Solar Panels: Great for you pocket and the environment

You may have seen the price of solar panels and winced at the sheer amount they can cost. We understand that they may not be for everyone, as the initial outlay can be quite high, but there is a huge range of costs that span from a slight reduction in reliance on your energy supplier to completely removing all need for one, even selling electricity back to the grid. Not only are they a great long term investment for your finances, but for the environment as well. As the world undergoes a complete overhaul of their energy generation infrastructure, every little helps. As a country and an entire planet, we are trying to reduce the amount of fossil fuels that we burn, and trying to increase our numbers in renewable generation. Read through this article and find out why your next investment should definitely be on solar panels.

Let’s talk prices

The make or break of any investment: the initial cost. How long will it take to see your initial ROI? Well here’s your answers.

The amount you spend on solar panels will all depend on a few variables. These include:

  • What percentage of your electricity usage do you want to generate?
  • How much space do you have on your roof?
  • How much electricity do you consume per year on average?
  • Do you need coverage for overnight/low light usage?
  • What is the peak live usage in your house?

If you are only wanting to remove a slight amount of your reliance on your energy supplier, then you won’t be looking at an absolutely giant investment. The benefit of doing it this way, too, is that you can gradually build up your arsenal of solar panels, spreading the outlay out over time. If, however, you are looking at completely removing your reliance on the national grid, you will definitely be looking at a quite sizeable sum.

Here’s the general pricing grid for a standard monocrystalline silicon solar panel system:

System sizeAnnual outputRoof spaceCost
1 kW850 kWh8 m2£2,500 – 3,200
2 kW1,700 kWh14 m2£3,200 – 4,800
3 kW2,550 kWh21 m2£4,000 – 7,000
4 kW3,400 kWh28 m2£6,000 – 8,000

Source: expertsure.com

How to choose a panel system

Scenario 1 – cheap option

In this scenario, you only want to remove a small portion of your energy supplier reliance by generating a little of your own electricity. In this case, you’ll most likely only need a 1kW system. Generally, this will give you an annual output of around 850kWh, which is 27.4% of the average electricity bill. If you are paying £500 for your electricity normally, this would mean that you save £137 per year, making your annual bill £363.

If you have given an initial outlay of £2,500 for your solar panel system, this would mean you would see your first ROI after 18 years. The following 18 years would give you £2,466 in return.

If you are only removing partial reliance on your energy supplier, you will still need to be connected to the national grid at all times. This is due to the fact that you will only be running a 1kW system. In real time, you will generally use more than this through your general appliances, especially if you have multi, high usage appliances switched on simultaneously.

Scenario 2 – expensive option

In this scenario, you want to remove complete reliance on your energy supplier by generating 100% of your electricity through solar panels. In this case you would most likely need a 4kW system. This will cost you around £6,500 and will give you around 3,400 kWh of electricity per year. This is around 110% of the average household consumption. Because you are completely disconnecting from the national electricity grid, you are going to have to prepare for times of low light, like through the night. In order to do this, you will need to purchase a storage battery that will store excess electricity for you to use in times of low light. For a 6 kWh battery, this will cost you around £2,800, which brings your initial investment up to around £9,300.

If your usage is 3,100 kWh of electricity, you’re probably wondering what you are going to be able to do with the other 300 kWh? Well, you can actually sell them back to the national grid through the Government’s ‘Feed-In Tariff’. For a 4kW system at ‘medium rate’ you are going to make 3.66p per kWh, which means you’d earn roughly £11 per year, which isn’t a great deal, but it all goes towards seeing your ROI that bit quicker.

As such, with all the above included, if you were paying £500 per year for your electricity before, with the 300 kWh sold back to the grid through the Feed-In Tariff, you would be saving £511 per year, which would mean a ROI after around 18 years, thereafter seeing £10,220 ROI in the following 20 years.

When Is Term Life Insurance Better Than Paying Off a Mortgage?

Taking on a mortgage is an expensive undertaking, but it’s one that has its rewards. Owning a home gives people the opportunity to live out their dreams of having their own place to live, raise their family in a neighborhood that reflects their values, and live a lifestyle that could never be achieved in a condominium or apartment. Except the cost of homeownership isn’t cheap and having two incomes is better than one when it comes to making sure all of the bills get paid. In turn, that generates the thought of what might happen if one spouse passed away before the mortgage is paid off. One obvious solution is to get mortgage life insurance, but that may not be enough.

Mortgage life insurance is an excellent product that’s used to pay off the mortgage in the event that a spouse dies, but that’s all it is. It doesn’t cover anything other than the remaining balance on the mortgage. And if the family left behind is of school age, there won’t be any extra money for them to go to college. Nor does the spouse gain a benefit in the form of lost wages being covered to a degree. This is where term life insurance is far more beneficial in that it’s flexible, can be taken out in an amount higher than a mortgage, and provide money for those who survive.

Take the Health IQ quiz below to learn more about why term life insurance is a better option for paying off a mortgage when a spouse passes away.

About Health IQ

HealthIQ’s mission is to improve the health of the world. In pursuit of this mission, they’ve created over 2,000 Health IQ quizzes and worked with innovative insurance companies to create financial rewards for health conscious people. To date, Health IQ has helped thousand triathletes, vegans, runners, and other health conscious people secure billions in life insurance coverage, and they hope to expand to other financial rewards in the near future. Speak with a Health IQ agent to learn more about Health IQ’s life insurance product, which offers special rates for health conscious people.

 

How to Find Good Deals Online

The internet has made it easier than ever to find the kind of bargains you used to have to spend hours rooting around malls and second-hand shops to discover. Here are some tips to help you get the most bang for your buck and dodge some of the tricks online retailers might try to play on you.

Let Your Cart Simmer

If you see something you like the look of on a website, stick it in your online shopping cart and then leave the site alone for a day or two. The website may register your interest in the product but also believe your delay in purchasing might mean you’re looking elsewhere for a better deal. With any luck, there’s a decent chance a promo code or voucher will show up in your inbox to try to make you follow through with the purchase.

Stay on Twitter

Twitter is stalked by some of the most voracious bargain hounds on the internet. To keep you main feed uncluttered, considering opening a second account to follow sharp-eyed users as they let the world know about the latest deals and flash sales. A flurry of specifically hashtagged tweets showing up together may mean that there’s a sale on the subject matter going down.

Barter In-Store

If you’re in a shop browsing for an item, particularly one of high value, see if you can manoeuvre into a conversation with the manager where you show him there’s a better deal online. It’s their job to hit sales targets and free bonus slots, so with a little tact and charm, you may find the shop prepared to give you a discount to match the list price.

Check Free Shipping

While free shipping is great, don’t automatically assume that you’ll be making a net saving on the cost of your purchase. Some places may charge for shipping but still have the product at a cheaper price to make a bigger overall saving.

Snuggle up to Your Favourite Brands

If you’ve got a brand you’ve always been crazy about, consider bookmarking it, adding them on social media and signing up to their mailing list and uk slots.That way you’ll be the first to hear about surprise sales both on and off the line, and might be the recipient of loyalty awards like coupons and discount codes.

Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

If you live in a fancy or well-off area, you may be hindering your chances at finding the best deals. Businesses will use online telemetry to find out your IP address and zip code, which could work against you if they flag your location up as being affluent. They may, therefore, increase the prices on their site when you visit that location. A permanent solution is to run your browsing through a VPN to confuse tracking software. Or a simpler solution might be to compare prices when browsing from work or at a friend’s house.

Clear Your Browser

Websites will track your attendance and browsing behaviour through cookie software installed in your computer’s cache. This can lead some companies, say an airline, to bump up prices if they see you shopping for the same destination flight over a sustained period, increasing the price to match what they see as the degree of need on your end. Similarly, prices may be lower for customers they view as browsing the site on an introductory basis to get their repeat custom. Either shop in a private browser session where surfing data gets wiped after you close the window, or simply clear your history in between shopping sessions.

When Should You Call an Interim Manager?

It’s not uncommon for businesses to run into problems they don’t have the institutional knowledge to solve. Sometimes this is a natural evolution that leads to a growth of the business and its operational capacity. The rise of the IT department is something that has happened within living memory. It required businesses to take a risk, employing full time staff who were specialists in a new field, and sinking resources into equipment and training. The result of this, however, was increased efficiency; better problem-solving capacity; and now it’s impossible to imagine any business of any size without an IT support team.

Similarly, absorbing new expertise is part of the growth of a business. Start-ups and small businesses often make do without full time HR staff. This works as long as you have a small number of employees and can extend them flexibility in return for commitment to a growing business. Once you start to grow, processing payroll can be too much for an overstretched founder to handle, quite apart from tracking holidays and staff sickness. It makes sense as a business grows to transition into having dedicated HR staff to handle that side of a business for you, and is part of the foundation for future expansion and success.

Sometimes, however, businesses face a problem that doesn’t justify taking on new full-time staff. A project failing or overrunning, or an urgent to break into a new market represents an acute need, rather than a chronic one.

It’s in situations like these, when you need a short term dose of additional knowledge and resources, that Interim Managers are a good idea for your business. Experienced in adapting to business needs quickly, they are a solution that’s available immediately, and provides practical support rather than the recommendations you would receive from a traditional consultant. If you have a failing project you need to turn around, an Interim Manager wouldn’t simply make recommendations about how to bring it under control, they would work closely with you and the project team as a project manager.

As long as you have a quantifiable aim in mind like increasing your revenue by a set amount, or facing a particular crisis, an Interim Manager is a good solution for your business. If you have more diffuse goals like broad improvement or simply ‘growth’ without figures attached to these aspirations it’s unlikely the practical skills of the Interim Manager can help.

Professional Support Every Musician Needs

Being a professional musician is a difficult path. It’s a long journey from playing small pub gigs for nothing more than the joy of playing to a crowd to building enough profile that you can support yourself on your musical earnings.

On the way to this dream, you’re going to need support from some professionals to keep youself safe and avoid some of the pitfalls that are waiting for you in a creative career. Fortunately, lots of professional bodies, charities and other organisations exist to make sure you get the support you need to navigate this difficult world.

Union Dues

If you work regularly as a musician you may wish to join the Musician’s Union.  As well as being a good hub to connect musicians with resources like rehearsal space, tuition and of course each other, they also ensure good standards throughout the music industry. If you’re being forced to work extra hours without overtime pay, for example you can appeal to the union for representation and advice.

They also campaign about issues affecting musicians. For example, the Musician’s Union is campaigning for better provision for musicians traveling on airlines with their instruments.

Lawyers

While no one wants to encounter legal problems, being self-employed and working for many different clients means the possibility to run into difficulties are multiplied. If you have a contract to sign that you are uncertain of, run into the problem of non-payment for your services or need to protect your intellectual copyright, you may need to consult a music lawyer.

Lawyers who specialise in performer’s issues are available, or you may wish to use a less specialised lawyer who you already have a relationship with. Using an online lawyer rather than a high street firm can help you keep costs down by making sure you only pay for the service you need, rather than a whole hour’s appointment. Reading and advising on a contract before you sign it likely be a quick job, and using a lawyer who will only charge you for the time taken puts this service in your reach and makes it more financially justifiable.

Other support can be found through ISM, the professional body for musicians. Even if you’re not sure what sort of help is appropriate for you, joining and making contact with ISM gives you access to people who can identify who can help you, and connect the two of you.

Thank EU for Cheaper Roaming

The day has recently arrived. After years of phased of reductions, and gradual moves, on the 15th of June, roaming charges were banned across the EU, so you can use your phone in any EU country without paying additional charges for calls or data. You just pay the standard amount you would at home.

This is a huge boon to business travellers and holidaymakers, but there are some hidden strings attached you need to be aware of to make sure your bill holds no nasty surprises at the end of your trip.

Switzerland isn’t in Europe

Check your destination before you travel. Some countries are geographically very much in Europe, but not part of the European Union or the European Economic Area. This means they aren’t bound by the EU ‘Roam Like at Home’ legislation that has abolished roaming charges, and if you stray into them, you’ll be subject to big fees for using your phone.

It’s a confusing area, as different countries have different relationships with the EU even when they aren’t in the Union. For example, France, Germany and Italy are in the European Union and so you can use your phone there without any penalty. Norway isn’t in the EU, but the agreements that allow it to trade with the EU mean it has to accept many of the EU’s regulations, including ‘Roam Like at Home’.

Switzerland, meanwhile has a series of bilateral agreements allowing it work with the EU (fortunately, as it’s surrounded by the Union at every border), but which don’t oblige it to work accept every EU regulation so trying to use your data there will see you hit with big charges.

Similarly the Isle of Man is a British Crown Dependency, and near the geographical centre of the British Isles, but it’s independently governed, and sits outside the EU. This makes it popular as a banking hub but also somewhere you can’t use your phone without additional charges.

If you’re traveling and aren’t certain your destination is in the EU, check with your network provider to find out their policy on charges for that country, to make sure you are getting the best deal.

And if you find yourself in need of extra airtime when you’re traveling you can use a secure overseas top up service like Senditoo to get the extra credit you need, wherever you are in the world.

Renewable Residences – How To Build A Sustainable House

In 2015, a record breaking number of homes was built in Sydney. The number of new buildings reached 30,191 and the trend was repeated in other areas. Unfortunately, however, Australia is dealing with a major housing shortage right now. So, there are questions about whether this accelerated rate of construction is even viable.

Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that a record number of these builds can be categorised as ‘energy efficient’. This describes high performance, low impact properties which incorporate eco-friendly designs and features. According to environmental experts, they are the future of our cities – and if you are thinking about building a home, they should be your model, too.

This guide to the key principles of green architecture and construction will tell you a little more about these eco-friendly builds.

Capturing The Sunshine

Of all the groundbreaking green technologies on the market, solar panels are the most easily accessible to homebuilders. For instance, AGL offers solar panels without any upfront costs. The price of installation is spread over two or five years so that you can pay for the product with the money that solar energy is actively saving for you.

Solar energy is a great idea when building a green home because it doesn’t have to cost you anything, as the money spent on solar panels is recouped. Plus, you can easily harness the full force of the sun just by positioning the property in the right way. South facing homes are 25% warmer, simply because they benefit from passive solar heat.

Staying Insulated

So, you’re getting all of this amazing energy and warmth from the sun. You want to hold on to it, right? Well, you need to make sure that your home is fully insulated. This is essential for all year round energy conservation – and for your comfort, too. Properly insulated windows and doors trap heat inside during winter and regulate its entry in the summer.

As building experts are fond of stating, no amount of solar panels can improve your green credentials if you’ve got leaky window frames. Invest in double glazing and install fibreglass insulation throughout the attic to minimize lost energy. This is how you squeeze maximum value out of your solar technology and make every kilowatt count.

Shrinking Your Footprint

One of the easiest ways to shrink your impact on the planet is to, simply, build a smaller home. Now, this isn’t always the most popular of ideas, but it is a highly logical one. Smaller properties take up less physical space, leave more of the ground intact, and cost substantially less to heat, light, and maintain.

While nobody is suggesting that you live in a shed, the reality is that most homes contain wasted space. There are rooms that never get used, but they’ve still got to be cleaned and powered. In the long run, it is not economically sound to pay for space that you don’t really need. Don’t forget that your taxes will be smaller with a more compact place too.

Using Recycled Resources

It’s a great idea to try and use as many locally sourced resources as possible. This provides support to local manufacturers and producers. It also shrinks the impact of their use, because you’re not paying for trucks to deliver materials halfway across the country. If you do your research, you can probably source recycled stone, timber, glass, and other materials.

In summation, for those who are serious about green construction, it is recommended to work with an architect who is familiar with this type of building. They will be able to point you in the right direction as regards viable materials, affordable, resources, and innovative construction techniques. It is worth investing in expert advice if it’s going to help you create your dream home.