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Complimentary March 2020

On the Cover

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Home DESIGN page 15 - 22 IREDELL LIVING • MARCH 2020






LAW Daly Mills f family Law • Adoption • Alimony/Post-separation Support • Child Custody/Child Support • Divorce • Division of Marital Property • Estate Planning • Guardianship/Incompetency • Living Will/Advance Directive • Power of Attorney • Prenuptial Agreement • Probate/Estate Administration • Separation Agreement • Wealth Transfer/Asset Protection • Wills and Trusts

Clockwise from the bottom–Judith M. Daly, Board Certified Family Law Specialist, Of Counsel, Meg H. Stacy, Torrey K. Lomas, & Miranda J. Mills, Partner

O u r S u P P O rT S TA f f

Free 30-Minute initial Consultation

704.878.2365 Terri McKesson Sara Moore Office Administrator North Carolina State Paralegal Bar Certified Paralegal

April Moss Paralegal

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111 West Broad Street, Suite D • Statesville, NC 28677 www.DalyMills.com

from the publisher

MacAdam Smith Publisher mac@oasisluxuryhomes.com (484) 769-7445

Kathy Wheeler

Welcome to the

March issue. “In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” ––Mark Twain

With spring just around the corner, we expect some twists and turns in the weather. But we know that eventually warm days will arrive, bringing a sense of rebirth, growth, and hope, flowing through the fresh, sweet air. Glorious flowers of yellow, purple, red, and blue will pop up everywhere. People will find any manner of excuse to stay outside, mowing young grass, gathering in the back yard, or giving the car a thorough detailing. With that surging sense of renewal often come thoughts of home renovations. Maybe you’ve got a room-specific project in mind, like freshening up the kitchen, or perhaps you’ve spent the winter ambitiously planning a whole home reconstruction. Our March issue’s home design and decor articles aim to set you on the right path! You’ll find out the official 2020 Pantone color and explore the latest trends in home décor. If you live in a small apartment or town4


home, we’ve got some intriguing ideas to transform and expand the tiniest of spaces to use every inch beautifully. We explore the very latest developments in smart home technology that can help you better communicate with your house for enhanced convenience and security. And finally, if you’ve ever thought of going solar, there’s no better time to do it, especially right here in North Carolina! We show you how homeowners can knock off almost half of their installation cost and start selling energy back to the utility! Maybe you’ll even finish that renovation by St. Patrick’s Day, March 17 this year, and find another reason to celebrate with traditional corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, and a pint of Guinness. Whatever your spring plans, we’re looking forward with you to greener, warmer days. Thanks so much for reading Iredell Living magazine.

MacAdam Smith Publisher

Design & Advertising Sales kathylivingmagazine@gmail.com (828) 238-3224

Sharon Simpson Advertising Director sharon@lncurrents.com (704) 677-9159

Linda B. Wilson Advertising Sales lindalivingmagazine@gmail.com (704) 657-0237

Don Forrest Advertising Sales donlivingmagazine@gmail.com (828) 244-6538

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Madolyn Snow Advertising Sales madolyn@oasisluxuryhomes.com (704) 746-8108

Iredell 10225 Hickorywood Hill Ave., Unit A Huntersville, NC 28078 (484) 769-7445 IredellLiving@gmail.com

www.IredellLivingMagazine.com Iredell Living reserves the right to deny any advertisement or listing. Submissions are welcome, but unsolicited materials are not guaranteed to be returned. Iredell Living assumes no responsibility or liability for the information, services, products, claims, statements, accuracy, or intended or unintended results of any advertiser, editorial contributors, company, professional corporation, business or service provider herein this publication. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited.

Are you and your family prepared for the future?

Estate Planning and Estate Administration can ensure your legacy is preserved. Call the Estate Attorneys at

Daly Mills Family Law • Estate Planning • Wills • Testamentary Trusts

Call Today for a FREE 30-Minute Initial Consultation!

(704) 878-2365

• Revocable Living Trusts • Irrevocable Trusts • Special Needs Trusts • Living Wills • Health Care Power of Attorney • Financial Power of Attorney • Estate Administration • Guardianship Proceedings

Danielle Feller

Judith M. Daly

Miranda Mills

111 West Broad Street, Suite D • Statesville, North Carolina 28677 | www.DalyMills.com IREDELL LIVING • MARCH 2020


contents MARCH 2020 FEATURES 10 • COVER STORY Natural Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center Empowering Women, Creating Community


15 22

8 • Pomme Frites in Avocado Oil with Black Truffle

HOME DESIGN 16 • The Convenience of Smart Home Technology 18 • 2020 Home Design Trends 20 • Going Solar 22 • Making The Most Of Small Spaces


CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kristie Darling • JC Summerford

COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Lisa Crates Photography Editorial Stock photography, unless otherwise noted, is from iStock.



We care for women from adolescence to menopause! We also offer hospital births and GYN/well woman care.

Natural Child Birth & Water Births A natural and beautiful way to bring your baby into the world.

Meet our staff: Back row–Erica Welch, CNM; Jennifer Johnson, CNM, WHNP; Marcia Ensminger, CNM; Amanda Harris, FNP-BC Front row–Haley Swift, CNM and Nicole Winecoff, CNM

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(704) 876-6279 2865 Wilksboro HWY• Statesville, NC IREDELL LIVING • MARCH 2020


Photography by Glenn Roberson

In the Kitchen with Jill Dahan Photography courtesy of Jill Dahan

Ingredients 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes or sweet potatoes or a mixture, washed thoroughly 4 to 5 tablespoons avocado oil

Jill Dahan

Sea salt to taste Small drizzle of black truffle oil (optional)


¼-cup finely and freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional) 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional) Avocado mayonnaise and/or tomato ketchup for dipping

Instructions Pomme Frites in Avocado Oil with Black Truffle

Luckily you don’t have to speak French or get fancy to whip these tasty beauties up in less than 20 minutes. Potatoes are rich in vitamin C, fiber and other goodies, and a combination of sweet and Yukon Gold potatoes not only look beautiful but satisfy the taste buds, too. Avocado oil is heart friendly and body-hugging in all the right ways, so you can munch happily on these while knowing you are nourishing your friends and family. Hot, crisp and Moorish means every day can be a Fryday!

Cut potatoes with skins on in sticks about ½-inch thick. Toss in just enough oil to coat each stick, sprinkle with salt and place on a large piece of parchment paper in a single layer. Preheat oven and baking sheet to 450 F. When hot, place the parchment paper on the baking sheet and bake for 10 to 13 minutes until lightly browned and crisp. Sprinkle with truffle oil, Parmesan and parsley if using. Serve hot with avocado mayonnaise or ketchup for dipping. Serves four to six.

Jill Dahan lives in Cornelius and is the author of Starting Fresh! Recipes for Life. You can learn more about her at www.jilldahan.com. To learn more about her nonprofit, Sunninghill Jill Kids, visit www.sunninghilljillkids.org.





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on the cover

Empowering Women, Creating Community By Kristie Darling | Photos by Lisa Crates Photography 10


Pictured, left to right Back row–Erica Welch, CNM; Jennifer Johnson, CNM, WHNP; Marcia Ensminger, CNM; Amanda Harris, FNP-BC Front row–Haley Swift, CNM and Nicole Winecoff, CNM

“When I walked in the door, I fell in love. The atmosphere, the women, and especially their approach to childbirth were a breath of fresh air,” Amber Rhodes told with me. “I felt like a woman, not a number. I transferred my care to Natural Beginnings that very day—I’ll never go anyplace else.” And Amber has kept that promise. She has four children, Everett, Teddy, Eloise, and Penny Mae. Natural Beginnings was, in fact, the beginning of each of their lives. Amber’s wonderful stories about the births of her children are common among those who choose Natural Beginnings. Women are empowered, heard and seen, comforted, and amazed by the personal, professional healthcare they receive whether they are there for general women’s care, prenatal care, labor and birth, or postpartum care. While each experience is unique, just like all the women who give birth, the take-away is simple: Natural Beginnings is a life-changer. The providers give women a voice in the care they receive and the normal, natural birth that so many desire.

Photo provided by Nat ural Beginnings

WHAT IT IS Natural Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center is the only women’s health facility in our region that offers an out-of-hospital childbirth option at the birth center or a midwife-supported birth in the hospital. In fact, without Natural Beginning’s location in Statesville, women must travel to Asheville, Greensboro, or Chapel Hill to get these specialty services. With prenatal healthcare appointments scheduled from two to six weeks apart, to a labor-is-starting-right-now situation, several hours’ travel isn’t ideal. Six years ago, Amber chose Natural Beginnings four months in her first pregnancy because a fiveminute drive to a closer office didn’t give her what she wanted: options. “The drive was worth it.” “Women want to take part in all the decisions about their healthcare,” certified nurse-midwife and Center co-owner Marcia Ensminger told me. “Here, we provide obstetric well-woman care, on-site prenatal lab work and ultrasounds, genetic screening, and regularly scheduled office visits— you’ll get to see all of the midwives. We attend labor, delivery, provide after birth care, counseling and classes in pregnancy, nutrition, childbirth, and lactation support. Susie Hiatt and Martha Cuervo are our lactation consultants who see patients at Davis Regional Medical Center, as well as outpatient in our office.” The goal with new patients is to develop a prenatal plan, then determine what the expectant mother wants labor and delivery to be like…in the birth center or hospital? With or without medication? In a birthing tub? Nicole Winecoff is co-owner and certified nurse midwife. She explained, “Our job is to recognize in advance issues


On the cover–Nicole Winecoff, CNM, and Marcia Ensminger, CNM (right), owners of Natural Beginnings Birth & Wellness Above, top to bottom • Amber Rhodes with her newborn and Nicole • Amanda Harris, FNP-BC, seeing a GYN patient • Erica Welch, CNM, during a family-centered prenatal visit IREDELL LIVING • MARCH 2020


that might arise; to transfer to the hospital, if necessary, before something becomes an emergency,” The Center’s five nursemidwives, family nurse practitioner, nurses and RNs, plus office support staff work together daily with low-risk pregnancies, as well as with women who have medical issues. A thorough prenatal examination at the start allows them to identify concerns and educate, guide, treat, and partner with patients so that after months of care and monitoring, their birthing experience is appropriate, safe, and the most desirable they can have. Women with high blood pressure, diabetes, abnormal labor patterns, and a need for C-section delivery can continue care at Natural Beginnings and birth at Davis. When higher risk conditions occur, there is close collaboration with Dr. Stephen Coarsey. The midwives have full privileges at Davis Regional. EXCEPTIONAL WOMEN’S HEALTHCARE Dr. Coarsey is Natural Beginning’s supervising physician. Dr. Coarsey is one of our area’s most beloved OB-GYNs. He started his practice here in 1986—he may have delivered you! “I feel blessed to work with the women at Natural Beginnings. They know what they’re doing,” Steve told me. “Natural childbirth in a home-like setting is very appealing to people. Labor and delivery have become highly medicalized—treated like a disease—and it shouldn’t be that way. Women who don’t need hospitalization should definitely consider this practice…it’s a wonderful, safe place run by skilled, dedicated women.” Dr. Coarsey is called on when any red flags arise that require his consultation or assistance. PROFESSIONAL AND BEAUTIFUL! Nicole and Marcia opened the birth center in 2011 and have been improving services and the facility throughout their journey together. “We remodeled a year ago because we needed more room and wanted to offer complete birth suites with private bathrooms. Families deserve the most comfortable, convenient, and lovely space for labor and delivery,” Nicole explained as she gave me a tour. “We went from two rooms and one bath 12


to three private rooms with baths and a birthing tub in each. Our rooms are big enough for family and friends to visit, and they are as comfortable, or more, as home. There’s a play area with toys for siblings and plenty of space for spouses, partners, grandparents—we’re very family-friendly!” The Center has the same equipment as a hospital delivery room except an operating room or capacity to provide blood products. Other than that, Natural Beginnings provides all that’s needed, including administering IVs, managing and treating hemorrhage, resuscitating babies, and stabilizing mother or infant while waiting for transport to hospital, if necessary. The staff run emergency drills regularly with Iredell County EMS and Davis Regional. “Recently, a patient delivered at Davis just

Photos: Three birthing suites at Natural Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center.

© Christian Viera Photography

© Christian Viera Photography


Left–Hannah Gilliland assisting a patient at check-in Right–Lactation Consultants, Susie Hiatt, IBCLC, and Martha Cuervo, IBCLC 28 minutes after we found her baby was breech,” Marcia shared. “There’s always a midwife and birth assistant with laboring mothers.” A BIT OF HISTORY Nicole and Marcia have worked together as labor and delivery nurses since 2001. “We were approached by Andy Davis, then CEO at Davis, because he realized the community was asking for midwifery care. ‘What can we do to bring midwifery care—and you two—to Statesville?’ he asked,” said Marcia. “We’d always wanted to open a birth center and said if the hospital would support it, we would open one Statesville. So, we showed him pictures and took him to see a birth center in South Carolina.” Andy’s suggestion took hold and the rest is history. “It’s not easy to get the midwifery model going in a community and to keep it alive, but we were driven and determined to make this work. We had a lot of support,” Marcia continued. “We opened in August 2011 and had four births that month. We have 43 women due this month!” WHAT CAN I EXPECT? Expect that you will be cared for in a comprehensive, whole-person, attentive, state-of-the-art fashion from your first visit, whether you’re here for general women’s services or pregnancy care. Expect that you will feel like a full partner in your healthcare and birthing experience. You can be assured that you will be sleeping in your own comfy bed after your birth; Natural Beginnings is a short-stay, not an overnight, facility. Expect that you and your family will love this place and these special women!

Penny Mae’s birth in February “wasn’t what I expected,” Amber shared, “but even though it took longer and was very different than my first three, I felt surrounded by love the whole time. My husband and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Penny Mae is a joy!” SPREAD THE WORD “Women tell us they want choices; they want continuity of care in a well place, not a sick place. They want their partners in on the decision-making and their family involved,” said Nicole. “They want to get home, in their own bed with their new baby, their other children, and loved ones sharing the love…that’s why we do what we do…that’s why this is such an important place.”

Natural Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center 1420 Fern Creek Drive, Statesville (704) 380-3722 | www.naturalbeginningsnc.com IREDELL LIVING • MARCH 2020





©iStockphoto.com | hikesterson


ur homes are where so much of our lives happen. They should reflect our style, be spacious enough for our family, and serve as a retreat where we relax, entertain, regroup, and unwind. A home shouldn’t be a second job! As the weather gets warmer, our outdoor spaces become an extension of our indoor spaces; each providing us with the comforts we call home. Whether you are looking to purchase or build a new home, or renovate the one you have, you will find helpful advice in this issue of Iredell Living to help you with the process.

©iStockphoto.com | puhimec

©iStockphoto.com | ozgurcoskun

©iStockphoto.com | PBFloyd IREDELL LIVING • MARCH 2020



Smart Home Technology ©iStockphoto.com | Jirsak

By JC Summerford


hile having lunch with a friend, can you call your refrigerator to check if you’re low on milk or ask your front door if it’s locked? If your home was smart, you could also communicate remotely with your TV, lights, security system, appliances, and air conditioner—just about anything that accepts a WiFi signal! Smart devices can save you money, keep your family safer, and generally make life less complicated.

HOME HUBS These programmable, voice-activated devices are often the heart of a smart home. They can be connected to a host of household systems and devices via WiFi or Bluetooth. For example, you can tell your home hub to set the thermostat, control lighting, change TV channels, or play music. Some include touch screens that allow you to make phone calls, see who’s at the door, and search activity results. Of course, a hub is one of the simplest types of home controllers. You can also look into connecting your smart devices to a switch or a router, which are a bit more intelligent in dealing with all 16


of the incoming and outgoing signals. We suggest you do a bit of research before deciding which is best for your home.

SECURITY CAMERAS Gone are the days when you had to buy a super expensive security system from a limited number of providers and sign an expensive monthly contract. Now, you can easily install your own security cameras and monitor them from a phone or laptop. Features can include motion tracking, night vision, spotlights, sirens, and camera lens controls. You can record high definition video on an external device, and some models offer cloud storage. Most cameras can be connected to your home hub. These systems not only help protect your family from intruders, some can also detect environmental threats such as fires, floods, and gas leaks.

HEATING AND COOLING Smart thermostats definitely can save you money. These WiFi connected devices are user friendly and east to install. You can monitor and change home temperatures via phone or computer. For example, you can warm or cool the house an hour

before you arrive home or set a specific schedule of temperatures throughout day and night. You can track your monthly energy usage and adjust it to save even more.

LIGHTING Lighting control today means so much more than turning the lights on and off. Smart lighting systems allow you to control the intensity and even the color of your individual bulbs, inside and out. Many connect to your home network wirelessly to create a personal lighting schedule. Another design involves a wall switch that can be used with a mobile app that adjust lights and controls virtually everything a hub does.

KITCHEN APPLIANCES The kitchen is a room where smart home technology really shines. Of course, you can tell your hub to start the morning coffee at 7:15, turn on your morning news program, or play favorite tunes. You can also buy appliances, such as slow cookers and microwave ovens, that you can control and monitor from anywhere via apps or voice. When you arrive home, dinner is ready to serve.

Smart refrigerators often have cameras inside, so you can view their contents remotely. They can generate a precise shopping list, synced to your phone. You can enter expiration dates and receive notices about when food is about to go bad. You can control drawer and compartment temperatures remotely, and turn the icemaker on or off. External touch screens display recipes and even talk you through the recipe steps while you cook. Refrigerator screens can display TV shows, photos, or a white board for you to write notes for the family. Cooking on the patio becomes an exact science with smart grills and smokers. WiFi enabled models prevent uneven temperatures and flare-ups, and some can auto-feed wood pellets to maintain a perfect flame.

VACUUMS The latest robo-vacuums work much better than the one you may have tried

a few years ago. Look for features like a long battery life, ability to self-clean, and strong suction power. Some learn the layout of your home over time to better navigate around your furniture. If you have mostly hardwood floors, you can choose a robo-mop instead. As with all smart appliances, you can program and control them remotely. They cost more than ordinary vacuums, so you’ll have to decide just how much you hate this task!

schedules, and see where it’s operating on a GPS enabled map of your property. Your smart mower can send alerts to you if it encounters any problems, such as that neighbor who wants to “borrow” your mower for an afternoon! To sum things up, smart homes are more secure, can save energy, and add re-sale value. The smarter your home gets, the more it works for you!

YARD STUFF If you like swimming in your pool more than cleaning it, newer pool cleaners allow you to control a robot cleaning device from your phone. Likewise, you can now buy an extremely precise smart sprinkler system that senses whether or not the lawn needs water or not and turns on accordingly. Robot mowers are becoming increasingly popular. You can start and stop the mower with your phone, create mowing

©iStockphoto.com | AndreyPopov





By JC Summerford | Photos provided by Steele’s Construction and Design Team


pring is prime time for livening up your living spaces. Whether you want to remodel an entire home with major reconstruction or redecorate selected rooms, your first question should be whether to tackle this yourself, or get some professional help. For example, if you want to remove a wall, you should hire a reputable contractor. Otherwise you could do serious, costly structural damage! WHAT’S YOUR STYLE? First, consider the colors, elements, room styles, and overall aesthetics that appeal to you. Design books and websites can provide some great ideas. Consider how the areas will be used, and by whom. Do you need to accommodate small children and pets? How often do you entertain? Which looks will make your home feel like an inviting retreat for you and your guests? HIRING AN INTERIOR DESIGNER If you decide to go with a home design firm, it’s important to do copious research. Look at design portfolios from several companies, and try to imagine yourself living in those spaces. Set an appointment to discuss your needs with a design team. At the meeting, ask plenty



of questions about their philosophies, experience, and services. Keep an open mind, because trusting a professional designer’s instincts and advice often pays benefits. Before signing a contract, make sure you understand all costs involved. Stick to your budget and don’t over-spend on designs that are out of your price range. It’s better to put the basics together first, and add on later. Don’t be afraid to tell your designer that you want to keep or update certain pieces. Chairs can be reupholstered, and tables can be refinished. Donna Steele of Steele’s Construction and Design Team in Hickory describes her company’s process. “At our meetings, we get to know clients as individuals,” she says. “We work to implement designs that feel like part of them, an extension of their specific personal tastes. Most important, the home must feel like your oasis, a place you enter at the end of a long day, close the door, and relax.” Steele’s teams develop a full color palette and room renderings using specialized design software, then fully discuss preferences with clients before work begins.

“We offer several options for each area of the remodel or design,” Donna continues, “such as choices of sofa and drapery fabrics. We present color boards and design inspiration trays with the materials so people can see and feel the textures.” Donna says that full home renovations are the company’s most popular services. “People can make every room a space they have only dreamed of,” she says. Homeowners have a number of reasons to renovate, according to Donna. “Some people love the bones of a home but don’t like anything else about it,” she says. “Maybe they’ve had the same home for years and are very happy with the location but are tired of the house itself. Some people just run out of space as the family grows. Or, the kids are off to college and their rooms need to be used for other things, maybe an exercise room or a home office.” Some of the more difficult renovations Steele’s has done are creating more space when the square footage cannot be changed. Donna says that for this situation, her team might install more efficient cabinetry or make use of unused

spaces, such as under stairways. They are also experts at remodeling older homes that may have damage or need serious modern updates. “We have rebuilt homes that were burned to the ground. We’ve tackled very old homes and had to break through concrete and brick from the late 1800s,” she says. “To us, they are all a fun, exciting challenge with so much reward at the end.” 2020 DESIGN TRENDS “The most popular home design styles at the moment seem to be farmhouse, modern farmhouse, and minimalist mid century modern,” Donna tells us. For 2020, the official Pantone color is classic blue. It’s one of Donna’s lifetime favorites. “Blue is the most calming color

in the color wheel,” she says. “It can enhance feelings of peace and comfort. It’s a wonderful color for the bedroom and is a perfect accent color. When paired with light blue and white, classic blue is just breathtaking, but it works with many other colors.”

Donna feels that a recent trend toward gray is slowing and maybe even coming to an end this year. “I think some gray will be used, but white with a mix of natural woods is a growing trend,” she

says. “Texture is critical in any area of the home.” Donna recommends layering textures such as wool, cashmere, velvet pillows, and furry throws. Even if you can’t afford a complete home makeover this spring, Donna thinks it’s well worth the effort to do a seasonal update to uplift your spirits! “Change out throw pillows, move a side table from the bedroom to the living room, rotate the side table from the living room to serve as a nightstand,” she advises. “Add fresh green plants in unique containers to create a feeling of warmth and life. Buy new frames to create an eclectic display of family photos. There are so many inexpensive things you can do to create a fresh, new feeling.”

We would like to thank Donna Steele with Steele’s Construction and Design Team for providing us with photos showcasing their beautiful interior designs, renovations, and workmanship! Left–A renovation in progress Right–A before and after where the wallpaper was replaced with a classic blue and white pattern. IREDELL LIVING • MARCH 2020


Going Solar Did you know... Just one hour of sunlight striking Earth’s surface could meet our global energy needs for a year.

By JC Summerford

There are lots of great reasons to go solar. Besides helping our environment by powering your home with renewable energy, you can save lots of money on utility bills over time and add to the value of your property. You may eventually find yourself selling power back to the power company, too. Now wouldn’t that be sweet?!

Utility Savings North Carolina is a hot market for solar installations. First, we get plenty of sun, which makes solar systems run strongly and efficiently year-round. Our major utilities, including Duke Energy, are required by law to provide net metering to their customers. Net metering means that the power company must credit you at retail value for excess solar power your system creates. When you send this energy back to the company’s main grid, you receive a credit to offset future billing. Credits remaining at year’s end expire without being carried over. Duke Energy offers an additional onetime rebate to customers who switch to solar. Homeowners receive 60 cents for each watt of solar energy installed, with a maximum rebate of $6,000. The company has run out of available rebate funds for 2020, but you can put yourself on a waitlist for next year. Another Duke Energy program is Shared Solar, which offers customers an opportunity to join a community of subscribers receiving credits on 20


©iStockphoto.com | vencavolrab

their electric bill without installing proprietary equipment. This program works for people who live in multifamily housing and for those who don’t own a home.

See if you qualify for a zero-down solar installation program: homeenergy.guide For more on Duke Energy rebates: duke-energy.com

The only slight downside of going solar in North Carolina right now is that power company incentives are starting to decline because many of them are meeting their mandated renewable energy goals. It’s still worth looking into, though, because the falling price of solar installations generally makes up for those incentives.

Choosing a System When considering a solar system purchase, look at factors such as which equipment works best for your home, how much you can afford, and what you might potentially save on utility bills.

Loans and Tax Exemptions A state law allows North Carolina cities and counties to offer low interest loans for solar installations and other energy upgrades. These loan terms are not longer than 20 years, have an interest rate cap of eight percent, and are easily renewable. Homeowners can also receive a federal tax credit equivalent to 26% of the total cost of a solar power system. Combined with local and state incentives, you could potentially cover about half of your investment. Even though adding a solar system increases your property’s value, in North Carolina solar additions are exempt from residential property tax assessments. Figure your solar savings with this online solar calculator: solar-estimate.org

Solar energy components include panels usually mounted on the roof that create electricity from sunlight. The second main component is the inverter that converts sun energy into usable electric power. Some systems also include a usage monitoring system. Right now, excess generated power is fed directly back to the utility company, but future systems will probably incorporate battery storage. When choosing panels, check their efficiency rate. It should meet the industry standard of 16-18% as a minimum. Remember that the most efficient panels may not be the smartest value for your situation. Premium panels come with a higher price tag, so first determine whether you really need the most expensive ones. North Carolina doesn’t get a lot of heavy snow, but be sure that the panels are sturdy enough to withstand our yearround weather conditions.

You’ll also want to research manufacturer quality and guarantees. Make sure your warranty is at least 10 years because solar panels can degrade or become less efficient over time. The two types of inverters are string and module-level power electronics (MLPEs). String inverters are simpler systems that are sufficient for most homes. MLPEs are typically more expensive but can also be more efficient. They are a good choice if your panels are shaded or can’t be installed at an optimal angle. Power optimizers are installed on every panel of the MLPE, which is then paired with a string inverter. Choosing a competent solar contractor is extremely important. Be sure to carefully examine their certifications and track record, and call former customers for reviews. Don’t hesitate to ask your installer questions throughout the process! Maintenance Once your system is installed, clean the panels a couple times per year, and check the cables for wear and tear. There are no moving parts, so that should be all the maintenance necessary. Another big benefit: solar-powered homeowners can be proud that they’re contributing to reducing humanity’s energy footprint. We can only harness a tiny fraction of the sun’s awesome power, but it feels good to be part of the solution.


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ll ces SmaS pa By JC Summerford

©iStockphoto.com | urfi


If you’re not ready to tackle a wholehouse makeover this spring, we’ve got some great ideas to freshen and brighten up your place. With the right decorating ideas, you can express your own personal style and open up even the tiniest of spaces. Make it Multipurpose Standard kitchen cupboards are always useful, but how about adding floor-toceiling open shelves along one wall? They’re a perfect place to display your best glasses and plates, or even eclectic artwork. Likewise, in the bathroom, narrow wall shelves are great for storing bathroom essentials in a stylish way. Buy colorful containers and baskets for holding cotton swabs, cotton balls, and toiletries. If your bedroom is small, you really have to use every inch of space. If you have a couple feet between closets or windows, you could put in a small desk to double as a vanity. Add a mirror and shelves above it to provide extra storage for books, office items, or cosmetics.



Don’t waste awkward, odd-shaped spaces underneath stairs or between floors. You could squeeze in a few shelves, pretty canvas bins, or cubbyholes to store the kids’ toys! Hint: build bookshelves up high, close to the ceiling, to give any room a larger feel. Live Light To make your living room appear larger, avoid decorating with dark hues. You could paint one accent wall an intense color like lime green or bright blue and contrast with a crisp white or lightcolored couch and chairs. Floor-to-ceiling window treatments also make a living room look more spacious—choose pale, neutral colors. Break that habit of pushing furniture up against the walls or standing lamps in corners. By leaving a few inches of room between the wall and furniture you’ll create an illusion of extra space. Strategically placed chairs and tables with tall legs are great for tiny spaces. Consider using that open space underneath for more storage. Placing an oversized rug in a cozy space adds even more illusions

of grandeur. A vertically striped carpet that extends beyond the furniture would be ideal. Mirrors are an obvious way to make a room appear larger than it really is. Install a tall mirror, or several, along one wall. You could add draperies around it to make it feel more like a window! Keep in mind that in a small room, each décor element can have a big impact. Buy artwork, lamps, and knick-knacks cautiously. Divide and Conquer Sometimes an office is pressed into service as a bedroom. Make the most of it by installing a space-saving Murphy bed along one wall or add a fold-out futon that can double as seating. If you prefer to separate the areas, use a sheer curtain, bamboo, or fabric room divider to create two distinct spaces. Living in a small place has plenty of advantages overall. It’s less stressful to keep clean, easier to decorate and re-decorate, and if you focus on quality over quantity, you can create a personalized designer look for far less than filling a big house!

©iStockphoto.com | Valery Yurasov




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Iredell Living March 2020