Energy Solutions

Does Green Building Have to Cost More?

Posted on March 2, 2010 by Alex Wilson

Having written about green building for more than twenty years now, I’ve encountered lots of misperceptions. One of those is that green building always has to cost a lot more than conventional building. There are plenty of examples where it does cost more (sometimes significantly more), but it doesn’t have to, and green choices can even reduce costs in some cases. Let me explain.

Ground-Source Heat Pumps (2010)

Posted on February 23, 2010 by Alex Wilson

For the past month, I’ve examined various home energy improvements for which one can earn a 30% federal tax credit. The last of these opportunities I’ll cover is ground-source heat pumps. A ground-source heat pump (GSHP) is also referred to as a “geothermal” heat pump, though I prefer the former terminology, to avoid confusion with true geothermal energyHot water or steam extracted from reservoirs beneath the Earth's surface; can be used for heat pumps, water heating, or electricity generation. The term may also mean the use of near-constant underground temperatures by ground-source heat pumps to provide heating and cooling. systems that rely on elevated temperatures deep underground from the Earth’s mantle.

Home Wind Power

Posted on February 16, 2010 by Alex Wilson

For several weeks now, I’ve addressed tax credits for home energy improvements. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides a 30% tax credit for a wide range of energy measures, including efficiency retrofits, better heating and cooling equipment, and renewable energy systems, including solar water heating and photovoltaics, which I discussed last week.

Tax Credits for Solar Energy Systems

Posted on February 10, 2010 by Alex Wilson

I’ve been addressing tax credits for home energy improvements the past few weeks. This week, we’ll look at what’s available for solar energy systems.

Tax Credits for Window Replacement

Posted on February 2, 2010 by Alex Wilson

Last week, I provided an overview of the 30% federal tax credits that are in place for 2009 and 2010 for residential energy upgrades. Most of the provisions of those tax credits are very good. In the rush to do a lot very quickly, though, some mistakes were made. One such mistake, in my opinion, has to do with the credit provided for window replacement.

Tax Credits for Energy Upgrades

Posted on January 26, 2010 by Alex Wilson

There are some great opportunities right now to upgrade your home energy performance with support from federal tax credits. These tax credits, created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 greatly expanded tax credits that had been put in place through the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct). Over the next few weeks I’ll describe these tax credits--addressing what they cover and how you can benefit--but also editorializing a bit about some of the poorly thought-out features.

Innovative Financing for Energy Improvements

Posted on January 19, 2010 by Alex Wilson

One of the greatest challenges to energy improvements is the financing needed to make those improvements. Conventional home improvement and business loans have such short terms (usually less than ten years) that the interest costs are often greater than the energy savings—making such loans hard to afford for most families and businesses. Also, it’s hard to justify putting money into a house if you’re not sure how long you’ll be there.

Seeking Common Ground on Climate Change Policy

Posted on January 13, 2010 by Alex Wilson

Last week’s column took a quick look at the science of climate change and how scientific hypotheses have shifted over time based on new evidence. In developing public policy, I believe we should start with a firm foundation of science—whether the issue is banning lead in gasoline, regulating the annual harvest of salmon, or adopting policies on energy efficiency. The better the science, the better the resulting policies or laws.

Science, Climate Change, and Policy

Posted on January 5, 2010 by Alex Wilson

Global warming deniers have garnered a lot of attention in recent years. From opinion columns and letters in our local newspaper to heated reporting on Fox News (whose trademarked slogan “Fair & Balanced” is often anything but), those who doubt the underlying science of global warming are receiving unprecedented access to the American public and to policymakers.

New Year’s Resolutions

Posted on December 30, 2009 by Alex Wilson

Some energy-saving strategies involve spending money: replacing appliances and lights with more energy-efficient products, tuning up a heating system, and insulating an attic, for example. Other measures don’t require any expenditure at all. Below is my top-ten list of easy, no-cost ways to reduce your energy use. If you’ve been reading my column regularly, these will all be familiar, but since it’s time for New Year’s resolutions maybe a quick review will give you the needed nudge to step up your efforts.

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