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Looking to invest in renewable energy products? Chances are it’s a lot cheaper than you think.

On October 3, 2008, the President of the United States signed legislation into law that extends tax credits for installation of solar panels and solar units, and removes the monetary cap for residential solar electric installations. This means that upgrading to renewable energy through solar panels and equipment just got significantly cheaper.

The incentives don’t end there, either. There are a host of federal incentives available to everyone from corporations to individuals. Additionally, every state and territory in the U.S. has a tax rebate or incentive program for individuals and businesses wishing to make the switch to renewable energy. The future of renewable energy is looking brighter than ever. President-elect, Barack Obama, has promised to spend $150 billion over the next 10 years developing alternative energy. This plan promotes hybrid cars, clean coal, more wind and solar power , more efficient appliances and new fuels from sustainable organic matter. Obama's plan says the country should get 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025. With this plan, Obama predicts that the economy will be stimulated and 5 million jobs will be created. To read more about Barack Obama’s energy plans, go here.

What is renewable energy?

The earth’s climate is changing; you may have noticed it in the longer, warmer fall seasons. As more people populate the planet, more energy is consumed. As we consume more energy, the earth has to adjust to accommodate the rising output of waste from increased use of fuel for energy purposes. For the most part, we rely on coal, natural gas and refined oil (fossil fuels) to provide us with electricity, heat and transportation. Within the last few decades, however, scientists and environmental experts have begun to discover that the use of coal, natural gas and refined oil have had unintended, long-lasting negative effects on the environment, and that those negative effects are getting worse. Since their discoveries, science has done a lot of work to develop other ways to provide us with the electricity, heat and transportation that a growing population needs, without compromising the environment. Moreover, environmental experts have worked to increase our awareness about the issues facing our environment and the ways in which we can help lessen the negative impact our energy use has on the earth by being environmentally responsible. One of the biggest ways that both scientists and environmental experts suggest helping the earth is the use of renewable energy resources.

Renewable energy is fairly straightforward. It is energy generated from renewable, natural sources like sunlight, wind, water, wood or geothermal heat. Renewable energy is considered an alternative energy source, because renewable energy refers to those sources which have minimal environmental impact, though some sources are more responsible and sustainable than others. Those sources that have the least environmental impact are sources of sustainable energy. Sustainable energy is the provision of energy such that it meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Using the most responsible, sustainable renewable resources is seen as the most environmentally accountable way to counteract the negative effects of our use of fossil fuels; this has recently become known as “being green.”

Why all the fuss about renewable energy?

As scientists and politicians begin to understand the impact that human energy practices have had on the environment, and with the use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil becoming more expensive and less efficient (with the energy it takes to obtain, transport and refine oil, the efficiency of oil is 8%), people are turning to renewable sources to supplement or completely fulfill their energy needs.

Fossil fuels, which we heavily rely on for a majority of our energy needs, emit carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere. These gases naturally warm the planet by trapping sunlight in the atmosphere. Normally, this is useful for keeping our planet habitable. However, as we burn more fossil fuels, even more gases are released into the atmosphere, trapping more and more sunlight. This causes global temperatures to rise, hence the term “global warming.” This may not seem like a big deal but as the climate changes due to higher temperatures, a chain reaction of negative natural events begins.

The negative effects of global warming start with the warming of the ocean. As the temperature of the earth increases, so does the temperature of the ocean. As the ocean warms it affects global weather patterns, land mass and animal life. For instance, hurricanes and tropical storms develop as low-pressure systems over bodies of warm water. The warmer the water and the more warm water there is, the more hurricanes and tropical storms there are. If you look at the charts, there have been significantly more hurricanes and tropical storms in the last 10 years, correspondent to the dramatic rise in global temperature.

Further, as ocean temperatures increase, the ice caps in the Antarctic begin to melt. NASA released their finding that the rate of ice melt has rapidly accelerated . They are concerned that the drastic warming could impact the global climate; this is due to the fact that liquid water absorbs sunlight whereas ice reflects it, therefore the more melt that occurs, the warmer the oceans get .As the oceans warm and ice melts, sea levels rise, causing erosion, flooding and contamination of freshwater supplies. In the United States, the EPA studied rising sea levels and determined that Louisiana, Texas, Florida and North Carolina stand to have 22,400 square miles of land turned to swamp.

Erosion, flooding and freshwater contamination also adversely affect food supplies. When considered with our understanding that as the oceans warm and global temperatures rise, the global weather patterns change , we begin to see the threat to the global food supply in a more serious light. Even our health is at risk due to global warming. Beyond the effects on global temperature, fossil fuel emissions have caused asthma and allergies to rise due to increased pollution.

In order to reduce carbon and other harmful gases released by fossil fuel emissions, we would need to reduce our use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. Renewable energy sources such as solar power, hydroelectricity, wind power and ethanol could be used in place of fossil fuels as sustainable, alternative energy sources. The greater percentage of renewable sources used, the greater the percentage of carbon emission is reduced. The RAND Corporation ran a study on how renewable energy use would effect carbon dioxide emissions and found that “under the 25 percent renewables goal, carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity and fuel sectors would fall by one billion tons. That reduction is equivalent to eliminating one-seventh of the total U.S. CO2 emissions projected.”

Switching to renewable energy is easier than you think.

Being environmentally responsible, living a green lifestyle and supporting sustainable energy practices doesn’t mean that you have to give up driving or start using only candles at night. Even by changing small things, you can help support the move to renewable energy. For instance, of all the electricity used in the U.S., over 9 percent of it is used in incandescent bulbs. If all incandescent bulbs in the United States would be replaced by energy saving bulbs, the same amount of power would be saved as 80 coal centrals can produce .

And, as it turns out, helping the environment doesn’t have to hurt financially. In fact, using renewable energy products reduces the amount of energy you need, which reduce costs. There are two ways that using renewable alternative energy products can save you money. First, there is your electric bill. By utilizing energy efficient products, you save on your monthly electric bill and in the cost of replacing the products. For instance, efficient lighting saves on air conditioning and electricity. Using compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) , which are cooler-burning, uses only one-fourth the energy of standard bulbs and last 10 times as long as standard bulbs. And you aren’t just limited to lighting. There are a significant amount of energy efficient air conditioners and appliances on the market, which typically use half the energy of most wasteful appliances. The U.S. Department of energy even provides a website where you can evaluate your home’s energy efficiency .

The second way that you can save money by using renewable energy products is by employing renewable energy systems for all or part of your energy needs. Depending on the size of the renewable alternative energy system used, you can cancel out part, or all, of your utility bill. Renewable energy systems are “cost to own” rather than “cost to buy,” which means that once you purchase something like a solar water heater , you never have to pay for the energy to heat your water again. When you take the time to insulate your home or business properly, use energy efficient appliances, and ensure that windows and doors are properly installed and sealed, you lower the amount of energy needed to keep your home or business up and running. If you install solar panels , you can produce that energy yourself.

And did you know that saving energy can also make money? When you make your home energy efficient, the base value of the home goes up . The same is true for businesses.And using renewable energy creates more jobs. Energy efficient sectors such as insulation, recycling, windows/doors, solar installers, and wind turbine constructors are constantly growing as more and more people turn to renewable energy. Further, jobs are created indirectly as the demand for renewable energy products increases and people are needed to build solar panels, wind turbine parts, et cetera. Renewable energy allows you to help the economy AND the environment.

Get started going green today!

Enkomax, Inc. is dedicated to helping you on your journey to going green. We have everything from LED light bulbs (which use only one-fourth the energy of standard bulbs and last 10 times as long ) to solar panel kits , at the best prices. Don’t see what you are looking for? Contact us.