Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Thinking About A Solar Energy System?

Solar energy is gaining popularity as more and more people look to alternative energy systems to replace our dependency on oil. Have you considered a solar energy system in your plans to build an energy efficient home?

The advantages of utilizing solar energy in timber frame homes are nearly endless! Here are just a few:

1) Solar energy is clean, the power of the sun is free, and unlike gas, coal, and oil, it is sustainable, which helps to protect our environment and does not contribute to global warming, acid rain, or smog.

2) Solar energy causes no pollution by releasing carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide or mercury into the atmosphere used by many forms of electrical power generation. Incorporating solar energy into a post and beam, structural insulated panels (SIPs), or sustainably-designed home allows for the possibility of independence from power companies.

3) The systems can be configured to meet virtually any power demand load.

4) Over recent years, technological advancements in solar energy systems have made them extremely cost effective. While the cost for things such as natural gas and petroleum continue to rise, solar energy technology continues to fall in price, allowing for a cost effective alternative energy source for a new timber frame home, or home remodeling projects.

5) Most systems do not require any maintenance during their lifespan, many systems carry warranties which cover their life spans of twenty to thirty years.

For those concerned about the aesthetics of integrating solar technologies into the design of a home, Bonin Architects & Associates designs with systems such as evacuated solar tubes (see photo), which could be concealed by dormers or shed roofs allowing for cleaner exterior views of the home.

Better yet, did you know there are federal tax credits available for Solar Energy Systems?

Tax credits are available for qualified solar water heating and photovoltaic systems. The credits are available for systems "placed in service" from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2008. The tax credit is for 30% of the cost of the system, up to $2,000. This credit is not limited to the $500 home improvement cap. See IRS Form 5695 at

Solar Water Heating: 30% of cost, up to $2,000
Requirements: At least half of the energy generated by the “qualifying property” must come from the sun. Homeowners may only claim spending on the solar water heating system property, not the entire water heating system of the household. The credit is not available for expenses for swimming pools or hot tubs. The water must be used in the dwelling. The system must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC).

Photovoltaic Systems: 30% of the cost, up to $2,000
Requirements: Photovoltaic systems must provide electricity for the residence, and must meet applicable fire and electrical code requirements.

Kimberly Bonin, Executive Project Manager
Bonin Architects & Associates

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