alternative energy http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/2068/all en-US 11 Ways the Government Pays You to Live Green http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-the-government-pays-you-to-live-green <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-ways-the-government-pays-you-to-live-green" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_riding_bikes_000063700085.jpg" alt="Couple finding ways the government pays them to live green" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you care about the planet? Do you care about saving money? Those ideas are not mutually exclusive.</p> <p>If you are environmentally conscious, it's worth knowing that you can &quot;live green&quot; and get help from the government to do so. Federal, state, and local governments offer tax breaks, credits, and straight cash payments to people who keep an eye on their carbon footprints.</p> <p>There is plenty of help available, and it's worth checking with the IRS and your state and local governments to see where you can save. Here are 11 big ways that governments will pay you to live green.</p> <h2>1. Cash for Burning Biomass</h2> <p>Forget the oil burner or electric heat pump. You can get government money by using a biomass stove, which burns things like wood, plants, grass, and even corn. There's a federal tax credit of up to $300 for stoves that use biomass, and some states have additional credits. (Maryland, for example, will rebate up to $700 for a new pellet burning stove.)</p> <h2>2. Tax Breaks for Electric Cars</h2> <p>Electric and hybrid vehicles are cool, but they often have a higher price tag than regular automobiles. So the federal government wants to help out by offering a tax credit of up to $7,500. Take that into account the next time you're eyeing a Tesla, Toyota Prius, or Nissan Leaf.</p> <h2>3. Incentives to Use Alternative Energy</h2> <p>There are are all kinds of incentives for you to electrify your home using something other than fossil fuels. There's a 30% federal tax credit for installing a geothermal heat pump, wind turbines, or solar panels, for example. There are also grant programs at the state and local level. The idea is that these credits will offset at least some of the relatively high cost of installing these systems, thus making it easier financially for homeowners to go green.</p> <h2>4. Money for a Home Energy Audit</h2> <p>There are some local governments that will give you cash just for an examination of how you use energy in your home. In most cases, you will get recommendations on ways to use less energy, but you can get the tax credit even if you don't make any changes. Takoma Park, MD offers $100 just to get the audit done.</p> <h2>5. Money for Windows, Doors, and Skylights</h2> <p>Sometimes getting new windows isn't just about making your house look pretty. If they exceed EnergyStar requirements for efficiency, you can get a tax credit of up to $500 on the cost. Good windows and doors can help keep out drafts and help heating and cooling systems work more efficiently. This credit also applies to new insulation and your roof.</p> <h2>6. Cash Back on Appliances</h2> <p>The federal government used to give credits for energy-efficient refrigerators and the like, but that's been phased out. However, there still may be localities that offer similar incentives for EnergyStar rated appliances. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-small-kitchen-appliances-that-arent-worth-the-money">13 Small Kitchen Appliances That Aren't Worth the Money</a>)</p> <h2>7. Public Transit Subsidies</h2> <p>The federal government and some state governments encourage employers to offer a pre-tax benefit for workers who use public transportation to commute. Under the federal tax break, workers can reduce their taxable income by as much as $255 per month. The federal benefit also works for parking, so it's not entirely a &quot;green&quot; incentive. Some states (including California) allow workers to &quot;cash-out&quot; the parking benefit if they bike, walk, or carpool to work.</p> <h2>8. Bike-to-Work Incentives</h2> <p>The IRS allows employers to reimburse workers for up to $20 a month for expenses related to biking to work.</p> <h2>9. Tax Incentives for Your Home Office</h2> <p>The federal and state government want to make it easier for you to work from home. Many expenses related to having a home office, including equipment, furniture, and some utilities, can be tax deductible. In 2013, the IRS announced a &quot;simplified&quot; deduction that allows for up to $5 per square foot of space used as a home office (up to 300 square feet.) To qualify, you must have a space that is used &quot;exclusively&quot; for work.</p> <h2>10. Tax Deductions for Supporting National Parks</h2> <p>The National Park Service operates 59 parks, most of which are known for their natural beauty and prized by conservationists. If you're the type of person who likes to camp, hike, and climb, your donation to the National Park Foundation is tax-deductible. Additionally, the Park Service will offer free admission to parks on 16 dates in 2016.</p> <h2>11. Cash for Reclaimed Water</h2> <p>In many states, businesses can reduce their taxable income by using reclaimed wastewater, or so-called &quot;greywater.&quot; And homeowners in states including Arizona can get a tax deduction on equipment to allow for recycled water usage. &quot;Greywater&quot; is generally not good to drink, but can be used for toilets, crop irrigation, and other non-potable uses.</p> <p><em>Have you taken advantage of any of these eco incentives?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-the-government-pays-you-to-live-green">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-the-courtesy-flush-dead">Is the courtesy flush dead?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-have-free-outdoor-fun">50+ Ways to Have Free Outdoor Fun</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/only-celebrate-a-few-select-birthdays">Only Celebrate A Few Select Birthdays</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-things-you-should-know-about-the-new-tax-law">12 Things You Should Know About the New Tax Law</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Lifestyle Taxes alternative energy deductions electric cars environment incentives Wed, 20 Jan 2016 16:00:03 +0000 Tim Lemke 1639403 at http://www.wisebread.com Book Review: Confronting Collapse http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-confronting-collapse <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/book-review-confronting-collapse" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/confronting-collapse-wide.jpg" alt="Cover of Confronting Collapse" title="Cover of Confronting Collapse" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="221" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1603582649?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1603582649"><em>Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World</em></a> by Michael C. Ruppert.</p> <p>We hardly talk about collapse here. Wise Bread is all about living large, while collapse mitigation is usually about living small. But that doesn't mean that there aren't things we can learn from books about collapse.</p> <p>I'm kind of a connoisseur of books on collapse. I've been reading them since the 1960s (when they were mostly about overpopulation) and read a lot in the early 1980s (when they were mostly about financial collapse due to government debt and inflation). The most important thing I've learned is that many systems &mdash; biological, environmental, social, political, economic &mdash; are more resilient than people have any right to expect.</p> <p>Ruppert's new book largely focuses on the threat of peak oil. It effectively makes the point that energy drives everything in the economy: When energy gets expensive, so does everything else (in particular, food and water). It does a workman like job of dismissing the fantasy sources of additional energy (tar sands, clean coal, fusion). More important, it gets it just about right on the non-fantasy sources (wind, solar): They're real and important, but they're no substitute for cheap oil.</p> <p>The book is structured in the form of a program statement such as might be prepared for a U.S. president by his policy wonks. After laying out its case for collapse, it presents a 25-point program for mitigating collapse. Those are largely exactly right: re-localize the economy (especially food and energy production), remove subsidies from energy boondoggles, shift infrastructure money from road and air projects to rail (oddly, he doesn't mention canals), support community-level efforts at the national level.</p> <p>The downside of the structure is that, although there is guidance for ordinary people, you have to read between the lines to find it. Re-localizing is something that's going to be done person-by-person and community-by-community anyway. Home-scale solar and wind energy production is possible and quite reasonable, even if it isn't economic without the feed-in tariffs he proposes. A lot of the infrastructure decisions (on roads and the power grid) are going to be made at the local level, where two or three active concerned voters can have as much influence as the President of the United States.</p> <p>So, why should a Wise Bread reader have any interest in collapse, when so many books on collapse are all about living small (and the ones that aren't are all too often bizarre fantasies of post-apocalyptic violence)? Well, I read them because the good ones turn out to have a lot of overlap with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom ">my own personal vision of living large</a> &mdash; living large through freedom, rather than living large through mass consumption funded by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave ">wage and debt slavery</a>. Making your household and your community centers of production rather than centers of consumption enables living large in a way that lasts. The fact that the same lifestyle mitigates collapse is just a bonus.</p> <p>It's worth comparing this book to Dmitry Orlov's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0865716064?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0865716064 "><em>Reinventing Collapse</em></a> that I <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-reinventing-collapse ">reviewed for Wise Bread</a> a couple years ago. Ruppert's book has none of Orlov's humor and little of Orlov's practical, household-level advice. What it does have is a lot of background information on oil production and depletion, petroleum inputs to food production, alternative energy sources, and so on. If you want to laugh at your problems, go with Orlov. If you want to try to do something about them at the national or global level, go with Ruppert. If you want to do something about them at the household and community level, read both.</p> <p>Although I regret its lack of practical suggestions for ordinary people, leaving those out has let him steer clear of a lot of survivalist cliches. (And it is the survivalist cliches that turn so many collapse books into a sort of anti-Wise Bread &mdash; tracts on living small.) <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1603582649?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1603582649"><em>Confronting Collapse</em></a> does a good job of laying out the case for peak oil and suggesting policies for dealing with it. It's especially good if you want to take action to help everybody, rather than just taking action to help yourself and your neighbors.</p> <p><em>Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-confronting-collapse">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/energy-price-spikes">Energy Price Spikes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">The good life on less energy--even in the US</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/an-energy-bill-of-0-00">An energy bill of $0.00</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-game-over">Book review: Game Over</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Financial News Green Living alternative energy book review clean energy conserve energy cut energy costs energy famine peak oil Sat, 15 May 2010 13:00:05 +0000 Philip Brewer 81146 at http://www.wisebread.com Fix energy in tangible form http://www.wisebread.com/fix-energy-in-tangible-form <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/fix-energy-in-tangible-form" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/windmill-pump.jpg" alt="Windmill pump" title="Windmill pump" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="226" height="400" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As I&#39;ve mentioned before, I think that energy is going to be more expensive in the future. I wrote one article about <em>tactics</em> for dealing with the issue--making sure that your budget had <a href="/plan-for-expensive-fuel">contingencies for a spike in fuel prices</a>. This article is about longer-term <em>strategic</em> moves to deal with future high energy prices.</p> <p>They key problem with energy is that it&#39;s really hard to store. The <a href="/the-bank-of-gasoline-0">Bank of Gasoline</a> notwithstanding, it&#39;s tough to buy energy now and use it later. Most energy storage techniques lose a large fraction of the energy; others are expensive and dangerous.</p> <p>The only really efficient way to store energy is to go ahead and use it to create something of lasting value. So my key suggestion is to store some of the current cheap energy in the form of things you need.</p> <h2>Invest in Embodied Energy </h2> <h3>Things that produces energy</h3> <p>If you&#39;ve got the money and a location that will support it, the pinnacle of this strategy would be to acquire things that actually produce energy: windmills, solar power systems, and so on.</p> <p>Using locally-generated energy means that you don&#39;t have to buy energy from the utility. A decision on installing local power generation is often evaluated on a pay-back basis--how long will it take before the cost of the avoided purchases adds up to the cost of the system. Economies of scale make utility-generated power quite cheap compared to locally-generated power, so these payback calculations tend to steer people away from local power generation (except where you&#39;re off-the-grid and the cost of hooking up to the utility would be prohibitive). If my analysis is correct, though, and energy is going to get much more expensive in the future, a lot of these investments will be profitable sooner than a simple-minded calculation would suggest.</p> <h3>Things that let you use less energy</h3> <p>Even if you can&#39;t afford to generate your own power, anyone can invest in things that let you use less energy: a sweater, weatherstripping for your windows, extra insulation in your attic, a house that&#39;s closer to work, a bicycle, a more efficient car, furnace, air conditioner, or lightbulb. Anything that lets you live your life well with less energy falls into this category.</p> <h3>Things that embody energy</h3> <p>Take advantage of current cheap energy prices to invest in any long-lasting item that you&#39;re going to need. Most things--both items from the list above and ordinary stuff like dishes, tools, garden implements, toys and so on--are as cheap as they have ever been. And as the energy it takes to make them gets more expensive, they will get more expensive.</p> <p>Think ahead. Figure out what you&#39;re going to need long-term. When you budget for acquiring things in this category, give a preference to the items that embody the most energy, because those are the things that are going to get more expensive faster.</p> <p>That analysis is actually a huge topic of its own. It&#39;s hard to calculate the life-cycle energy requirements for an object, because there is not only the energy involved in making the object--aluminum and glass, for example, embody more energy than iron--but there is also the energy involved in the infrastructure. The energy embodied in the the silicon of a computer chip is dwarfed by the energy it takes to build and maintain the refineries needed for the raw materials, the wafer fab that made it, and the schools and universities that trained the people who build and run them. But a seat-of-the-pants sort of analysis will generally be good enough to let you put items like this into roughly the right order.</p> <p>Anything that takes a lot of energy to make will be more expensive going forward. If you need one, work it into your budget to buy it soon, while it&#39;s still cheap.</p> <h2>Caution on Investing in Energy Companies </h2> <p>I put investing in companies that produce energy in another category altogether.</p> <p>A lot of people have made a lot of money in the past few years by investing in companies that either produce energy (such as the major oil companies) or else use energy more efficiently than their competitors (such as railroads). I think a lot more money will be made in companies like these over the next few years as well, but a lot of money will also be lost. Making money in big companies depends on a lot of other things going right. The overall economy needs to hum along reasonably well, or else these companies will tank along with the stock market in general. The government needs to refrain from tagging these companies with price controls, excess profits taxes, and other profit-sapping measures.</p> <p>Unless you have good reason to be confident in your forecasts of economic conditions and government actions, I&#39;d limit your investments in these areas.</p> <p>I&#39;d suggest the same general policy for investments in things like energy futures. I don&#39;t doubt that a lot of money will be made in energy futures over the next few years, but here too, a lot of money will also be lost. Prices never move in one direction forever, and a fairly small zig or zag can easily wipe out many years of profits in a matter of days, and you can&#39;t count on the government or the markets to play by the rules when conditions get disordered. </p> <h2>Conclusion</h2> <p>I think the safe and easy win here is in just buying the stuff you&#39;re going to need anyway, giving a priority to the things that produce energy, save energy, or take a lot of energy to make. If you buy stuff you need, you can hardly lose. And if you prioritize things as I suggest, you&#39;ll come out well ahead. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fix-energy-in-tangible-form">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-if-energy-costs-keep-rising">What if energy costs keep rising?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/as-the-wood-burns-the-top-3-biomass-heating-sources-revealed">As the Wood Burns: The Top 3 BioMass Heating Sources Revealed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/living-cheaply-for-the-long-term">Living Cheaply for the Long Term</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-frugal-skills-you-must-have-to-survive-mondays">12 Frugal Skills You Must Have to Survive Mondays</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-lower-water-heater-costs">7 Ways To Lower Water Heater Costs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living alternative energy energy fuel fuel costs fuel efficiency Tue, 21 Aug 2007 00:25:23 +0000 Philip Brewer 1026 at http://www.wisebread.com An energy bill of $0.00 http://www.wisebread.com/an-energy-bill-of-0-00 <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/p12b.jpg" alt="Mike Strizki" title="Strizki" width="250" height="165" /> </p> <p>I&#39;m not sure what you pay for energy each month, but combining natural gas, gas for the car and electricity, I&#39;m way over $250. This guy, Mr. Mike Strizki, does it all for nothing. </p> <p>In an interview for <a href="http://www.myninjaplease.com/green/?p=378">GREEN.MNP</a> Mike reveals his many secrets. And none of them are secrets at all really. His background as a civil engineer obviously helped, but with a little studying, some major up-front cash (the &#39;catch&#39; to the story) and some serious hard work, there&#39;s no reason we couldn&#39;t all go green and save the planet (and some green) in the process. </p> <p>Combining solar power, wind power, a hydrogen-powered car and a few other super inventions, Mike has unplugged his New Jersey home from the power grid. Maybe one day we can all live this way. But with the amount it costs to set up, probably not. Yet, anyway.</p> <p><em>Below: Mike Strizki demonstrates his Hydrogen-powered car. </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.veoh.com/">Online Videos by Veoh.com</a><embed src="http://www.veoh.com/videodetails.swf?permalinkId=e1281803YaMyg69&amp;id=1&amp;player=videodetails&amp;videoAutoPlay=0" width="540" height="438" bgcolor="#000000" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer"></embed><br/><a href="http://www.veoh.com/">Online Videos by Veoh.com</a></br/></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/an-energy-bill-of-0-00">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-confronting-collapse">Book Review: Confronting Collapse</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-smart-ways-to-reuse-your-empty-glass-bottles">18 Smart Ways to Reuse Your Empty Glass Bottles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-repurpose-your-old-christmas-tree">7 Ways to Repurpose Your Old Christmas Tree</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-rid-of-your-old-electronics">How to Get Rid of Your Old Electronics</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living alternative energy clean energy fuel efficiency green fuel recycling solar power wind power Fri, 16 Mar 2007 22:10:26 +0000 Paul Michael 360 at http://www.wisebread.com