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Energy Management

California Solar Incentives, Rebates, and Credits

In 2007 the state of California enacted the California Solar Initiative (CSI; to create 3,000 megawatts of new solar power in the state by the end of 2017. Four years into the program information on the web is still pretty confusing. The General Market Program is the program that most people will apply for unless you are a low-income homeowner or solarizing a multifamily home. Here is what to know:... read more

Is Solar Right for Me?

Solar Panels

Deciding to install PV solar panels on your home is no small decision. If you're reading this article you're probably beginning to do some research on solar for your home or business. There is a lot of information out there on the the web about solar which can be quite confusing – here are a few things to think about:

How much rooftop do you have? A standard 1 kilowatt solar panel system measures about 100 square feet. While rooftop panels can be designed big or small, it often does not make sense if you have less than 100 square feet of space. A 1 kilowatt solar panel generally produces 1,800 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year (take a look t your recent energy bills to see how much you usually use). Some solar installers won't install unless you have at least 400 square feet of roof space.

Which direction does sunlight hit your house? Sun from the south is best, sun from the north is worst. Sun from the west and east will do the job, just less efficiently than south.... read more

What is Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)?


What is Concentrated Solar Power?

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is a type of solar thermal energy used to create electricity on a large scale. This is not the type of solar energy you see collecting through panels on your neighbor's rooftop. CSP is an important solar technology for homeowners to be aware of because it has the potential to provide significant amounts of clean, renewable energy that could be provided to you by your utility.... read more

How to Choose a Solar Installer

So you've decided to take the plunge and install solar panels on your home or business – congratulations!! The next step is choosing a professional installer to do the work.... read more

  1. Go with a professional electrician: It's not necessary to hire a contractor who is a licensed electrician, but often you will be required to hire someone who is licensed to do the final hook up. Save yourself the extra step by doing the whole project with the same person.
  2. Look for someone who has a North American Board of Certified Electrical Professionals (NABCEP) solar installation certificate. This means they have standardized special training in solar PV installation.
  3. Inquire as to how the professional was trained in solar installation. Many electricians are self-taught in solar because the field is so new. Others may have received formal training from the company that manufactures the solar panels they use. A handful will have formal education from a technical college or university.

Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Power

When talking about Solar Electricity, we are usually talking about Photolvoltaic (or PV) Solar Power. Photovoltaic Solar Power is solar energy which is converted into electricity using pholtovoltaic solar cells. This is done through the use of specialized machinery.

The ability to capture Photovoltaic energy was first discovered in the mid 1800's, but it was not until 1954 that a team of researchers at Bell Labs found a way to create enough electricity for PV energy to be of any use. This was done (and still is done) through the use of silicon semiconductors. Semiconductors only conduct electricity when exposed to light or heat (as opposed to conductors, which always conduct electricity and insulators which never conduct electricity). The captured light moves along a circuit from Positive-type semiconductors to Negative-type semiconductors in order to create electric voltage.... read more

What is Solar Energy?


What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy has been used by mankind since... well, forever (ever fry an egg on the sidewalk?)! Solar energy takes advantage of the sun's rays to generate heat or electricity. It is an infinitely renewable resource and unique for its ability to generate energy in a quiet, clean, and consistent manner.

There are two types of solar energy – passive and active. Essentially this means how it converted into useful energy.... read more

Do you need to preheat your oven?

preheating your oven

It was a lazy Saturday night, and we were just going to heat up a frozen pizza for dinner.  A lot of times with things like a pizza, a homemade casserole, lasagna, etc, I stick the food directly in the oven while it's heating up.  My husband noticed me do the with the frozen pizza and he was horrified.  "But, you didn't preheat the oven!  You always need to preheat the oven!"  

I usually do this due to impatience (I figure the food can start cooking as the oven is preheating) but it got me wondering about the energy consumption factor.  And, is preheating the oven really necessary?

And so, I did a little Googling to see what I could find.... read more

Top Ten States for Clean Energy

CleanEdge recently issued a report entitled U.S. Clean Energy Leadership Index, which ranked states in terms of clean energy.   California leads in the technology and capital categories, but for policy, the number one state is Washington.  Massachusetts ranks first in regulations and mandates, and Illinois is the top state for incentives.  

greenest states energy

Here's the top ten list:... read more

Which is the greenest game console? Now "Wii" know the answer!

wii greenest console

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) recently tested three of the most popular video game consoles to see which uses the least energy while in active mode.  

The contenders?  Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Xbox 360.  

The winner?  Wii.  By a landslide.... read more

Verizon Wireless’ Entry into Home Energy Management


Verizon Wireless had a coming out party at CES 2011 for their new Home Monitoring and Control service.  One of the applications included in the service will be home energy management.  However, the intent is to offer complete home control and monitoring including lights, locks, webcams, security, home health, and of course thermostats and energy usage.  One of the unique killer apps is the ability to view streaming webcam content from Verizon Wireless LTE-enabled handsets.... read more

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