Sunday, July 27, 2014

The ABCs To Solar Energy Ownership



 Whenever you choose a solar power system, you will be slowing down the search for coal, which is causing the needless destruction of the Appalachian Mountains. You will be making this planet a better place to live in and you will be stabilizing your electric bill. However, few homeowners, even those living in sunny Southern California, consider this home improvement project. Why? It's just a monumental task.
 
Factors to consider: INSTALLING COMPANY
 
There are many different ways to approach the process. I want to share my way. The reason why I chose this factor first is that a good installer will consider the customer's thinking process. By interviewing a few installing companies, I can immediately tell how professional a company is. I learned from our cousins that one leading solar panel manufacturer is Sunpower. By signing up with Sunpower, it will refer you to a local installing company. We used Perma City in Los Angeles.
 
The other method is to check out www.1bog.com and learn to bargain collectively for a lower price. It's catching on in San Francisco, but I wouldn't know if solar energy would ever become trendy in Los Angeles, despite its reputation for sunshine.

What We Learned At the Home Visit/Interview

                                                 
In addition to the basic information about the licensing and bonding of an installing company, it is important to find a patient salesman who can answer all of your questions. We learned that unlike its competitors, Sunpower considered the disposal of the cells after they are spent. They are non- toxic to dispose. Also, the salesman showed how the panel was manufactured to reduce physical inefficiency, such as thickness of the seams between the cells, etc. Our salesman went to the roof and measured it, telling us that there would be fewer solar panels than we had imagined because the installer must adhere to fire regulations. Finally and most importantly, the installer must explain all of the financial incentives to cushion the cost of the project. These incentives can come from varying levels-- federal, state, and city.

How To Determine The Number Of Panels You Need

First, the salesman asked us for a summary of a year's electricity usage before measuring the roof. A good salesman will sell you enough panels that will product as much electricity as you may need so that it can be affordable. We received a letter with the technically information, offering both Sunpower and non-Sunpower systems:
 
The first solar system we've designed for you consists 20 powerful SunPower 215 modules, offsetting 72% of your daily energy usage based on the bill you provided of 1,515 kilowatt hours over a two month period. The second system is composed of 16 of those same SunPower 215 modules, providing you with a more affordable alternative and offsetting 53% of your energy consumption. Finally we have provided an alternative system composed of Sharp 175 modules, which offsets 52% of your power usage and provides with the most cost efficient way to power your home. We ended up choosing the maximum that our roof can bear to offset the extra electricity we were planning to use because we were in the process of adding a second air conditioning system.

The Financial Factors

We heard about the rental option from another company where for only a saving of $10 per month, you would be using solar power. However, that's not the way to go since you never own the system. By owning the system, after the break even point, you just save the electricity portion of your utility bill and would only have to pay for the connection fee (currently $22 per bi-monthly billing). We were skeptical how the rebates and energy tax refunds work in Los Angeles.

Factor #1: Most solar installing companies offer some type of financing. At one point, recently, Sunpower was offering one year no-interest financing. We were able to obtain the 6-month interest-free financing through its financial partner, Enerbank. After the 6 months, the interest starts to accrue from the first day of the loan. The lender issued 2 payments to the installer, one at the beginning, and the other later on.
 
Factor #2: How does one get the federal tax portion on time. Since we had only a 6-month interest-free window, we decided that we would contract with Perma City in December. Once you have a contract with a company, you are eligible for the tax refund for that year. So, immediately in January, we completed the tax return forms. Before the change in the energy tax refund, there was a cap of merely $2000, which is nothing. During the year, we contracted to install a system, the incentive was 1/3 of the cost of the project. Right there was $12,000.
 
Factor #3: How to obtain the rebate portion of the incentive? In Los Angeles, it took longer than we expected, 2-3 months after the utility engineer swaps out the old meter for one that can access solar power and turn back the dials. We received a check for $13,000 from the Department of Water and Power just in time to repay the loan
 
We still owed about $11,000, but we were expecting $8,000 for all of the interests we paid on the house. In our mind, we had to come up with $3000, rather than $36,000 project price. Further, it's important to find a company that is flexible enough to have the utility rebate go straight to the customer, and we were truly lucky to find one so willing to work with us          

Was It What We Expected?

Our utility company was late in crediting solar power customers in its billing; however, it has improved recently. The electric company has no reason to pay you for the amount you generate but don't use. And we noticed that in the winter, your system will not generate a whole lot of energy. However, it will only take 5 years for the system to pay for itself (the cost of we had to pay out of pocket). Since Sun Power's promise is a 25 year warranty, we hope that we'll enjoy the saving for quite some time. One can look at this as a diversified socially responsible investment.                                   

15 Different Printable Christmas and Holiday Gift Tags and Labels


Have you ever noticed when a gift does not come with a gift tab or label? The person either writes your name on the wrapping paper with a Sharpie or she apologizes that in a last minute rush, she could not find a tag. You can go buy tags, but with great printer technology, you can just print them out yourself and save money while giving your present that final touch. Further, because I am a visual person, I have laid out the tags so that you can see every tag presented. Therefore, there will be no surprise links that you find end up not being cute because we all have different definition of "cute." Most of the tags I had to either enlarge or shrink so that they would be viewable. I also tested them to make sure that they are useable tags where you only have to print. Hopefully, this will save you time.

Click here to download the tags.

Cute and Silly Reindeer Holiday Tags


Click Here to view full version and to print.

Image Credit

Milliande Art Community for Women


Image Credit. Click on the photo to see a full page and click again for the actual size.

Amy Cluck Christmas Tags


Image Credit

Right click on a PC or double finger click on a MacBook to find the menu allowing you to save this jpeg file and then save it to your computer so that you can then print them out.

Martha Stewart Gift Tags


Click here to download these tags.

Credit to Blog storing this sheet of Martha Stewart tags.

More Martha Stewart Tags


Click here to download a sheet of these tags.

Flower Snowflake Tags


Click here to download tags.

Cute Animation Christmas Tags


Click here for these Gift Tags From CraftJr.com to open under a separate tab, where you can print.

Retro Animation Gift Tags


Click here for these Gift Tags From CraftJr.com to open under a separate tab, where you can print.

Disney Gift Tags


Just "Save Image As" onto your computer and print.

Cute Christmas Tags from a UK Children's Site


Image Credit

Click here to download tags.

A Set of Christmas Tags


Image Credit

Click here to download Christmas tags.

Free Cute Hand-Drawn Tags


These Christmas Tags have such a warm personality to them.

Click here to download.

Image Credit

Free Christmas Tags from Fotoshow.com


Fotoshow.com offers these free cute Christmas tags.

Click here to download to your PC.

Cute Angelic Gift Tags


Click here for tags to save to your PC. These tags are very good quality.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Secret to Happiness and Overcoming Depression and Anxiety Through Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism

Modern Method of Coping With Depression Through The Power of Chanting

this lens' photo Depression, anxiety, self-doubt, and emptiness are just a few feelings when one is facing financial hardship during a tight economy. Any of these feelings can arise from life events such as death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, grave illness of loved ones, etc. It always seems that after overcoming one hurdle, another major hurdle pops up. Many families, even ours, are fairing much worse economically than a few years ago. How did I overcome the stress and anxiety during hard times? Although I am a voracious reader of self-help books, I have kept close to my religion Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism for strength and confidence to overcome my hardships. The core philosophy behind Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism is that each person already possesses unlimited potential within us. By chanting, each of us brings out and elevate our life condition. Easing the suffering of depression cannot be more timely during October, National Depression Awareness Month.


 


Nichiren Daishonin Discovered Unlocking One's Potential...

Through Chanting "Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo."

 
Chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo polishes our lives at the deepest level.
 
 
 I also recommend watching a 20-minute full length movie called "Our Shared Humanity"


Optimistic Thinking Through Chanting "Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo"

Depression has a wide spectrum. Lee Wolfson, a psychologist at Western Psychiatric Clinic and Institute (WPIC), a division of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. and a practitioner of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism with SGI since 1972 wrote a World Tribune article which was published on February 9, 2001. In his article, Lee reviewed a book by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., called "What You Can Change and What You Can't whose compelling argument is that mild depression is caused by pessimistic habits of thinking. Pessimists falsely believe that the causes of failure and rejections are permanent and pervasive while an optimistic person's thinking is a powerful antidote to pessimism and depression. A power method of optimistic thinking can be found in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism and chanting "Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo."


Background of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism

Siddhartha Gautama, known more popularly as Shakyamuni Buddha, lived twenty-five hundred years ago in India where he was awakened to a path of enlightment or Buddhahood. He believed and taught that all people have the ability to attain this state of enlightment through his teaching in Lotus Sutra. A 13th Century Buddhist reformed monk in the 13th Century found that path to enlightment is everywhere through the practice of chanting "Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo" confidently , awakening the Buddha nature innate in all of us, dispelling delusion and moving forth everyone's inherent strength, wisdom, and compassion. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, an educator, founded Soka Gakkai in 1930, as he was searching for a humane system of education. He and his disciple Josei Todai were imprisoned for refusing to compromise their religious beliefs in the face of pressure from Japan's militarist government. Now under the third president of Soka Gakkai, President Ikeda, Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism is now in 192 countries and territories with 12 million practitoners.
 

Daisaku Ikeda

Soka Gakkai's Third President

In 1975, President Ikeda established Soka Gakka International and took Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism globally. Under his leadership, Soka Gakkai International is now in 192 countries and terrorities, with Nichiren Buddhism being practiced by more than 12 million people.
 

Experiencing Both The Positive And Negative Experiences In Our Lives

Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism teaches us how to make the best of everything-positive and negative-and take control of our lives. The way we react to external situations and circumstances is a reflection of our inner state of life. If we are in a state of anger, for example, we will form angry thoughts, emotions, appearances, and influence. An angry person see the world and believes that there are reasons to be angry. However, each person experiences moment to moment, day to day, differently, even when going through the same situation. The way we relate to our environment depends on how we have lived our lives, thus coloring how we react, either positively or negatively. Therefore, the best way to deal with external situations, however, unexpected or however seemingly uncontrollable, is through an elevation of our life conditions.
 
 
 

Elevating Our Life Condition

The way to elevate our life condition is to chant "Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo" and unleash our inner strength, thereby allowing one to find wisdom, courage, and energy to find the right action and improve our interaction with the world around us. By chanting, one can break thorough darkness and bring forth our Buddhahood. This struggle with our fundamental darkness or ignorance is why we chant "Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo." To learn more about Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism, go to http://www.sgi-usa.org or contact me directly. As a educated person who kept my mind open and kept questioning the practice, I have embraced this SGI Buddhism whole-heartedly, and in return, it has completely changed my life.
 
 
 
 

Nam

Nam means devotion and respect. So, the whole phrase has the simple meaning of 'devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra'.

Myoho

Myoho relates to Mystic Law, the essential Universal Law and its manifestations.There are two main relationships: one between life and death, and the other between our most enlightened, or Buddha, state and all our other nine conditions or states of life.
 

Renge

Renge literally means "lotus flower." The reason why the lotus is such an important symbol of Buddhism is that it blooms and seeds at the same time. 'Renge' signifies the process of cause and effect at work deep within the life of each person.

Kyo

Kyo means sutra or teachings. It is the vibration of our voice which is so important in our Buddhist practice. 'Kyo' is the interconnectedness of all phenomena; and how our prayer or the sound of our chanting can affect people and situations out of our immediate sphere. This is why we do not chant in silence.



Peace


 
 
 



Here is another great find: Iherb.com

$10 off first purchase over $40, or $5 off less than $40 using promo code "cew288"

I love my health food coop, BUT I can find practically everything at iherb.com for 1/3 of the price or more off, including organic free trade teas. I recently bought niacin at the coop for $5.99. It''s only $3.46 at iherb.com. Free shipping for purchase of $20 or more. And I am always getting an organic lip balm for free or some other greatly reduced trial items just for the heck of it. Sorry Co-op, I may just stick to fresh produce instead of enabling you to open a second store at a location over which I have no control. For your first purchase at iherb.com with the promotional code in the photo "cew288," you receive $10 off $40. Or $5 off less than $40.

 

Nichiren Daishonin Buddhsim Slow Gongyo Chant With Words

 
 
 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

How To Start the New Year with Iherb.com

Use promo code 'cewoo' and you will receive $10 off $40 or more purchase or $5 if purchase is under $40. Free shipping for purchase of $20 or more. Choose a  full size free sample with purchase and also a lot of full size samples at trial prices.
Iberb.com is a great find for me. I have always shopped at different drugstores for my vitamins, but I end up coming back to Iherb.com. Well, this one is well worth your time.  I can practically find  everything at iherb.com for 1/3 of the price or more off as compared to my Co-op, including organic free trade teas. Recently, I bought niacin at the coop for $5.99. It's only $3.46 at iherb.com. Plus, free shipping for purchase of $20 or more. And I am always getting an organic lip balm for free or some other greatly reduced trial items just for the heck of it.   For your first purchase at iherb.com, please use the promotional code  "cew288" to receive $10 off $40; or $5 off less than $40. 

Here are 10 reasons that they say to shop there:

1. Best overall value.
2. Best selection.
3. They give you expiration dates.
4. Easy ordering.
5. Real people processing order, and they have a CA facility (yeah, jobs in CA)
6. Assurance of privacy and credit card security.
7. Abundant shipping options. 
8. Reward program (yea...use my promo code. Thank you.)
9. Library of unbiased sources.
10.  A greener way to shop.

If you visit their site and read the reviews, see how many orders there are internationally. It's incredible and yet I received my order within 2 days.  


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Friday, December 27, 2013

The Price of Credit Cards

I have been an advocate of using credit cards as a means to earn a little back. However, upon returning from holiday travel, I opened up a credit card statement online only to discover that someone charged $1020 on my credit card to purchase airfare on American Airline and an additional $7 charge using Expedia. Having just started my staycation, I am on the phone together with my husband to combat credit card fraud. It was bad enough that Target's database had been breached, and I was not sure whether we had made any visits to Target during that period of time. Now, part of my vacation is wasted on making sure that we are not responsible for this latest credit card fraud. In fact, just a few months ago, we fought three online purchases from a high-end bicycle shop with Discover Card, and this even threw off someone auto-payments using the old number. There have been times when the credit card company automatically shuts our card down as a preventative measure. So, I am starting to wonder whether this whole game is worth playing. On the other hand, nobody buys a TV online without a credit card; that seems foolish. Well, there is a great price to pay with credit card. And I pay in full every month. The question to myself is at what point will I be fed up.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

If You Are Going To Shop Online, Then Please Read About Ebates

How many of us are too lazy to shop at a store after a long day of work. Instead, you want to watch your favorite television program and see what is out there. You have a list of recipients and now the shopping begins. Well, you can do it better online. I learned from my Black Friday sales through Ebates that I saved even more than the people those people who skipped Thanksgiving hoping for a doorbuster deal.What I received was doorbuster sale prices + Ebates (that would vest at a certain day in the future, for me February 15, 2014) + coupon code discount. I also learned that even with the coupon code used, I am earning a rebate on the original price rather than the sale's price. So, an item at Origin which was $38 before the $10 off and free shipping deal became the base to calculate my 12% rebate on Cyber-Monday. So, I saved $10, and I was informed that the rebate would be $4.56. On Cyber-Monday, I purchase 2 Entertainment Books, the first for $20 and the second one for $15. This was already a great deal, but then the rebate was a whopping 45 percent. So, although I paid $35 for these two books, they would just cost me $19.25 after my rebate. This is a great deal, since eating out a couple of times with my family and I will have recouped my investment in the Entertainment Books. I have a sense that the same deals will be available after Christmas.

I also picked up a $5 referral bonus for recruiting someone to sign up and make a first purchase. 

There is a promotion right now that if you sign up 2 individuals who then make purchases through Ebates, you will be eligible for a $50 referral bonus. As a blogger, I can make additional bonuses. So, if you have never used Ebates, there is no harm signing up to start your savings. I urge you to use my referral code (http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=pAs%2F2bGlRETQkLFE1DExpg%3D%3D) before December 31, 2013. Soon, you want to make your own referrals. Well, Happy Shopping.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Don't Be Fooled By Omaha Steaks

I am not a big steak eater like my husband. However, in any loving relationship, there is compromise, and so, I look for good Omaha Steak deals. Recently, I spent $29.99 and received two additional piece of top sirloin. I didn't expect it to break apart like extremely tender steak. However, I was appalled by the immensely sinewy pieces that I received for free. In other word, they were willing to sacrifice their good name by offering customers with poor quality lost leaders, which is a term in the sales industry to lure customers into buying their product. We were so disappointed that we will no longer buy Omaha Steak. Typically as a smart consumer, I would try to write to the corporate office and ask for replacement. However, I will not do this because I will not patronize this business any longer. I have not been disappointed with poor cuts of meat at Ralph's, yet I am thoroughly disappointed with Omaha Steak, which I thought was trying to set itself as a cut above the rest.  Now, I am looking into eating better quality of beef like grass-fed kind.