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from the EDITOR Say it ain’t so! Hasbro has just announced that the thimble is being retired as a player piece in the new “modern” Monopoly board game. Reading that tidbit of news yesterday made me sad. Staying at Grandma and Pap Pap’s house during summer vacations as a kid, we played a LOT of Monopoly. Choosing who got what game piece was always a fun way to start the game. My brother and I always fought for the race car, and the loser of that fight was the dog. Pap Pap was the top hat, Mom had the iron, and Grandma was always the thimble. Grandma loved to sew. In the mid-80s when JAMZ (remember those bright, multi-colored shorts?) were all the rage, Grandma made her own version of them for my brother and me. I nicknamed them GRAMZ. She was talented at her craft. She made dresses and skirts for Mom, and shorts and shirts for us. Watching Grandma operate her sewing machine was like watching Michael Jordan dunk a basketball. She was awesome! While sewing, she always wore a thimble on her thumb. To this day I’m not exactly sure of the thimble’s purpose, but she had a wide assortment of them. One Christmas I bought her a display rack, and our family began giving her collectible thimbles. Grandma proudly displayed her thimbles in the family room, and the rack soon filled up. Grandma passed away 20 years ago. Now I no longer fight for the race car, and there is no debate. I am the thimble. Life is busy, and I sure don’t play Monopoly as often as I’d like. But this weekend I’m going to make it a priority to break out the Monopoly board with my family and enjoy our time together. As we circle around the properties, I’ll share stories of Grandma and Pap Pap’s legacy. I’ll even Google to learn and explain to my family what a thimble actually does. Grandma would think that’s pretty neat. Thanks for reading, Todd Shevchik toddshevchik@gmail.com

15 INSIDE the ISSUE Features 12 15 23 27

Finding the Right Fit 2017 High School Baseball Preview Making the Most of Your Home Thinking of Going Solar?

Columns 9

Faith Matters

DEPARTMENTS 5 From the Publisher 6 Events 11 Irmo-Chapin Leaders L to R: Elizabeth Johnson, Katie Gantt, Elinor Fa Kim Curlee, Tra tato, cy Tuten

Publisher & Editor-In-Chief Todd Shevchik toddshevchik@gmail.com Director of Sales Donna Shevchik shev26@aol.com • 803-518-8853 Editor Katie Gantt kpgantt@gmail.com

Account Executives Tracy Tuten Tracy.Tuten@outlook.com • 803-603-8187 Elinor Fatato elinor.fatato@gmail.com • 803-447-0873 Beauty and Fitness Editor: Amber Machado GRAPHIC DESIGN Jane Carter Kim Curlee

Editor Emeritus Allison Caldwell Office Assistant Elizabeth Johnson

Website Designer Paul Tomlinson Contributing Writers Kristen Carter, Calvin Farrell, Kevin Oliver, Jackie Perrone

Contact Us: 5483 Sunset Blvd., Unit G, Lexington, SC 29072 • 803.356.6500 • info@iromchapinlifemagazine.com irmochapinlife.com

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Events March • April Friday, March 10 – Sunday, March 12 51st Annual Carolina Classic Home & Garden Show SC State Fair Grounds, 1200 Rosewood Dr., Columbia, times vary With over 250 exhibitors inside and out, special events, seminars, and $30,000 in door prizes, this will be an event you don’t want to miss. Admission $5/adults, free/kids 14 and under. Times: Fri. 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. 803.256.6238 for more information. Sunday, March 12 Spring Symphony Concert Harbison Theatre at MTC, 7300 College St., Irmo, 3:30 p.m. Spring comes early this year with the Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra’s Spring Symphony Concert. The program includes Suppe’s Light Cavalry Overture. Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture, and Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, “Spring Symphony.” Admission is free. Donations accepted. Lmso.org or 803.400.3540 for more information. Sunday, March 12 The Dog and Pony Show Columbia Historic Speedway, 2001 Charleston Hwy., Cayce, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Enjoy dog pageants, mobile laser tag, ring slide, climbing wall, face painting, and a car show. Entrance is free. Tickets are available for purchase to play games. All proceeds benefit Patter Pets. Patterpets. org for more information.

Saturday, March 18 St. Pat’s in Five Points Devine St. Columbia, 10 a.m. The St. Pat’s Parade assembles at Dreher High School and travels the musical mile down Devine Street into Five Points offering several blocks of public viewing. After entering Five Points, the parade will wind its way down Devine St. and up Saluda Ave., returning to Harden St. at the Five Points Fountain and concluding near Food Lion. Be sure to wear your green! Email sbbutler@bellsouth.net for more information. Saturday, March 18 Build a Bluebird Nest Box Wingard’s Market, 1403 N Lake Dr., Lexington, 2:00 p.m. Come spend a Saturday morning with your child building a bluebird nest box! To register visit wingardsmarket.com or call 803.359.9091. Thursday, March 30 A Taste of Lake Murray 2017 Doubletree by Hilton, 2100 Bush River Rd., Columbia, 6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Performances by Tokyo Joe and Going Commando. Food vendors include Alodia’s, Bistro on the Boulevard, Blue Marlin, Liberty on the Lake, Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse and more. Tickets/$65 and include food, drinks, and live entertainment. Purchase online at lakemurraycountry.com/tickets, on the phone at 803.781.5940 ext. 9, or in person at the Lake Murray Visitor’s Center. Thursday, April 12 Zumba with South Carolina BLUE South Carolina BLUE, 1260 Bower Pkwy, Columbia, 6:15 p.m. Join South Carolina BLU for fun and invigorating Zumba classes. Register online at scblueretailcenters.com or call 803.264.9000 for more information. Today is the day to get healthy!

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In my downtime, you will often see me biking somewhere in the Midlands. We all know that our roads here in the Palmetto State aren’t always the best, so I was thrilled recently to see my favorite bicycling road get repaved. It was as smooth as glass…for about two weeks, until the road crew cut rumble strips into the shoulders. Rumble strips, also called “alert strips” and “growlers,” are fantastic at keeping sleepy automobile drivers from drifting off the road. But that feature, so critical for the safety of cars, is dangerous for bicyclists. Hitting them with your bike, even for a few seconds, is enough to cause a flat tire, a crash or both. Ask me how I know. And it’s not just me. To bicyclists, rumble strips are as feared as texting drivers and loose dogs. Rumble strips remove the safety of the already-narrow shoulder and push cyclists farther into the road, closer to the cars. I am not under the delusion that some mysterious anti-bike cabal voted to install rumble strips, and I have been thankful for them as both a passenger and driver more than once. They are great for cars. But they have consequences in the bicycling community. The Gospel of Mark contains a story of Jesus healing a man with a skin disease. Jesus specifically asked him not to tell anyone, but Mark 1:45 says, “Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news” (NIV). It’s hard to blame the guy. His disease had made him a community outcast, and he wanted to tell everyone that he’d been healed. Maybe he even thought he was doing Jesus a favor by spreading his fame. But the rest of the verse tells of the unintended consequence: “As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places.” Whether we say something that wounds someone else, push things a little too far, tell half the story to make ourselves look better or even take action believing we are doing the right thing, our actions have consequences. Sometimes we don’t intend them. But that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. n

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Irmo–Chapin LEADER by Jackie Perrone

George Rentz Maybe today’s hospital patients take the Lexington Medical Center for granted. After all, it’s been serving, growing and thriving for 46 years on the forefront of technology and proudly offering the Midlands the best of medical care. But ask the fellow who was at the helm when it was getting started: George Rentz, who can recite the problems and obstacles that threatened to derail Lexington’s attempts to open a hospital. “1971 was the year it opened,” he reports. “But it took about 15 years of controversy and effort to make it happen. Money, of course. Location, a priority issue. Opposition from the existing medical services across the river. Questions as to the availability of doctors, and connections with other medical facilities. Government red tape. Don’t sign on to start a hospital unless you’re willing to fight – and win – the battles.” George Rentz served as president and CEO of Lexington Medical Center from its inception to his retirement 22 years later. He grew up in Columbia and earned his degree in business at the University of South Carolina. His first job at McLeod Infirmary in Florence set the tone for specializing in medical services, and when Lexington leaders were looking for a leader to head up their new hospital, Rentz was the right fit. “We embarked on a campaign for support,” he says. “We ran into complaints about new taxes and conflicts with Columbia. But we were able to persuade the county eventually. The question of where to locate the new facility was solved when Mrs. Hulon donated 50 acres on Highway 378. The county bought 12 more acres in order to qualify for Hill-Burton funding – that’s the federal law that provides financing assistance for hospitals. Two-for-one matching funds, support from County Council, and it became possible.” One of the notable features of Lexington’s new institution was its commitment to make all the patient rooms private. This was a huge step up from the wards and semiprivate accommodations common at the time. Lexington Medical Center was fully accredited on its opening day in January 1971. Its first patients: a mother and her new baby. Last year, 3,640 babies were delivered at LMC, ranking this facility number two in the state in that service. George Rentz enjoys looking back on those exciting years. He points out that the campaign to add full services for heart patients occupied another 15 years of fighting red tape and opposition, but LMC now offers premier medical care for heart patients, including an affiliation with Duke Medical Center. Now 91 years old, he and his wife Mary Ann recently moved into the Presbyterian Retirement Community near Exit 61 on Interstate 20, a location just a short distance down 378 from LMC. He is an avid gardener, focusing on roses for a while. Some medical problems have slowed him down, and he finds pansies an easier way to indulge his gardening hobby. Three adult children, six grands and three great-grands complete the family. n irmochapinlife.com

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RIght Fit s p m a C r e m m u S

Finding the

Winter break is hardly over when many families start making summer plans for their kids. The reasons why summer camps are such a popular choice among today’s parents are plentiful. Camp gives children an opportunity to put down their cell-phones, iPads and video game controllers and get physically active. At camp, kids get to experience new challenges, achieve success, gain confidence and even learn to cope with failure. They get an opportunity to develop life-long skills ranging from artistic to adventurous – forage for food in the wild anyone? They can also gain independence, by Kristen Carter learn social skills and even make lifelong friends through their various expe-

riences at summer camps. Parents can often feel overwhelmed at the choices of summer camps for their children, and choices can change year to year as children mature. Day camp or sleep-away? Religious or interfaith? Sports, hobbies, academics or performing arts? The possibilities are endless, and finding the right fit takes plenty of research, dialogue and decisions. But the best place to start? Ask your child. Be sure to include them in the decision-making process. Take time to assess your child’s current challenges, strengths and interests. That information, along with knowledge of your child’s temperament, personality and level of maturity will help you choose a suitable summer camp.

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It’s obvious that not all children thrive under the same circumstances. Children perform at their highest level when they pursue an activity in which they have both interest and ability. Think of camp as an opportunity for discovering a new interest area. Maybe your child just needs a real break from ongoing lessons and tight schedules. Camps can be the perfect cure to regenerate the mind and body. They can provide a unique environment and activities to help your child regain self-esteem, relax and have fun or explore exciting new pursuits. A successful search begins with three important pieces of information: • A clear understanding of your child’s wants and needs for the summer • Information on the types of camps available • Your family’s summer schedule and budget Armed with that information, you can then start asking other children and parents for referrals, searching the Internet, talking to camp directors and narrowing down the long list of choices. Summer camp can be the experience of a lifetime. And while the happy campers are away, you might just be lucky enough to find a little rest and relaxation of your own. n

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the spring sports season begins to heat up, with baseball the major focus on local high school athletics fields.

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America’s pastime is a popular sport in the Midlands, and our area teams have sent many talented players onto play at the collegiate level for major programs at major universities and smaller squads in more regional colleges. It’s the love of the game that drives the players and coaches during the high school years, however, along with community support for the teams. Our local schools are always competitive on the statewide sports scene, and baseball is no different. The new region alignments and addition of 5A size levels to those regions means that rivalries, and competitors, will change, but the competitive spirit will remain. To find out what to expect from our area teams this season, Irmo/Chapin Life spoke with the coaches at Dutch Fork, Irmo, Chapin and Ben Lippen.

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IRMO CHAPIN LIFE | 15


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Yellow Jackets 2016 was a tough year for the Yellow Jackets’ varsity baseball program, which compiled a 4–16 record and missed the playoffs. The school has a history of baseball success, however, so, according to head coach Ray Canady, its goal for the upcoming season is a simple one. “We have several starters returning from last year for the 2017 season,” he says. “So we hope to compete for a playoff spot in our region this year.” The team will achieve that goal with the help of standout players who contributed last season and are expected to be the ones to watch this year. They include center fielder Jeremy Massalou, first baseman Jamie Karl and shortstop Mason Lassiter. Third base and outfielder Nolan Burdette led the team in hitting last season with a .410 average and an all-region perfor-

that

maximize our scoring when we have runners in position.” “All of the teams in our region are very well coached and have some of the nicest facilities in the state,” Canady adds. “From top to bottom it’s very competitive.” Sports are always about more than the games, of course, and Coach Canady is aware of his responsibilities to the players both on and off the field. “It is a privilege to watch these young men mature,” he says. “We hope to mold them into competitive baseball players while also impacting their character, so when they graduate they are ready to be successful for the rest of their lives.”

“We have several starters returning from last year for the 2017 season, so we hope to compete for a playoff spot in our region this year.” mance; outfielder and pitcher Cam Felkel is one of the team’s top returning pitchers; and pitcher Aaron White, who led the team last season in wins with three as a freshman; he also recorded 23 strikeouts versus only four bases on balls. “We don’t have any overpowering arms, but we feel like we have several pitchers who can be effective by throwing a lot of strikes and having solid defense behind them,” Canady says. “For us to be successful, we will have to

Dutch Fork Silver Foxes 2016 saw the Silver Foxes notch its second straight Region V, 4A championship en route to an 18–10 record, losing in the district title game of the playoffs. Fourth-year head coach Casey Waites knows the new 5A region will be even tougher, but he’s optimistic about their chances. “I believe we can compete with anyone if we play to our abilities,” Waites says. “This will be the youngest team we’ve put on the field during my time here; we have irmochapinlife.com

a solid senior class who will need to step up and lead.” For that, the Silver Foxes will depend on senior outfielder Ward Hacklen, senior third baseman Jonathan Thomas, senior pitcher and outfielder Jordan Beatson and pitcher Reese Nichols, who is also the quarterback on the Dutch Fork varsity football team. Other starters expected to contribute include sophomore pitcher Noah Jackson, junior first baseman Reece Cormier and sophomore outfielder Hugh

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Ryan. Outside of those names, expect to see a lot of new young faces on the field. With that, Waites is going back to basics in terms of game plans. “Our focus will be on fundamental defense this year,” Waites says. “We need to limit our opponents’ scoring opportunities by making the routine play. We pitch to contact, and we will look to use the running game more this year.” Waites’ love for the game extends to his players and their personal development, he says. “My job is to develop young men through the game of baseball. I love the relationships with my players and former players,” Coach Waites says. “I love watching young men build relationships with their teammates and making memories on and off the field.”

CHAPIN Eagles “I believe we can compete with anyoneif we play to our abilities. This will be the youngest team we’ve put on the field during my time here; we have a solid senior class who will need to step up and lead.”

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The Chapin Eagles are looking at a rebuilding year in some ways, but last year’s region title means the team will be reloading from a position of success and strength. Its biggest question mark may be at the pitching mound — of the five college-bound commitments it lost after last season, three of them were pitchers, so the pitching staff will be the focus of a large part of that rebuilding process. Varsity head baseball coach Billy McLeod says its region is looking strong this season, but its rivals are always the ones to watch. “A.C. Flora is the team we always have to beat,” he says. “Dreher will also be a very good team this year.” To help achieve those goals (and those wins), McLeod and the Eagles will depend on a group of offensive and defensively strong

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players. Those expected to contribute in big ways this season include pitchers Lawson Bemis, Jacob Wright and pitcher/outfielder Kale Rhame. The defense will be highlighted inside the diamond by shortstop Robert King, catcher Tanner Steffy, first baseman Wade Ward, second baseman Collin Kitchens and third baseman Kareem Bowers, while the outfielder spots will see contributions from Cooper Bemis, Nick Price and Will Kroskee. It is a team of players and young men that our community can be proud of, McLeod says, and he considers it a privilege to coach them. “The best thing about coaching high school sports is that I get to work with some really great young men,” he says.

“The best thing about coaching high school sports is that I get to work with some really great young men.”

BEN LIPPEN Falcons

The Ben Lippen Falcons are set for a breakout year in 2017, after finishing last season 22–10 and fal-ling in the state semifinal playoff game to Wilson Hall. The team is returning all but one player from that talented group, which bodes well for success in the coming season. “It may be a cliché to say that our goal is to win a state championship, but I would be selling this team short if we didn’t shoot for that,” says Ben Lippen head coach Johnathan Johnson. The team will have a full slate of players contributing to that goal, including 2016 SCISA player of the year in senior shortstop Robert Satcher, who is committed to playing at College of Charleston next year. Four players who were named to the all-state squad last season will be back as well: Tyler Estridge, Tucker Johnson, junior power hitter Garrett Summers and left-handed pitcher Tradd Beatty along with all-state pitcher Nat Turner. Starting catcher Lee Metts and pitcher Ryan Hooks are also back after be-ing injured for parts of last season.

we’ll also play good, sound defense and try to shut teams down with our pitching.” Johnson has done double-duty on the local diamond since leaving Dutch Fork four years ago; he serves as head coach for the summer collegiate league Lexington County Blowfish as well as for Ben Lippen. “I’ve really enjoyed the family environment at Ben Lippen, the parents and community offer tre-mendous support,” he says. n

“It may be a cliché to say that our goal is to win a state championship, but I would be selling this team short if we didn’t shoot for that.” With a big, physical team like this one, Coach Johnson says they’ll continue to be aggressive on both offense and defense. “We love to steal, bunt and put pressure on opposing defenses,” he says. “We have plenty of power; we led SCISA in extra base hits last year, so we’ll pound the ball and hit the gaps to score runs but irmochapinlife.com

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yourhome make the most of

Professional Kitchen and Outdoor Space Remodels by Calvin Farrell

A well-designed and comfortable kitchen can become the center of a family’s domestic life. It can be a place for informal dining while catching up on the day’s events and give a real feeling of home with its enticing smells and welcoming atmosphere. On the other hand, it can be a place in which you host formal dinner parties and put your finest china on display. If your kitchen doesn’t meet up to these ideals, however, you could make a real difference by having it remodeled. This is possible no matter how big or small the space you have to work with. Aspects to Consider Everyone’s idea of a perfect kitchen will be different, depending on how one plans to use it. Are you a big cook? In that case, you’ll be looking for plenty of work surfaces and storage space, along with modern appliances carefully positioned to make cooking sessions easy. Are you more of a convenience food aficionado who wants to use the kitchen as a relaxed social space for chats with friends? If so, it’s probably a better idea to focus on providing plenty of room for a comfortable dining area while keeping the culinary features to the minimum needed for everyday life. irmochapinlife.com

The choice is entirely yours, along with many other details that can have a great impact on your final design. A chat with a professional contractor may open up possibilities you’ve never even considered. How to Start? Some rooms in your home can be redesigned over time, with minor changes here and there, adding up to your desired final result. This is difficult in a kitchen, especially if the needed modifications are fairly major. If your remodeling project takes too long, the inevitable disruption can become extremely tiresome. Because of this, it’s a good idea to carry out the work as quickly as possible. For this, a well-thought-out plan is invaluable. A good contractor or interior designer with experience in kitchen remodeling will be of great assistance here, helping you to finalize as many details as possible before beginning the job, working with you to maximize the use of space to your preferences, and ensuring

that the whole project can be finished on time and within your desired budget. There is of course no reason you shouldn’t undertake a kitchen remodel entirely on your own. However, if you want to enjoy the benefits of a perfect kitchen, as quickly as possible and with the minimum of disruption and stress, why not get the help of an expert? The backyard is another area of your property that can greatly increase your quality of life with a few minor changes or additions. Improving your backyard can more than double the living space of your home – all for a fraction of the cost of an addition. Even the most elaborate outdoor transformation will cost less than adding rooms to your home, and the enjoyment factor can be even greater. Here are some ideas for transforming your backyard into an oasis of tranquility for yourself and your family. Some of these ideas are elaborate, but others are simple – so you can

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“With a few simple changes, or depending on your preference and budget, major overhauls, you can upgrade your outdoor living space and/or kitchen and enjoy your home even more.” choose the backyard transformations that work best for you and your family. Create a Container Garden This is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to transform your backyard environment. If you would love to have fresh vegetables all summer or beautiful flowers all spring, you could tear up your backyard and plant a garden – or you could do it all with a few strategically placed containers. Container gardening is a lot of fun, and you can grow a wide variety of crops in a limited amount of space. Whether you are an experienced gardener looking for a new challenge or a beginner looking for a way to get started, a container garden makes a wonderful addition to your backyard, deck or patio. Set Up an Outdoor Kitchen If you love to grill, you might want to expand your outdoor cooking with a full backyard kitchen. Setting up an outdoor kitchen is not as difficult – or as expensive – as you might think. You can make that outdoor cooking environment as simple or as elaborate as you want to. If you want to keep things simple, you could simply add a utility table to hold plates or a small storage cabinet to house supplies. If your goal is to become an outdoor entertainer and chef, adding a small refrigerator to hold those special ingredients and a brick oven or grill will get you well on your way. Design a Relaxing Gazebo There is nothing like a gazebo to create a relaxing and romantic environment in the backyard. Your gazebo can provide a bit of privacy for romantic getaways or become a great place to relax and unwind after a hard day at work. A large gazebo can even be a gathering place for family parties or a dry spot when a sud-

den rainstorm threatens your barbecue. Add a ceiling fan to keep cool and keep those pesky gnats at bay. John Flambolz, owner of Dan’s Fan City on Harbison Blvd. for over twenty years says, “ A ceiling fan really can make a big difference in the comfort of a space -- whether indoor or out. It can also add a decorative element. Shopping at a specialty store versus a big chain can provide the customer with a lot of advantages: employee expertise, a larger variety, and a more personalized shopping experience.” You can build your own gazebo using plans from local hardware stores or on the Internet or buy a kit you can assemble at home. If you would rather have someone else do the work, you can hire a contractor to design, build and install your new gazebo. No matter which option you take, you will have a relaxing place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. Add a Lighted Garden Path Whether your backyard includes a formal garden, a gazebo or just some lush green grass, a lighted garden path will help you enjoy it even more. You do not have to spend a lot of money –or a lot of time – to add a beautifully lighted path to your garden. All you need is a supply of solar-powered lights and enough paving stones to stretch from here to there. Depending on the size and length of your garden path, the entire lighting project can cost as little as $100. When you are done, you will have a backyard living space you can enjoy at any time of the day or night. Light Things Up with a Fire Pit If you want to enjoy your backyard at night or in the winter, adding a fire pit can help you do just that. A fire pit provides a natural focal point for your backyard celebrations, a great place to roast marshmallows and cook hotdogs and a perfect spot

for telling ghost stories when Halloween rolls around. You can build your own fire pit with a few simple materials or purchase a ready-made model that can be easily moved from place to place. No matter which option you choose, you and your family can spend more time outside and enjoy your outdoor living space even more. With a few simple changes, or, depending on your preference and budget, major overhauls, you can upgrade your outdoor living space and/or kitchen and enjoy your home even more. Whether you choose the convenience and low cost of container gardening and lighted pathways or a whole new kitchen, the possibilities are endless. n

Your new home just got smarter. essexhomes.net irmochapinlife.com

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Thinking of Going

Sol ar?

Six Critical Things to Consider First by Kristen Carter Critics are still in doubt about the dangers of global climate change, and politicians continue to debate over what to do about it. At the same time, the market has spoken, and there has been a quiet revolution in the world of energy production. If you have been thinking about joining the solar revolution, you probably have a lot of questions. Adding solar power to an existing home is no easy feat and incorporating solar into new construction can be nearly as complicated. Here are six critical things you should consider and six vital questions you should ask when contemplating a solar equipment installation. 1: Are There Any Zoning Restrictions? While acceptance of solar power has never been higher, not everyone has embraced the renewable energy revolution. Many communities still have outdated zoning restrictions in place, leftovers from the days of huge bulky solar panels and ugly roofs. If you are part of a homeowners’ association, it is important to carefully check your paperwork before embarking on a solar equipment installation. Even if your

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home is not part of an HOA, your municipality may impose restrictions on solar energy, and checking for those restrictions should be your first move. 2: How Much Sun Do I Get? The amount of sun you get will obviously play a role in how efficient any solar power installation will be. If your home is blessed with abundant sunshine, and you have a south-facing roof, then installing solar panels could be considered. If you live in a shady spot and receive indirect sunlight, the practicality of a solar installation becomes a bit murkier. Many solar energy firms have detailed mapping programs and predictive algorithms in place to determine the relative value of their services. Simply giving your address to the firm will allow them to determine the amount of sunlight you can expect and how much value you will receive by adding solar power to your home.

3: Will My Roof Handle Solar Panels? Modern solar panels are far lighter and much smaller than the ones made just a few years ago, but they can still put strain on your roof. Checking the strength of the roof is an essential first step when contemplating any solar energy conversion, so be sure to have an experienced roofing engineer check your property before you begin. Before investing in solar panels for your home or business, Michael Mason and Chad Bauer, co-owners of Homestar Solar Solutions in Columbia, also recommend that you seek a well-established and experienced solar company. “It is important that the staff is certified and has expertly trained installers. The company you select needs to be able to address your questions regarding rebates and out of pocket expenses to make your transition to solar as stress free as possible,� they say.

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4: What Are the Installation Costs? The installation costs of solar panels have come down quite a bit, but the price of a solar power equipment is still significant. The exact cost will depend on a large number of factors, including where you live, the amount of local competition and the size of your home. Mapping all these expenses out ahead of time will make budgeting easier and help you determine if solar energy is even feasible. You should also get several quotes so that you can compare cost per watt as well as warranty information. 5: What Are My Current Utility Costs? Your current utility costs will obviously play a big role in the feasibility of adding solar power. The higher your current utility costs, the more sense it will make to supplement your home with solar energy. If your current utility costs are very low, investing your money in solar power may not make as much sense. Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative’s energy advisor Matt Porth says, “The most important thing to do when considering solar is to understand all of the costs as well as

the expected payback.” Much of the payback comes from tax incentives. Talk to a qualified CPA, who understands your tax situation and can explain to you how to get the full benefit of the tax incentives. Also, talk to your utility provider to understand what your bill could look like if you install solar to your home. Solar power is an additional power source that is intermittent in nature. Most solar power systems are tied to the existing utility, or grid tied. 6: How Much Maintenance is Required? While modern solar panels need less maintenance than the ones made years ago, no solar installation is truly maintenance-free. It is important to research the maintenance needs of your solar panel installation and understand how much of

that upkeep you can, and cannot, do on your own. Keeping the solar panels clean is important because dirty panels will reduce the efficiency of the power system and reduce the amount of energy that is produced. If you are not comfortable on a ladder, you will need to factor the cost of hiring a contractor into your budgetary equations. The cost of solar power continues to fall, even as the price of traditional power is rising. That makes solar power feasible for many more people, which is good news for everyone, including the environment. If you have been thinking about adding solar power to your home, now is the perfect time to act. Doing your homework and answering the six critical questions listed above can make your decision a lot easier, and possibly save you a lot of money down the road. n

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Irmo-ChapinLifeMagazineMar17  

Irmo Chapin Life Magazine was launched in 2011 to serve the residents who live around the Lake Murray. The magazine was created as a direct-...

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