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