By Lorraine Shoemaker
You can enjoy having your favorite produce year around even if you live in a short growing zone. One way is to learn to dry food yourself. You can buy an expensive electric food dehydrator, make a solar dehydrator or simply dehydrate your food in the sun au natural.
Solar food drying is an ideal way to dehydrate and preserve foods. A solar dehydrator can be simple or complex, small or large. A solar “hotbox” is an enclosed wooden box that protects your food during drying. It is a box with drawers and a clear covering (glass or plastic),with screened openings on the bottom and sides for circulation. Solar rays enter through the clear glass top of the dehydrator box, then the box traps the heat and dries the food. The dehydrator may have an absorber plate inside, which indirectly heats your food by creating a convection current of air that enters the vent at the bottom of the dryer. The cool, fresh air enters the vent, heats up and circulates through the dryer, then exits through a vent at the top. As your food dries, moisture is carried away with the hot air. The inside heat must remain at no less than least 86 degrees to avoid mold and spoilage.You can have fresh food all year if you can get as little as two days of sunshine in a row, depending on the food.
A solar food dehydrator is a great way to enjoy nutritious, tasty, high quality foods all year long. Favorites foods for drying: Apples, apricots, bananas, peaches, pears, plums and strawberries, carrots, corn, green beans, onions, peas (sweet, in pod), peppers, potatoes, summer tomatoes, zucchini and mushrooms, and of course all your favorite herbs.
By Lorraine Shoemaker
Fall…What a perfect time to start going “green” in your garden. There are so many fun and interesting ways to go “green in your garden it’s tough to touch on them all, so here are a few of my favorite tips:
- All natural composting can be done on as large or small scale as you need. For small scale composting you may use a garbage can, a pile in your gardening area or there are several Internet sites that offer fun personal size composters.
- For the less squeamish of us earthworms can be incorporated into the compost. This is known as “vermicomposting.
- Use non-toxic aids for your soil such as shredded newspapers or fall leaf debris.
- Planting compatible, indigenous plants together will save water and they provide pest deterrence and nutrients to each other.
- Plant a border of daisies, zinnias or marigolds to attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.
- Only 10% of garden pests are harmful, learn to identify harmful pests.
- Beneficial insects for the garden that may be purchased online include lady bugs, praying mantis, snails and many others.
- Prepare a homemade pesticide for your garden. For an all purpose pesticide, use ½ cup of Isopropyl alcohol and 1 qt liquid soap, mix directly in spray container, spray then let sit for 20 minutes (do not use in direct sunlight to avoid leaf damage). Next, spray plant with clear water to reduce foliage damage. Spray every 3 days for 2 weeks. Solution works on aphids, mealy bugs, scale insects, thripes and whiteflies.
- Water your garden with rain barrel water, or even used bath and dish water.
One would think that all gardening is “green” but as you can see that is not the case. Happy green gardening!
Facts courtesy of countryfarm-lifestyles.com
EPA is updating ENERGY STAR requirements for dishwashers and furnaces. Effective January 20, 2012, both standard-sized and compact residential dishwashers meeting the new ENERGY STAR requirements will be between 10 and 30% more energy efficient than conventional models, and about 8% more efficient than dishwashers that met the previous ENERGY STAR requirement. Distributors, contractors and consumers will also be able to identify and purchase ENERGY STAR qualified furnaces that are appropriate to their particular climate zone beginning February 1, 2012. The furnaces that meet the new requirements for the southern half of the U.S. will be labeled with a specific U.S. South ENERGY STAR mark. The qualified furnaces in the South, where homes require less heat, will be up to 12% more energy efficient than baseline units. Qualified furnaces in the northern half of the U.S. including Canada will bear the standard ENERGY STAR logo and will be up to 16% more energy efficient than baseline models.
Courtesy of energystar.gov
Courtesy of studentgroups.ucla.edu
One ton of paper made completely from recycled scrap saves 7000 gallons of water, 4100 kilowatt-hours of energy, three cubic yards of landfill space, and 17 trees.
Recycling 1 ton of glass saves the equivalent in energy of 10 gallons of oil.
Americans represent only 5% of the world’s population, but generate 30% of the world’s garbage.
Every individual in the United States produces an average of 4.3 lbs. of garbage every day!
Producing a soda can from recycled aluminum uses 96% less energy than manufacturing a can from ore and produces 95% less air pollution and 97% less water pollution.
Over a ton of resources are saved for every ton of glass recycled:
-1,330 lbs. of sand
-433 lbs. of soda ash
-433 lbs. of limestone
-151 lbs. of feldspar
Every ton of paper recycled saves enough energy to heat and air condition the average American home for at least six months.
Americans use four million plastic bottles every hour, yet only one out of four is recycled.
1 ton of aluminum saves the equivalent in energy of 2,350 gallons of gasoline. This is equivalent to the amount of electricity used by the typical home over a period of 10 years!
The average American uses 650 lbs. of paper a year.
More than half of plastic containers still go straight into landfills or incinerators.
Glass never wears out — it can be recycled forever! Bad news: Americans throw away enough glass bottles and jars every two weeks to fill the 1,350-foot towers of the World Trade Center. Good news: Americans recycled enough glass last year to fill New Jersey’s Giants Stadium more than 3 ½ times.
The energy saved from recycling aluminum in 1993 alone was enough to light a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years.
“Tin” cans (like those used for tuna and soup) are actually 99% steel. Americans throw away enough steel every year to build all the new cars made in America.
by Bobby Snyder,
Bullseye Recycling – Susanville
Photo: Aurelio Castaneva, courtesy Bullseye Recycling
* The first thing you need to do, is get individual containers to separate your material (trash cans,buckets)
* You should start small, so glass in one container, plastic in one container and cans in another.
* Once full, bag up and bring in to Bullseye Recycling.
* When you get into the routine then you can add more containers and start separating your paper and cardboard to save on dump fees and keep items that can be recycled out of the landfills.
* You can start with three cans: one for your CRV material, one for your paper goods (paper and cardboard) and one for your non-CRV container (tin, food containers, ect…).
* Look carefully on your labels to see if the say CA CRV. If it is not on the label then it is not a CRV container. Aluminum cans have the CA CRV markings on the top of the container. All food products are non-CRV and all dairy products are non-CRV.
Eileen | Mountain Valley Living Magazine
Justice Home – Solar Installation Near Susanville – Photo by Theresa Phillips
A LOCAL SOLAR PROJECT
LASSEN MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT
Rebates offered by LMUD: the residential per watt rebate for 2011 is $3.46 with a maximum of $10,000. 530-257-4174.
PSREC residential members may be eligible for rebates of up to $6,000 maximum for residential; $12,000 for commercial/irrigation installations. All rebates will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Call (530) 832-4261 ext. 6037 or (800) 555-2207 ext. 6037. Visit www.ccenergy.com
The Tahoe Donner Public Utility District is offering rebates of $3.65 per Watt installed. The rebates cap out at 3,000 watts for residential and 5,000 watts for commercial. Call Kathy Neus at (530) 582-3922. Visit them at www.tdpud.org.
By Theresa Phillips, LMUD Energy Services Manager
Photos by Theresa Phillips
The sun seems to be shining a little brighter at the home of Mike Justice and Kathy Healy-Justice. That’s because the Justices’ are enjoying the benefits of their solar electric system, LMUD’s first official grid-tied photovoltaic electric generating system installed just over two years ago.
Renewable energy and conservation has been a long time passion for Mike & Kathy. Adding a photovoltaic system to their passive solar home (known as an envelope home) has been a long time coming. The Justice home, built in 1985, was inspired by a house designed by Tom Smith in South Lake Tahoe.
The Smith home had been featured on the cover of Better Home’s and Garden during the early 80’s. After reading about the home’s passive solar design, Kathy and Mike decided to drive to Tahoe to find the home and to see if they could get a closer look. As luck would have it, the Solar Energy Society was hosting an open house. The Justices’ took a tour and instantly knew this was the design for them.
Kathy, who already held a bachelors degree, received her “Construction Trades Certificate.” from Lassen Community College’s “Building Trades” program. This enabled her to design the house the Justices’ have called home for over 20 years.
The Justice home is about as energy efficient as they come. The home’s design takes full advantage of passive solar, the main source of heat. As the sun streams in the south facing windows, it heats the air that is circulated throughout the home. On cloudy days when there is less sun, wood heat is used as a supplement. The Justices’ generally use about a cord of wood per winter.
During the summer months, the large south windows are shaded, restricting the amount of sunlight that enters the building. With the aid of the cool night air the house stays comfortable all summer long without central air or an evaporative cooler.
The home also has a solar water heating system, triple-pane windows, energy efficient appliances and lighting. An energy efficient home like this makes the best candidate for a photovoltaic system.
For years the Justices’ wanted to add a photovoltaic system to their home. According to Mike, “We wanted to take advantage of the wonderful sunshine we have here in Lassen County so we could generate our own electricity. Lassen County has over 300 sunny days each year.”
To learn more about LMUD’s photovoltaic rebate program or to find out if a P.V. system is right for you, call LMUD’s Energy Services Manager, Theresa Phillips, at 530-257-4174. You can also log on to www.gosolarcalifornia.org to learn more about how solar electric systems work and to find a qualified installer in our area.
As part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, HVACR tax incentives for homeowners and businesses were extended. Geothermal systems have become part of
- The current legislation covers installations through December 31, 2016.
- Homeowners who install geothermal systems may be able to claim up to 30% of the installed cost in tax credits in the year the system is placed into service.
- An extension of the Commercial Building Tax Deduction until 2013 that allows building owners to deduct up to $1.80 per square foot for improvements in overall performance.
How Geothermal Works
Your own backyard has the potential to be an energy source for heating and cooling comfort. Outdoor air temperatures fluctuate throughout the year with the changing seasons. In contrast, ground temperatures about four to six feet below the Earth’s surface remain relatively moderate and constant all year. That’s because the Earth absorbs 47% of all the heat energy that reaches its surface from the sun. A geothermal system circulates a water-based solution through a buried loop system to take advantage of these constant temperatures. A single piece of equipment has the ability to heat and cool your home, while providing some or all of your home’s hot water as well. Geothermal systems can save you 30% to 70% on your monthly utility bills.
Positive Cash Flow
According to manufacturers, from the day you install a new GeoComfort Geothermal System, you’ll see immediate savings. Examples of savings for new home construction shows the extra cost of installing geothermal marginally raises the mortgage payment. It also shows that the energy savings more than makes up the difference in costs.
All information is based upon our understanding of the legislation. Consult your local tax professional for the latest information. Source: Almanor Energy Plus, Geocomfort® Geothermal Systems
For existing homeowners who are ready to make energy efficient improvements, there are also plenty of reasons to act by December 31st when several federal tax credit opportunities will expire. From new hot water heaters to furnaces, woodstoves and windows, local retailers can steer you to the rebates while some will even handle the paperwork and redemption. One should also check with their utility company for local incentives.
HURRY ON HOME IMPROVEMENTS:
WHICH FEDERAL TAX CREDITS Are Scheduled to expire 12-31-10?
- Biomass Stoves (Including wood & pellet)
- Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning (HVAC)
- Roofs (Metal & Asphalt)
- Water Heaters (non-solar)
- Windows & Doors
- Tax Credit:
- 30% of cost with no upper limit
- December 31, 2016
- Existing homes & new construction qualify. Both principal residences and second homes qualify. Rentals do not qualify.
- • Geothermal Heat Pumps
- • Small Wind Turbines (Residential)
- • Solar Energy Systems
- Tax Credit:
- Credit Details: 30% of the cost, up to $500 per .5 kW of power capacity
- December 31, 2016
- Existing homes & new construction qualify. Must be your principal residence. Rentals and second homes do not qualify.
- • Fuel Cells (Residential Fuel Cell and Microturbine System)
- Fuel cells are an important enabling technology for the hydrogen economy and have the potential to revolutionize the way we power our nation, offering cleaner, more-efficient alternatives to the combustion of gasoline and other fossil fuels. - Requirements: Efficiency of at least 30% and must have a capacity of at least 0.5 kW. Tax Credit includes installation costs.
- Almanor Energy Plus Heating • Air Conditioning • Solar
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Solar Energy from the experts at Almanor Energy Plus, Inc. at Lake Almanor. Serving all of Lassen and Plumas Counties, they offer 24 hour emergency on call service. They offer guarantee after guarantee on their quality heating and cooling systems and on their service. For Service …. ON TIME…ALL THE TIME…Call Louis Benny at 530) 596-3128
From Brian Sloboda, Courtesy Lassen Municipal Utility District (LMUD)
Energy-Saving Tips for a Happy Holiday Season:
Ask for Energy Star-rated appliances and CFLs.
Skip the electronics and get the kids board games.
Do not preheat the oven when cooking large pieces of meat.
Lower thermostats and replace HVAC filters every 30 days.
Check windows and doors for leaks and seal them.
Install timers on outdoor lighting displays.
Decorate with LED lights.
Adjust settings on video game consoles to the power-saving feature.
Vanquish energy vampires with a smart power strip.
A string of traditional mini lights
uses 36 watts of power, but a string of LED lights
uses only 5 watts and lasts up to 10 times longer.
LEDs typically are made of plastic and will not break.
Many are brighter than traditional mini lights.
The drawbacks? A string of LEDs can cost two to
three times more than traditional lights, and many
homeowners have reported mixed results with the
lights. Unlike traditional incandescent lights, LEDs
use computer chips to create the light. Depending
on the quality of the manufacturing process, the
brightness and life may not be what is expected.
Don’t Let Water Damage Dampen Your Day
By Brian Wilson
State Farm® agent
Water damage can dampen your day. 250,000 families have their homes ruined and their lives disrupted each winter by water pipes that freeze and burst. When the outside temperature drops below freezing, water pipes with little or no insulation are likely to freeze and break.
Recovering from frozen pipes is not as simple as calling a plumber. An eighth-inch (3 millimeter) crack in a pipe can discharge more than 250 gallons (946 liters) of water a day. And, the result can include damaged floors, furniture, appliances and treasured family heirlooms.
There is an advantage to spending time preventing frozen pipes when you consider the soggy consequences of doing nothing. Minimize the chance your pipes will freeze with these simple, reminders.
Before the cold hits:
- Insulate pipes in unheated areas and those that run along outside walls, floors and ceilings.
- Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located.
- Disconnect garden hoses.
When the mercury drops:
- Run a small trickle of water from hot and cold faucets during extreme cold.
- Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to piping under sinks and vanities near exterior walls.
Before you go away
- Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C).
- Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it’s warm enough or
- Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it will be deactivated when you shut off the water.
If your pipes freeze:
- Don’t take chances. If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, seek the advice of a professional plumber. If you detect that your water pipes have frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on.
- Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. Seek the advice and assistance of a professional plumber. Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water because you could be electrocuted.
Don’t let water damage dampen your day. Spend a few minutes protecting your water pipes to save time and expense down the road. Talk with an insurance professional for more tips and information for protecting your home or apartment.
Highest Prices Guaranteed For CRV Containers! Make extra money by helping save your planet! Drop off at 705-810 Us Highway 395 E. Susanville, CA. 530-252-1001
Heating, Air Conditioning, Solar Energy- Visit Almanor Energy Plus to speak with Louis Benny, your local comfort advisor! (530) 596-3128
Great information from the US Department of Energy
As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. So making smart decisions about your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a big effect on your utility bills — and your comfort. Take these steps to increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. For more information, see our Guide to Energy Efficient Heating & Cooling (708KB).
Change your air filter regularly
Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer). If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool — wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system — leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.
Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly
Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. Learn more:
Install a programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.
Seal your heating and cooling ducts
Ducts that move air to-and-from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump are often big energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent — and sometimes much more.
Focus first on sealing ducts that run through the attic, crawlspace, unheated basement, or garage. Use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape to seal the seams and connections of ducts. After sealing the ducts in those spaces, wrap them in insulation to keep them from getting hot in the summer or cold in the winter. Next, look to seal any other ducts that you can access in the heated or cooled part of the house. See our Duct Sealing brochure (1.13MB) for more information.
Consider installing ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment
If your HVAC equipment is more than 10 years old or not keeping your house comfortable, have it evaluated by a professional HVAC contractor. If it is not performing efficiently or needs upgrading, consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR. Depending on where you live, replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with ENERGY STAR qualified equipment can cut your annual energy bill by nearly $200. But before you invest in a new HVAC system, make sure that you have addressed the big air leaks in your house and the duct system. Sometimes, these are the real sources of problems rather than your HVAC equipment.
Ask about proper installation of your new equipment
Replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with new, energy-efficient models is a great start. But to make sure that you get the best performance, the new equipment must be properly installed. In fact, improper installation can reduce system efficiency by up to 30 percent — costing you more on your utility bills and possibly shortening the equipment’s life.
Did You Know?
ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors and skylights can reduce your energy bills up to 15% while helping protect the environment.
As of June 1, 2009, windows, doors, and skylights with U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) ratings of less than or equal to 0.30 are eligible for a federal tax credit of 30 percent of the product price, up to $1,500. Although it seems complicated to determine which products meet those requirements, ENERGY STAR makes it easy. Look for the following ENERGY STAR labels and you can be sure the product you are buying is eligible for the tax credit. You can also call or stop by your local glass shop like Peterson Glass in Chester to find out more.
Qualifying products purchased by December 31, 2010 are eligible for a tax credit equal to 30 percent of the product cost. Installation is not included; be sure to obtain an itemized invoice from your retailer or installer. The maximum amount of homeowner credit for all improvements combined (including roofing, insulation, HVAC, and water heaters) is $1,500 during 2009 and 2010.
It just got harder for a TV to earn the ENERGY STAR. Now TVs that carry the government’s ENERGY STAR label are, on average, 40% more efficient than conventional models. Available in stores nationwide, these TVs will help consumers save even more energy and money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and still deliver all the features and performance quality they expect.
||How do I know if I have enough insulation in my attic?
||A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to look across your attic. If your insulation is level with or below the joists, you probably need to add more insulation (but remember to seal the air leaks before you insulate). If you can’t see the joists because the insulation is above them, then you probably have enough and adding more will likely not be cost effective. Even if you have plenty of insulation, it may not be performing well due to cold air leaking through the insulation into the house. So make sure to look for signs of air leaks and seal them up as you find them. Visit ENERGY STAR Home Sealing (website below) for more information
Yes, biomass stoves can qualify for a tax credit which include qualifying wood and pellet stoves.
||30% of the cost of the stove (including installation/labor costs), up to $1,500. The cost of the fuel is not included. Which components associated with the stove are also eligible?
||Tax credit in effect in 2009 and 2010. Must be installed in your principal residence before December 31, 2010.
||The stoves must be used for heat or water heating and have a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75% as measured using a lower heating value.
The law defines “biomass fuel” as any plant-derived fuel available on a renewable or recurring basis, including agricultural crops and trees, wood and wood waste and residues (including wood pellets), plant (including aquatic plants), grasses, residues and fibers.
Source: US Department of Energy, http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_sealing
The US Department of Energy recommends that you maintain your equipment to prevent future problems and unwanted costs. Keep your cooling and heating system at peak performance by having a contractor do annual pre-season check-ups. Contractors get busy once summer and winter come, so it’s best to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall. To remember, you might plan the check-ups around the time changes in the spring and fall.
A typical maintenance check-up should include the following.
- Check thermostat settings to ensure the cooling and heating system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away.
- Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.
- Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increases the amount of electricity you use.
- Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). A plugged drain can cause water damage in the house and affect indoor humidity levels.
- Check controls of the system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.
- Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger. Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation. Either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently.
Actions To Do Yourself
- Inspect, clean, or change air filters once a month in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this. A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure.
US Federal Small Wind, Solar & Geothermal Tax Credit-
- Tax Credit:
- 30% of cost with no upper limit
- December 31, 2016
- Existing homes & new construction qualify. Both principal residences and second homes qualify. Rentals do not qualify.
- source: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index
By Eileen Majors
It was a windy northern Reno day when we visited Paul Phillipson and Tim Brown of Planet Safe Systems. Distributors of Windspire® wind turbines, they had a lot of great information on this effective way to produce power. It’s all about the wind and apparently it doesn’t take all that much of it to power an average home. In general, you will want average wind speeds of around 12 miles per hour, although in some locations, these wind turbines make sense with lesser wind conditions. (“Average wind speed” means the average for 24 hours per day, 365 days a year for an average year.)
One big factor homeowners now have to consider is the 30% tax credit being offered by the federal government and substantial rebates or incentives which may be available from local electric companies. This all adds up big time when you are considering how long a new system could take to pay for itself.
A Windspire® wind turbine costs around $6,500 and installation varies, running between $6,500 and $10,000 depending upon the site, according to Phillipson, Vice President of Operations at Planet Safe Systems. He said that with a PG&E offered credit of $3,000 on the equipment purchase and a 30% federal tax credit for the entire project cost, they have been seeing customers end up absorbing only about 50% of the total cost of their project. A simple call to you electric company will let you know what rebates or incentives they may currently be offering.
Each installed unit requires careful consideration with site wind surveys and an engineered foundation, so hiring a professional for installation is usually the way to go. We visited the home of Fred Howell, to take photos, who told us he has been considering the purchase for about 40 years. After seeing and article on a local company who produced them a few years back, he made a call to them. He was told there were over 1,000 back orders and they could only make a few a day, so his chances on a waiting list looked slim and slow. He didn’t bother.
Recently Howell was contacted by Planet Safe Systems where President Tim Brown told us much has changed in the industry. Their company has become distributors for Windspire who moved production of the turbines to Michigan. They went into mass production in a reconfigured automobile parts manufacturing building. Brown said that the story is quite inspiring. This company put displaced auto industry workers back to work, now making wind turbines. He also said that the Windspire® units were readily available and parts are easy to get from this company with local offices in Reno.
One reason for this company’s recent boom is the affordable, attractive and ultra quiet design of the Windspire® according to Brown. At only 30 feet tall and 4 feet wide, the unit is distinguished by its sleek propeller-free design. Independent tests confirm Windspire will produce approximately 2,000 kilowatt hours per year in 12-mile per hour average winds. The stronger the wind, the more power it generates.
Planet Safe Systems offers turn-key solutions in about 3 to 4 weeks from licensed contractors. They offer on-site surveys, on site-specific wind data and they can be reached at (775) 852-7735. We recently learned that Almanor Energy Plus of Lake Almanor is also a distributor of Windspire® wind turbines. Theycan be reached at (530) 596-3128. These professionals can detail for you the associated costs and calculate the savings you can expect to find blowing in the wind.
On Demand Water Heaters
When we implement new ways to save energy it means we also implement new ways to save money every day from then on. Hot water can represent a good portion of that monthly utility bill.
Demand water heaters heat water directly, avoiding standby heat losses associated with storage water heaters. When the hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. Because of this, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water eliminating the need to wait for the storage tank to heat up.
For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand water heaters can be 24%–34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. They can be 8%–14% more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water—around 86 gallons per day. You can achieve even greater energy savings of 27%–50% if you install a demand water heater at each hot water outlet.
TAX CREDIT: To qualify, a new system must have Energy Factor >= 0.82 or a thermal efficiency of at least 90%.
Credit: 30% of cost (includes installation), up to $1,500. The credit is available for 2009 and 2010 only, on primary residence only and existing homes only.
Almanor Energy Plus Article 2010
- Solar Living CA mountains Quincy CA
Beautiful Views, ideal mountain living with opportunities for outdoor recreation, fishing and simple living in the Sierras. ENERGY STAR HOMES offer high efficiency around every corner. Energy Star Appliances and Solar Panels for free electricity are among the MANY ENERGY SAVING FEATURES on these fabulous homes in Quincy, Ca.
Choose custom features for YOUR new home! Call 530-283-9301.
Almanor Energy Plus 530-596-3128
Which way should you go? Start saving energy now…call today for an evaluation of your home. 530-596-3128
The old days of calling them mobile homes are long gone. Now they’re manufactured homes and these pre-built homes can be placed on permanent foundations to become appreciable real estate. The added snow load roofs required in the high mountain areas means a steeper roof pitch, which also adds to the look and feel of a mountain home. Buyers can choose custom floor plans, pick out appliances, carpet, counters and other detail choices offered in custom, on site built homes. It seems your options have options.
Now there are even more options than ever with Earth Advantage®. Earth Advantage® is a non profit corporation in the sustainable building industry which has the power to certify homes as Earth Advantage®, ENERGY STAR®, or LEED® for Homes. Earth Advantage homes incorporate energy efficiency, healthier indoor air, resource efficiency and environmental responsibility. The homes are designed to meet ENERGY STAR® savings guidelines and offer buyers several options like energy efficient windows, appliances and light fixtures. Locally, Sunnyside Homes of Janesville offers these homes made by Palm Harbor.
In addition to the energy savings you could enjoy for years to come, there are federal tax credits available. Sunnyside Homes in Janesville distributes the homes and can be reached at (530) 253-4100.
Renewable energy is the wave of the future and Louis of Almanor Energy Plus lined out the details for us on how to heat and cool your home or business with eco-friendly geothermal energy from the earth. Because the earth absorbs and stores most of the energy it receives from the sun, underground temperatures below the frost line remain constant at between 42 and 80 degrees,depending on local climate and type of soil. Geothermal heat pump systems harness and distribute this energy to efficiently serve your heating and cooling needs.
In the winter this stored natural heat is collected by a series of underground pipes called a loop. Water or a mixture of eco-friendly antifreeze and water carries this heat back to the main geothermal heat pump where it is compressed and released to raise the inside temperature. Pretty cool, too, because during summer, the heat is drawn from indoors, carried underground by the same liquid in the loop and absorbed by the earth, leaving the indoors nice and cool. There are four different loop systems. The vertical loop for smaller land areas, the horizontal loop for larger land areas, the pond loop for when a body of water at least eight to ten feet deep is available and the open loop system that can be used when adequate well water or other aquifer is available. There is a system for everyone.
Because solar energy stored in the earth is free, constant and pollutant free, geothermal heating and cooling is the most efficient, economical and environmentally responsible system available on the market today. Monte Stelzriede of Almanor Energy Plus reminded us that many utility companies offer rebates when newly installed systems meet Energy Star requirements. The GeoComfort systems sold and installed by his company not only meet these efficiency requirements, he said they surpass them. There are several geothermal units to choose from and prices are comparable to old school central heat and cooling units. Installation costs are based on property size, soil type and individual loop system requirements so an estimate from a local certified installer is necessary to determine those fees.
In addition to utility company rebates, the federal government also offers a 30% tax credit on systems meeting Energy Star requirements and placed in service before December 31, 2016. These rebates and tax credits are also available for solar, wind and other renewable, green energy systems. You can learn more about the tax credits at www.energy.gov and inquire about the rebates with your local utility provider.
Our planet earth is demanding that we trade fossil fuels for renewable energies and reduce pollution. Perhaps it’s time we all learn more about geothermal heating and cooling, hot water heating and refrigeration and all the other earth friendly things we can do. If everyone does just a little we can reduce humanity’s carbon footprint a lot.
Source: Monte Stelzreide and Louis Benny at Almanor Energy Plus, Lake Almanor 530-596-3128
US Federal Tax Credits for Consumers
Tax credits are available at 30% of the cost, up to $1,500, in 2009 & 2010 (for existing homes only) for:
•Windows and Doors
•Roofs (Metal and Asphalt)
•Water Heaters (non-solar)
Tax credits are available at 30% of the cost, with no upper limit through 2016 (for existing homes & new construction) for:
•Geothermal Heat Pumps
•Solar Water Heaters
•Small Wind Energy Systems
To obtain specific information for each, you can visit www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index. Also, local utility companies and qualified contractors can assist you in the process.
**Please note, not all ENERGY STAR qualified homes and products qualify for a tax credit. These tax credits are available for a number of products at the highest efficiency levels, which typically cost much more than standard products. If, for whatever reason, you decide not to purchase a product covered by the tax credit, you may still consider purchasing an ENERGY STAR product. ENERGY STAR distinguishes energy efficient products which, although they may cost more to purchase than standard models, will pay you back in lower energy bills within a reasonable amount of time, even without a tax credit.
While it would be wonderful to implement all of the power making, energy saving ways you’ve ever heard of, most of us will have to pick and choose what we can afford to do. With all the government rebates and power company rebates, there has never been a better time to consider some major buys that will save you money on power bills, and even pay for themselves in the long run.
Luckily, some things don’t cost anything to change. Some can be accomplished for little cost. Here are some ideas for getting started:
STEPS TO ENERGY SAVING-Pick as many as you can:
• Clean or Replace filters on furnaces, air conditioners and heat pumps.
• Begin replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CDL’s), focusing first on 60 – 100 watt bulbs that are used several hours per day.
• Survey the age and condition of your major appliances and consider replacing them with more energy-efficient models.
• Turn down your hot water heater. Since the early 1990s, most dishwashers in the U.S. have been sold with built-in heaters that increase water temperature to 140–145°F, the temperature recommended by manufacturers for optimum dish washing performance. The advantage to a dishwasher with this feature is that you can turn down your water heater thermostat to 120°F (typically half-way between the “medium” and “low” settings).
• Begin using energy saving settings on washers and dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators if available.
• Visit your local hardware store to buy low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, CDL’s and other items deemed worthy in your assessment of needs and budget.
• If your water heater is old enough that it has fiberglass insulation instead of the newer foam insulation, consider adding a water heater blanket.
• If you have old, leaky windows and can’t afford new ones, consider covering the windows with plastic. Window kits are available. With some you can use a hair dryer to stretch the plastic to a nearly invisible state and keep your beautiful, mountain valley views.
• Assess your heating and cooling systems. Determine if replacements are justified, or whether you should have them retrofit to make them work more efficiently to provide the same comfort (or better) for less energy. Poor ducts for example could be leaking heat away before it even gets inside your home. Local heating and air conditioning companies can help make assessments for those interested in upgrading equipment.
• Rope caulk very leaky windows.
• Collect your utility bills and identify the biggest costs. Discuss with your family ways to save energy. Shorter showers and turning off vent fans can make a big difference alone. A bathroom vent fan left on for hours is not only busy sucking up energy, it is also busy pulling that costly, warm air out of the house.
• Have someone crawl into your attic or crawlspace and assess if there is insulation and if so how much. Consider insulation as needed.
• Insulate hot water pipes and ducts in places where they run through unheated areas.
• Look for air leaks. On a cold winter night you can actually feel where the cold air comes in if you take the time to inspect every corner. Often under doors and around windows, air leaks are also found where cut-throughs have been made for pipes, gaps around chimneys and unfinished spaces behind closets and cupboards. Little invisible cracks all over the house can equal the heat loss of a wide open window. The local hardware store can suggest products such as window plastic kits, foam insulation, caulking, etc. Lucky for us, local hardware stores are happy to help you find the right products.
• Set your thermostat back when you can accept cooler conditions,like night time and when everyone leaves the home for several hours. A programmable thermostat will automatically adjust the thermostat based on your time-of-day instructions.
• Have your heating and cooling systems tuned up in the fall and spring.
• Consider buying a more efficient heating system. There are several major purchases you can consider including an energy producing system such as a wind or solar system. Perhaps new appliances are within your budget or a new hot water heater is in order. There are many things you can do. We hope this special feature will prompt you to do something now towards saving energy…. and saving money!
Sources: For more ideas on saving energy visit www.aceee.org/. Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (www.aceee.org) Also find information specific to you such as local rebates available at your local power company website:
Plumas Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative: www.psrec.coop/
Lassen Municipal Utility District: /www.lmud.org/
Pacific Gas & Electric Company: www.pge.com/
Pellet fuel is seen as a way to divert millions of tons of waste from landfills and turn it into energy. Pellet fuel is being used for heat in an estimated 800,000 homes across the United States. This biomass product is made of renewable substances – generally recycled wood waste. Local hardware stores are among many retailers who carry pellets. Pellet stoves are sold in local fireplace shops.
TAX CREDIT AVAILABLE:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is offering a 30% consumer tax credit (up to $1500) for the purchase and installation of a 75-percent efficient biomass-burning stove.
- This consumer tax credit is 30% (up to $1500) for the purchase and installation of a 75% efficient stove, and is available in both 2009 and 2010.
The tax credit applies only to existing principle residences. The Pellet Fuels Institute lists other important points of the tax credit on their website at www.pelletheat.org/3/residential/taxCredit.html.
Since 1999, according to the data collected by HPBA, pellet appliance sales increased 669%, from 18,360 units shipped in 1999 to 141,211 units shipped during 2008. Overall, the pellet industry increased in seven out of the last eight years.
Source: Pellet Fuels Institute, www.pelletheat.org, Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA)
Retrofitting an old, inefficient heating system is another way consumers can save some serious energy dollars. Many outdated heating systems are sucking up unnecessary amounts of fuel. Jim from J & H Heating in Susanville said, “Going efficient has never been more efficient.” He said, “It is an instant return on your money. Say you have a furnace installed in 1991, you could be incurring power bills of $500 to $600 per month in cold weather. The equipment has evolved so much in the past few decades, that these systems can actually pay for themselves pretty quickly.” New furnaces are 80 to 90% efficient and hybrid systems have an added ground source heat pump.
Usually the duct work will require at least some repairs on a retrofit, so price can vary but he told us that a typical cost for retrofitting is usually $7,500 to $8,500.
Wood stoves have also come a long way in efficiency ratings. New models with 82% efficiency can burn as long as 40 hours, on low.
Source: J & H Heating, Susanville
STOP WOOD HEAT FROM GOING UP IN SMOKE!
There is nothing like snuggling by the fire on a chilly winter night in Nor Cal. That is probably why so many homes have existing fireplaces. The problem however, is that while the age old concept of open fire heating provides some warmth and definite ambiance, fuel burning technology has since come a long way. For those wishing to increase the efficiency of fireplace, adding an insert is a great option.
Inserts are available for operation with natural gas, propane, wood, pellet and coal. The insert is installed into an existing wood burning fireplace and is made from cast iron or steel. Many have self-cleaning glass doors that allow for the dancing flames of fire to also warm the ambiance of a room. Inserts are often used in main living areas where the family spends much of their time. This can allow for turning down the thermostat in the rest of the house.
Replacing an older wood burning fireplace with a new insert will save wood fuel and protect air quality indoors and out. Older fireplaces usually have efficiency ratings of just five to ten percent according to the HBPA. An open fire in an old fireplace allows an abundance of heated room air to be drawn into the fire, causing the fire to burn too fast, wasting energy.
A fireplace insert contrasts as a closed-door system that slows down the fire while increasing its temperature to facilitate more combustion. Generating efficiencies of above 65 percent in many cases, it simply equates to more heat output. More good news: a new EPA-certified wood burning fireplace insert can also reduce emissions from wood burning to almost zero!
Benefits of a Fireplace Insert:
• Increased fireplace efficiency.
• Clean, convenient and easy-to-use.
• Ideal secondary home heater helps
• Cost-effective fuel consumption and
multiple fuel options.
• Reduced fireplace emissions help
protect winter air quality.
• Provides heat when the power goes out.
Source: Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association (HBPA)
Pacific Gas & Electric, in conjunction with JACO Environmental, is offering their customers $35 to recycle old refrigerators and freezers. Visit the PG&E Web site or contact JACO at 800-299-7573 for more information.
PEACE OF MIND with FreezeAlarm… FreezeAlarmTM will actually dial three phone numbers when it identifies a potentially dangerous home temperature according to Louis Benny of Almanor Energy Plus. Often times their local company is able to fix the problem before the homeowner ever knows there is a problem. Homeowners can also reset and change the thermostats themselves by phone .
Don’t forget to roll up those hoses before freezing temperatures come. Be sure to get all of the water out of the hose first so it doesn’t freeze and crack this winter, even in the shed. Also, that sprinkler system will have to be drained and all the water blown out for all those living in the cold mountain weather. Forgetting a little thing like one of these will cost you.
Mark where your water main shut off valve is by measuring its distance and angle from two permanent points on your property. Leave written details where you will find them. When deep snow comes and you have a frozen pipe, you will be glad you did.
A towel rolled up tightly the long way can do a lot for keeping the draft from coming under doors until you can weatherstrip. Sometimes at craft shows you can find the a ready made “door snake” which is nothing more than a long tube of fabric, filled with tiny Styrofoam balls or other insulating material. Lay it across the bottom of the door jam when door is not in use. Get those air leaks sealed up as soon as possible.