By Tim Smith
Solar panels harness the sun’s electromagnetic rays, converting them into electricity you can use to power your home. If the environment is a concern to you, getting solar panels is probably an exciting possibility. The concept that you could provide power for yourself with a renewable resource is wonderful, and we all love the idea of saving money. Is the reality of solar power really as great as it sounds?
How much will You Have to Invest?
Solar panels will save you money, but they also require an initial investment. The cost will depend on the size of the system you choose and the demand in your local area. Systems can range from below $10,000 to over $35,000 for a very large home, but the prices are dropping all the time. It’s a good idea to spend some time tracking your energy usage to figure out how big of a system you will need to get.
If you want solar panels but can’t afford a large initial investment, you can purchase a smaller system and go from there. You may not produce enough electricity to cover your entire bill, but even a low-cost system can cut the price quite a bit, especially if you get a lot of sun and are conservative with your energy usage.
How much can You Expect to Save?
Statistics from 2011 showed that homeowners in sunny areas could save up to $35,000 over a 20-year period if they had a full system of solar panels installed. Since then, energy prices have gone up, making the savings even higher today.
Not only will you be saving a lot, but you’ll also be spared the burden of continually rising electricity costs in the future. The sun will always be free, and once you have the technology in place, you can take advantage of that indefinitely. As those who are getting their power from the grid are worrying and complaining about their energy bills, you will be able to sit back and relax.
What About Other Incentives?
If you are a taxpayer in the United States, and you purchase a system of solar panels for your home, a number of different rebates may be available. You will qualify for a 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC). If you want to determine how much money you will save with the ITC, take the net cost of your solar installation and subtract what you saved from any rebates you earned. Calculate 30 percent of that amount, and that will be your credit. In 2009, the $2000 limit on this credit was removed, making it possible for homeowners to save even more.
There may also be state and local rebates available to you. The best way to ensure that you qualify is to have your system installed by a team of professionals with a strong knowledge the required codes and regulations. This could possibly save you up to 50 percent of your initial installation cost.
Will Solar Power Pay off in Other Ways?
There is even more good news. In 2011, a group of economists from California gathered statistics that show that solar panels add around $20,000 to the sales price of a home. Homes also sell twice as fast and appreciate at a quicker rate when equipped with a solar-panel system. As energy bills rise, it will become an even more valuable home feature.
On top of all of the money-saving benefits of solar power, there is always the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're doing something wonderful for the environment. Whether you plan to sell your home or keep it in the family for generations to come, solar panels are a great investment in a happy future.
Visit Modernize for more ideas, information, and tips about taking avantage of solar energy.
[Source: This Week Community Paper]
Goodwill Columbus and Ohio State University's Office of Student Life have partnered to give students a way to responsibly dispose of their unwanted materials as the fall semester ends.
The BuckeyeClothesOut encourages students to place clothing, household goods and electronics in one of 24 bins set up on or near campus.
"We always see that students have a lot of things to dispose of at the end of a semester," said Dave Isaacs, manager of communications and media relations at the Office of Student Life. "We're trying to reduce the amount of that material that winds up getting dumped at the landfill."
The President and Provost's Council on Sustainability has approved a goal to divert 90 percent of the university's materials from the landfill by 2030, he said.
For the BuckeyeClothesOut, students are encouraged to place their unwanted items in one of the marked, unmanned donation bins, Isaacs said.
"We've put the bins in many of our residence halls and in other prominent locations on or near campus," he said.
The university has informed students of the project through social media and posting signs around campus, Isaacs said.
"We expect as students complete their final exams and begin leaving campus that we'll start to see a lot of material being put in the bins," he said.
For Goodwill, the partnership will help provide additional items it can sell in its retail stores or recycle, said Tim Salvato, senior vice president of retail operations.
"A lot of the items students will donate will be in good enough condition that we can sell them in our stores," he said. "Electronics that are not salvageable or clothes that have a rip in them, we can still use to recycle."
In 2013, Goodwill's donated-goods retail business generated $9.2 million for its annual budget, Salvato said. Goodwill recycled 5.9 million pounds of donated goods not sold in stores, generating another $1.2 million.
"Put together, those funds represent about 25 percent of our overall budget," he said. "Our retail stores and recycling program help us fulfill our 75-year mission of transforming the lives of individuals with disabilities and other barriers."
Anyone can donate goods to Goodwill at any of its six retail stores and 14 donation centers located throughout central Ohio, Salvato said.
For more information about the donation program and Goodwill's retail stores, visit goodwillcolumbus.org.
For Immediate Release
November 24, 2014
For More Information:
John Ivanic, City Council, 645-6798
Hanna Greer-Brown, Franklin County Board of Commissioners, 525-5848
Councilmember Priscilla Tyson is partnering with the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and Local Matters, a non-profit transforming the Central Ohio food system through food education, to launch the Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan, a community effort to create a stronger, more sustainable local food system. Columbus City Council will consider legislation to provide city funding for the plan at its November 24th meeting.
“The Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan will help Central Ohioans lead healthier lives by improving their access to quality, affordable foods,” said Councilmember Tyson, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “The plan will also help reduce food waste and enhance coordination and communication among existing food resources and agencies in our community.”
The Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan will include data collection and the analysis of food supply and demand in Columbus and Franklin County. The plan will incorporate the input of local food experts and stakeholder groups to develop recommendations that will make it easier for Columbus residents to access nutritious foods.
County Commissioner John O’Grady will attend the November 24th Columbus City Council meeting to speak about the need for a comprehensive plan to increase the availability of nutritious food in Central Ohio. Councilmember Tyson will address the Franklin County Board of Commissioners at their November 25th meeting to discuss Council’s goals for the Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan.
“The Franklin County Commissioners have long been committed to supporting local food producers, and encouraging the local food movement,” said Commissioner O’Grady. “This partnership resolution to create a Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan is the logical next step to help find the gaps in our current food infrastructure, and fill them to strengthen the local food economy as well as improve access to healthy food. It’s a really exciting initiative.”
The Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan is a product of planning and community engagement initiated last year by Local Matters to understand the health and food access needs of Columbus neighborhoods. Local Matters’ experience and expertise will help guide the development of the plan, which is expected to be released in the summer of 2016.
“Local Matters has long been working to transform our community’s food system through public education and increased access to healthy, affordable, and sustainable food,” said Local Matters Executive Director Michelle Moskowitz Brown. “The proposed Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan represents a great step forward for the local food system in Columbus and Franklin County, and we’re thrilled the city and county have chosen to invest in such a critical initiative.”