Footprints  | Use Solar Systems in 2019

Footprints  | Use Solar Systems in 2019

Solar is smarter in 2019.

 

SOLAR SYSTEMS 2019

How They Work and How Much They Cost

This is an especially good year to consider upgrading with a residential solar-power system for two reasons: the cost has never been lower and the 30% federal tax credit starts to disappear in 2020. Understanding how solar systems function will help you to determine the desirability of that investment.  

How Solar Works

Every rooftop solar system has four essential components and an optional fifth.

Solar panels have photovoltaic (PV) cells that turn radiant energy from the sun into direct-current (DC) electricity. Each standard-size panel is 65 by 39 inches (5.4 x 3.25 feet), weighs around 40 pounds, and is typically rated for output at 300 watts. To install an average-size residential system that produces six kilowatts (kW) of electricity, you’ll need 20 panels covering an area of 500 square feet and weighing about 1,000 pounds with mounting hardware. All-weather panels are durable for at least 25 years. Rain removes most grime, but annual inspections may include professional cleaning.

A mounting system secures that half-ton array to the rooftop. Most roofs can handle the weight, while older ones may need reinforcement, but this is definitely not a DIY job. Ideally, the roof has a pitch of around 30 degrees, is unobstructed by trees, and faces south because east-west orientations can be about 15% less productive.

An inverter converts that DC electricity into the standard alternating-current (AC) that powers electrical devices. A performance monitor tracks how much electricity is being produced and used. Data is displayed on a wall unit and can be transmitted to an off-site service accessible online or with an app.

 

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The performance monitor also keeps tabs on excess electricity being fed back to your local utility because you’re not off the grid yet, nor do you really want to be. Instead, it’s a two-way street: you’re both a producer and consumer as part of a net-metering system. For every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity you generate but don’t immediately use (typically during the afternoon), you get a credit for sending it out on the wires for redistribution where it’s needed. Those credits are cashed in when you’re producing less than you’re using (morning/evening peaks, all night long and during inclement weather). There’s also an annual cycle of summer production versus winter usage. This ebb and flow results in either a credit surplus that can be carried forward according to utility policy or a deficit requiring a small power bill that’s far less than what you’re paying now on the one-way street of consumption only.

So why can’t you just keep all the power you create, use it as needed, and get entirely off the grid? With current technology, electricity is much cheaper to produce and distribute than it is to store. Hence, the optional component of your system: solar batteries. Until there are major breakthroughs in storage capacity, current batteries serve as little more than emergency back-ups and can add 50% to your total price.

HOW MUCH SOLAR COSTS

The good news is that the declining price of solar panels plus a growing number of competing installers have combined to make residential solar-power systems more affordable than ever. As an example using nationwide averages, the 20-panel/6-kW system described above has a gross cost today of around $20,000, including all equipment, permit, and installation charges. Deduct $2,000 for the rebates offered in many states, subtract the 30% federal tax credit from that subtotal and another $1,000 for state credits where applicable, and you’ve got a bottom-line cost of just $11,600.

OK, that’s a big chunk of change, but consider this: you’re paying $100 or more a month for electricity now, which is $1,200+ a year or more than $30,000 over 25 years. But, if your system hits the sweet spot of producing roughly the same amount of power that you consume annually in a net-metering system, your monthly bill will be $0—a total savings of about $18,400. And, several recent studies have shown that a residential solar system can raise a home’s market value by up to 4%; for a $300,000 property, that’s an increase of $12,000 on day one. If you can’t afford the entire up-front cost, there are financing options and even leasing plans. But, under current law, the 30% federal tax credit available in 2019 will decline by 4% each year in 2020 and 2021, expiring altogether for residential solar in 2022 unless the program is renewed, which is ironic because rooftop solar systems are renewable-power sources that enhance American energy independence, create skilled jobs, and may help to save the planet.

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Featuring Georgia’s Natural Beauty

Featuring Georgia’s Natural Beauty

Top State in 
Film Production

Gov. Nathan Deal announced film and television productions generated $9.5 billion in economic impact in fiscal year 2017, setting a record with $2.7 billion in direct spending.
320 film and television productions were shot in Georgia, including several Marvel movies, Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

With a total area of nearly 60,000 square miles from 
the mountains to the sea, Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world’s busiest airport in terms of both passenger and aircraft traffic.

Georgia's Natural Beauty Caught on Camera“The Peach State” of Georgia is no longer America’s leading producer of that sweet fruit. A more contemporary nickname for the nation’s No. 1 grower of peanuts and pecans might be “The Nut State.”
The Masters golf tournament, played every year during the first week in April, is the only one of the game’s four “Majors” to always be played on the same course at Augusta National Golf Club.

Georgia is tax-friendly toward retirees.
Social Security income is not taxed.
Withdrawals from retirement accounts are partially taxed.
Wages are taxed at normal rates, and the marginal state tax rate is 4.00%.

Historic Saint Marys on the 
Georgia coast is the second oldest city in the nation and the gateway to the pristine Cumberland Island National Seashore.

Interesting Facts

Coca-Cola was created in Atlanta in 1886 and still has its corporate headquarters in Georgia, along with CNN, Delta Airlines, Chick-fil-A, and Home Depot, among others.
Downtown Savannah, with its 22 park-like squares, numerous restored homes, and commercial buildings, is one of America’s largest National Historic Landmark Districts.
Founded in 1836, Wesleyan College in Macon was the first college in the world specifically chartered to grant degrees to women.
Athens, home of the University of Georgia, was named in 2017 by Southern Living magazine as one of the “Best Small Towns in the South to Retire.”
The Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia encompasses more than 400,000 acres of waterways, moss-draped cypress trees, and lily-pad prairies that provide sanctuary for hundreds of wildlife species, some endangered.

Explore Georgia Communities on ideal-LIVING.com

Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead is a beautiful master planned community is just 40 minutes from Atlanta, convenient to nearby Canton, minutes from the new, state-of-the-art Northside Cherokee Hospital and the premiere Cultural Arts Center at renowned Reinhardt University. The vast list of amenities includes miles of walking/hiking trails, pickle ball, championship golf and breathtaking lake and mountain views. Read More...


Savannah Quarters  - Modern Living. Historic Charm.

Savannah Quarters - Modern Living. Historic Charm.

Developed by SunCal, Savannah Quarters, Savannah Quarters is a master planned community ideally located less than 15 minutes from the center of historic Savannah, GA. Read More...


Osprey Cove - Georgia Private Communities

Osprey Cove - Georgia Private Communities

Located just 21 minutes from Jacksonville, FL International airport, and just a 90 minute drive to Savannah, GA and St. Augustine, Osprey Cove is a constant recipient in the "Top 100 places to Retire." Kiplinger rated Georgia as the #3 in the Top 10 Tax Friendly states for Retirees. This plush coastal community boasts 665 homes. Home buyers in search of an active lifestyle are finding the right fit at Osprey Cove with private golf, tennis, boating and fishing available year round. Read More...


Soleil Laurel Canyon - Georgia 55 Plus Communities

Soleil Laurel Canyon - Georgia 55 Plus Communities

Soleil Laurel Canyon is a master-planned, Active Adult/55+ community situated in Canton, GA, just 45 minutes north of Atlanta. This gated, low maintenance community offers an array of homes priced from the $200s to the $400s and expansive amenities including a 28,000+ sq. ft. clubhouse, two pools, tennis courts, walking trails, teaching kitchen, fitness center and much more. Read More...


Waterways - Best Places to Live in Georgia

Waterways - Best Places to Live in Georgia

Waterways is a 2,300-acre master-planned community located just 30 minutes from historic Savannah, Georgia, in charming Richmond Hill. Surrounded by a 1,600 acre nature preserve, this is a place where six-and-a-half miles of marsh frontage, over four miles of winding lagoons, and more than a thousand acres of ancient oak hammocks embrace our new homes and homesites. Read More...


The Landings on Skidaway Island - Savannah's Choice for Island Living

The Landings on Skidaway Island - Savannah's Choice for Island Living

The Landings on Skidaway Island is a private gated community known as much for its beauty as for its personality. Located on the Intracoastal Waterway and just 12 miles from the charming and historic city of Savannah, GA, The Landings celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012. Read More...


Cumberland Harbour

Cumberland Harbour

Welcome to the Low-Country! Located on a peninsula bounded by rivers and ocean we are Georgia's Premier Coastal Community. Enjoy world-class amenities with pools, tennis, fitness center, parks and community docks. All protected by manned/gated 24/7 security for peace of mind. Read More...


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Welcome Neighbors

Welcome Neighbors

Brice’s Creek Harbour
New Bern, NC

Set along the waterfront on a tranquil protected cove, Brice’s Creek Harbour is a new residential community on the North Carolina coast that’s a paradise for kayakers, boaters, and fishermen. From their private slips, residents can glide directly into Brice’s Creek, the Neuse River, the Intracoastal Waterway, and the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. They return after a day on the water to enjoy a colorful sunset at their peaceful port-of-call.

Brice’s Creek Harbour offers the ultimate in luxury coastal living. Available homesites include a choice of high-elevation waterfront lots. The customizable floor plans range from 2,000 to more than 2,500 square feet and feature oversized screened-in porches for enjoying the morning breezes and entertaining in the evenings. With exteriors fortified against the elements, nine-foot ceilings inside, and hardwood floors throughout, these contemporary designs include top-of-the-line Kenmore appliances and super-efficient HVAC systems.
Richard Gaylord Homes is the developer of Brice’s Creek Harbour, adding to a 35-year track record of success in the Raleigh area and eastern North Carolina. Community builder Bill McClay focuses on spacious energy-saving designs from the foundation up, while the experienced agents at Team New Bern offer professional customer service.
Located just a five-minute drive from the excellent restaurants, boutique shops, and cultural delights of historic downtown New Bern, Brice’s Creek Harbour is a waterfront residential destination for homeowners seeking a quiet place just outside the mainstream.

Brice's Creek Harbour Welcome Neighbors

Medley at Southshore
Bay
Wimauma, Fl

Medley at Southshore Bay is a new active-adult lifestyle destination by Lennar, one of America’s leading homebuilders founded on core principles of quality, value, and integrity. Since 1954, Lennar has constructed new homes for more than one million families across the country.

Four distinctive neighborhoods give Medley at Southshore Bay home buyers real choices that fit their personal styles. The Villas feature three floor plans from 1,396 to 1,731 square feet in size. These low-maintenance residences have two spacious bedrooms, ceramic tile floors, and energy-efficient GE appliances in the kitchen. The Manors neighborhood offers single-family homes with three bedrooms in floor plans up to 2,366 square feet. The Estates homes range up to 2,775 square feet with three-car garages and designer kitchens that have double ovens, granite countertops, and stainless-steel appliances. Coming soon will be even more spacious residences in The Grand Estates.

All homes in the Medley at Southshore Bay come with the exclusive ULTRAFI technology for the fastest Internet and Wi-Fi speeds available anywhere. Additional amenities include a crystal-clear central lagoon for kayaking and swimming, a community clubhouse with tiki bar and pool, and tennis/volleyball courts.

Medley at Southshore Bay’s location, just south of the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, means that all of the region’s cultural attractions, sports venues, shopping centers, and restaurants are just a short drive away. And, there are more than a dozen medical specialty practices located within two miles of the Medley at Southshore Bay entrance.

LennarTampa.com

Lennar Tampa Medley at South Shore Bay Welcome Neighbors

Cordera Ranch
Henderson, NV

Cordera Ranch is an exciting new active-adult neighborhood in Nevada brought to life by Freedom Homes, a D.R. Horton company. The low-stress, low-maintenance lifestyle for residents 55 years of age and older is the signature concept of Freedom Homes communities, while the D.R. Horton brand is among the most respected in the nation.

All of the Cordera Ranch floor plans feature single-story designs that range in size from 1,670 up to 1,970 square feet. Each offers a two-car garage, and there are two bedroom/two bath and three bedroom/three bath designs from which to choose. Several quick move-in models with dual-sink bathrooms and spacious kitchen-great room combinations are currently available.
Cordera Ranch community amenities include a centrally located clubhouse with the latest workout equipment in the fitness center and two pools. With an open lawn area for outdoor events, a dog park, and a vegetable garden, Cordera Ranch has been created for homeowners who look forward to becoming neighbors.

Located near the welcoming town of Henderson and just a short drive south of the bright-light attractions of Las Vegas, Cordera Ranch is a new place to call home in an area that offers convenient access to a complete range of nearby medical and professional services. The Grand Opening event on July 14 was a big success and attracted plenty of attention, but ground floor opportunities and choice financing options are still available at Cordera Ranch.

DRHorton.com

D.R. Horton Cordera Ranch Welcome Neighbors

Cliffs at Glassy
Landrum, SC

Cliffs at Glassy is a premier residential community in a spectacular highland setting. From elevations over 3,000 feet atop Glassy Mountain, Cliffs residents have panoramic views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and more than 12,000 acres of protected wilderness. And, the temperate upstate climate is perfect for the naturally active lifestyle.

Home to one of America’s most scenic golf courses (See “Glassy Golf” on page 58), Cliffs at Glassy community amenities also include a fully equipped wellness center with dedicated fitness instructors and an outdoor pool near the unique Children’s Village playground. There are three community walking trails, easy access to longer hikes in the adjacent nature preserve, and excellent fly-fishing streams throughout the area. Social activities include numerous interest clubs, Friday night mixers with live music, and weekly gatherings at the Sunset Pavilion.

The Cliffs at Glassy features stylish custom-designed homes with all of the modern conveniences and homesites with stunning 50-mile views. While Glassy’s private location offers the ultimate in natural serenity, the thriving regional hub of Greenville is just a 30-minute drive south, featuring outstanding restaurants, shopping, and medical facilities, plus the acclaimed Peace Center for the Performing Arts. New Discovery Tour packages that include lodgings, golf, and dinner are now available for those seeking a truly extraordinary “place to call home.”

GlassyLiving.com

2019 Spring Travel Guide

2019 Spring Travel Guide

 

2019 Spring Travel Guide

This ideal-LIVING 2019 Spring Travel Guide challenges you to take a step back and look at the big picture—not just a single place that might intrigue you, but an entire region that’s compact enough to comfortably tour in a week. Within each area, you’ll find popular destinations to explore, festive events to enjoy, and vibrant communities to visit.

Your mission is to design a trip that combines a great vacation experience with a journey of discovery to your possible new frontier. And, make sure Ideal-LIVING.com has your e-mail address to receive updates on discovery travel opportunities.

2019 Travel Guide: Eastern Heartland

Eastern Heartland

2019 Spring Travel Guide: The Lowcountry

The Lowcountry

2019 Travel Guide: Florida

Florida

2019 Travel Guide: The Southern Highlands

The Southern Highlands

Mississippi

West of the Mississippi

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 Travel Guide: Coastal Carolinas

Coastal Carolinas

Making Connections, Breaking Barriers

Making Connections, Breaking Barriers

Women’s golf associations add to quality of life for all

“Our team-play formats enhance our goals of fellowship and fun on the course,” Gail Wickstrom said, a member of one of Dataw Island’s Women’s Golf Associations, “and we’ve found that our flighted groups help to create a circle of friends.”

Ever since the popularity of golf spiked in the 1990s, there have been more women on the fairways and greens than ever before. Many women who took up the game then now find themselves enjoying the bliss of grandparenthood and a more relaxed schedule with full-time employment behind them.

Ever since the popularity of golf spiked in the 1990s, there have been more women on the fairways and greens than ever before. Many women who took up the game then now find themselves enjoying the bliss of grandparenthood and a more relaxed schedule with full-time employment behind them.

For many such women who retire to a community with one or more courses, joining an established women’s golf association is a natural portal to improving their games and making new friends. But, in addition to personal health benefits and social networking, being a member of their club’s all-female golf group also makes them a part of our nation’s gender equality movement.

It may be hard to imagine today, but there was once a time in the not-too-distant past when women golfers at both public courses and private clubs were limited to less desirable tee times and permitted to hold events only so long as they didn’t conflict with the men’s schedule. Women’s golf associations formed to pool their numbers and clout to do away with those “traditions,” thus putting the game on an equal footing for all. The result has been gender parity at nearly all private clubs and a legacy that future female players will hopefully appreciate.

Thus, in communities large and small across the nation, women’s golf associations continue to be an important quality-of-life asset, creating new connections and dispensing with outdated norms.

The Landings on Skidaway IslandThe Landings on Skidaway Island

The Landings is a sprawling Georgia retirement and residential community that covers much of the high ground on Skidaway Island, located just east of historic downtown Savannah. Among the more than 8,000 homeowners are young families just starting out, multi-generational households, and retirees from most states in the union, plus a number of foreign countries.

Golf is the featured recreational amenity at The Landings, as might be expected in a community with six on-site championship courses crafted by some of the game’s most gifted designers. The Landings Club is the membership association for community residents who play those scenic layouts and is home to the largest women’s golf association among all private country clubs in America.

Founded in 1974 and with a current membership of around 450, the Landings Women’s Golf Association (LWGA) has provided a model to be emulated by scores of similar groups, especially in establishing that all-important standard of equal course access.

Women’s golf at The Landings Club employs a three-tier approach. The informal “Farm Team” program is designed for women who are new to the game or maybe only played a few times a year before retiring. Staff professionals at the club offer instructional classes and players are grouped with those of similar skills for low-pressure rounds.

The Landings Nine-Hole Women’s Golf Association (L9GA) is the next step for former “Farm Team” players and new residents for whom a Thursday morning half-round of fun competition best suits their schedules. Members of the LWGA are lower-handicap golfers who often fill up two of the Landing’s courses for their Tuesday morning flighted tournaments, among other monthly competitive events. And a “buddy system” gets newbies at each level right into the swing of things.

Gail Wickstrom is a Chicago-area native who currently serves as Chair of the LWGA Board of Directors. “When you’re as large a group as we are,” she said, “you might arrive for your first event and there are 100 women milling about and you don’t know any of them. So we assign a ‘buddy’ who meets the new member at the course, introduces her around, and generally makes her more comfortable with the group’s various programs and benefits.”

And while LWGA members certainly look forward to the special tournaments where individuals vie for the lowest scores, weekly competitions and most other events emphasize camaraderie. “Our team-play formats enhance our goals of fellowship and fun on the course,” Wickstrom said, “and we’ve found that our flighted groups help to create a circle of friends.”

Katherine Crew came to The Landings from Atlanta and got involved about a year after moving in with the L9GA, which itself has around 170 members. They play as teams, too, and Katherine especially appreciated the overall health improvements for their members. “One of our trainers from our fitness center comes [over] before we tee off to lead a stretching class. Everyone loves it!” she said. “Getting out on the course on a beautiful Thursday morning, having fun with some great ladies, and playing a nine-hole game of golf does wonders for your health. It certainly does for your well being, as we all have fun and there are always lots of smiles when we’re done.”

In addition to social events like luncheons and dinner dances, both of the women’s golf groups at The Landings serve as conduits to volunteer opportunities and fund raising for local charities. The L9GA sponsors a big tournament every October that’s open to all club members—even men—and raises money for the Kid’s Cafe, an after-school meal program for children in the Savannah area at risk of hunger. The LWGA has raised more than $700,000 in the past 13 years for cancer research with their annual Golfing for a Cure Tournament, while smaller events benefit local military families in need, the Second Harvest Food Pantry, and the holiday-season Empty Stocking Fund.

Making connections with new Landings friends and within the wider Savannah community are laudable accomplishments, but these groups take it one step further by breaking down barriers. “This is one of the most vibrant women’s golf associations that you can imagine, and very welcoming to all,” said Wickstrom of the LWGA. “No one here cares what you did for a living or how much money you made or what kind of house you live in.” And the L9GA’s Crew echoes that sentiment: “There’s no status quo with us.”

Dataw Island Dataw Island

Located just up the coast in the South Carolina Lowcountry near the historic town of Beaufort, Dataw Island is a private residential and retirement community smaller in size than The Landings, but second to none in the quality of its golf. Both of the Dataw courses—Tom Fazio’s Cotton Dike and Arthur Hills’ Morgan River—are award-winning designs that have been recently renovated and have hosted numerous sanctioned amateur tournaments.

While Dataw Island Club members enjoy a variety of top-flight amenities, the Dataw Tennis Center was named in 2017 by the U.S. Tennis Association as one of the top four facilities in the country—golf is the most popular outdoor recreation.

“We have very active golf programs for both men and women,” said Director of Golf Dave Britton. “It is not uncommon for couples to move to Dataw Island where the husband is already a golfer and the wife is completely green, maybe even never having swung a club, and SHE ends up playing as often or even more than he does!”

The club’s flexible membership structure and access policies have certainly contributed to that growth in women’s golf participation. Dataw offers “al la carte” cafeteria-style membership plans that are renewable on an annual basis, allowing members to expand or change their choices as their lifestyles, interests, and schedules evolve. All members, regardless of plan, have access to the club’s golf practice facilities, can take part in free instructional clinics designed for new players, and may tee it up on the courses six times a year before joining a golf membership program. “This approach allows future golf members to get their feet wet before fully diving in,” Britton said.

Women golfers at Dataw Island Club, like their counterparts at The Landings Club, can then either move on after a learning period or jump right in to one of two golf groups. Or, like Celeste Nalwasky, a past president of the Dataw Island Women’s Golf Association (DIWGA), they can participate in both the 18-hole and nine-hole groups. She helps to coach new players and enjoys the casual fun of nine-hole outings but keeps her low-handicap skills sharp by playing in most of the competitive 18-hole tournaments.

“We were all beginners once,” said Nalwasky. “Golf is a fantastic way to get connected and to stay active.” Making a positive contribution to the local community is one way to establish those links: Among other charities it supports, the DIWGA recently raised more than $12,000 for cancer research at a single event.

Making new connections within the Dataw community and breaking down barriers are also major benefits of DIWGA membership. “One of the biggest drivers for golf participation is the social and welcoming climate that our members have for one another,” Britton said. “Making introductions and helping members get plugged into groups, whether you are seeking competitive play, a social group, or laughs and lagers, there are enough groups available that new members don’t have a hard time ‘fitting in’ as we hear sometimes can happen elsewhere. Perhaps most important to new members is that our existing members are very gracious and welcoming, regardless of your personal background or skill level on the course.”

thelandings.com

dataw.com

Dataw Island - Golf Communities in South Carolina

Dataw Island - Golf Communities in South Carolina

There is a place off the South Carolina coast, near the charming town of Beaufort, where nature and luxury share center stage. Shaped by the Intracoastal Waterway and a rich Southern history, the gated golf community of Dataw Island is a pristine parcel of 870 acres waiting to be discovered. Read More...


The Landings on Skidaway Island - Savannah's Choice for Island Living

The Landings on Skidaway Island - Savannah's Choice for Island Living

The Landings on Skidaway Island is a private gated community known as much for its beauty as for its personality. Located on the Intracoastal Waterway and just 12 miles from the charming and historic city of Savannah, GA, The Landings celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012. Read More...


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