Save Money, Energy with Efficient Lighting Choices

If you’re still lighting your home with traditional incandescent light bulbs, you’re wasting money and energy. Let’s look at your options to become more energy efficient and put a few dollars back in your pocket every month.

Incandescent bulbs have been in use for well over 100 years, and we’re so accustomed to them that we accept their shortcomings as a given. Inside the glass bulb of an incandescent lamp is a metal filament through which electricity flows. Electrical resistance in the filament causes it to get hot, and it gives off light as a side-effect. In fact, only 5% of the electricity an incandescent lamp consumes becomes light. The rest turns into heat, which is mostly wasted. Incandescent bulbs have a short lifecycle, typically 750 hours, so they need frequent replacement. On the positive side, they’re inexpensive. The cost of a typical 100-watt bulb is about $0.50.

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Comparing the True Costs of Solar

Are you considering investing in solar technology for your home or business? The economic advantages of solar are at the forefront of most buyers’ minds, but getting the best bang for your buck isn’t as straightforward as you might think. There are some common misconceptions regarding solar power that can muddy the waters when comparing systems for initial cost and long-term benefits. Whether you’re just beginning to investigate systems and suppliers or you’re looking at competing proposals, it’s important to understand two issues clearly.

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Taking Advantage of the Solar Energy Tax Credit

The shift toward solar and other renewable energy sources has provided opportunities for households to use renewable energy tax credits when filing taxes.

The government instituted the tax credit program to give solar power and other renewable energy users a way to recoup part of their green investment. Through this initiative, homeowners are not only recovering costs but also reducing their carbon footprint and doing their share for the environment.

With the tax season now upon us, it is important to know that one can apply for renewable energy credit when filing for taxes. The range of systems that the program applies to include solar energy or photovoltaics, and solar heating systems. For a system to qualify, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program says that a solar heating unit should be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation or another entity endorsed by the state government where the property is located.

For solar power, the system should meet applicable fire and electrical code requirements and standards. The qualified expenditures for solar systems include labor costs, installation, and wiring connection of a solar energy unit or any applicable renewable set-up to the dwelling.

Under the program, taxpayers are allowed to deduct up to 30 percent of qualified costs for a green energy system installed in an existing or newly constructed home. There are several requirements for applicants to fully qualify for credit. Primarily, the dwelling must be located in the U.S., and must be owned and primarily used as a residence by the taxpayer.

Generally, green energy tax credits cannot be claimed for rental properties. However, homeowners can claim a certain credit percent if they currently live in the property but rent it out for a certain portion of the year. The credits would have to be calculated against the amount of time they stay in the property. For instance, if they stay in the home for half a year, only 50 percent of the applicable credit may be claimed by the homeowner.

Those who are planning to file their tax claims should use an IRS Form 5695. If a taxpayer has more credit than income tax due, the credit would be carried over in the succeeding filing year, according to TurboTax. The current 30 percent cap on solar tax credits will remain in place up until 2019. However, by 2020, owners of new solar systems can only deduct 26 percent. By 2021, this will be reduced by 22 percent, as posted in energy.gov. This applies to both commercial and residential systems.

The tax credit program was established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. At that time, the tax credit was only applied to newly installed solar power and fuel cells. This was eventually expanded to include other renewables in 2008. Small wind energy, fuel cells, and geothermal heat pumps were included in the program.

How A Solar Panel Works

One of the most common forms of clean energy is solar energy. It has become more popular in recent years, with solar panels appearing on rooftops around the world. Much of their appeal is due to the fact that they don’t have any moving parts that would eventually have to be replaced. Here’s a brief look at the seemingly mysterious process by which these panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Continue reading

Solar Inventions of the Future We Want Now

There is little doubt that harnessing the heat from our sun 93 million miles away is going to eventually replace fossil fuels as the energy source that powers the world.

Here is a list of futuristic inventions for solar power that are either on the drawing board or fermenting in some inventor’s mind for solar advancement.

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Fire to Electrons: The History of Harnessing Solar Power

The use of solar energy to heat water for our homes and create electricity without the use of fossil fuels are recent technological innovations with great promise ahead. However, solar history and man’s attempts to harness power from the sun dates back nearly 2,800 years.

Here is a brief look at the story of solar power:

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How Solar Panels Actually Work

The benefits of solar energy are many. Installing a solar system reduces your energy bill and the amount of pollution and greenhouse gases that will be released into the atmosphere generating electricity for your home and business. This reduces your carbon footprint.

But then, you’ve probably heard that before. What is less talked about, however, is exactly how solar systems work. After all, we are talking about installing a system of solar panels on your roof that are in turn hooked into you power supply and the power grid.

This can lead to some misconceptions, such as solar panels require complicated machinery or can overheat.

The truth is that solar panels are a simple and passive way of collecting energy from the sun. Though the science behind how they generate electricity is complicated, they require little or no mechanics to turn light in to electricity.

Solar panels are technically photovoltaic cells which act as a photosensitive diode that instantaneously converts light – but not heat – into electricity. All that means is that some materials exhibit a property known as the photoelectric effect that causes them to absorb photons of light and release electrons. When these free electrons are captured, an electric current results that can be used as electricity.

Each of these cells has layers. A top, phosphorus-diffused silicon layer carries free electrons – un-anchored particles with negative charges. A thicker, bottom layer contains holes, or absences of electrons, that can also can move freely. The result is that the panel has been designed with an electronic imbalance between the two layers.
A number of solar cells electrically connected to each other and mounted in a support structure or frame is called a photovoltaic module.

When the sun hits the panels, photons bombard and penetrate the cells. They activate electrons, knocking them loose in both silicon layers. Some electrons in the bottom layer sling-shot to the top of the cell. These electrons flow into metal contacts as electricity, moving into a circuit throughout the module. Electrons flow back into the cell through a solid contact layer at the bottom, creating a closed loop or circuit.

It’s that circuit that generates current and powers your home or business.

Electric current leaving a module passes through a wire conduit leading to an inverter. This small device inverts the direct current from the panels into alternating current. The appliances and electronic devices in your home operate on AC.

From the inverter, the solar-generated power feeds into circuitry of a household, business or power plant and onto the region’s electrical grid.

A solar system can also be designed to form a self-contained circuit without connecting to the grid. The off-grid system, however, requires batteries to store power for times, such as night, when modules do not capture enough light energy from the sun.

Ok, it still may seem a little complicated, but the important thing to note is that solar energy systems have no moving parts – the one exception is motorized panels that automatically adjust their position to get maximum sun exposure – make no noise and don’t require any fuel. The sun simply hits the cells and the electrons do their thing. The current passes through the inverter and then into your home and onto the grid.

For such a complicated reaction, solar energy is actually pretty simple to use. And that makes is an easy choice.

Interested in solar panels for your businesses? TerraSol Energies, a family-run business that has been serving the tri-state area (PA, NJ, DE) since 2009, can help. We are one of the area’s most knowledgeable teams of solar specialists. Call us at 888.873.9995. Or contact us via our website.

Why Vampires Prefer Fossil Fuels Over Solar

At the center of the universe is the fiery sphere we call the sun.  It’s the Earth’s most important source of energy and responsible for sustaining life as we know it – unless, of course, you are a vampire.  While the sun is a human’s best friend – that’s not the case when it comes to vampires.  Legend has it that vampires are former humans who were unlucky enough to become infected with a virus that turned them into what the Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency (FVZA) describes as “a horrific metamorphosis that defiles both mind and body.”

While most of us prefer to think of vampires as living only in the movies, they have quite a colorful history.  True or not, this is the perfect time of year to take a closer (but not too close) look at the undead.  Here’s some of what we found:

The human vampirism virus (HVV)

Legend has it that the original host of the HVV was a flea that liked to make its home among cave-dwelling bats.  Unlike most viruses, which attack specific areas of the body, HVV affects it all.  The only thing it doesn’t kill are red blood cells, which regenerate from infected bone marrow.  The virus is thought to be passed on via a bite from an infected human or animal.

In less than a day’s time, an infected human will develop flu-like symptoms before falling into a deep coma.  While some victims will never wake, those that do emerge fully transformed with an overwhelming craving for human blood.

The need to feed

If you’ve ever gone without food and water for much longer than you’d like, you’re familiar with the hunger pangs and all-encompassing need for nourishment.  Imagine that feeling one thousand times worse and you’ll have a good idea of a vampire’s craving upon waking from its coma.  Vampires typically hunt in packs of four led by one Alpha, usually a male.

Hello darkness my old friend

What do holy water, garlic, and the sun’s rays have in common?  Vampires hate them all – especially sunlight as it renders them blind.  The FVZA says that natural light causes neural pathways to fire randomly in the brain of a vampire, creating an extreme epileptic reaction.  Plus, the pain we experience when we spend a little too much time on the beach, is nothing compared to the burn a vampire feels.  That’s because their skin is highly sensitive to UV rays, becoming badly burned and blistered within mere minutes of exposure.

The usual suspects

Nearly 80% of all vampires are males between the ages of 18 and 35.  The other 20% of the population is comprised of females ages 15-35 and a few of both sexes that are a bit older.  The FVZA estimates that there are roughly 5,000 vampires in existence – many in dormancy, waiting to reemerge at a more hospitable time when they are no longer hunted.   No one know when, but Halloween night is as good a time as any.  To be safe, you may want to trick or treat in the daylight this year.  The all-powerful sun will protect you from harm.  Happy Halloween!

Hire a sunlight specialist near you

If you want to strengthen your connection to the sun (just in case), the experts at TerraSol Energies, Inc. can help.  We will answer all of your questions and design a solar energy system that works 24-7 and is 100% vampire free.  Contact us today – online or by phone at 888.873.9995.