March 31, 2015 Newsletter
March 31st, 2015 EcoElectric Newsletter
In the interest of energy conservation and reducing the carbon footprint, government agencies, and other entities offer tax credits, rebates and other incentives for residential energy efficiency. While some of these are national, there are state-specific incentives as well.
Nationally, there is a Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. It was established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as a federal tax credit for residential energy. When it was first created, it only covered solar-electric systems, solar water heating systems and fuel cells. However, small wind-energy systems and geothermal heat pumps were added in the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008.
In 2009, the $2,000 credit limit for solar-electric systems was removed and the credit was extended to December 31, 2016. They made it so those with a residential energy property are able to take the credit against the alternative minimum tax. Now with this program, taxpayers may claim a credit of 30 percent of qualified expenditures for a residential system. Qualified expenditures include labor costs, system installation, and piping or wiring the system to the home.
The state of Idaho also has many tax credits, rebates and savings opportunities. A majority of them are offered by Avista, Idaho Falls Power, and Idaho Power. They include residential energy efficiency, commercial energy efficiency, net metering, commercial energy conservation, energy efficient heat pumps and more.
These programs are a great way for home and business owners to reduce their carbon footprint while getting a little cash back.
The Greenest Cities
When people think about “green” cities, there are a few that stand out. They are known for their air and water quality, recycling and waste management, LEED-certified buildings, and renewable energy sources. Here are 10 of the greenest cities in the United States, and why they earned such a title:
- Austin, Texas: This Texas city has a goal of being carbon neutral by 2020. They might just get there with Austin Energy being the nation’s top seller of renewable energy. They also have many acres of green space with 206 parks, 12 preserves, 26 greenbelts and over 50 miles of trails.
- Chicago, Illinois: More than 2.5 million square feet of city roofs support plant life in the Windy City. They’ve also planted 500,000 new trees.
- Seattle, Washington: At least 20 of the public buildings in Seattle are LEED-certified. Residents are also encouraged to install solar panels on their homes through incentive programs.
- Berkeley, California: This northern California city is a leader in the incubation of clean technology for wind power, solar power, biofuels and hydropower. It also offers a ton of organic and vegetarian restaurants.
- Cambridge, Massachusetts: A major climate protection plan was implemented in 2002, making a majority of city vehicles fueled by B20 biodiesel or electricity. Also, new construction and major renovations are required to meet LEED standards. In addition, a project called Compost that Stuff, which collects and processes organic waste from a variety of places, including homes, restaurants, bars and hotels has been established here.
- Eugene, Oregon: Their hybrid transit system, the Emerald Express, won a Sustainable Transport award in 2008. Its residents also prefer getting around by bike, which isn’t difficult considering it boasts 30 miles of off-street bike baths and 29 dedicated bike routes.
- Oakland, California: This port city has the cleanest tap water in the country, as well as hydrogen-powered public transit, and the oldest wildlife refuge in the nation. They also have big plans to have zero waste and be oil-dependent by 2020.
- Boston, Massachusetts: They hold an annual Down2Earth conference that educates residents about living sustainable lifestyles.
- San Francisco, California: It was the first city in the nation to ban plastic grocery bags, an initiative that has been spreading through the state.
- Portland, Oregon: Portland has 200 miles of dedicated bike lanes, making it the most bikeable city in the nation. It also offers classes for container gardening, cheese making, beekeeping and more DIY sustainable food source classes.
Electrical Problem Warning Signs
Electrical problems in a home or business can lead to dangerous situations such as electrocution or property damage. However, most electrical problems give off warning signs before they become too serious. Keep an eye out for warning signs, and call an electrician if they are present.
1. Circuit breakers
Circuit breakers can trip, shutting off the electrical supply. They are designed to do this to prevent wires from overheating and starting a fire. Old age can also cause circuit breakers to trip. If this continues to happen, Eco Electric can upgrade or replace the panel.
2. Electrical shocks
When touching an appliance, if it gives a shock or tingle, improper wiring or a ground fault in the appliance could be causing it. This problem should be remedied as soon as possible so it doesn’t get worse and cause more harmful damage.
3. Flickering lights/hot ceiling fixtures
Overheating fixtures that are hot to the touch can cause fires. If the fixture is not well insulated or has the wrong wattage for the lightbulb it can easily overheat and become hazardous.
Flickering lights can caused by something as simple as a defective or loose bulb. Sometimes replacing the lightbulb takes care of the problem. However, if the problem persists after changing the lightbulb, it could be a fault in the fixture or bad wiring.
4. Burning odors or sparking
If a burning smell is coming from an outlet or switch, the power should be turned off immediately and an electrician called. It could be the start of an electrical fire. Continual sparking or abnormally large sparks also indicate issues with the outlet or circuit and should be checked by a licensed electrician.
If home or business owners see any of these warning signs, they should call Eco Electric for a diagnosis of the problem. They make emergency service calls if these is something immediately concerning.
Outdoor Fountain Installation
For those looking to increase the aesthetic quality of their backyard, outdoor water fountains can be a great improvement. There are many sizes and styles homeowners can choose from to fit their yard and budget. They can even choose to have it powered by electricity or solar panels.
Eco Electric can help homeowners with installing a water fountain in their backyard. One of their specialty electrical services is doing exterior upgrades. Without the help of an electrician, homeowners would have to use an extension cord from the house or garage to power the fountain, and then deal with attempting to camouflage the cord so nobody sees or trips over it.
When deciding between an electric or solar powered outdoor fountain, sometimes placement can be the first deciding factor. The farther away from the home the fountain is placed, the more work it would take to get the electricity out to it. However, a solar-powered fountain will need to be placed in an area that gets direct sunlight.
The second decision that would come up, would be about water flow consistency. An electrically powered fountain would allow the water flow continuously. The solar version might have times when the water is unable to flow because the power cells have become depleted and need more sunlight to recharge.
While an electric fountain is usually cheaper to buy and install, the continuous use of electricity will increase the energy bill. The solar-powered fountain would end up saving money, because the solar panels wouldn’t cause any increase in the energy bill.
If an outer fountain is option, contact Eco Electric for help installing it.