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Oncor’s Solar Water Heating Program

If you’ve been considering switching to a solar powered water heater, Oncor has an incentive program to help you make the decision. When you install a solar water heating system in your home, you may be eligible for a cash incentive. If you qualify for the program you could save anywhere from $1,400 to $2,700 off the cost of a solar water heating system. If you are in the low income bracket, you will save 95% up to $3,800.

Requirements for Oncor’s Solar Water Heating Program:

  • You must be in the Oncor service area and have an Oncor meter installed at your residence
  • Your current system must be electric. Gas water heaters do not qualify.
  • You may not have a gas service of any kind hooked to the property. This includes gas for cooking and heating.

Both existing and new construction properties are eligible if they meet the above requirements. It is important to note, however, that the program is only for solar water heaters that serve the actual home; pool heaters will not qualify. Since solar water heating systems can easily cost several thousand dollars depending on the capacity and size of the installation, this incentive program can be a huge help. Combine it with the federal tax credit and save even more. There is no way to know when the funding for this program will run out, so it is best to act now if you want to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.


How Texas Electricity Smart Meters Can Save You Money

As a Texan, if you don’t already have a Texas electricity smart meter for your home, then chances are you’ve been hearing about them. So what is it about smart meters that makes them so all fired important? And just how exactly does one go about digitizing electricity? Furthermore, how can some new gadget possibly save you money? It seems like new electronic devices are always fairly expensive. Well, sit back for a spell and all will be revealed.

Texas electricity smart meters are important because they are the building blocks for the future of electricity service that is both more efficient and also lower cost. No one is technically digitizing the electricity itself; that would be quite impossible. What is digital is the communication between the meter, the consumer, and the utility. As far as saving you money, you may not have to pay out of pocket at all for a smart meter to be installed at your home. Whether or not you have to pay for the meter itself is, for now, up to your provider. However, no fees are to be charged for you to review your data and you don’t have to get permission to see it either.

Why would you want to see it? Well, that’s really where the money saving comes in. Viewing the data from your Texas electricity smart meter will show you exactly what you are spending on your service so you can figure out what is costing you more and take steps to remedy it, thereby getting a lower overall bill.

Smart Meters for Texas Electricity Service

Recent legislation has led to a statewide effort in Texas to install and implement the use of smart meters in more than 2 million residences and business before the end of 2010. But what is a smart meter and why is it significant to Texas residents? Smart meters, also referred to as advanced metering systems, are an innovative metering systems that allow consumers and Retail Electricity Providers (REPs) alike to keep a running tab on the amount of energy consumed and when it was consumed.

This advance in Texas electricity service technology will help to lower costs for companies and consumers alike and help to create a more efficient and streamlined approach to customer service. Since customers will have access to the specific statistics of their energy consumption, they will be able to manage their usage more effectively. Consumers can analyze how they are using their electricity, when they seem to use the most electricity, and monitor energy saving efforts to see what helps and what does not.

On the provider side of Texas electricity smart meters, REPs will have a remote connection to each of their customers with the ability to communicate with the meter for diagnostic, connection, or disconnection purposes. Rather than having to dispatch a technician to analyze an interruption in service, the provider can send a message to the meter from their office and receive back useful information about what the problem is and, in many cases, resolve said problem. It truly is exciting technology.

Learning to Install Your Own Texas Solar Panel System

Since up to 30% of a Texas solar panel installation is made up from installation fees, it is no small wonder why some homeowners feel obligated to do it themselves. Indeed, if you save 30% on installation fees and receive a 30% tax credit, you only end up paying 40% of the total original price. If only it were that simple. The fact is that Texas solar panel installations are quite the complicated ordeal and not just anyone will be able to do it. Here are a few things to consider before attempting your own installation:

  • Are you already certified, or willing to become certified, in home Texas solar panel installations?
  • Do you have the necessary tools to complete the job? If not, do you have access to them?
  • Have you sat down with pencil and paper to draw out your system design? Do you know the best design for maximum efficiency?
  • Will you be able to dedicate the required amount of time to the project? Are you willing to call in the professionals if things get out of hand?
  • Will a self installation negate any chances of receiving incentive plans? What requirements must be met to ensure the 30% federal tax credit?

If you are confident that you have done everything you can to learn what is involved with a Texas solar panel installation then go for it. Just don’t be too stubborn to call for back up if you need it!

Maintaining Your Texas Solar Panels

If you have already made the choice to convert your home to either total solar power or partial solar power, then kudos to you! You are doing a wonderful thing for the environment, as well as for your budget. However, if you fail to properly maintain your Texas solar panels, you may not reap the entire benefit of your investment. Fortunately, Texas solar panel maintenance is relatively simple and doesn’t have to be done with great frequency.

First of all, to make sure that your Texas solar panels don’t suffer water damage either from the weather or from your cleaning, it is important to have them installed by a professional. If you’ve already installed them yourself, it may be worth having a professional come out and inspect your work, as well as make any adjustments that are needed. Provided you have done that, you are ready for your simple maintenance.

Being as how Texas solar panels are located on the roof, odds are that they accumulate quite a bit of dust and bird droppings. This debris can greatly reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of your solar panels. You will want to clean your panels once a season to keep them functioning at their highest level. You may be able to get away with a simple spraying from your garden hose, or you might need to add a little bit of dishwashing detergent in for stubborn spots. Make sure to give the frames some attention as well.

Doing the Right Thing: Oncor’s Approach to Our Depleting Resources

It really speaks volumes when a utility, which depends on revenues from electricity, opens its pocketbook to consumers to help them use less energy. But that is exactly what Oncor has done with its solar incentive programs. Why? Well, in the very near future there isn’t really going to be much of a choice about where our energy comes from. Traditional sources will run out and we’ll either all have learned to use alternative power sources or our society will crumble to the ground. It’s not about the money. It’s about doing the right thing.

Well—maybe it is about the money a little. You’ll still be on Oncors grid-tie system, so if you do need extra power you’ll be getting it from them. But considering how much you’ll be saving and the good you’re doing for the environment, it hardly seems worth mentioning. So what are these wonderful programs we speak of? There are actually 2 programs, but only one is accepting new applications at this time.

Oncor’s Solar Water Heating Program

The solar water heating incentive offers residents a cash reward for purchasing and installing a solar water heating system in their home. There are some requirements to be met, but some families may qualify for up to 95% of the total cost.

Oncor’s Solar PV Program

This program has proven to be highly popular and has run out of funding more than once. It helps with the cost of installing solar panels, so keep an eye open for if/when they start accepting applications again.

The Battery Back-Up System for Texas Solar Panels

Aside from the grid-tie Texas solar panel system and the stand alone battery pack, there is one other option for Texans wishing to utilize solar energy. It is called the battery back-up system. This system is a hybrid arrangement that allows homeowners to have energy on reserve in the event of a power outage. The battery back-up system won’t save you a whole lot in the way of your energy bill, but it is useful to have in emergencies.

When you use a battery back-up system with your Texas solar panels, you get to control what energy goes where and when. So if there is a major power outage due to inclement weather, you have a way to keep your most vital appliances running. For example, say you have a deep freezer packed with frozen perishables and the power goes out. Now, the freezer may keep the food cold for a time since it’s all basically ice anyway, but what if the power outage lasts for several days? Once the food is thawed it must be used or thrown out.

With your battery back-up system, you can tell your system to supply power to your freezer if the power goes out. You may also was to keep your fridge running and a few carefully selected lights. You might choose to direct power to one power outlet so that you can change out the things you need to use. You will have to be conservative so it doesn’t run out, but it can get you through the outage fairly comfortably.

Government Solar Energy Tax Credits: Too Good to Be True?

You may have heard some recent buzz about government incentive programs to reward homeowners for making their residences more energy efficient. You might be skeptical as to just how “rewarding” any such program could really be. However, the Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency is actually a rather generous program that can help homeowners deflect a portion of the cost of installing a solar energy system by up to 30% with no upper limit on the credit.

Like most good things, however, there are a few catches to the deal. We believe the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks, but we would be remiss not to inform you of what those drawbacks are. Here are some of the limitations and concerns of the credit:

  • You have to spend money to claim the credit. It isn’t possible to simply apply for the credit and then use that money to make the installation. You must put down the investment, and solar energy systems get very expensive very quickly.
  • It has to be your primary residence. If you are making improvements on a rental home or a vacation home, you’re pretty much on your own financially.
  • In most cases, you must hire a professional solar panel installer. If your system is improperly installed it will not work efficiently, thereby defeating the purpose of the program. This isn’t a big problem for most people, however, since most will recognize the value of a professional installation.

Get it While You Can: Government Solar Incentive Programs

If you are looking to reduce your dependence on fossil fuels, lower your energy costs, and increase the value of your home all at the same time, then installing a solar panel system on your home is the way to do it. Many people believe that solar panel systems are simply too expensive for them to afford, and the government has heard your cry for help. The Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency Program is in place to help defray some of those costs so that you can get on the right track to reducing your carbon footprint.

The Solar Tax Credit

This portion of the program is the longest running with a scheduled expiration date of December 31, 2016. With the government solar program you will receive a 30%, no cap credit on any solar panels or solar water heater systems you install on your home. That includes parts and labor. The installation must meet all safety and building codes, so you’ll want to have a professional do the job.

The Appliance Tax Credit

The appliance credit is coming to an end, but there is still time to take advantage of it. With this credit, you’ll receive a 30% credit on new energy efficient appliances up to $1,500. Since it expires at the end of 2010, it’s probably wise to do this first. Besides, you want your home to be as energy efficient as possible before you size it for a solar panel system.

Let Uncle Sam Give You a Hand with Your Texas Solar Energy Project

You work hard. You pay your taxes on your earnings and then you turn around and pay taxes on practically everything you buy. Isn’t it time the government gave you a little something in return? Well, right now there is an exciting government solar program in place that is designed to do just that. And we’re not talking chump change either—there is practically no limit to the amount of money you can get. Would you like to hear more? We thought you would!

The Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency Program

There are actually several sections to the Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency Program ranging from purchasing energy efficient appliances to installing new window and doors. However, we are going to focus on the Solar Energy section of the program. With the government solar energy program, you can get 30% back on any solar installation you make on your home. Since solar energy installations are fairly expensive to begin with, you could be looking at one heck of a refund check!

There is no cap to this particular credit, so feel free to go as big as your budget will allow. There are a few catches, however. First, your home must be your primary residence—no way around that. Second, you will probably have to have the panels professionally installed. Although installation is expensive, it guarantees your credit. Besides, this is a project that you will really need a professional working on anyway.