How To Get Your Solar Energy Tax Credit

There are a lot of good reasons to go solar for your home or business. Many Bay Area homeowners have a solar system installed to protect themselves and their families against rising energy rates. While it is difficult to forecast exactly how much electricity costs will rise, or how quickly, one thing is certain – they will continue to go up. Conversely, an investment in solar for your home or business not only decreases or even entirely eliminate monthly electricity costs, it can also increase the property value of a home and lower the operating costs of a business. A third and very important financial incentive is the federal government’s generous solar energy tax credit.

The solar energy tax credit allows a homeowner to reduce the amount of income tax that they would otherwise have to pay the federal government. This credit is good for 30 percent of homeowner’s investment in their solar system, including solar panels, a charge converter, battery, and inverter, but only for the next three years. The credit will drop to 26 percent in 2020, and 22 percent in 2021. After 2021, the solar energy tax credit for residential customers will be eliminated entirely. While there is a chance the credit could be extended, many homeowners considering solar are planning to install their systems within the next few years to take advantage of the credit.

For commercial businesses looking to go more green, they can qualify for up to 70% off with solar tax incentives. Not only will you qualify for a 30% Federal Tax Credit but you can accelerate the depreciation of your solar system over 5 short years. These tax incentives are equivalent to 60%-70% of the system cost, leaving you needing only 3-4 years of energy savings to recover your entire investment.

In addition to the financial benefits of the solar energy tax credit, many people choose to go solar because they feel solar energy is a more environmentally responsible solution. Solar energy is both sustainable and renewable. Solar energy provides a zero-emission way to power buildings, and appliances, heat water, and refuel electric vehicles. The more popular and widespread that rooftop or carport solar panels become, the more they reduce the load on coal-burning power plants.

With buildings accounting for 38 percent of all carbon emissions in the U.S., going solar can significantly decrease our carbon footprint. A typical residential solar panel system will eliminate three to four tons of carbon emissions each year-the equivalent of planting over 100 trees annually. Going solar is not only a great way to go green, but taking advantage of the solar energy tax credit – before it expires – is a great way to save some green.

Beat The Rising Energy Costs With Green Building Trends

Green building trends are becoming increasingly popular among builders, architects and homeowners with every passing year. With growing environmental awareness, more and more people want recycled and sustainable materials to be incorporated in renovation or construction of their houses. They also favor homes which use design and construction techniques developed to improve the indoor air quality and energy efficiency of the house. Apart from enabling the homeowners to feel great about reducing their carbon footprint, eco-friendly building techniques also provide them lifelong savings on the utility bills.

A green home does not need to be like a geodesic dome or a yurt, like the eco-houses that were built a few decades ago. The idea behind building green homes is to save energy. So, it does not matter what size, style or design you opt for, as long as the house is energy-efficient. All types of green buildings have low cooling and heating costs, as they incorporate the principles of solar designs. Today, green building has emerged as a budding segment of home renovation and construction market. This is the reason why, nowadays, you can find numerous vendors exhibiting eco-friendly building services and products.

Nearly all architecture firms specialize in green or sustainable building designs and offer products, like energy-efficient appliances, recycled plastic roof shingles and many more. These companies can offer great help to families that are struggling financially, by helping them lower their rising energy bills. In fact, real estate agents too feel that eco-friendly architecture components act as an added benefit for their property listings. This is because in the current relaxed residential property market home buyers often get more selective while choosing a house. The long-term savings of green houses therefore make for a tempting property package. This also means green homes sell faster than traditional houses and also, at a better price.

Besides, banks and other financial institutions are also realizing the great investment value of green construction. So, you would also see many of them offering more encouraging terms for loan to customers, wanting to borrow money for buying green homes. All these factors are responsible for the increasing popularity of green building trends. Just as people are turning away from the vehicles consuming high amount of fuel and opting for the ones that are fuel-efficient, they are hesitating to live in the traditionally designed homes.

Today, skyrocketing utility bills is a big concern for every homeowner. Thus, buying a green house or making green renovations in the current house is a great way to beat the rising energy costs. To make the most of green building trends, you can look for a capable green architect, builder or constructor, who can help you build or design an eco-friendly house. Apart from proffering financial benefits, green living can also give you numerous health benefits. For instance, improved indoor air quality significantly reduces the risk of many respiratory diseases.

Solar Energy Is Booming, But Which Sites Are in Demand in 2016?

Solar innovation is reaching critical mass, opening new markets and driving solar developers to new real estate.

With solar PV (photovoltaic) costs collapsing by four-fifths in the last five years, and demand for renewable energy picking up, a perfect storm for solar energy installation is emerging. Incentives and tax breaks still make a big financial difference-and Congress did its part with the extension of the solar tax credit in the omnibus bill at the end of 2015.

There are also many state and local incentives and policies designed to encourage solar energy development, like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent announcement of a $5 billion renewable energy plan. Keeping track of the multitude of solar incentives can be a challenge but the website DSIRE keeps a comprehensive and updated source of information on incentives and policies supporting renewables and energy efficiency. This invaluable tool helps navigate the landscape of overlapping policies to help determine where particular incentives apply, and for whom.

But as solar energy innovation continues to accumulate and solar prices continue to plummet, the day solar out-competes fossil fuels and nuclear without any supportive incentives is finally within sight. Small, expensive residential rooftop installations-beginning with the kind Jimmy Carter put on top of the White House in the 70’s-have evolved into no-money-down lease arrangements that are widely accessible to homeowners and business owners in many markets. Massive commercial installations are also less expensive and slimming down. Whereas 20 or 30+ acres were necessary in the past, now developers are pursuing 10 and even 5-acre projects with the right conditions. And new models, such as community solar, are slimming acreage needs even further.

‘Community solar’ refers to community-owned projects or third party-owned installations whose electricity is shared by a community-sometimes referred to as a solar garden. The primary purpose of community solar is to give multiple households or members of a community the opportunity to share the benefits of solar power even if they cannot or prefer not to install solar panels on their own property. As residential solar developers have discovered during the mini-boom of the past cycle, many rooftops are simply not suitable for solar installation.

Community solar developers are opening new markets by approaching geography in new ways, looking to develop sites as small as 2.5 acres or less and developing multiple micro-sites together. This opens up the potential of many areas where the inventory of suitable large-scale sites is very low-such as the northeast, particularly in populated areas along the coast. Rural and remote areas have large available parcels, but can lack infrastructure and connectivity. Larger installations can also face regulations imposed by state and federal agencies to avoid, minimize, or mitigate habitat loss or fragmentation.

Smaller solar installations are especially good matches for urban markets with fewer ecosystem impacts, existing infrastructure, more end-user demand and high inventories of smaller sites. Underutilized greyfield and brownfield real estate is ideally-suited for solar use because it can be a less expensive reuse (compared to typical commercial or residential uses) and still generates income and/or saves utility costs for the user. As former industrial and commercial properties, greyfields and brownfields tend to be in areas with ready access to existing infrastructure such as electric transmission lines and substations necessary to load excess power on the utility grid. More contaminated real estate and landfills have highly constricted reuse options, and solar development is an add-on that layers a productive use atop entombed waste-green on brown. The sale of electricity from solar energy production could net a municipal landfill owner hundreds of thousands of dollars in new annual revenue.

EPA encourages solar development of landfills and brownfield property through its Re-Powering America’s Land Initiative program, which educates and advocates stakeholders on the positive benefits of making brightfields out of brownfields. Traditional solar developers prefer sites that are closed and have a final remedy in place, with limited or no ongoing regulatory requirements. Properties with open incidents or incomplete remediation can delay build-out and slow down solar developers who prefer to move quickly and not deal with extraneous, non-solar concerns. But a growing number of developers are willing to come in early and be patient for the right development on the right real estate. For owners of contaminated sites, the cost savings captured by remediating a property with a solar energy reuse in mind can be substantial because brightfields are unoccupied and can therefore require a less intensive cleanup and less regulatory and legal liability concern going forward.

The specific characteristics and requirements of a suitable location for solar energy production vary somewhat depending on the technology and developer. In general, the site must have good access for construction and maintenance, no access for pedestrians, and elevation beyond any floodplain. The slope should generally be less than 35 degrees. In the Northern Hemisphere, the aspect should be south facing or horizontal because solar panels located on south-facing slopes will have a higher solar power output than those located on north-facing slopes. The site should receive some minimum amount of solar radiation per year, and any shading should be removable.

Does your site sound like a match? Are you a brownfield owner looking to list your property and connect to solar developers? You can sign up to list for free in a brightfield portfolio dedicated to marketing solar development opportunities. Use the brightfield tag when creating a listing on Brownfield Listings to connect your real estate to the solar community nationwide.

Focus on Green Homes – Landscaping to Save Energy

Landscaping a home in green manner is an important part of planning and building your green home. Landscaping consumes a lot of water and maintaining your yard can produce a large amount of carbon monoxide. Green landscaping means selecting plants that reduce the amount of water used to keep them alive.

For the lawn, plant grass that grows very slowly and requires very little water to survive. By planting this type of grass, your lawn would not need to be mowed every week, but maybe only a few times a summer, reducing the amount of exhaust from your mowing activities. Also since water bills are usually calculated by consumption, the less water the yard requires, the lower the water bill.

For the plants and bushes around the home, select hardy plants. Hardy plants are less susceptible to diseases and damaging pests, allowing you to forego or eliminate pesticides and fertilizers. The less of these chemicals that are used the better it is for the environment, reducing the amount of chemicals that run-off of plants during a rainstorm and soak into the ground. This type of run-off of pesticides and fertilizers has the potential to contaminate ground water and drinking water.

Another major consideration with green landscaping is the heat island effect. The heat island effect is heat from the home, from man-made surfaces around the home, and from the lack of appropriate landscaping. The combined heat from these sources can increase the temperature in a community noticeably. Heat islands can cause increased use of air conditioning, increased air pollution and greenhouse gas production, and lower water quality.

For your green home, this effect can make your heating and cooling systems less effective. The right types of landscaping can help prevent the heat island effect. For example, planting our hardy trees, shrubs and plants at least 24 inches away from the house can break up the heat transfer mechanism. In addition, planting deciduous trees on the west side of your green home or along driveways and walkways can be very effective for cooling the house and yard. Plan ahead, though. Trees and bushes growth over time can interfere with the effectiveness of any solar panels that are installed.

When planning your landscaping, plan to install a rain barrel as well. Why not store some of the run-off rainwater for eco-friendly, free water for watering the lawn, plants, scrubs, and trees? In addition to a rain barrel, the ground can be shaped to direct water coming from the roof and the ground during a rainstorm to collect around the plants, shrubs, and trees in the yard. This allows the earth to do your work for you. As the water from the storm drains into the ground, the last part of the ground to dry out is the part of the lawn that received the most water, reducing the amount of tap water needed.

By taking the extra time to address these issues during the design of your green home, you can achieve a beautiful, very low maintenance and environmental-friendly landscaped yard.

Energy Efficient House Design Tips

The year 2017, according to the Chinese Zodiac, is the year of the Fire Rooster. The Pantone color of the year is green. Despite green being the year’s color, do you know that there are other ways to atone your house to the idea of becoming green? One method is by making your house more energy-efficient. The rest of the article gives you some tips on how to align your house design towards energy efficiency.

  • Be wise with your choice – fans over lights!

Making your house cooler is a much more energy-efficient way than making it appear brighter. Achieve this by installing fans in each room rather than putting lights. During summer, you’ll see the great benefits.

  • Higher tag price isn’t always quality.

There are many fixtures you may want for your house. Browsing through the internet and looking at glossy home magazines will open your eyes to a lot of pricy and classy home fixtures. But do you know that quality does not mean expensive?

There are quality choices that will not burn you off much of your hard-earned money. For instance, cheaper bathroom and kitchen fixtures may have the same energy-efficient capacities than more expensive ones. The same principle applies to other household appliances.

  • Window coverings over more windows

Windows should be strategically placed in areas where the right amount of natural sunlight can enter. By this, you’re actually saving a lot of energy. You won’t be needing to turn of your fluorescents and lamps at an earlier time.

During the day, when you just want to have a darker setting, you just need the right curtains, drapes, or blinds to cover the window. This will also prove useful during winter months.

  • Install rugs and carpets.

The winter months can really give chilling effects to the skin. By these months, you’re on to wearing your thickest pieces of clothing. You’re also burning more woods in your fireplaces. But do you know that you can have a more efficient way of getting more heat inside your house? The secret lies with the proper choice of rugs and carpets on specific house parts. Aside from getting the house decorated, these home decor help trap warm air to give you a warmer feel.

  • Rethink of your ceiling – do you want it lower or higher?

Higher ceiling creates a more spacious look and feel. Lower ceiling gives you an easier way to heat or cool the house and cut your energy costs.

Are you seeking for an existing home which is energy-efficient? Don’t be afraid to contact your local real estate broker. Your choice might just be in his or her listings.