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S U C A S A W i n t e r 2011

Authors Stephen and Rebekah Hren support the theme of this helpful guide—“It’s time to take the plunge”— with facts, figures, and advice on every aspect of using solar energy to heat and power your home (and office). They’re not kidding when they talk about the “maze of solar options.” Few people keep up with all the developments of this rapidly inflating field, from the technology and hardware to the government incentives. Homeowners, -buyers, and -builders alike will want to keep this reference handy when undertaking any project with a solar dimension. Which, in the Hrens’ worldview, means every project. Not a how-to book, A Solar Buyer’s Guide gives a high-altitude view of the territory, summarizing the big issues a homeowner faces. Those include a survey of the types of solar energy systems, advice on how to evaluate the solar potential of your place, guidance on calculating what you can afford, and wise words about working with installers and contractors. The Hrens go into considerable detail about the three main uses of solar energy—generating electricity, heating water, and heating spaces—explaining how they work, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, delving into their costs and affordability, and comparing alternatives. A discussion of costs, federal and local tax incentives, renewable energy credits, investment-payback schedules, and financing options helps make the case for installing solar systems. The writing necessarily goes a bit vague here. Each state has its own approach to tax credits. Likewise, various electric utility companies have varied policies about buying your excess sun-generated electricity or your renewable energy credits. The short version of the story goes like this: with the various tax incentives and the electricity you sell back to the utility from your grid-tied system, you could get your kilowatt-hour cost down to parity with conventional power. You’ll want to check this out for yourself—there are so many variables—but investing in a solar photovoltaic system has become financially appealing. And if you don’t have the $15,000 to $40,000 for a PV system, you still might be able to afford solar hot water. The

Su Casa Winter 2011  

Su Casa Winter 2011

Su Casa Winter 2011  

Su Casa Winter 2011