Geothermal HVAC energy systems are increasingly breaking into the home construction mainstream. According to a Wall Street Journal article published in 2013, net-zero homes are on the rise, and some building companies are even making geothermal systems a staple of their building practices. Two New England businesses, Ultra Geothermal and ReVision Energy, are already successfully bringing that dream to the East Coast.
If you're an eco-conscious consumer or homeowner, a low- or no-carbon footprint home may be seen as a luxury investment, reserved for the wealthy. While it's true that a geothermal HVAC system is an investment up front, the eventual savings more than make up for it, while also increasing the value of your home. One thing that isn't widely known is that homeowners also don't have to completely replace their current HVAC system; Barrington N.H.'s Ultra Geothermal can meet you in the middle.
Think of it like a hybrid car. A hybrid will run on electricity or biofuel until the power needed to run the engine exceeds what the electric motor can handle. Ultra Geothermal can install a partial geothermal system alongside your Energy Star or other compatible furnace that functions the same way. If you don’t have a newer furnace, such as a forced hot water baseboard furnace, Ultra Geothermal can come up with a plan to integrate ducting into the home. And when it’s finished, you also end up with central A/C.
PORTSMOUTH -- Valentines Day is fast approaching. If you haven’t made plans yet, why not try something new?
Poco’s Bow Street Cantina in Portsmouth offers fine Mexican dining and an unbeatable atmosphere. Take in the beautiful view of the Piscatuqua River from the dining room while you enjoy a full menu of traditional Mexican classics made right. If you’re looking for a more intimate environment, head down stairs to the Cantina lounge and share drinks by the warmth of the fireplace.
For a limited time, Poco’s is offering a great deal. Spend $50 in a visit and receive a $10 gift card, redeemable at either Two Ceres or Poco’s. Spend $75 and receive a $15 gift card or spend $100 and receive a $25 gift card.
By Brad Paige, CEO, Kennebunk Savings Bank. Originally printed in Coastal Home Magazine Winter 2014 Edition.
Take time during the winter months to pay off your credit card balances. There’s nothing that will earn you a better return on your money today than paying off those balances, particularly cards that are in the 10 to 21 percent range. Additionally, don’t fall into the ‘but I earn rewards points’ trap; if you truly have the discipline to pay off your balances monthly, go for it. Otherwise, those travel rewards points are actually costing you far more money than they are worth!
Save! Experts tell us to maintain at least six months of take-home pay in a reserve for emergencies, and I tend to agree. You have to be prepared for emergencies. You can start by transferring $25 from each paycheck into a savings account – you’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up and how easy it is to add more. Finally, be vigilant. Enroll in internet or mobile banking and keep an eye on your finances by regularly checking your account activity. If you see an unusual transaction, be sure to call your bank right away.
By Larry Russell, Northwest Mutual. Originally printed in Coastal Home Magazine Winter 2014 Edition.
There’s a basic financial concept I always start with called the pyramid. On the bottom of the pyramid, you have your disability, long-term care needs, healthcare costs, and the risk of a premature death – the stuff I like to call risk management. Once a client has a good handle on their risks, we look at wealth management – the second level of the pyramid. Here we’re making sure we can take advantage of any tax efficiencies that the government allows so that we can maximize the overall amount of wealth available for income or inheritance. With both of these considerations, the important thing I encourage is for my clients to check in on an annual basis. It’s the same principle as seeing your doctor for regular visits, only instead of the health of your body and mind, the target here is the health of your financial future.
From Jon Merwin, Portsmouth Atlantic Insurance. Originally printed in Coastal Home Magazine Winter 2014 Edition.
For anyone who owns a home, a car, or just happens to be revisiting their finances, my advice is to seek out an independent insurance agency. Most big-name insurance companies are what we call ‘captive’. That is, if you go to Big Insurance Company X, they’re only going to sell you their own, in-house insurance policies. Independent agencies – or brokers – can often have 10 or more options to choose from; there’s no overriding loyalty to any one, far-flung company.
If you’re with a captive agency, you’re essentially ‘stuck’ with your policy. You may or may not have a great policy as far as coverage goes, but what happens if your insurance company increases your premium year after year? Your agent will give you a generic excuse as to why premiums are increasing in an effort to convince you to stay put. With PAI, we have many customers that contact us to shop their insurance if rates get out of hand. At the end of the day we have nine other options and no specific company loyalty.
900 Degrees Neopolitan Pizzaria's macaroni and cheese was recently named the best out of all New Hampshire restaurants at the 2014 Best Macaroni and Cheese Bake-off! The Bake-off welcomes macaroni recipes from all around New Hampshire. It judges them within four respective categories: Best N.H.-Made, Best Traditional, Most Creative/Exotic, and Best Restaurant/Café Macaroni and Cheese.
The owner of 900 Degrees, Pricilla Lane Rondeau, utilizes a unique approach when cooking her macaroni and cheese. While working on her recipe, Pricilla had a hunch that the taste of a wood fire stove would add to her macaroni, and she was right! Now, every order of her macaroni and cheese, both in her restaurant and at home, are cooked individually in a cast iron skillet cooked in a wood fire oven. This technique and recipe have created a staple meal for Pricilla’s family events. Whether it’s a family barbeque or a holiday, Pricilla always gets the question “You’re bringing the mac and cheese, right?” Of course, she always does.
Want to taste for yourself how delicious this macaroni and cheese really is? Stop by 900 Degrees in Manchester or Epping to try it out! Or if you’re feeling ambitious, we have Pricilla’s recipe for you below.
By Mike Smith, Progressive Asset Management Group. Originally printed in Coastal Home Magazine Winter 2014 Edition.
A lot of people believe that when you invest to support environmental or social causes, you have to expect to make a sacrifice on your previous returns, which simply isn’t the case. Many studies show investment strategies that consider environmental, social, and governance criteria (ESG) are competitive with non-ESG strategies as far as performance.
Companies that think about how to better manage pollution or how to be more energy efficient tend to be forward thinking and focused on the long term. In short, they tend to have better management and better corporate governance. Better-managed companies in turn tend to be more profitable, which is in turn reflected in their stock price. What we find is that most people don’t have the faintest idea of where there money is invested, and when they find out, it often doesn’t align with their values. But when they realize they don’t have to sacrifice performance if they follow their values, a light bulb goes off and they recognize they can be invested in enterprises that they support and believe in and also contribute to a more sustainable world through their investments.
The Seacoast’s favorite pet supply store, The Natural Dog and Holistic Cat, was recently presented with an opportunity it couldn’t pass up. After opening its new Portsmouth location only a year ago, it is now in the process of expanding its Newburyport store.
Natural Dog’s Newburyport neighbor went out of business six months ago. It took some time and convincing, but eventually owners Jeff and Dawn Price decided it would be a great opportunity for expansion.
They’ve been in their Newburyport location for close to 10 years now. It’s a great location that offers convenient parking for their customers. But they were admittedly a little cramped. “We’ll be primarily adding new products that we’ve wanted to bring in for awhile but couldn’t because of space constraints,” Jeff Price said in a recent telephone interview.
PORTSMOUTH—Adapt Design is a Portsmouth-based architectural and design firm that places a strong emphasis on sustainability in its work. Its team of two employees utilize their extensive knowledge in their field to build properties creatively and practically.
Its team is currently working on the renovation of a South End Portsmouth home that belongs to a family of four. The team are building an addition that will include an office, storage area, and provide extra living space for the family.
One technique they are using for this renovation is The Zip System, an approach of coating seams in windows or walls throughout a home to make it airtight. This system improves the overall ability to control a home's climate by making sure heat or cool air will stay in the home longer.
PORTSMOUTH — Futuro Builders is a Green Alliance business dedicated to constructing sustainable homes and businesses with the least amount of energy at an affordable cost. It was founded in 2011 by Jesse Ware from JPWare Design, and soon after, Futuro morphed into a powerful green building force. Ware had years of experience under his belt before launching the company currently known for its unique design and expert building skills.
Futuro Builders services all of New Hampshire and Southern Maine’s Seacoast. One of Futuro’s most recent developments was Brackett Estates in Wells, Maine. The 58-acre job site (and all of Futuro’s other building projects) have recycling programs to dispose of waste properly in dumpsters. Twenty-six of the residential homes in Brackett were installed with “Net Zero” renewable energy for heating, cooling and powering all on its own. Futuro stresses the major advantages of clean energy for homeowners such as lower heating bills in the winter time.
Futuro takes sustainability into account when deciding on anything needed for its projects, whether it’s paint colors, insulation, wood, technology, or general practices. The team at Futuro is proud to build green homes that are both energy and cost efficient. Zero Energy is a very important aspect of their construction.
PORTSMOUTH — Come join Green Alliance Business Partner Blue Ocean Society at Flatbread Company for a Community Night Benefit on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Both Flatbread Co. and Orange Leaf of Portsmouth are generously donating a portion of proceeds to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation.
Flatbread has agreed to give $3 to BOS for each large pizza sold and $1.75 for each small pizza sold from 5 to 9 p.m. The BOS event includes take-out orders as well. After devouring a specialty flatbread pizza, you will probably be in the mood for some frozen yogurt from Orange Leaf. The local Orange Leaf is going to give 15 percent of all sales to the Blue Ocean Society. There’s nothing better than enjoying a few slices with friends and family and then topping it off with a custom dish of Orange Leaf’s premium frozen yogurt. All purchases from food, beverages (or froyo) will help improve the local marine life.
Attention, GA Community! The time has come to cast your votes for your favorite Green Alliance restaurants in the 14th Annual Best of NH Readers’ Poll. The Food Ballot is now available and can be accessed online through March 24. The ballot is one of the most effective ways to get recognition for the best local eateries in New Hampshire. Categories include your favorite burger joint, martini, brewery, pizzeria, ice cream shop & many more. Green Alliance business in the running for many awards include 900 Degrees Neopolitan Pizzaria, Pocos Bow Street Cantina and the Redhook Brewery.
900 Degrees is nominated for best caesar salad, martini, pizzeria, gourmet pizzeria, Manchester restaurant AND cool night spot. The Portsmouth Brewery, Smuttynose and Redhook are all contestants for the best local brewery and local brew pub. Vote the very green-minded UNH Dairy Bar for best Seacoast ice cream!
HOLDERNESS — Looking to renovate your home and become a greener household? Come to the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center located at 23 Science Center Road in Holderness on May 10 to get some great tips and advice from experts in the renewable energy business. A presentation by Green Alliance Business Partners ReVision Energy and Ultra Geothermal will take place at the science center starting at 9:30 a.m. ReVision Energy is an energy contractor that services and installs solar systems throughout Northern New England. Ultra Geothermal is an energy specialist that uses only the most recent geothermal technologies to provide clean fuel. Both companies provide services that save families and individuals significant amounts of money on heating and electric bills.
If you or someone you know is intrigued by alternative energy sources for heating and electricity, this informative discussion will answer all of your questions. The guest speakers will discuss all of the benefits of geothermal and solar PV or hot water options for your home. The presenters will talk about the helpful ways to decrease NET energy usage in residential buildings. Pre-register for this event by contacting the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (603) 968-7194.
This past Sunday, GA business partner Get it Going participated in the 15th Annual Penguin Plunge at Hampton Beach. In case you’re not familiar with this event, it is a fundraiser for the Special Olympics New Hampshire. Participants who raise $350 or more before the event earn the privilege of taking “The Plunge.” The act of "The Plunge” involves running into the Atlantic Ocean during the heart of winter.
This prospect attracts many volunteers to raise money for the Special Olympics NH. On the day of the event, hundreds of people attended to participate in a parade, costume contest, and of course, The Plunge. Teams warmed up in heated tents on the beach as they awaited their turns to plunge into the ocean with their respective "wave." There were three waves of teams who plunged into the water together, each group seven minutes apart. Volunteers waited on the shore to provide them with towels when they got out of the water. Jill Spring, co-owner of GiG, described the experience as a fun and exciting adrenaline rush.
The anticipation of plunging into the freezing water was a big factor in the overall experience. GiG’s team had been signed up to take part in the Plunge since before Christmas, and the thought of plunging into the ocean on some of our colder winter days had them feeling anxious. Luckily, the weather was not too frigid on Sunday, and the GiG team was happy to have this experience and celebrate the funds raised for a great cause.
Looking for a gift for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day? Look no further! Prelude is having a special sale for the month of February. This month it is offering a discount of 15 percent off all red, white, and heart jewelry. With a wide variety of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, you’re sure to find a unique piece of jewelry that fits any style.
Green Alliance members get a discount of 10 percent off all jewlery at Prelude (not to be used in conjunction with other discounts.) To join the GA, click here.