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Going Solar – Who is Who?

If you want to investigate solar home panels you will need to chose the right providers for your needs.

You’ve made the decision to go with solar energy for your energy needs. In going solar, you need to know who is who. Let’s take a closer look.

Who is Who?

Companies in the solar energy industry come in two main forms. One set provides the systems you need to produce solar energy on your own. A much smaller subset will sell you a form of clean energy.

If you want to skip putting solar panels or shingles on your home, you need to find a company that will sell you power just like a utility. Unfortunately, there isn’t any nation wide company that solely provides solar electricity to customers. If you’re willing to look a bit broader, Green Mountain Energy Company may be for you.

Green Mountain Energy Company is a “cleaner electricity” company. It only buys power produced from wind, solar, biomass, water, geothermal and natural gas. The power is then fed into regional power grids and you tap it from there. The advantage of Green Mountain is you are using cleaner power than a typical utility company, but not completely clean as you find when generating solar power yourself. The biggest downside to Green Mountain is you are still paying utility bills, often more than you would pay to the utility company in your area. That being said, Green Mountain is really the only company of its type.

When people refer to providers, more often they are discussing manufacturers and installers of solar energy systems. In the case of solar energy, there are a few big industry leaders.

BP Solar is one of the largest producers for solar energy solutions for residential, commercial and industrial platforms throughout the world. The company is a true leader in the field and provides simplified solutions for homeowners by combining the sale of solar energy systems with full installation. A very popular company with many homeowners.

Somewhat surprisingly, General Electric is one of the biggest producers of solar energy solutions. The company offers high end commercial solutions and custom made solutions using crystallized silicon solutions. It also offers pre-packaged systems for residential homes.

On the other end of the scale, Uni-Solar is the creator the new solar roof shingles that are gaining popularity with consumers, businesses and government agencies. The shingles sit flat on homes like regular roof shingles, getting rid of the bulky solar panel appearance. The Uni-Solar product is considered a fairly major break through in solar power.

Cut Energy Costs with Solar Exterior Window Shades

American Homes use up about 1/3 of the country’s energy supply, polluting the environment and running up our expenses. However, if we cut our energy consumption by just 10 percent, we could not build 27 new power plants a year, according to Jodi Beebe, energy analyst for the Utility Consumers’ Action Network, a nonprofit group in San Diego.

With the summer heat pounding down on us and the sun’s rays scorching us, what do we do? Crank up the air conditioner? Move to Alaska? Burn up the earth’s resources to stay cool? Of course, we all want to be comfortable, but isn’t there another way besides the air conditioner?

Fortunately for us, the Australians have the same problem, but more of it. Australia is famous for its extreme weather, with searing heat during the day, while at night temperatures can plunge below zero. A large company in Australia – Gale Pacific – has developed a novel type of window shade designed to be mounted to the exterior of your home, where it will help keep the sun’s rays and heat out of your home during the sunny months.

Exterior window shades are made in several different sizes, and can be easily mounted to any window or used on your porch or patio to make them usable throughout the day. In addition to keeping the heat from the sun from warming your home, the shades block up to 92% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, preventing possible skin and eye damage.  The designers of the fabric also made it easy to clean and maintain, so it is not be a hassle to keep up with.

Fortunately, these window shades will not black-out the light coming in through the window, as who wants to shut out the world and live in isolation? Filtered light will come into your house, and you can see out, although you cannot see into the house during the day (the side with the least light can see the side with the most light).

Perhaps some will learn to live without a/c, and others will move to Alaska . The best way to cut home cooling bills will be to strategically plant trees to provide shade for the house. Until the trees get big enough though, the window shades will cover the window in style and save a few bucks a month (or should we say save a few lumps of coal or a little nuclear waste?).

Do You Realize You Live In A Solar Home? Yes, you.

Easy, Free Energy

You may not realize it, but you live in a solar home. In fact, every home you’ve lived in was powered with solar in one form or another. This concept is known as passive solar and can be used to save you serious money on utilities.

In every home, there is a room or set of rooms that bake in the sun during the day. Many people know this, but don’t realize it, when they complain about certain rooms burning up during the day while others are cold. The hot rooms, of course, are sitting in the sun all day. Since the sun is essentially a nuclear reactor, the power is sends to the earth is immense. Rooms can heat up to sweltering temperatures within 30 minutes as a testament to this power. Given some thought, you can use this power to passively heat your home.

Sunlight is very easy to put to work in a home. When you want heat, let it in. When you don’t, block the access areas. When sun energy enters an area through a window, the area is known as an isolated gain location. For instance, light streaming through a bedroom window will make the room an isolated gain area that heats up if you close the door. There are two excellent ways to put this to your use.

You can use sunlight to passively heat your home by adding isolated gain areas that track the path of the sun. Heat rises and evens out through a home. If the home has isolated access areas that track the path of the sun, you can gain free heat throughout the day. Most homes will have windows at the end of each home, but limited sunlight access through the roof. A good way to add heating to your home is through sun room roofs or skylights.

A second method for turning the sunlight into heat involves materials. Certain materials take longer to heat up in the sun, but also will generate heat longer once the sun has set. This is known as using thermal mass to heat a home. For instance, masonry materials universally collect and hold energy from the sun. Used for flooring below a window, the materials will heat up throughout the day. Once the sun sets, the materials will continue to expend heat for hours on end. If you doubt this, give some thought to how long your fireplace continues to radiate heat after the fire has gone out.

Using sunlight to heat your home passively will never replace the need for utilities. Minor home improvements, however, can help create heat during the day and make your home more comfortable.

Financial Incentives for Using Solar Power in Your Home

It is undeniable that energy prices are going through the roof. Just take a look at your utility bill. The good news is using solar power can save your bank account, particularly with new incentives.
Personal Tax Credit and Deductions

If anything is more aggravating than exploding energy costs, it’s your tax bill. New and established government programs let you attack both by going solar. The first method is by simply saving money on taxes. If you install a solar energy system on your home, the federal government is going to give you a tax credit of up to $2,000.

Tax credits reduce your tax liability dollar for dollar unlike deductions which are subtracted from your gross income. A majority of states now also offer tax credits you can use when paying state taxes. Each state handles the matter differently, but you can expect to get a credit for a percentage of your installation cost or a fixed figure.
Net Metering
Net metering is a concept that has resulted in exploding sales in the solar energy industry. Net metering refers to state laws that require utilities to purchase power generated from your residential solar system at the same price the utilities would otherwise charge you for electricity. In effect, net metering lets you use the utility company as a battery.

While you are at work during the day, your solar system sends energy to the utility and your power meter actually runs backwards. When you come home at night and use power, the power meter runs forward. All and all, net metering will either slash or completely eliminate your utility bill.

With solar panel systems having a life of 40 years, think how much money you’ll save! While a majority of states have net metering laws, not all do. Make sure to check if yours does.
Property Tax Incentives 
Property taxes. How we all hate paying property taxes. Well, many states now provide exemptions, exclusions or credits for homes with solar power. Each state handles this issue differently, so look into the potential savings in yours.
Rebate Programs 
To promote solar energy, rebate programs are offered to homeowners by states and utilities. Again, the characteristics of such programs vary wildly, but typically come in the form of rebates ranging from a couple hundred bucks to $4,000 or more.
With your utility bills going through the roof, it is time to consider steps you can take to save money. The economic benefits of going solar have never been better, which makes now the time to convert.

Financing Residential Solar Power

Although competition is driving prices down, solar panel systems can require you departing with a chunk of change. Fortunately, the mortgage industry wants to talk to you.

Financing Residential Solar Power

If you are considering improving your home with a solar panel system or the hot new thin solar roofing systems, you need to learn three little letters – E…E…M.  EEM stands for energy efficient mortgage. It also stands for avoiding out of pocket costs to improve your home with a solar.

Energy efficient mortgages came to be because of a nudge from the government to lenders in an effort to promote the use of solar energy as a power source. Put another way, the government told lenders to do it and do it now. So, what exactly is an energy efficient mortgage? Glad you asked.

An energy efficient mortgage is a loan that allows you to incorporate the cost of your solar improvements into your mortgage loan. The improvements can cost up to 15 percent of the total value of your home. The lender will calculate the energy savings for you home because of the new solar system and will add that to the total loan value, letting you borrow more than normal. Put another way, it doesn’t matter how much equity you currently have in your home, the solar financing is added on top of the loan. This, of course, lets you get a solar system without much out of pocket expense and you get to recover a good chunk of the cost through an increased mortgage interest deduction. Throw in tax credits, rebates and net metering incentives, and solar is getting mighty cheap if you know how to work the system.

Energy efficient mortgages have very few restrictions. You can get them for new construction or existing homes. The can be issued for single family residents, duplexes, condos and so on.

Frankly, it is a no brainer to go with an energy efficiency mortgage. Ask your lender for more information on the program so you can find out how to profit from a solar improvement to your home.