Posted by: mlsolar | March 14, 2012

Save Money, Save the Environment – Go Solar!

The majority of California’s electricity, 42% of it, comes from natural gas, followed by nuclear power and hydro power. How can you reduce your utility bills, get paid for energy efficiency, protect against rising energy costs and earn tax credits while cutting air pollution and reducing gas emissions? By doing what many California residents are doing;  moving towards installing wind and solar energy systems to conserve their money and save the environment in today’s economy and growing population.

One issue related to energy savings, found through a San Jose Mercury News article, is net metering. I’ve come to find out this concept has been in place in sunny California for 15 years. Net metering measures the difference between the electricity you consume through your utility company and the electricity your solar system generates and feeds back to the electric grid over a 12-month period. Your meter keeps track of this “net” difference as your system generates electricity or uses electricity from the transmission grid. In California, with the annual average of 250 days of sun, using net metering has big advantages; crediting the larger usage of solar energy offsets those cold, cloudy days of winter electricity use.

So, why don’t more Californians invest in this practice? In this day and age, particularly in this economy, wouldn’t we all like to save money especially on our recurring monthly expenses? Have you noticed the difference in your electricity bill during the summer and winter months when compared to the spring and fall months? Journalist Dana Hull states that there are 63,000 Northern California net metering customers, only 16,000 San Diego customers and this is due to the high cost of solar panels that only affluent people can afford, but lately, out of the roughly 38 million people who call California home, many residents, no matter what their income, are starting to begin their own DIY solar projects. Slowly but surely, California is leading the way in the installation of photovolatic solar panels accounting for the 29% of total installations in the country. Before you start your own solar projects or call contractors to install solar panels, there is a checklist of things to think about. And if the one factor that is stopping you is finances, Sunrun, based in San Francisco assists in financing solar systems.

California residents should be informed about the Solar Federal Tax Credit or the California Solar Initiative that they can receive on their tax filings this year. The Solar Federal Tax Credit credits 30% of the cost with no upper limit and is good until December 31, 2016. Existing homes, new construction, principal homes and second residences which install geothermal heat pumps, residential wind turbines and/or solar energy systems qualify for this credit. For the California Solar Initiative, customers who buy electricity from Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison or San Diego Gas & Electric receive cash back rebates on every watt of solar energy installed. One important requirement is that you have roof or ground space that gets unobstructed sunlight from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. year round.

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