We have wanted to get solar panels on our rooftop for years, but the up-front cost has kept us from doing so. I imagine we aren’t the only ones, either. The federal stimulus package may change that.
Our power company (PG&E) continues to rob us in unpredictable ways. We thought things would improve when the California energy crisis passed (and they probably have to some extent), but month after month our high bills continue to plague us. We have both a pool and a hot tub and those are probably the killer items. But we try:
- Reduced times on pool and hot tub filtering cycles.
- Use the Bay Area’s natural evening cooling to bring cool air into our house, then shut the windows before it gets hot.
- Replaced almost all light bulbs with compact fluorescents.
- Try to run major appliances full and at night.
- Replaced our washer with a high-efficiency washer.
- Use clothesline for drying when it’s hot out. The sun is often faster than the dryer! (Nicer, too.)
- After our Earth Hour experience, we consolidate evening activities to reduce the number of lit rooms. (It’s also more sociable.)
And yet, these things don’t seem to have improved our energy bills. Harumph. At least we are trying to do the right thing to help the planet. And I suppose our bills would be even worse if we didn’t do these things!
This is a dollar-for-dollar tax credit.
But solar panels remain in our thoughts. A number of local schools have installed solar panel shades in their parking lots, which is a great idea: Not only does it generate extra power, but it keeps the cars cooler so we don’t have to run the air-conditioning as much. We parked under one yesterday, since our church meets at a school, and said, “It still would be nice to have this on our house.”
Well (if I get a job), maybe this year or the next will be the time to do it! On his blog today, Al Gore says the government stimulus package provides a 30% tax credit in 2009 and 2010. That’s a big chunk, folks. Yes, we’d still have to sacrifice, but it would benefit us, benefit the economy, and benefit the planet.
Kay asked, “So if installation costs $10,000 (say), does this reduce our taxes by $3000, or does it just reduce our adjusted gross income (AGI) by $3000? There’s a big difference between the two!” I did some searching and found an official government statement: This is a dollar-for-dollar tax credit, not merely a deduction. So this is good!
What about you: Have you been putting off solar panels? Will this tax credit push you over that edge of hesitation? I would also like to hear what energy-saving tips you are practicing.