Efficient Home Building Trends: Making Progress, but There’s Still a Long Way to Go

Efficient Home Building Trends: Making Progress, but There’s Still a Long Way to Go


As more and more homeowners learn the value of energy efficiency in homes, the trend toward efficient building gains speed. Over the last summer, the U.S. hit an important milestone: the Home Energy Ratings System (HERS) evaluated its two millionth home. Similar to the Energy Star program for appliances, HERS evaluations are a labeling option that makes it easier for home buyers to see, at a glance, how energy efficient a home will be.

Major Gains in Sustainable Homes

Under the HERS system, the lower a score is, the more efficient the home. A score of zero means that the home produces as much energy as it uses throughout the course of a year. Points are assigned for factors that include air leakage rates, insulation, and others.

Home buyers are able to compare the energy efficiency of more homes than ever. In 2016, roughly one in five new homes built used the HERS system. Of those, more than half had HERS scores of 62 or better. Energy-efficient advances in homes include:

  • high-efficiency HVAC systems. These were present in about half of homes. Since heating and cooling are responsible for a great deal of a modern home’s energy usage, this is a significant improvement.
  • low air leakage rates. Reducing air leakage means that less energy must be used to keep the home’s temperature comfortable.
  • energy efficient windows. These were present in around two-thirds of rated homes.

Room for Improvement

While we’ve already come so far, many homes still waste a great deal of energy. About 45% of HERS rated homes receive an Index score that is over 62. The higher the score, the less energy efficient the home is considered.

Luckily, there are many improvements that could be made to existing homes that could make them far more efficient. At the current time, only about seven percent of homes use any sort of on-site power production, for instance. A move toward sustainable power created at the site through technologies that include wind, solar and geothermal can improve many existing homes and be a feature of new construction.

The Next Steps

With so far to go, what could help builders make the next steps toward even more efficient homes? Some experts believe that economic incentives could make it more affordable for builders to create houses that are more sustainable. In turn, these incentives could mean home that did not force buyers to choose between efficiency and price. A recent survey indicated that buyers are willing to pay around $7,000 more for a home that saved them $1,000 every year in utility costs. If improvements that make a home more efficient could be kept below that ceiling, home buyers are likely to be far more receptive.

As more home buyers learn about the environmental and financial benefits of sustainable homes, demand will continue to rise. If builders are able to meet this demand while also offering affordable homes, they will gain the interest of not just early adopters but home buyers with a range of preferences and priorities.

Author: Tony Gilbert

5 Things to Consider Before Taking a Small Business Loan

5 Things to Consider Before Taking a Small Business Loan


While running a startup and achieving success can be a difficult task, it gives you joy and a sense of fulfillment. Among the critical decisions that business owners have to make revolves around financing. When your business is relatively new, getting a business loan can be daunting especially when you don’t have the required credit scores and collateral.

The fact that most financial institutions have limitations when lending to small businesses, founders are easily tempted to settle for any offer that comes their way. Basically, you must be realistic when searching for business credit but it’s also up to you to ensure you get the best deal. Here, you will learn about what you should give thought to taking the loan.

Understand the available types of loans

Before you decide to borrow for your business, it’s good to know the most appropriate option. Business loans come in various forms and they have different features depending on the purpose and the financing institution.

When you are considering buying new equipment for your startup, you might want to consider equipment financing. Here, the same equipment will be used as the collateral for the loaned amount. But if you need financing that will help you iron out cash flow issues, taking business lines of credit can be a great idea. With this loan, the financier will allocate you a certain credit ceiling and you can take the money at any time you need it as long as you don’t exceed the limit.

The APR’s and fees

Irrespective of the type of financing, you need to be certain about the interests charged. This is one of the major factors that determine the exact amount you are expected to pay back. Today, there are lots of lenders who are willing to work with you. As such, it’s prudent to take your time and shop for the least expensive loan.

At the same time, you must make sure that a lender doesn’t have hidden fees. While these won’t have an effect on the interest rates, they will definitely increase borrowing cost. At times, it’s better to settle for a nation 21 loans lender with a higher interest than one that has several fees that make it expensive.  

The length of the borrowing cycle

The length of time it takes to pay back the loan will influence the total amount you’ll pay. Before making the final decision, ensure you’ve talked with your creditor and study to understand the available loan terms. Depending on your requirements, you can choose a short or longer loan term.

Some lenders will penalize you if you repay the funds early before the term ends. As such, if you want a loan that can be paid quickly, it’s best to settle for an option that doesn’t have prepayment penalties.

Your credit scores and collateral

The credit scores reflect your creditworthiness and lenders will make a decision through the credit profile. When your score is high, it becomes easy to qualify for a loan with favorable terms. On the other hand, lower credit scores limit your options but this doesn’t mean you won’t get a loan. The only tradeoff is that you might be charged high interests since you pose a higher risk to the lender.  

Some lenders will ask you for collateral before you are given a business loan. This insulates the lender and they can sell the item to recover the funds just in case you are not in apposition to repay the funds. You can decide to use your inventory or equipment as the security for the loan. In its absence, a lender may still allow you to borrow but such loans tend to be more expensive.

Your current financial situation

One of the critical and important aspects to consider when borrowing funds for a startup is your financial background. By simply taking a quick glance at your budget will help you figure out whether you will afford to handle the loan are required.

When you are constantly struggling with your finances, taking a huge loan can leave you in a worse situation. As a rule of thumb, you must ensure that you can manage to submit all scheduled payments on time without missing any payment. In order to ensure the continuity of your venture, you should carefully consider all the cash flow as well as realistic financial projections before deciding the exact loan amount to take.   

Final words

Borrowing is an important decision for any business and its effects can stretch for several years. Nevertheless, a loan can assist your startup grow quickly and stamp its authority on the market. As long as you are diligent throughout the borrowing period, you can reap the benefits of responsible borrowing.

Before you choose to inject some borrowed funds into your business, make sure you consider the things discussed here. While not all businesses are the same, most startups will be better off when utilizing credit within its capabilities.  


Author: Daniel Bailey


Setting Up In Industry: What You Need To Know

Setting Up In Industry: What You Need To Know


When you want to start a business in a particular industry, there’s always going to be a lot for you to think about. These days, it seems like everybody is starting their own thing. And when they’re doing it online, that’s definitely a lot easier than it is to set up a physical business. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the better option. If you’re really interested in setting up in the automotive industry or manufacturing or electronics or lab work, then you’re going to want to go for it. If you have worked in the particular industry before, then running your own business is definitely a good idea. But you will need to spend some time really planning this out and thinking about what you need to do. So let’s take a look at what you need to know before you get started.

Get To Know The Market

First of all, you’re going to want to get to know the marketplace that you want to enter. As we briefly mentioned, if you have already worked in the industry for years, then it’s safe to say that you’ll know a little bit about it. But, you may know more about your exact job than you do the actual industry itself. So you’re going to want to spend some time doing market research into competitors and your target audience too.

Find A Premises

From here, you’ll then need to find yourself suitable premises. When you’re manufacturing, dealing with motors, running a lab, or working with electronics, you need space. This isn’t really the kind of business you can start in your basement! So start to look for business premises. Even if you’re just seeing what’s available and the kind of budget you need, for now, to help you apply for any funding that you need.

Find Suppliers

You also need to start to connect with your suppliers. When you’re working in an industry, you will need all of the right equipment to be able to do the work. So whether that’s a digital flow meter or a CAD machine, you need to start your research early. Again, if you’ve worked in this job for a while, it may be worth considering the suppliers that you’re used to, particularly if you like their product offerings.

Generating Business

While that’s most of your set up steps thought about, you will also want to make sure that you have a viable business deal on your hands. So you’ll want to make sure that you know how you’re going to market your business, how you’re going to get interest in your products and start landing your first sales.

Staying Cost-Effective

Finally, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re running a cost-effective business. The reason that so many online businesses pop up is that the overhead is minimal. However in industry, you’re often looking at large overheads. So it’s always going to be important for you to run your business in a cost-effective way to ensure you’re generating profit and not just revenue.


Why You Should Be Taking Online Security More Seriously

Why You Should Be Taking Online Security More Seriously

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Cyber terrorism and online crime is becoming moreprominent in today’s society.  It’s actually one of the key areas of modern day policing and within the IT sector, security is the fastest growing and most in demand genre of skills employers and business clients are looking for.

We often only tend to hear about major scandals such as when Uber and the NHS were held at ransom last year, though there are smaller crimes committed on the web every minute, many of which are incredibly difficult to trace and cost both businesses and individuals a small fortune.

In the physical world, things are more tangible, for instance, if you had a traditional retail business you could employ a burly security guard to act as a deterrent to thieves.  You could also look for conex containers for sale and store items in a secure steel storage container, whereas on the web, things are so intangible that it feels like we can’t protect things in the same way we can in the offline world.

A shop might set-up a few physical CCTV cameras and protect their stock using electromagnetic security tags or new RFID tags, and in this context, security is a very tangible thing that would-be thieves take a huge risk with, on the basis they have to present themselves and risk being caught in the act.

Today, however, cybercriminals are operating from the comfort of their own home and might not even be in the same country, meaning there’s much lower risk and much higher convenience with online theft than offline theft.

Further to this, thieves can bounce their IP around so many different locations that it would be hard to ever find their true location.

Essentially, cybercrime is growing at an exponential rate so we’re going to look at five principles to keep your business safe.


Antivirus software protects your computer and website in a similar way to how security cameras and security guards can act as a deterrent and filter to catch thieves within a physical retail environment.


It’s unlikely that you would leave the door open to your premises or home so that anyone could just come in.  Instead, you lock the door with a unique key. The most important aspect to consider on this front is to make sure you have adequate protection against hackers trying to violate your website, and to use solid passwords.

Indeed, in the online world, your lock and key are your password – so ensure you choose an advanced password that is secure.


You will want to use a reputable payment system such as PayPal or Stripe to process payments in a secure way.  Payment processing is understandably a key target for hackers, so it’s important you ensure your website is using the latest and most advanced payment processors available in order to build trust and credibility but also to reduce your liability should disaster strike.

You Might Not Hate Sports As Much As You Think!

You Might Not Hate Sports As Much As You Think!


Sports is one of those things that very few people would ever say that they were entirely neutral on. Often you either love them, or you can’t stand them. For those who love them, there is nothing more exhilarating than the rush that comes with playing or watching their favourite sport. However, for people who hate sports, the whole thing just seems bizarre. They wonder why you would want to get together to watch other people kick a ball around, and they can’t understand the fun of running around getting hot and sweaty. Of course, you’re entitled to like and dislike just about anything, but it’s strange that so many people treat sports as this huge monolith when in reality that term encompasses so many different things that almost everyone can find something to enjoy about it. With that in mind, if you’re the kind of person who reflexively recoils at the very idea of sports in any form, here are some reasons why you might actually be able to get more out of it than you think.

Staying active

Being active is one of the most important things in life. If you spend every single day slouching around on the couch, then you’re just going to end up feeling tired and miserable. However, one of the major issues that a lot of people have when it comes to staying fit and healthy is finding the motivation actually to do it. Having a sport that you play is one of the very best ways to find that motivation. You have a reason to get up and do something active and will be able to stay much more mentally engaged than if you were just in the gym spending twenty minutes running in place on a treadmill or lifting weights. There are plenty of sports that are fantastic ways to keep you active, from soccer to basketball, even to things like golf. If you’re looking for a way to motivate yourself to get out and start doing more exercise, then finding a sport that you enjoy is one of the very best ways to do just that.

Being a part of a team

One of the most important and least considered skills that everyone should have is the ability to work within a team. A lot of modern cultures is aggressively individualistic and is based around exclusively trying to get what you want, even if that’s at the expense of other people. However, one thing that sports can teach you is the importance of being a part of a team. If you’re not able to communicate effectively, prioritize what’s best for everyone, and compromise for the sake of the people around you, then you’re never going to be able to succeed. Not just in sports, but in real life as well. This is the kind of skill that employers look for, as well as having an impact on your personal life. Your ability to sustain friendships and romantic relationships often comes down to how well you can function as part of a unit and your ability to think about people other than yourself. These are incredibly important life skills, and you can learn all of them by playing a sport as part of a team on a regular basis.

Finding a passion

Getting involved with some kind of sport is a fantastic way to give your life that sense of passion and focus that it might previously have lacked. Even if your relationships with sports starts with kicking a ball around with some friends or hitting the green every couple of weeks, over time, you could end up being a part of a regular team that competes in official matches, or spending hours online looking for the best golf wedges 2017. Human beings are designed to become passionate, borderline obsessed, with things. It’s one of the reasons why so many people become so skilled at things. Finding something that you can really embrace is a fantastic way to feel as though you’ve given your life that extra little bit of meaning. Even if you’re not that interested in playing sports, you can always get in involved as an umpire or referee. Having something like a sports scheduler can help with that pretty significantly. The truth is that getting involved in something like sports can always help you find a passion that you might never have considered before.

Hopefully, this list will, at the very least, help you understand exactly why so many people feel so passionate about something you personally don’t’ enjoy. Not only that but it may even give you a better idea of why you love the things that you love so much. So the next time someone asks if you like sports, rather than turning up your knows, you can acknowledge their passion and at least try to find some common ground, instead of dismissing their favorite pastime altogether. At the very least, it might save you from getting in a shouting match with your friend the next time you’re having a drink together.

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