6 July 2016 08:49
At the end of 2016, rebate incentives for installing solar systems will no longer be available. According to California State law, complete solar rebate applications will only be accepted until December 23, 2016 and participants have 120 days beyond that to install their systems.
Californians value renewable energy options, like solar. There are many things to consider when going solar, it’s a big investment and each project is unique so there is no one right answer. You should really work through the process. If not, you could make a decision that you regret.
So, you’re thinking of going solar – where do you start?
LOWER YOUR ENERGY BILL: The first step to lowering your energy bill is understanding how you use energy. Start by learning how much energy you use. Then find ways to SAVE energy that work with your lifestyle. Here are 10 things you that can help you get the most out of your time and money.
- Program your thermostat. Maybe it’s time to upgrade?
- Seal air leaks around windows and doors
- Replace air filters monthly
- Switch to LED lighting
- Plant shade trees. Shade your air conditioning system
- Seal leak duct work. Clean out your dryer ducts
- Install sun screens, blinds, shutters on windows and doors
- Upgrade to ENERGY STAR appliances. Do you need that extra refrigerator/freezer?
- Fix or replace your old air conditioner and/or furnace
- Invest in Solar
Going Solar is a big investment, do your research!
Start by understanding your current monthly energy needs and how it may change In the future. Consider how much you would like to offset with solar. Once you have decided to go solar there are several things that need to be done. Lucky for you, after you’ve made the decision to go solar the contractor you hire does most of the work!
- Obtain your Energy Use. Gather your last 12 months of energy usage
- Be Energy Efficient First. Creating energy efficiency inside the home is an important step before going solar. Reducing your energy needs is typically more cost effective than going solar; and reducing your energy use also means you can install a smaller, less costly solar system.
- Consider your Purchasing Options. This is a big decision – evaluate your options carefully. Will you owe it, lease it, or enter into a PPA agreement? They have all different financial impacts and are something for you to consider.
- Hiring a Contractor. Qualified contractors are your key to getting the most productive solar energy system for your home or business, talk to three or more contractors before you make a decision. Review your local yellow pages for contractors, discuss with your neighbors. Contractors will evaluate factors that affect your PV system performance such as roof size, orientation of the system, shading and other factors. Typically, the contractor will complete the paperwork and apply your city/county documentation on your behalf and will work with you until the utility company provides approval for you to turn the system on.
- Check with you utility company/city/county - several have additional rebates programs, advisors to assist, require permits and interconnection requirements.
- System Monitoring and Maintenance - Once the system is installed, ask the contractor to teach you how to use the solar system production display or website to monitor energy production. Take time to learn how to monitor your solar system’s performance and be diligent viewing your energy use at least monthly to verify the system is running and creating the expected energy production. Also, ask your contractor for advice on maintenance or better yet get a maintenance contract to have it routinely checked and cleaned.
The Future of Solar: Solar electric power will continue to grow in importance as part of our nation’s total energy portfolio. Why? Here are some reasons of improvements in solar electric production technology:
- Increase in Solar Panel Efficiencies
- Concentrated Solar Electric
- Solar Harnessing Infrared Light
- Hybrid Solar Panels
- Solar Panels That Can Work With Indoor Light
- Transparent Solar Panels
13 June 2016 17:25
You have heard it before “Napa Napa Napa, Sonoma Sonoma Sonoma” great wine regions in the state and now a tourist destination for all who come and deservedly so. But what you may not know that just over the Atlas Peak Mountain is a rich and growing wine region east of Napa. When I talk to fellow wine tasters, they are shocked to what I am about to say. THEY HAD NO IDEA!
Yes I am talking about the great Suisun Valley in Solano County “ The Rustic Wine Country” www.suisunvalley.com. It is a little secret that is getting out.
This region has been making wine since the late 1800’s and now has come into its own since creating the Suisun Valley Vintners & Growing Association in 1982 www.svvga.com. It has a wide range of wine styles and varietals that would challenge some of the premier wines of Napa and Sonoma but for the fraction of the price. Blue Victorian and Vezer wines are some of the most premier wines in the valley with bottles running $35-$90 dollars a bottle. Yet while at www.svwinecoop.com the Suisun Valley Co-op, 5 local vintners offer you a taste of all their wines for no fee and their cost is $14 - $30 a bottle. Sometime they have specials going on that you can take advantage of. More and more tasting rooms are opening up every year. Wooden Valley (longtime winemaker) has Foodtruck Fridays so you can pair wines with gourmet foodtruck cuisine.
If wine is not your interest, no worries, the Valley has an unique area called Mankas corner where you can find Antique stores, Local Artist gallery, place to picnic with supplies from the Vezer Deli, and Manka’s Tapas and Steakhouse for you fine diners. If you are looking for local produce you will find your fill along Rockville rd, from fresh strawberries to a local stand with homemade ice-cream and cheesecake. But the most popular place daily is Larry’s Produce www.larrysproduce.com where he has fresh produce of any kind and priced better than supermarket. If you plan on visit him be warned that he is only open between June and Dec. So before making that journey to Napa or Sonoma and fighting with the traffic and crowds, drive into Suisun Valley and visit great quality wines, excellent food and peaceful settings.
Bon Appetite, Joe
2 June 2016 07:50
Vinyl, as in vinyl records, isn’t something that routinely comes up in conversations I have with my clients, but it just so happened the other day while I was out in Reno. An attorney client of mine got to talking to me about his home audio system, a $15,000 plus system, mind you. This got us talking about the purity of audio, audiophiles, and vinyl vs. today’s digital media. He said he often enjoys the sound quality of his vinyl record more so than anything he hears from the internet, satellite (garbage sound, he says), or CD.
Now, I have heard anecdotes of this from time to time and it really seems to be a very common theme out there-- that vinyl really stands out for the audio aficionado. I am a gen Xer, in the middle of the spectrum for our group, and so I’ve listened at one point or another to the different formats-- from the vinyl of my parents’ collections, 8- tracks, cassette tapes, CDs, and today’s digital variety of streaming, mp3, and satellite.
I’ll tell you a secret, I can’t say I ever noticed much difference! Today’s music sounds pretty good to me on my $500 home theatre set. I remember the stuff my Mom and Dad would play on the record player sounded great, too. Ok, so I’m a novice and my sound system is a far cry from $15,000 (maybe one day that attorney client will invite me to come witness just what kind of sound the equipment produces) nor do I have a vinyl collection today or the desire to invest in a record player—which, by the way, can get expensive; check out these sites showing turntables that retail up to and above $10,000: www.stereophile.com; www.soundstagedirect.com. So as you can see, I am not doing any scientific experimenting here, but I would like to hear from you. Leave a comment about what you think about vinyl vs. digital? Let me know if you’re an audiophile and what you use as a basis of comparison.