It’s that time of year to start utilizing your patio, deck or gazebo. Here are some of the hottest trends for your outdoor space:

Textured walls: Make sure you are choosing materials that are able to dissipate heat well.

Water features: A nice fountain or water structure can add a stylish touch to your outdoor space.

Lighting: LED lights have the capacity to illuminate your outdoor space in an energy-efficient way.

Outdoor fireplace: Add a cozy touch to your space with a fireplace fixture or pit.

Outdoor furniture: Woven furniture is a trend that’s here to stay. Adding woven chairs or side tables inspires a natural feel.

Bright colors: Liven up your outdoor space with bright colors. Some of the hottest shades are bright orange, yellow, read and coral.


Is a solar-panel system right for your home?

Did you know that Washington state has 70 percent of the sunlight that los Angeles receives? Our state has some of the best incentives for solar panel use, and its been proven that solar panels are more efficient in cooler climates. If you’re considering adding solar panels to your home, read through these helpful tips:

The incentives: The average savings over a 20 year period when a solar panel system is installed in your home is over $15,500. Washington state specifically has an incentive called the Washington State Renewable Energy System Incentive Program (RESIP). Under current legislation, solar-panel users receive an incentive based on the energy produced for kilowatt hour, depending on the size of their system, date of installation and certification, and the type of panels (depending on whether they are made in-state). The maximum incentive for residential properties are $5,000 a year.

The cost: To get an accurate cost estimate, you’ll want to have a solar panel installer visit your home to measure things such as the solar exposure, roof pitch, your circuit breaker and more. They’ll consider all of these factors and address any concerns they believe might affect your cost or whether a solar panel is right for your home. Currently, the Seattle market average for a residential 5kw solar-panel system is $14,600. The typical payback period is just under nine years.


The factors: When considering your solar output, there are three factors that will determine how much solar power you’ll receive; the direction your roof is facing, shading and roof pitch. A south-facing roof will allow for the most sun. Roofs facing East and west still may receive enough sun, but roofs facing north are not feasible for solar power. Solar panels should have little to no shade and should have direct sunlight for at least six hours per day, year-round. The ideal roof pitch is between 20 and 35 degrees; however, both steeper and flatter roofs may still receive a good portion of sunlight.

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