Sunday, July 27, 2014

The ABCs To Solar Energy Ownership

 Whenever you choose a solar power system, you will be slowing down the search for coal, which is causing the needless destruction of the Appalachian Mountains. You will be making this planet a better place to live in and you will be stabilizing your electric bill. However, few homeowners, even those living in sunny Southern California, consider this home improvement project. Why? It's just a monumental task.
Factors to consider: INSTALLING COMPANY
There are many different ways to approach the process. I want to share my way. The reason why I chose this factor first is that a good installer will consider the customer's thinking process. By interviewing a few installing companies, I can immediately tell how professional a company is. I learned from our cousins that one leading solar panel manufacturer is Sunpower. By signing up with Sunpower, it will refer you to a local installing company. We used Perma City in Los Angeles.
The other method is to check out and learn to bargain collectively for a lower price. It's catching on in San Francisco, but I wouldn't know if solar energy would ever become trendy in Los Angeles, despite its reputation for sunshine.

What We Learned At the Home Visit/Interview

In addition to the basic information about the licensing and bonding of an installing company, it is important to find a patient salesman who can answer all of your questions. We learned that unlike its competitors, Sunpower considered the disposal of the cells after they are spent. They are non- toxic to dispose. Also, the salesman showed how the panel was manufactured to reduce physical inefficiency, such as thickness of the seams between the cells, etc. Our salesman went to the roof and measured it, telling us that there would be fewer solar panels than we had imagined because the installer must adhere to fire regulations. Finally and most importantly, the installer must explain all of the financial incentives to cushion the cost of the project. These incentives can come from varying levels-- federal, state, and city.

How To Determine The Number Of Panels You Need

First, the salesman asked us for a summary of a year's electricity usage before measuring the roof. A good salesman will sell you enough panels that will product as much electricity as you may need so that it can be affordable. We received a letter with the technically information, offering both Sunpower and non-Sunpower systems:
The first solar system we've designed for you consists 20 powerful SunPower 215 modules, offsetting 72% of your daily energy usage based on the bill you provided of 1,515 kilowatt hours over a two month period. The second system is composed of 16 of those same SunPower 215 modules, providing you with a more affordable alternative and offsetting 53% of your energy consumption. Finally we have provided an alternative system composed of Sharp 175 modules, which offsets 52% of your power usage and provides with the most cost efficient way to power your home. We ended up choosing the maximum that our roof can bear to offset the extra electricity we were planning to use because we were in the process of adding a second air conditioning system.

The Financial Factors

We heard about the rental option from another company where for only a saving of $10 per month, you would be using solar power. However, that's not the way to go since you never own the system. By owning the system, after the break even point, you just save the electricity portion of your utility bill and would only have to pay for the connection fee (currently $22 per bi-monthly billing). We were skeptical how the rebates and energy tax refunds work in Los Angeles.

Factor #1: Most solar installing companies offer some type of financing. At one point, recently, Sunpower was offering one year no-interest financing. We were able to obtain the 6-month interest-free financing through its financial partner, Enerbank. After the 6 months, the interest starts to accrue from the first day of the loan. The lender issued 2 payments to the installer, one at the beginning, and the other later on.
Factor #2: How does one get the federal tax portion on time. Since we had only a 6-month interest-free window, we decided that we would contract with Perma City in December. Once you have a contract with a company, you are eligible for the tax refund for that year. So, immediately in January, we completed the tax return forms. Before the change in the energy tax refund, there was a cap of merely $2000, which is nothing. During the year, we contracted to install a system, the incentive was 1/3 of the cost of the project. Right there was $12,000.
Factor #3: How to obtain the rebate portion of the incentive? In Los Angeles, it took longer than we expected, 2-3 months after the utility engineer swaps out the old meter for one that can access solar power and turn back the dials. We received a check for $13,000 from the Department of Water and Power just in time to repay the loan
We still owed about $11,000, but we were expecting $8,000 for all of the interests we paid on the house. In our mind, we had to come up with $3000, rather than $36,000 project price. Further, it's important to find a company that is flexible enough to have the utility rebate go straight to the customer, and we were truly lucky to find one so willing to work with us          

Was It What We Expected?

Our utility company was late in crediting solar power customers in its billing; however, it has improved recently. The electric company has no reason to pay you for the amount you generate but don't use. And we noticed that in the winter, your system will not generate a whole lot of energy. However, it will only take 5 years for the system to pay for itself (the cost of we had to pay out of pocket). Since Sun Power's promise is a 25 year warranty, we hope that we'll enjoy the saving for quite some time. One can look at this as a diversified socially responsible investment.                                   

15 Different Printable Christmas and Holiday Gift Tags and Labels

Have you ever noticed when a gift does not come with a gift tab or label? The person either writes your name on the wrapping paper with a Sharpie or she apologizes that in a last minute rush, she could not find a tag. You can go buy tags, but with great printer technology, you can just print them out yourself and save money while giving your present that final touch. Further, because I am a visual person, I have laid out the tags so that you can see every tag presented. Therefore, there will be no surprise links that you find end up not being cute because we all have different definition of "cute." Most of the tags I had to either enlarge or shrink so that they would be viewable. I also tested them to make sure that they are useable tags where you only have to print. Hopefully, this will save you time.

Click here to download the tags.

Cute and Silly Reindeer Holiday Tags

Click Here to view full version and to print.

Image Credit

Milliande Art Community for Women

Image Credit. Click on the photo to see a full page and click again for the actual size.

Amy Cluck Christmas Tags

Image Credit

Right click on a PC or double finger click on a MacBook to find the menu allowing you to save this jpeg file and then save it to your computer so that you can then print them out.

Martha Stewart Gift Tags

Click here to download these tags.

Credit to Blog storing this sheet of Martha Stewart tags.

More Martha Stewart Tags

Click here to download a sheet of these tags.

Flower Snowflake Tags

Click here to download tags.

Cute Animation Christmas Tags

Click here for these Gift Tags From to open under a separate tab, where you can print.

Retro Animation Gift Tags

Click here for these Gift Tags From to open under a separate tab, where you can print.

Disney Gift Tags

Just "Save Image As" onto your computer and print.

Cute Christmas Tags from a UK Children's Site

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Click here to download tags.

A Set of Christmas Tags

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Click here to download Christmas tags.

Free Cute Hand-Drawn Tags

These Christmas Tags have such a warm personality to them.

Click here to download.

Image Credit

Free Christmas Tags from offers these free cute Christmas tags.

Click here to download to your PC.

Cute Angelic Gift Tags

Click here for tags to save to your PC. These tags are very good quality.