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April 2006 - [Sustainable Concepts] Tax Credits and Passive Solar Design
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Sustainable Concepts )
Design Forward Newsletter April 2006, vol. 37
in this issue
  • Passive Solar
  • Federal Tax Credits
  • Daylight Savings
  • Feedback
  •            

    Greetings!

    Welcome to the April 2006 newsletter from Design Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's features.

    Quote of the Month: "No house should ever be on any hill or on anything. It should be of the hill, belonging to it, so hill and house could live together each the happier for the other."
    - Frank Lloyd Wright


    Lisa Van Veen

    Passive Solar

    Five Elements of Passive Solar Home Design
    The following five elements constitute a complete passive solar home design. Each performs a separate function, but all five must work together for the design to be successful:
    Aperture (Collector)
    The large glass (window) area through which sunlight enters the building. Typically, the aperture(s) should face within 30 degrees of true south and should not be shaded by other buildings or trees from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day during the heating season.
    Absorber
    The hard, darkened surface of the storage element. This surface—which could be that of a masonry wall, floor, or partition (phase change material), or that of a water container—sits in the direct path of sunlight. Sunlight hits the surface and is absorbed as heat.
    Thermal mass
    The materials that retain or store the heat produced by sunlight. The difference between the absorber and thermal mass, although they often form the same wall or floor, is that the absorber is an exposed surface whereas thermal mass is the material below or behind that surface. applications, however, fans, ducts, and blowers may help with the distribution of heat through the house.
    Distribution
    The method by which solar heat circulates from the collection and storage points to different areas of the house. A strictly passive design will use the three natural heat transfer modes—conduction, convection, and radiation—exclusively. In some applications, however, fans, ducts, and blowers may help with the distribution of heat through the house.
    Control
    Roof overhangs can be used to shade the aperture area during summer months. Other elements that control under- and/or overheating include electronic sensing devices, such as a differential thermostat that signals a fan to turn on; operable vents and dampers that allow or restrict heat flow; lowemissivity blinds; and awnings.

    Article and Picture © EERE

    Federal Tax Credits

    Just in time for tax season - here are a list of federal tax credits available to you.

    Home Improvements - Tax credits are available for many types of home improvements including adding insulation, replacement windows, and certain high efficiency heating and cooling equipment. See chart. The maximum amount of homeowner credit for all improvements combined is $500 during the two year period of the tax credit. This tax credit applies to improvements made from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2007.
    Efficient Cars - Tax credits are available to buyers of hybrid gasoline-electric, diesel, battery-electric, alternative fuel, and fuel cell vehicles. The tax credit amount is based on a formula determined by vehicle weight, technology, and fuel economy compared to base year models. These credits are available for vehicles placed in service starting January 1, 2006. For hybrid and diesel vehicles made by each manufacturer, the credit will be phased out over 15 months starting after that manufacturer has sold 60,000 eligible vehicles. For vehicles made by manufacturers that have not reached the end of the phaseout, the credits will end for vehicles placed in service after December 31, 2010.
    Solar Energy Systems - Tax credits are available for qualified solar water heating and photovoltaic systems. The credits are available for systems "placed in service" in 2006 and 2007. The tax credit is for 30 percent of the cost of the system, up to $2,000. This credit is not limited to the $500 home improvement cap.
    Fuel Cells - There is a consumer tax credit of up to 30% of the cost (up to $500 per 0.5 kW of capacity maximum) for installing a "qualified" fuel cell and microturbine systems. The credits are available for systems "placed in service" in 2006 and 2007. This credit is not limited to the $500 home improvement cap.

    Daylight Savings

    Daylight savings in often thought to be a tradition saved for the farming communities. But in our modern era, most countries have keep the tradition of daylight savings for energy savings. According to the California Energy Commission:

    "One of the biggest reasons we change our clocks to Daylight Saving Time (DST) is that it saves energy. Energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting our homes is directly connected to when we go to bed and when we get up. Bedtime for most of us is late evening through the year. When we go to bed, we turn off the lights and TV.

    In the average home, 25 percent of all the electricity we use is for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs, VCRs and stereos. A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurs in the evening when families are home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, we can cut the amount of electricity we consume each day.

    Studies done in the 1970s by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that we trim the entire country's electricity usage by about one percent EACH DAY with Daylight Saving Time."

    Don't forget to set your clock forward on April 2nd.

    Picture © California Energy Commission

    Feedback

    Design Forward works toward promoting Sustainable Design. If you know of a project that should be featured, please contact us. Let us know why you think it should be featured and give us a basic intro to the project, the sustainable elements and any websites or contact information.

    If you would like to submit a fun and/or entertaining quote about architecture, building, the environment or such, send it in! If it at all possible, include the author.

    If you have any other feedback concerning this publication, please feel free to send an email or use the form.

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    Revised June 1, 2010