Picket Fence Weblog

Purchasing a Home – The Green Way
March 11, 2008, 9:23 am
Filed under: Home improvement, solar power | Tags: , , , , , ,

How can a mortgage be green?  Is it printed on green paper?  Or is the ink green?

There is a new way to help buy and save on your new home purchase.  This might be a great way for first time homeowners to save some money and have an excellent angle on getting that first mortgage.  By purchasing an energy efficient home many companies are helping you save, figuring that the money saved on long term utility bills should be applied to mortgage costs.

Bank of America, Citi-group, and JP Morgan Chase are all offering discounts on closing costs for energy efficient homes.  These are homes built to Energy Star Standards.  There are many appliances that meet Energy Star Standards, as well as insulation, windows, and heating and cooling systems.  This can help the homeowner save on buying an old home.

If you are looking to buy a home, you can go to www.naseo.org and find the contact information for your closest state energy office.  You can contact them for the specifics on efficient renovations and low-interest loans.

Green ideals are popping up everywhere.  They are becoming integrated into every aspect of our life.  To the car we drive, to the way we heat our homes, to the way we buy our home, to our schools and jobs.

As always, Art.


Going Green in Alabama

I would like to take the time to bring attention to the efforts of Karni R. Perez, a dedicated volunteer with The Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve, an outreach program of the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, and coordinator of an exciting upcoming event in Auburn, AL.    The Preserve offers 110 acres of beautiful wooded hiking trails and other special features such as learning stations, providing surrounding communities with a wealth of nature and native ecosystems to discover, learn from, and enjoy.   You can click here to view their home page and pictures.

There is an event taking place there on Saturday, April 5 called GrOw GREEN.  The event is designed to draw attention to the positive aspects of going green.  The fun and information-filled event offers those who attend “a chance to better understand some current resource and environmental issues”.  Not only will the attendees get a chance to “enjoy a day in the woods” but they will also be able to learn tips to meet the daily challenges of being Green Minded.

The staff at Picket Fence, as well as everyone in the office of our parent company QCI Direct, would like to acknowledge Ms. Perez and the members of The Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve for their continuing efforts to bring awareness to the public.  We have always done all we can here to be as green as possible and to try and spread the word.  Lately my blog efforts have been about the benefits of solar power, the celebrities who have become involved, and all the small ways we (as the general public) can do our part to conserve energy and be less wasteful.  The responses have been vast and overwhelming.  There are so many people out there with a voice and opinion, in both directions, about the US becoming a fore runner in environmentalism.  This is an extremely hot button issue all around the world.  Many countries have spent innumerable hours and capital on developing perpetual resources to be used.   But, for most of us, without thousands of dollars to spend on solar paneling, there are plenty of small ways to think green.

We have been developing our solar powered products category and released it last week. You can view that by clicking here.  We will also by teaming up with Ms. Perez by donating our greenest products to be given away at the GrOw GREEN event on April 5th.  It truly is the little things that make the biggest differences and this is just the start to a long line of “little things” that we plan to do to bring more attention to the growing environmental problems.  Going green may be the one way to improve on global warming.   Is that enough?  Is global warming a serious enough problem to change our lifestyle?

As always, Art.

P.S. Thanks Alicia!

Generation G, for Green
March 3, 2008, 4:31 pm
Filed under: Home improvement, solar power | Tags: , , , , ,

I came across something over the weekend that I wanted to share with you. Ever since I became interested in “green” philosophies and writing about it, the response has been overwhelming. There are so many people out there, of all ages, that are interested in this topic. I read a quote yesterday from Home Furnishings Business Magazine. It was in an article about an opinion poll called “Going Green”. Names were not given in the poll. One response said,

“Nowadays there are a lot of energy efficient products. I must admit that I had to swallow hard the first time I spent the money to buy new light bulbs…I will save money over the life of the bulbs…Ten years ago, I didn’t have the option to chose ‘green’ lighting, so maybe I appreciate it more now.”

I can’t be certain, but I think many people around the U.S. are starting to feel this exact way. The popularity of green lighting, solar power, and other energy efficient tactics has become less debatable and more accepted. That could mean a brighter future for generations to come. If more children see this type of behavior, they will carry into their adult years as the “norm” instead of a new idea. Any one with me?

For energy efficient and solar products click here.

As always, Art.

chicago city hall

How’s that for going green? Chicago City Hall’s rooftop has saved in energy costs and reduced water runoff. Read more about it here.

Solar Not Enough? Welcome to New Urbanism
February 26, 2008, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Links, solar power | Tags:

You may not have ever heard of Andres Duany, but he’s probably studied your neighborhood. If you live in any major metropolitan area, a suburb of that area, or in an up and coming city around the coast line, then chances are Andres Duany knows more about your community than you. I heard about Mr. Duany from Time Magazine staff writer Bryan Walsh who wrote an amazing article called “How Green is Your Neighborhood?

Mr. Duany is one of the leaders of Architectural New Urbanism. In these designs communities are being built, or re-built, with locality being a key concept. In these areas, a car would become a thing of the past. New Urbanism leaders hope for grocery stores, schools, jobs, and other staples to all be in walking distance. People may still own a car, but would not have to drive it everyday. According to recent facts, the average American makes about 14 car trips per day. With the number of SUV’s on the market on the rise (and no signs of slowing sales), and miles per gallon being no better than an average of 25 on the highway, its no wonder we see so many environmental problems.

There are over 3.5 million people in America alone who drive 90 miles one way to get to work. They are most likely driving into a city for their job, from their suburban home. The average size of suburban households has gone up about 1,000 square feet in the last 30 years, while the average family size has decreased.  These are a few scary facts that really show how energy wasteful we have become over the past 30 years.  Americans have become completely reliant on their vehicles and it is apparent that the major oil companies have recognized this trend, and capitalized off it.

We continually think that technology is going to save us.  Technology got us into this mess, so the answer must be more technology. This is where Andres Duany comes in.  His resolve is in fact, not so technological.  With New Urbanism, there would not be the need for cars.  This would drastically reduce carbon emissions therefore increasing our air quality.  He, and the other New Urbanism leaders, believe that the middle class, who make up the majority of suburbia, are not helping in the cause.  Keep a look out for New Urbanism as it makes its climb to better awareness.

Would you like to take the first small step?  Visit shoppicketfence.com for a selection of solar powered devices and lighting.  The first step is the most important.

As always,  Art.

What a good idea!
February 20, 2008, 10:14 am
Filed under: Links, solar power

Solar lights are great for the outdoors, but there is another use you may not have thought about. Now, I can’t take credit for this one – I read about it in a woman’s magazine. But, it is such a clever solution that I had to share. So, here is is –

If your power goes out, bring in one of your solar lights from outside. They are safer than candles and give off just the amount of light you need til the power comes back on. Plus, unlike flashlights that seem to quickly drain their batteries, solar lights will illuminate dusk to dawn.

For a complete selection of solar power, click HERE.


Until next time… Ann 🙂

Solar Panels Heat Up; It’s Going Global
February 18, 2008, 12:28 pm
Filed under: Links, solar power | Tags: , , , , ,

The last blog I wrote ended with an address to another blog that talked about celebrities Will Ferrell and Ed Norton getting on the solar band wagon.  Their homes are now being run by solar power.  It seems as if California and their inhabitants  are starting to truly take charge of the  solar scene.   A law, signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has helped solar powered homes get $1,500 rebates for installing the system.  This has helped many residents pay back the costs in a faster time period, recovering the $4,000 to $6,000 dollars it takes to have a “green” home.  Many are calling for our National Government to allow federal returns to promote a cleaner America.  You can read more about that by clicking here.

I also read today that Solar Aid’s efforts have included Hollywood star Cate Blanchett.  She has joined Solar Aid’s efforts by donating her efforts to bring 3rd world nations the benefits of solar power.  She is listed as a Patron on Solar Aid’s website.  Solar Aid is trying to provide solar education and it’s energies to improve the lifestyle of those who are truly in need.  You can check out their home page by clicking here.

Last but not least in the world of solar power, is a a great picture and debate on Mr. Barlow’s Weblog.  There is a picture of solar panels that stretch out over 100 hectares, making it look like a lake more than a solar farm.  You can view that by clicking here.

Don’t forget about Shoppicketfence.com and the new Solar Category.  Get involved and go solar.

As always, Art.

Singleton Solar Farm

This is a shot from Singleton Solar Power Station in Australia.

Solar Power is Star Power; A Brand New Category
February 13, 2008, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Home improvement, solar power, yard fun | Tags: , , , , ,

For accent lighting and general accessory lighting it seems to be a waste of time to set up complicated wiring patterns . I know of a few people who have wanted to set up some lighting on their walkways to showcase what they are growing and the path to the front door, called in an electrician to bury the wires properly, only to have problems with it later that same season. It’s not impossible to set it up yourself, but there is a much easier way to do it, without breaking your bank and without having to bury wires and set up fixtures. By putting in solar accent lighting, you will save yourself money and time. Technology has made it much easier for us to accomplish those little things. Solar power is so useful and its there for the taking.

I have been writing about solar power a lot lately . I am a huge fan of perpetual resources. This includes wind, tide, and solar power. It’s not just about going green, its about making advances toward the future, for better, more efficient ways of electricity. It’s not an easy task and it’s some what of an uncharted territory for many of us. But there are plenty of small ways to do your part to help, such as my example at the opening of this blog.

Shoppicketfence.com is introducing a new category on the website. This category showcases some of the best solar products available on the market today. It’s a cutting edge way to accent your home and become the first on the block to do it without raising your electric bill.

New Solar Category at Shoppicketfence.com

Gather up the sun and get it done!

As always, Art.

P.S. Solar Power is making some headlines in Hollywood with big stars like Ed Norton and Will Ferrel. Click here to check it out.