Florence

The Benefits of Adding Solar Power to Your Home

In our development in Florence, MA, just 2.5 miles from downtown Northampton, MA, it seems that solar panels are going up on yet another neighbor's home on a weekly basis. We started the process of interviewing local solar providers last year, but had to put the project on hold for a variety of reasons. Now we are ready to open this can of worms once again. Luckily, our neighbors have done a lot of research, which they are happy to share. The following article from Apartment Therapy does a nice job of explaining the costs and benefits associated with installing solar panels on ones' home. The good news is that buyers do seem to be willing to pay more for solar power - so you needn't stay in your home long enough to see a direct return on investment. 

Can Solar Power Pay Off? One Homeowner Crunches Real Numbers

By Julie Sprankles 

Aside from the obvious benefit of helping the planet, solar power can be pretty enticing to homeowners who are tired of paying an arm and a leg for their electric bill every month. Given that outfitting a home with solar panels comes with considerable costs upfront, though, is doing so practical from a financial standpoint? Can solar power in fact pay off?

For starters, it's worth noting that the benefits—as well as costs—of installing solar (also called photovoltaic) power systems will vary from house to house. This makes sense, right? Your house might be much larger than my house. My house may be in an area where solar power is more readily available and therefore more affordable. The variables go on and on.

In general, however, there are a few universal benefits of installing solar power: it lowers your electric bill, minimizes your carbon footprint and, depending on where you live, it can even bump up your home value.

On the flip side, you'll need to drop a pretty penny upfront in order to buy the equipment and pay for the installation. The big question, of course, is whether the potential savings will outweigh those upfront expenditures—or, more pointedly, whether you'll actually be able to save money (or make money, if the value of your house goes up considerably) should you invest in solar power.

How much does solar power cost to install?

Let's talk numbers, shall we? A solar power system for an average-sized house in the U.S. can run anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000. If those figures give you a serious case of sticker shock, don't fret just yet—many companies allow you to "lease" the equipment, which dramatically reduces your upfront costs. But should you decide to purchase outright, you may qualify for government incentives that cut the cost of the system. In all 50 states, installing a solar power system qualifies the homeowner for the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. This tax incentive allows you to claim a credit of 30 percent of qualified expenditures for your system and, most importantly, helps to shave down the time it would take for your savings to equal out or exceed your initial investment.

If you're the type that likes online calculators, you'll be particularly happy to learn that Google has come up with a handy little number-cruncher to give you an approximation of the costs and savings you can expect with solar in your own home. Called Project Sunroof, the tool relies on high-resolution aerial mapping to calculate your specific roof's solar energy potential. According to Google engineer Carl Elkin, the site "figures out how much sunlight hits your rooftop through the year, taking into account factors like roof orientation, shade from trees and nearby buildings, and local weather patterns."

Technology... crazy, huh?

When I plug my home's address into Project Sunroof, it spits out an aerial thermal image of my street that is, if we're being honest, pretty damn impressive in its detail. The fact that my roof is glowing bright yellow clues me into the fact that sunlight is aplenty, but the site spells it out for me, too.

By their estimate, my roof receives 1,606 hours of usable sunlight per year. Based on 3D modeling of my roof and nearby trees, the site figures I have 564 square feet of roof available to be outfitted with solar panels—and they recommend an 8-kilowatt system, which would cover 40 percent of our household electricity usage.

What does all of this mean for my bottom line and, theoretically, yours? That, yes, a solar power system can pay off.

With the system covering around 40 percent of my household electricity usage, my 20-year benefits of utilizing the system would total $37,000. If the upfront cost of a system after tax incentives amounts to $17,000 and we deduct that from the benefits, the 20-year savings comes out to $20,000. In other words, it would take nine years to pay back that initial investment.

You may be thinking, "Yeah, but this only pays off if I actually stay in the home for nine years." In which case you may be relieved to learn that research conducted by the Department of Energy in 2015 showed that buyers are happy to pay more for homes with solar power systems.

The study, which was cited by The New York Times, revealed that buyers were willing to pay a premium of $15,000 for a home with a solar power system, compared to a similar home without one. The only caveat is that these findings apply to systems that are owned, not leased.

So although there's no hard-and-fast rule for whether or not solar power systems will pay off in every unique situation, they can certainly save you money immediately on your electrical bill whether you buy or lease. And if you have the capital to make the full investment upfront, you could be looking at paying off the system in less than a decade and enjoying sizable savings and a big ROI in the long-term.

Great Items to Spruce up Your Kitchen and Home!

Recently we've been drooling over recipes and home decor ideas from the Food52.com website. If you are a homeowner who enjoys unique decor and kitchen items, or someone who loves to cook, it's a great website to peruse! 

As we have written in previous posts, it's not always necessary to completely overhaul or renovate a home in need of some cosmetic updates. You can do a lot with paint, wallpaper and decor to give your home, or rooms within your home, an updated and fresh appearance. This recent post shows four gorgeous new patterns of "easy on, easy off" adhesive wallpaper. What a great way to transform a room with one accent wall and no long term commitment!

Easy On Easy Off Wallpaper from Food52.com

Photo by James Ransom "Hojos Cubanos" pictured above

 

A statement item, such the Mediterranean Vinyl Kitchen Mat can help brighten up a monochromatic space. It looks like Mediterranean tile, and provides cushioning in high traffic areas such as the kitchen where tend to spend a lot of time on your feet. A small investment to help freshen a well-used area in your home. 

Looks as if we are going to be indoors for longer than we hoped this winter, given the recent No'r-Easter "Stella" who just dumped a bunch of snow on Northampton and the Northeast. These wire plant stands are perfect for bringing your indoor/outdoor plants in for the winter - while creating a lovely indoor garden scene, vs. a cluttered-looking corner of the house.

And for the DIY person in your life, here is a great selection of gifts from the Food52 online store. One example is:

Pictured above is the DIY deluxe Hot Sauce kit

 

 Just some helpful hints from your friendly, neighborhood real estate agency, Maple and Main Realty in Florence MA : )

Western Mass Beer Week is Underway!

Exciting news for Northampton area beer lovers! The first ever Western Mass Beer Week has commenced! Check out the following article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette with the schedule for all local beer and food-related events:

Hunter Styles: Western Mass’ week-long beer bash starts Saturday

The Western Mass celebration of local brew is under way

Sally Noble and Sonny Han co-own The Foundry in Northampton, one of many venues participating in Western Mass Beer Week

HUNTER STYLES

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Beerhunter’s ears are always pricked to news of local craft beer happenings, and this month, they’re positively tingling. 

All that excitement in the air is thanks to the first-ever Western Mass Beer Week, a series of events at breweries, bars and restaurants all around the Valley Saturday through June 18.

Eighteen breweries and more than a dozen eateries have teamed up to celebrate the beer brewed around here.

All told, 52 events are scheduled as of press time. Stay up to date on Facebook, and check westernmassbeerweek.org for more info.

In the meantime, here’s this beer lover’s first stab at a personal Beer Week to-do list. Hope to see you all there, and elsewhere, all week.

WEEK-LONG EVENTS

Brews & Tunes at Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton: Daily tastings, tours, and live music from Lunar Carnival, Eddie Riel, and more.

Taproom Tasting at Berkshire Brewing Company in South Deerfield: Open Saturday-Friday, 4 to 6 p.m.

SATURDAY

Berkshire Craft Beer Festival in Pittsfield: At the Common Park from noon to 5 p.m.

SUNDAY

German Brunch: Presented by The Dirty Truth in Northampton, with German beers imported by Shelton Brothers. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Bike Path Beer Voyage in Turners Falls: New beer debut at Brick & Feather at 3 p.m. followed by a keg tap at the Five Eyed Fox at 4 p.m.

MONDAY

Amherst Brewing Barrel-Aged Golden Sour Release: Gathering on University Drive. 5 to 10 p.m.

Movie screening “Blood, Sweat & Beer”: Abandoned Building in Easthampton hosts a showing of a new documentary film about two start-up breweries. 7 p.m.

TUESDAY

Franklin County Brewers at The People’s Pint: The Greenfield brewpub offers selections from Element, Stoneman, Honest Weight, and more. 5 to 11 p.m.

Learn to Cook with Beer: Chef Zach Shulman invites us to The Student Prince in Springfield, where he will make dressings, sauces and dessert using a saison, two pale ales, an IPA, and a tripel. 6 to 9 p.m.

Beer Trivia at Plan B Burger Bar in Springfield: Test your beer knowledge, with local breweries on tap. 9 to 10 p.m.

WEDNESDAY

BLDG8 at Moe’s Tavern: The Northampton brewery’s IPA makes its Berkshire County draft debut at the Lee restaurant. 3 p.m. to midnight.

The Foundry Firkin Faceoff: Five brewers were each tasked with turning a list of wacky ingredients into a quality cask beer. Come taste the results at the Foundry in Northampton. 5 to10 p.m.

Amherst Brewing / Wormtown Collaboration Release: The debut of a new pale ale, made in Worcester using Valley Malt. 5 to 10 p.m. University Drive, Amherst.

Real Ale Wednesday at Smith’s Billiards in Springfield: Casks and games aplenty. 5 to 9 p.m.

Honest Weight at The Moan and Dove: The new Orange brewery will be tapping a firkin and two pins at the Amherst bar, with additional beer on draft. 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The Dirty Truth Presents Lord Hobo Brewing Company: Eastern Mass brewer Daniel Lanigan comes home to the Dirty Truth in Northampton, which he co-founded, to raise a glass from draft, can, or cask. 7 to 10 p.m.

Firkin at the Brass Cat: Abandoned Building Brewery taps a new cask at the Easthampton bar. 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

THURSDAY

Cask Night at Iron Duke Brewing: Ludlow brewers offer two special casks, plus food truck eats. 3 to 9 p.m.

Vanished Valley Brewing Tasting: Brand-new Ludlow brewery pours free sample tastings of IPA and stout at Europa, the nearby steakhouse. 4 to 7 p.m.

Patio and Pints: Brew Practitioners in Florence host outdoor pours, with a 7 p.m. set by The Tom Savoy Band. 5 to 10 p.m.

Local Focus Beer Tasting Seminar: Provisions in Northampton hosts tastes of 12 wide-ranging beers, paired with cheese and charcuterie. $35 per ticket, or $30 each for 2-plus tickets. 6:30 to 8 p.m.

FRIDAY

Great Falls Harvest Food and Beer Pairing: The Turners Falls restaurant pours tastings of six Element anniversary beers, with Crooked Sticks Popsicles. 5 to 8:30 p.m.

 JUNE 18

C_LVIN India Pale Ale: One-time limited release collaboration between Brewmaster Jack and Abandoned Building Brewery. Available at Brewmaster’s Tavern in Williamsburg, with music, games, and food. 2 to 5 p.m.

The Worthy Craft Beer Showcase: Hosted by Smith’s Billiards in Springfield. Four-hour sampling, featuring Artifact Cider Project, Tree House Brewing Company, White Lion Brewing Company, and many more. Noon to 4 p.m.

Field Notes

Springfield brewery White Lion is teaming up with the city’s business improvement district to launch a summer series called White Lion Wednesdays. Through Aug. 17, the weekly event features White Lion brews with light fare and music, al fresco at one of three rotating locations: The Shops at Marketplace, Tower Square Park, and 1350 Main Street Plaza.

Magic Hat has finally run off and joined the circus. The Vermont brewery has signed on with Cirque du Soleil as the official craft beer of the Boston run of KURIOS, a “cabinet of curiosities” show that runs through July 10. What better way to kick back with a bottle of Circus Boy?

 In world beer news: the Belgian city of Bruges is building a two-mile underground beer pipeline to connect the downtown De Halve Maan brewery to its bottling plant. Once it’s completed this summer, the tunnel is expected to pump over a thousand gallons of beer an hour. Forget the opportunities to divert suds to all those local taplines – I’m wondering when they’re going to offer inner tube rides.

 

The Beerhunter appears monthly. Hunter Styles can be reached at hstyles@valleyadvocate.com.

 

Our Own Winter Wonderland!

In the wake of "snowmageddon", (which turned out to be more of a run-of-the-mill snowstorm in the Northampton area), I've been thinking about how we experience winter here in Western MA. Around this time of year, the topic of winter seems to be on the tip of everyone's tongues. We are growing weary of the cold, the shoveling, the ice, the extra clothing and boots, the mess that the snow and ice creates in our homes, etc. This weariness is predictable. We yearn for the warmer weather, the ease with which we can move about, and get from place to place. This winter, 2 things are different in my household. For one, we have a puppy - which means one of us (me) is out walking that puppy every day. For another, my family is finally on the same page about skiing together. Between my daily hikes at one of the many beautiful hiking trails which surround us, and my weekly skiing jaunts with the family - I have a newfound love of winter!  On that note, I wanted to list some of the beautiful places nearby where we can ski, cross country ski, snow shoe or hike here in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts (or nearby):

Photo credit: dreamatico.com

 

1. Notchview - Ok, so technically this beautiful 3,100 acre reservation is in the Berkshires, rather than Hampshire County. However, we Northamptonites love to take advantage of the myriad trails for nordic skiing and snowshoeing this time of year. It's just a hop, skip and a jump up to Windsor, MA.

 

2. Fitzgerald Lake - Right here in Northampton are opportunities for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter

 

3. Mineral Hills Conservation Area - This beautiful conservation area, just off of Sylvester Road in Northampton, does not yet have a website. The trails are clearly marked, and their is a MHCA facebook page for more information.

 

4. Berkshire East - What a great family mountain!  With a newly renovated lodge, the addition of a lounge/bar for the over-21 set, and just enough groomed trails to keep all levels of skiers happy for the day - this mountain helps make winter fun!  For those who don't ski, there is a mountain coaster, and tubing park. You can also snowshoe or hike on the trails.

 

5. Stump Sprouts - This cross country ski area and guest lodge is a lovely place to come ski for the day -- or rent the lodge (complete with delicious vegetarian home cooked meals) with friends and family. Situated in Hawley, MA, Stump Sprouts is less than an hour drive from Northampton.

 

So remember, we do live here for a reason, or many reasons. Among those reasons is the change of seasons!  So, bundle up and get out there to enjoy what our beautiful valley has to offer.

Florence Night Out - May Day!

 

We are super excited to be participating in the second Florence Night Out this coming Thursday, May 1st from 5-8 pm.

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At Maple and Main Realty, we will have a reception showcasing the art of a number of fantastic local artists.  These artists include:

 

There are a number of other exciting events happening throughout the evening.  Artist's open studios, live music, free tango dance lessons, a balloon artist, dance performances, free massages and more!

This excerpt from local artist Donnabelle Casis (event organizer) provides some more information about the specific programs:

 

"2nd FLORENCE NIGHT OUT TO KICK OFF SPRING 
ON MAY DAY - THURSDAY, MAY 1, 2014

FLORENCE, MA - For the second time ever, on the evening of May 1 from 5:00 - 8:00 pm, FLORENCE NIGHT OUT will offer lovers of art, music, dance, film and local businesses a fun, FREE event to help usher in the spring and celebrate community. The event will start with the rite of spring dance: a May Day Maypole dance by the Marlboro Morris Men and a clog dance by the Guided Star Clog Morris troupe at the Trinity Row Triangle green at 5:00pm.

Other event highlights include:

ART o Artist Open Studios: Sean Greene, Richard Lloyd, Heather Kasunick, Phoebe Berkel, Donna Estabrooks, Donnabelle Casis, Robbie Heidinger, Lynne Graves - 30 North Maple o Young@Heart Chorus Photography Exhibit - 28 North Maple Street o Jim Gipe photography, Mark Knox video exhibit - Pivot Media, 70 Maple Street o Artist Reception: Marsha Lieberman, Elizabeth Meyersohn, Katy Schneider, Ann Lewis, Dave Gloman, Tom Martin, Marcine Appel, Margot Glass, Bob Young - Maple and Main Realty, 28 North Maple Street o Dave Ryan photography, Linda Candage paintings, jewelry by Carol Joannidi - Coldwell Banker, 93 Main Street o Art by Hilary Emerson Lay, NHS Improv - Cup and Top Café, 1 Main Street o Artist Reception and music - Café Evolution, 22 Chestnut Street o Short Films Screening - VFW, 18 Meadow Street o Susan Rostow Earthscapes: Sculptural Books and Monotypes; Printmaking Demonstrations: Deconstructed Silkscreen by Esther White (5:00 - 6:30), BIG INK - large scale woodcut by Lyell Castonguay (6:30 - 8:00), print sale - Zea Mays Printmaking, 320 Riverside Drive o Bike Film Screening (8:00) - Full Circle Bike Shop, 141 N Main Street

DANCE o Guided Star Clog Morris - Trinity Row Triangle (5:00 - 5:30) o Mountain View Dance Studio - Florence Arts & Business Building, 140 Pine Street (5:00 - 5:30) o Marlboro Morris Men (Maypole Dance) - Trinity Row Triangle (5:30 - 6:00) o Catalyst/Momentum Dance Company of Pioneer Valley Performing Arts (PVPA) - Florence Arts & Business Building, 140 Pine Street (6:00 - 6:30, 7:00 - 7:30) o Iroko Nuevo (Afro-Cuban dance group) - Trinity Row Triangle (6:30 - 7:30) o Wofa of Pioneer Valley Performing Arts (PVPA) - Pivot Media, 70 Maple Street (5:30, 6:30) o Tango Dance Lessons by Sharon Alworth - Florence Civic Center, 90 Park Street (7:00 - 8:00)

MUSIC o Bunny's a Swine, Bring it to Bear - JJ's Tavern/13th Floor Lounge, 99 Main Street (5:30 - 7:30) o Now Ensemble Jazz - Pivot Media, 70 Maple Street, (6:00) o Free Range Cats - Coldwell Banker, 93 Main Street, (6:00 - 7:30) o Huckleberry Binge and Carinae - VFW, 18 Meadow Street (6:00 - 8:00) o Florence Community Band - Florence Civic Center - 90 Park Street (6:00 - 6:40) o Serenata Mandolin Trio - Cup and Top Café, 1 Main Street (6:00 - 8:00) o Merchant Bankers, Lonesome Brothers, Colorway - 30 North Maple Street (6:30 - 8:30) o "Post-Show" with Drunk Stuntmen/Kay McKinstry - Zea Mays Printmaking, 320 Riverside Drive (8-9pm)

Two Northampton Pedal Cabs will be available to transport people between venues all over downtown. Ed Popielarczyk of Magical Moments will be making balloon creations for kids at Trinity Row Triangle. (5:00 - 8:00). Several downtown businesses will have open houses/special promotions during the evening.

All FNO events are FREE and open to the public (only VFW music performances charge a $5 cover). FNO is supported in part by a grant from the Northampton Arts Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. This event would not be possible without the Visionary Sponsors, ad sponsors, generous venue sponsors, Alison Wood and the Florence community. Thank you!"

Please stop by to say hello and support this wonderful event!

Location, Location, Location

The minute we walked into our space at 28 North Maple Street in Florence, MA - we were smitten.  15 foot (give or take) ceilings, exposed bricks and beams, huge windows, charm and space galore!  We immediately started to envision the events we would host, the art we would hang, and the furniture we would buy to compliment the space.  We loved that the space was adjacent to two fabulous antique stores, Artifacts 20th Century and John Hunt Marshall III Antiques.  Who better to share a space with our real estate agency than 2 stores that sell fabulous furniture and antiques?  We knew we had found our home!

Mail Attachment

We were so excited when Donnabelle Casis asked us to be a part of (First) Florence (Arts) Night Out last month.  Right away we reached out to some of our favorite local artists to see about hanging their artwork here for our artist's reception and open house.  Katy Schneider, Dave Gloman, Tom Martin, Barbara Neulinger, Robbie Heidinger, Robert Young and Ann Lewis were all generous enough to grace our white walls with their beautiful artwork.  Florence had a huge turn out, and our space was packed!

We realize that this can be a win-win situation for all involved.  Artists have a non-galleryesque relationship with us, we get to hang beautiful artwork on our walls (which just adds to the ambience of our space, making it a place where we want to be), clients who are looking to buy or sell houses in the Northampton MA area have the benefit of seeing artwork that they might want to purchase and hang on their own walls.  To this end, we are committed to keeping a rotation of local artwork on display at Maple and Main Realty.

This week, we have added the artwork of Ashfield MA artist, Marcine Appel.  These mixed media works  (collage and oil paint) were inspired by some time she spent in Spain recently.  I love sitting at my desk and admiring them.

Image

 

We look forward to the next Florence Night Out in May 2014!  Stay tuned.

 

We Love Florence!

When my business partners and I decided to open up our  real estate agency this past winter, two of the most challenging aspects of that decision were coming up with a name, and finding a suitable location.  After many sleepless nights, and roughly 5,000 brainstorming sessions - we finally settled on "Maple and Main Realty" as our name.  This decision was precipitated by our great fortune at having found a beautiful home here in Bob Lawton's Artifacts 20th Century building in Florence, MA (we owe this turn of events to our partner in crime, Julie Held :)) -- which happens to be near the intersection of (North) Maple and Main Streets!  We took it as a sign that this was meant to be.

 

Maple and Main Realty Florence Office

We love Florence!  We love our space (thank you John Iles - maker of our beautiful desks and overall build out of our space)!  We envisioned having fabulous events here, with artwork from local artists gracing our white walls...

 

We were thrilled when local artist and neighbor Donnabelle Casis invited us to be a part of (First) Florence Night Out - the first of hopefully many Arts Night Out in our neck of the woods.  This event turned out to be a smashing success!

 

We put our  heads together and invited local artists, including Dave Gloman, Robbie Heidinger, Ann Lewis, Tom Martin, Barbara Neulinger, Katy Schneider and Robert Young to show there work here.

katyschneider florence night out

We burned through a case of wine in 2 short hours - as well as numerous "Maple and Main" M&M party favors...

photo

And the town of Florence was rockin' - literally!  There was live music next door, artist's open houses, a film by local filmmaker Tom Greto looping in the Artifacts 20th Century Space, a balloon artist down the street, and our space was packed with revelers until the bitter end!

We love Florence!  And we are so happy to be a part of the community here.

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