Five Questions to Ask a Solar Power Company at a Home Improvement Show (And Our Answers)

‘Tis the season for home improvement shows at convention centers and meeting spaces around the country! It’s the beginning of the year and everyone is heading out to home improvement shows looking for the best ways to invest in their homes. We may be experts in solar power, but solar panel companies should be your first stop. Whether you are interested in saving thousands on your electric bill or reducing your carbon footprint, solar panels give one of the best returns on your investment of any change you can make to your home. Take our advice, and be sure to ask these five questions, too.

1)Tell me about your experience.
Experience typically correlates with quality of work. The more experience, the better work they do. But, don’t let that be your only question here; see if you can get to know the company and what they stand for. Ask: how many installations have you completed? Are you certified? Do you belong to any industry organizations? How are customer complaints handled?

At Icon Solar, we have hundreds of installations under our belt. Our team of experts includes NABCEP-certified professionals, installers with years of experience and hundreds of installations, and we are Green Umbrella, Green Energy Ohio, and U.S. Green Building Council members, keeping us at the forefront of new solar technology and developments. We are passionately driven to save our customers money (lots of it!) and committed to full-circle customer service for a worry and hassle-free solar journey. (Now, that was a good answer!)

2)What will my home solar system look like?
No home solar system is exactly the same. There are a variety of manufacturers, equipment types and warranties. Your solar array will depend on roof size, energy consumption and any design requests. It’s important to know what type of system you’ll need, if you can customize your design and what the actual product looks like.

At Icon Solar we use black panels with black frames designed to match rooftops; they’re much more attractive than typical blue cell panels you may picture when you think of solar panels. Plus, our team of experts works with each customer to create an array that meets your energy and design needs.

3)What kind of value will solar panels add to my home?
Common reasons for home improvement are to make your home more functional, more luxurious or change its style. Another big reason is to add value. If that’s part of your interest in going solar, you’ll be very pleased! Solar panels do that and then some. For every $1 in electric bill savings (and trust us, you’ll save a lot!), value increases by $20, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the value of your home.

Wanda4)What are the other benefits of this investment?
Going solar is a big investment. Like any major home improvement, you’ll want to know what bang you’re getting for your buck. With solar panels, we’re talking increased home value; sustainable clean energy production; reduced carbon footprint; increased energy independence; government and municipality rebates and credits; tens of thousands in savings and not to mention an electric bill that costs less than a cup of coffee. Whew, that’s a lot!

5)How do I get started?
Because, after all that, how can you not want solar panels? The simple way to get started is to call Icon Solar! We’re dedicated to walking each customer through their solar journey from start to finish.

We’ll be at home improvement shows all year. Check out where we’ll be and come see us!

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

Four Benefits of Storing Your Solar Energy

Whether you’re thinking about getting solar panels or already have a home solar system, you want to get the most out of your clean-energy-producing panels. The best way to do that? Install a home battery. Home batteries amp up your solar benefits and savings. Here’s how.

1) Home batteries store your solar energy.
Similar to regular AA batteries, home batteries contain lithium-ion battery cells that hold a specific ratio of materials that can hold, store and power electric current. But, unlike the AA battery powering your TV remote, a home battery can power major appliances, electronic devices and other critical items in your home (just a bit more powerful, right?).

Oftentimes, you won’t use all the energy your solar panels generate during a 24-hour period. Also, solar panels don’t generate new energy at night. With a home battery that energy can be stored and used around the clock, whenever you need it, day or night.

2) Home batteries increase your energy independence.
By storing the energy your home solar system produces, you become less dependent on the utility grid. Plus, you avoid relying on the utility company and its ever-increasing utility rates. If your solar system overproduces, that energy is stored for later use. So, instead of pulling energy from the utility grid, you’re pulling clean, solar produced energy from your home battery.

The sun offers free and abundant power, so why not take advantage of that and get the most out of your home solar system? (We can’t think of any good reasons not to, either!).

3) Home batteries serve as backup power.
If you have energy stored – independent of the utility grid – power outages don’t mean a thing! Your home battery will protect your home as a backup power generator, just a much cleaner, quieter, no-maintenance, long-lasting one. Plus, with a seamless hook-up to the grid and to your circuit breaker, using power from your home battery requires no action on your part. It just happens.WandaSidebarTemplate

4) Home batteries create a sustainable energy future.
By generating, storing and using your own clean solar energy, we’ve determined you can rely less on the utility grid. But, this also means you’re relying less on fossil fuels which significantly reduces your carbon footprint.

So, when it all comes down to it, combining your home solar system with a home battery will make you a sustainable, clean-energy producing machine, with massive savings, too!

Icon Solar is a certified installer of Tesla Powerwall, a premier home battery that is a step toward your complete home energy solution. Give us a call today to learn more about your energy independence and solar savings!

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

Five Words You Need to Know to Save Thousands

You’ve done your research and know when it comes to state-of-the-art solar panel technology, Icon Solar has the latest and greatest. You also know there is a lot involved in how those money-saving panels work (and work for you). These five need-to-know words will send you on your way to massive solar savings.

WandaSidebarTemplate1. Tax Credit
Simply put, a tax credit is a credit on your taxes. The credit amount is taken directly off your payment, rather than as a deduction from your taxable income. It is a credit that only offsets tax you would otherwise have to pay.

Right now, there is a 30 percent solar investment tax credit. That means you can claim your new home solar system on your taxes and receive 30 percent of the cost of your system in addition to any other refund you’re owed. This can be up to $10,000. Yep, you read that right.

2. Grid
When “grid” is mentioned in terms of solar power, we’re talking about the utility grid (don’t worry, we’re not talking about some elaborate mathematical graph!). Your home is hooked up to your community’s utility grid through power lines that give you electricity you use and pay for from the utility company.

The most common home solar system is grid-tied. With this system, your solar panels are still connected to the utility grid. While your solar panels will provide much of the electricity you need, remaining connected to the grid allows you to get electricity from it at night (when your panels aren’t producing power), or if you simply use more power than your panels can produce.

Additionally, grid-tied systems allow you to send surpluses from your own solar panels to the power company. When that happens, you get a credit with the power company. This credit allows you to pull that surplus amount of power your panels generated and you didn’t use from the grid at no cost. Your system will switch seamlessly to pull from the grid when you need it.

There are also grid-tied with battery and off-grid home solar systems.

3. Array
You most often see “array” in terms of a solar array or photovoltaic (fancy word for solar) array. Essentially, an array is your unique home solar system. When multiple solar panels are connected, and installed together, they are called an “array.”

At Icon Solar, we work with you to design, produce and install an array that is custom to your energy and aesthetic needs.

4. Inverter
An inverter is where the magic happens. To understand what an inverter does, first you have to know what DC and AC Power are. DC power, also known as “Direct Current,” is generated from your solar panels as the materials inside them are activated by the sun to create an electric current. AC power, also known as “Alternating Current,” is the electricity that you pull from the grid and use to power your home.

The inverter is the middle-man that transforms DC power into AC power. Each individual solar panel is connected to an inverter and to the other solar panels in your array. Together these inverters form a chain of power that travels into your circuit breaker on your electric panel to power your home.

5. Home Battery
A home battery is your home solar system’s right hand man. A home battery stores energy your home solar system overproduces so you can use it around the clock. It can also serve as a backup power source in power outages. By storing your solar energy, you’ll see even more electric bill savings and you can power critical appliances and devices in your home even when the grid is down. Home batteries mean less reliance on the grid, less fossil fuels and a lower carbon footprint.

Icon Solar is a certified installer of Tesla Powerwall, a complete home energy solution. Interested? Give us a call and learn more.

Now that you know how solar harnesses the free, abundant power of the sun (isn’t it awesome?!), you may be wondering how you get started on your home solar system. Lucky for you, Icon Solar has a total turnkey solution, which is a fancy way to say we’ll walk you through every step of your solar process.

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

“And They Said a Phone Wouldn’t Work…” The Next Best Technology (That Will Save You Thousands)

Let us tell you a story that may make you think differently about a major money-saving endeavor.

It is fabled that in the late 1800s Alexander Graham Bell offered to sell his patent on the telephone to Western Union for $100,000. As the story goes, the committee assigned to investigate the telephone invention included the following in its report:

“We do not see that this device will be ever capable of sending recognizable speech over a distance of several miles. Messer Hubbard and Bell want to install one of their ‘telephone devices’ in every city. The idea is idiotic on the face of it. Furthermore, why would any person want to use this ungainly and impractical device when he can send a messenger to the telegraph office and have a clear written message sent to any large city in the United States? … Mr. G.G. Hubbard’s fanciful predictions, while they sound rosy, are based on wild-eyed imagination and lack of understanding of the technical and economic facts of the situation, and a posture of ignoring the obvious limitations of his device, which is hardly more than a toy … This device is inherently of no use to us. We do not recommend its purchase.” *

This would be a good time to say, “I told you so!” Regardless of whether the story is true, it paints the picture of how it’s difficult to anticipate how or at what pace a new technology will work or supplement an old one. That is certainly the case with solar power.

In fact, solar power has really been around for quite some time. The first photovoltaic cell was produced at Bell Telephone Laboratories (see how it all ties together here?) in 1954, and the first solar powered telecommunications satellite was launch by (you guessed it!) Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1962.

WandaSidebarTemplateToday, we take things like TVs, phones, internet, GPS and more for granted. You may not know,  but these everyday technologies rely upon solar power to work. Think about if you couldn’t watch TV, use your phone, get on the internet or use your GPS for a day. (That does not sound fun!)

An interruption of solar power to a telecommunications satellite would probably make us realize how much we rely upon solar power. Even the little things, like the winter finale of Grey’s Anatomy or directions to the new pizza place, are ones on which we all rely on solar power to enjoy. But, solar power is so reliable that many of us don’t even notice that we use solar power in some way every day.

If solar power is so established and so reliable, why don’t more people use it to power their homes? Well, that is a good question! At some point the folks at Western Union wondered how they could be so wrong about the telephone. The telegraph was such a major part of Western Union’s business (which at the time was doing very well) that Western Union could hardly envision the day when the telegraph wouldn’t exist and most people would own a phone that they carry with them everywhere they go.

Similarly, it is difficult for many homeowners to consider getting their electricity from anything but the utility company. Just for a second, envision how it would feel to receive a utility bill with an amount due that’s less than a cup of coffee. Like that feeling? So do all of Icon Solar’s customers.

It’s time for you to decide whether you are going to stick with the telegraph or invest in the telephone (metaphorically speaking of course!). Investing in a home solar system is good for the environment and will save you money. Lots of money. Invest in your own wallet and embrace a future full of sunshine and savings!

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

 

*Yarrow, J (2014, Jan 2), This Apocryphal Story About The Telephone Should Be An Inspiration To Every Young Company, http://www.businessinsider.com/why-people-thought-telephones-would-fail-2014-1

Solar Panels = Home Improvement

“I don’t think I’ll live in my home long enough to see the benefit of solar panels.” “I’m planning on moving within a few years, so I’m not sure solar panels are worth it.”

These are common obstacles our customers face when thinking about investing in a home solar system. We’re here to step you through it. Whether you stay in your home for the next year or 25 years, solar panels increase the value of your home and give you an instant return on investment while you live in your home. How? Let us tell you.

Think about home improvement. Sure, new cabinets and countertops in the kitchen mayWandaGraphic look lovely. Or re-surfacing the driveway may improve your curb appeal. But as soon as those improvements are made, they begin aging and losing value.  Now is the time to flip the idea of home improvement on its head. The one value-add to your home that you might be overlooking – the one that will immediately begin recouping your investment and begin making you money – is solar power.

When you think home improvement, it’s typically with top-of-mind goals to make your home more functional, luxurious or efficient and to increase the value of your home. But to get any return on your investment, you have to leave the very home you just improved! Very few investments in home improvement pay for themselves with a correlating home value increase and make you wealthier while you still own your home. Solar panels do both of those things for you. A home solar system makes your electricity production more efficient, well, because it produces your energy! Plus, (the best part) solar is significantly less expensive than continually dishing out cash for increasing electric rates.

Solar also adds to your home value. For every dollar in energy bill savings (trust us, you’ll be saving lots of dollars!), an additional $20 is added to your home value. What does this add up to? For each kilowatt (kW) of solar installed, home value increases an average of $5,911. The average home solar system is 5kW. That’s $29,555!

Compare that to other home improvement options like a new front door or garage door that add under $2,000 in home value or a master suite upgrade or bathroom remodel that add about $10,000. And, don’t forget the kicker, these all lose value over time. But cold hard cash in a pocket never grows old like Aunt Harriet’s gold and avocado kitchen appliances did.

Obviously, smaller home improvements like replacing your front door or garage door cost less, giving you a higher return on investment above 90 percent. But only if you sell your home. Larger, more costly improvements, like a master suite upgrade or bathroom remodel tend to only yield about 60 percent return. Even a backup power generation system yields under 70 percent. But, again, you only gain a return from these types of home improvement if you sell your home.

Compare all of that to solar panels, which can return upwards of 100 percent, and then some. With a home solar system, you reap the benefits of little-to-no electric bill while you’re still living in your home AND increased home value when you sell.

Plus, unlike any other type of home improvement that begins depreciating the moment you’ve finished it, the energy produced by solar panels can actually increase in value. As electric rates become more expensive, the power your solar panels generate increases in value.

So, next time you think home improvement, think solar panels and how they can make money for you regardless of how long you’ll be in your home.

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

What Two Little Mice Can Teach You About Saving Money

Let us start where it all began (and you’ll have to read to the end to get it). In the late 1990s Spencer Johnson, M.D. penned a business motivation book titled Who Moved My Cheese? The book is less than 100 pages, but the message of the book is so powerful that it spent nearly five years on the New York Times bestseller list and continues to be one of the best-selling business books year after year.

Who Moved My Cheese? tells the story of two mice, Sniff and Scurry (these are the ones that can teach you an important lesson, here!), and two little people, Hem and Haw, all of whom spend their days in a maze looking for cheese. Early in the story the main characters find a room that has a lot of cheese. They return to that room every day and enjoy the cheese – that is, until one day when they enter the room and the cheese is gone.

The story goes on to describe the different reactions of the main characters to this Cheesedramatic and seemingly sudden change in their lives. Sniff and Scurry, who noticed the cheese pile was getting smaller every day and stayed prepared, didn’t waste any time overanalyzing the situation, but immediately went off into the maze in search of more cheese, which they eventually found (smart little mice, huh?).

Hem and Haw, on the other hand, didn’t notice that the stockpile of cheese was dwindling and instead viewed the absence of the cheese on that fateful day as sudden, unexpected and unfair. They had come to take the cheese for granted, to rely upon it, and they were not prepared when the cheese disappeared (we’re building an analogy here, folks).

Change tends to sneak up on all of us when we are not diligent. Every year, a new cell phone model is introduced by the major manufacturers and the rush to obtain the latest and greatest model is clearly a sign that changes in cell phone technology are not only anticipated but embraced. In other areas of our lives we are much more complacent. Take our use of electric power, for example.

Like Hem and Haw, many people take the electricity they purchase each month for granted, barely noticing the increases in their electric bill that have occurred over the years as they just keep writing their money away one check at a time. One day they may find that their electric has become unaffordable and they may consider it sudden, unexpected and unfair.

But, the fact of the matter is, if we pay any attention at all, that electric prices have increased over the years and that trend is likely to continue. Icon Solar customers have anticipated and prepared for that change by taking control of their electricity costs.

So, we come to our final point. Are you going to keep hemming and hawing about the rising costs of electricity or are you going to anticipate, prepare and embrace (like those smart mice!) the changing world and give your home solar power? Electricity costs are an ever-increasing percentage of your monthly income. It’s time you save that money.

Call the experts at Icon Solar today and let them guide you through the maze to the room full of sunshine and savings – and maybe even some cheese, too!

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

 

Dear Wanda: I’m Jealous of California. Can We Have Solar Here Too?

DearWanda

Dear Wanda,
I’ve lived in Cincinnati for a long time. On a recent trip to California, I saw tons of solar panels. Is that because they’re all a bunch of new-age folks out there? What’s the deal with solar panels? Can they even be used in the Tristate?
Sincerely,
California Traveler

Dear California Traveler,
Hope you had a great time! Oh, the sight of so many solar panels makes my heart skip a beat. California has often led the country with pollution-beating alternative energies, and sometimes that leaves the rest of us wondering why.

In the case of solar panels, Californians are making really smart decisions about how to spend their money (and trust me, I know a good money-saving decision when I see one). Solar panels are incredibly environmentally conscious, but also can save you thousands of dollars a year on your electric bill. Yes, you read that right.

Plus, solar panels can increase the value of your home and there are multiple tax credits, local incentives and utility grants that can put money right back into your wallet (where it belongs!). Did you know one of these is a 30 percent federal tax credit you can claim on your taxes and receive in addition to any refund you’re owed?

This money-saving investment is 100 percent viable in the Tristate. The availability, investment and capacity just keeps on going up! Over the next five years, Ohio alone is expected to install hundreds of kilowatts (kw) of solar power, which is more than six times the amount installed in the past five years.

Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana average between 4.2 and 4.7 peak hours of sun per day on an annual basis. Compare that to Florida, you know, the Sunshine State, that averages at 5 peak hours and California which ranges from 5 to 5.7 hours a day. So, what does that mean for solar in the Tristate? It means it works!

If you’re looking to my superior wealth wisdom, I’ll tell you your next step is to call the best in the solar business: Icon Solar. They’ll help get you started on your solar journey and handle every detail along the way, from permit and financing, to installation and grid hook-up.

As your Wealth Warrior, I must say this investment will set you up for more trips to California, and then some. Heck, you can even travel to Hawaii, then Australia, then Europe.

Happy saving (and traveling)!
– Wanda, Your Wealth Warrior

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Solar Power: How Much You Can Actually Save

You already know going solar saves you money, but you may still wonder exactly how much. Precisely how much solar panels can offset your electricity usage depends on a few variables, including how much electricity you use, the size of your solar system, the direction it faces and how much sun you get on your particular property.

This breakdown shows how the electricity offset by solar affects The Jones Family Savings at 123 Main Street, Anywhere, USA, dollar-by-dollar. These savings were calculated based on an average monthly electrical usage of 1,500 kilowatt hours (kwh) and a $0.12 cost per kwh. The Jones Family’s solar panels will offset 99 percent of those 1,500 kwh.

You’ll find it helpful to know how much electricity your home uses each month when you read this article. So go ahead and grab your electric bill if you need to, or look at it later to see how your house compares to the sample house here.

The Jones Family’s first hunk (like, thousands of dollars, people!) of savings came from the 30 percent solar tax credit. If you purchase and install your solar panels before December 31, 2016, you can claim your residential solar system on your 2016 taxes, which means a potential $10,000+ right back into your wallet in just a few short months.

FederalSolarSavings

The savings don’t just stop at the solar purchase. Your investment pays for itself, and then some. Check out the Jones family’s short and long term benefits from going solar.

HomeBenefitSavings

It looks pretty nice with it all spelled out, doesn’t it? We are big fans of the massive savings you gain from going solar, but the incredible environmental benefits are hard to ignore. Solar gives you clean energy, reduces your carbon footprint and does wonders for the world around us (talk about pretty nice!). Check out what the Jones family’s environmental impact.

EnvironmentalBenefits

Now you see all the value added both financially and environmentally from a solar investment, but you may still be wondering exactly how much it will cost you each month to go solar if you opt to finance your investment. Our team will work with you to combine our flexible financing options and any other incentives (don’t forget about that 30 percent federal tax credit!) to find you the best way to invest in your energy independence.

It’s time to give us a call! Then you can reap the sweet benefits of a little-to-nothing electric bill, increased home value and clean energy for your home.

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

Home Solar Systems Can Save and Make You Money

DearWanda

Dear Wanda,
I’m thinking about installing solar by the end of the year, so I can get the tax credit back sooner when I file my taxes in a few months. But, I want to be sure I’m investing my money in the best way possible. Can you help me understand how solar will save me money? Does it increase the value of my home? What kind of rate of return on my investment can I expect?

Sincerely,
Wants to Go Solar (But Still Not Sure)

 

Dear Wants to Go Solar,
You’ve come to the right spot. It’s my job to defend your money and help you spend it in only the most beneficial ways. I can definitely help you feel total confidence in your decision to go solar. I’m NOT going to let you waste your money. (So go ahead and return some of those shoes you just bought right now. You don’t need five pairs.)

The short answers to your questions are yes, going solar will save you money (and a lot of it!); yes, solar panels increase your home value; and yes, you’ll get a pretty sizable return on your (very wise) investment.

Your investment in solar will save you massive amounts of money. For starters, you may be eligible to get a 30 percent federal tax credit. That means 30 percent of what you spend on your home solar system going right back into your pocket, which can be upwards of $10,000. Ah, that’s like music to my ears! If you purchase and install your home solar system by the end of this year, you can file it on your 2016 taxes. That means money back in your pocket in months. By using clean energy, your solar panels create more energy for you and pull less and less energy from the utility grid, so you’ll also reap the reward of a low-to-no charge on your electric bill.

Now that we’re clear on how solar saves you money, let me tell you how it can make you money.

Solar panels increase the value of your home. How much value you may be wondering? Tens of thousands of dollars. Yep, that’s right. Similar to finishing your basement, re-designing your kitchen, or any other major home renovation, residential solar panels make your home more desirable, put it one step above comparable homes and give it a more expensive price tag if you decide to sell it. For each kilowatt (kW) of solar installed, home value increases an average of $5,911. The average home solar system is 5kW. That’s $29,555 in increased home value. Cha ching!

Solar panels say to your neighbors or future potential buyers, “Hey, I’m a smart homeowner. I’m financially savvy and I totally pay less for electric than you do.” (I really don’t know why everyone else isn’t doing this already!)

So take my advice. (After all, I only give the best.) Save money and reap the sweet, sweet financial and environmental rewards of going solar. Your next step? Call Icon Solar. They’re the best in the business and will help every step along the way! You have to trust me, I’m a warrior of wealth, your Wealth Warrior.

Sincerely,
Wanda, Your Wealth Warrior

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Five Things You Need to Know About Solar Power and Your Home’s Value

“What if I move?” “I don’t think I’ll stay in this home long enough to get solar panels.” “If I’m planning on moving, why would I get solar panels?” “If I don’t live here long enough to pay off the investment, I can’t get solar panels.” These are questions and comments we’ve heard from some of our customers when they’ve begun to think about investing in solar panels for their home. Whether you live in your house your whole life, or you move in 5, 10, 15 years, going solar is a wise investment (that will pay off!).

WandaSidebar1.Solar panels increase the value of your home.
It’s that simple. An investment in solar panels isn’t only a way to save you money on your electric bill. Similar to finishing a basement, landscaping your yard or repaving your driveway, installing solar panels makes your home more desirable (and its energy source much more sustainable, we might add). For every $1 in electric bill savings, value increases by $20, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the value of your home.

2. Better (or equal) ROI to renovations.
Typically, when you think about increasing your home value, you think renovations like a bathroom remodel, deck addition or finished basement, or maybe more small scale like gardening or replacing a front door. Either way, one of your intentions is to increase your home value (with that ROI in mind). Where a renovated kitchen or bathroom can give you a 50-60 percent ROI, solar panels can give you upwards of 100 percent.

3. Less time on the market.
So maybe you purchase and install solar panels and then think about moving. Solar panels are an increasingly dominant residential trend, so having them on your home makes it stand out. Things like a big yard, renovated kitchen and solar panels will lead to a quicker home sale, less stress of staging and having that “always-ready-for-visitors” home. Don’t forget, solar increased your home value, so you’re walking away from that sale with more money, too.

4. Differentiates you from comparable homes.
If you’re in a neighborhood full of beautiful 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom homes with renovated kitchens and big back yards, solar panels could be your deal maker. Solar panels offer a new homeowner clean energy and a low electric bill. Plus, they’re already installed and turnkey-ready (so make sure they thank you). In what can sometimes be a volatile market, solar panels might as well be a real estate sign that says, “Pick me! I’ll save you money!”

5. Buyers want a home with a tiny electric bill.
Don’t you? If you invest in solar panels, you’ll save money on your electric bill while you live in your home. Then, if you move or decide to sell your home, the buyer inherits that itsy bitsy electric bill (as if already installed solar panels weren’t enough!).

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.