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Easing into Solar

By Lucie B. Amundsen
Published: July 1, 2009
Going solar doesn’t have to mean investing money by the tens of thousands to get on board. There are moderate ways for all of us to start harnessing the sun.

SOLAR WATER HEATER
One avenue is a solar water heater. Not surprisingly, they do cost significantly more to purchase (from $2,500 on up) than their electric or gas counterparts. But solar does save 50 to 80 percent in water heating costs, and on top of that there’s a tax break available. If you install an Energy Star solar water heater, you may qualify for a federal tax credit for energy efficiency worth 30 percent of the heater’s cost. For more tax credit information, visit www.energystar.gov.
Sources include: www.solardirect.com.

SOLAR VENT
A small, easy DIY project is installing a solar vent. At about $130, these dinner plate-sized vents provide 1,000 cubic feet of airflow, which is perfect for a not-so-big space like a cabin attic, shed, other out-building or boat. It will continue to keep air moving even after two sunless days.
Sources include: www.earthtechproducts.com.

SOLAR-POWERED RADIO
Lastly, you can justify this $80 purchase purely for safety, but you’ll want one because it’s cool. That’s a solar-powered or crank-powered radio that also doubles as a cell phone charger. It provides AM/FM and all the weather coverage you can handle, and it’s completely off the grid.
Sources include: www.earthtechproducts.com (Click on “Lights & Radios.”).
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