Posts Tagged ‘green’
One can’t have a green home without actual greenery, can one? Open spaces, gardens and green areas are quite important in a house, not just for aesthetic appeal, but also because they help largely in maintaining fresh air indoors and keeping a steady temperature. If you’re few of the lucky homeowners whose homes have backyards then there’s nothing like it. We strongly suggest that you make use of the backyard to have your own compost pit or recycling plant. This is not difficult or messy. You’ll get helpful tips on how easily you can make compost at http://www.helpfulgardener.com/.
If you don’t have the advantage of a backyard, you can still do a lot. For starters, depending on the kind of walls you have, you could speak to your contractor about having a controlled ivy growing on the outside wall – but do this with a professional gardener’s advice only. If you have a terrace you could go about converting it into a terrace garden. It’s not too technical and it can keep your roof quite cool during summers.
Indoor plants are an excellent idea. A better idea is to create space outside windows by installing racks for keeping potted plants – They’re an excellent way of providing privacy. Many homeowners will also create indoor gardens – complete with waterfalls. Although these are expensive, you could speak to your contractor about the possibilities.
Many of our customers want to shift to solar energy, but find the investment in a solar electric system too heavy. For such individuals, we often recommend going for solar water heaters to take care of the water heating requirements. This is relatively cheaper and easier to install, so you can save the environment and some cash too.
There is a basic difference between solar electric systems and a solar water heater. The former use the light energy of the sun and the latter, use heat energy. Thus, solar water heaters come sans the PV modules but with a solar collector which traps heat instead of light. There are 5 types of solar heaters available in the market:
1. Batch systems: For a 1-2 person household, low cost, temperate climate (not very cold winters), simple.
2. Thermosyphon systems: Passive solar system with no moving parts, suitable for temperate climate, less efficient and more expensive than active solar systems but very reliable, obtrusive in appearance. Fit for 3-4 person household.
3. Open-loop Direct Systems: Active solar system, the most simple of systems, heats domestic water directly in a storage tank, works well in temperate climates
4. Pressurized Glycol Systems: Closed loop system which heats up a non-freezing fluid and uses this fluid to heat up the water, suitable for regions with freezing temperatures,
5. Closed Loop Drainback system: Requires minimum maintenance, Works on similar principle as above, distilled water used as the heat transfer fluid.
Solar water heaters make a lot of financial sense and will drop your electricity bills or heating bills by almost 50%-80%. Add to this tax rebates and credits that you’re entitled to on purchase of a solar heater and the overall cost is reduced by a huge number.
Installing a PV system is not difficult, however it is best left to experts. At Laupen we install solar electric systems in remodeling and green building projects. Generally the company that provides with solar system will take care of proper installation and get the system up and running. Or, as in the case of Laupen, who follow the design build model, it will be the contractors of your building project.
A solar electric system has many different components that are placed in different locations all over your home and have to be wired together properly. A stand alone/independent grid is the smallest in terms of component parts and a grid inter-tied with battery backup is the largest. The entire set-up will be done by the installers, after taking into account which system will work best for your needs and also fulfill requirements of state law, local building authority and power provider. There are a few things you need to ensure are done by the installers:
1. Checking the site of installation for year round incident sunlight, and more importantly – shading – in order to figure out which spot would provide optimal usage. Installers have their own equipment for doing this. Also, industry norms generally ask that homes in the northern hemisphere install solar panels facing the south or south-east and south-west directions. In some cases even east or west would do.
2. Installation of solar panels such that they are exposed to air, or well ventilated, to keep them from heating up.
Apart from installation, a PV system also needs periodic check ups to ensure efficiency. Ideally, this should be covered by your system provider. The solar panels or PV array is very low maintenance and you only have to inspect it at intervals to remove dust and debris.
PV system: 2 times
Solar electric system: 2 times
‘Green built’ certified is a blanket term used to refer to any building that has been built with the environment and ecology in mind, using environment-friendly materials, and with sustainability and energy efficiency at it’s core. Essential a building or any structure that has been ‘green built’ is built to minimize the impact it has on the environment by taking measures to curb effects known to cause maximum damage to the environment.
In the US, however, ‘green built’ certification is a highly evolved rating system created and dispensed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). It’s known as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The LEED rating system developed by the USGBC is a sophisticated system that rates buildings (new and under-construction) on five main criteria that make the most impact on the environment. In order to achieve LEED certification, buildings need to score a minimum of 40+ points out of a possible 100. Depending on the type of building, each of the 5 criteria are given weighted points depending on how much impact they have on the environment, and the system clearly informs individuals on what measure to take to gain points. LEED certification is divided into 4 levels: Certified (40+), Silver (50+), Gold (60+), Platinum (80+). Individuals can do as much, or as little as they’d like.
To making building green easier, the USGBC provides LEED certified and trained construction professionals whose services individuals can solicit to help them understand the rating system, and meet its criteria with ease.
US tax advantages of Solar panels (both water and electric)
Here’s another ‘sunny’ incentive to go green: Using solar panels and other solar powered equipment can help you avail of a tax credit of up to 30% of the cost, with no upper limit. The tax credit is available for both – solar water heating systems and for photovoltaic cells that produce electricity. Solar water heating system must create at least 50% of its energy from the sun and must be for use in a residential property. Tax credit cannot be claimed if you’re looking at heating up your swimming pool, Jacuzzi or hot tub, only for simple every day usage within the house. It is important, that your system be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation or the Energy Star.
With photovoltaic cells, you can avail of similar 30% of cost tax credit for residential electricity needs. It is also important that the panels meet the necessary fire and electrical code requirements.
The tax credit is available only for systems ‘placed in service’ before the 31st of December, 2016. To avail of the tax credit, you will need to file the IRS Form 5695 for the year during which you’re claiming tax credit. Along with this, you will also need a statement of certification from the manufacturer, certifying that his products meet the qualifying criteria for the tax credit.