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Life Unplugged

DIY Renewable Energy Systems 

The Daily Green Solar Panel Reviews

Green Industry Index of Solar Panel Companies

Newlite Portable Solar

Solar Beam Concentrator

Backwoods Solar

Solar Power from Real Goods

The Solar Living Institute

Solar Outdoor Lights from Gaiam

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

How Solar Panels Are Made 

A Short History of Solar Panels (video)

Home Power Magazine

EcoBusinessLinks Green Directory

Solar Energy Uses

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Micro Hydroelectric Systems

Off Grid Dot Net

The Daily Green

American Solar Energy Society

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Consumer Energy Center

Discuss Sustainability

Global Change

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Renewable Energy Projects

Save The Earth

World Wide Renewable Energy

Solar Living workshops
Recharge Colorado

An informative guide about home care and maintenance


Inexpensive DIY Home-Built Solar Panels

Green Power Science

The New Homesteaders: Off-the-Grid and Self-Reliant


water turbines

Hydro Power From Hydro World


Solar/Hydrogen-powered Disaster Relief

The Essential Element

Solar hydrogen home Michael Strizki

Does Supplemental Hydrogen Really Work?

Fuel Cell Markets

Popular Mechanics article

Free Zero Energy

The EFOY fuel cell



HHO Dry Cell

Living Large in a Micro House

Edible Landscaping: One Transition Step from Peak Oil

Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States

US Dept of Energy Wind & Water Power Program

Wind Turbine
A social network for the wind turbines Wind Powering America Initiative!

Wind Powering America


10 Wind Turbines That Push the Limits of Design

Honeywell wind turbine

Stimulus Funds for Energy Efficient Appliances


Federal Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency


SIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995 and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the N.C. Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

Enough sunlight hits the Earth each day to supply the entire world’s electricity needs for a year.

Solar electric (photovoltaic) systems burn no fuel and have no moving parts.

They are clean and silent. As we become more aware of “greenhouse gases” and their detrimental effects on our planet, clean energy alternatives like solar become more important than ever.

Typically: A one-kilowatt solar electric system:

Prevents 150 lbs. of coal from being mined

Prevents 300 lbs. of CO2 from entering the atmosphere

Keeps 105 gallons of water from being consumed in hydroelectric plants

Keeps NO and SO2 from being released into the environment (smog and acid rain gasses)

Once the system is connected, the entire process is automatic. When your  system is generating more power than you're consuming, your meter spins backwards as it tracks the amount of power your utility company is buying from you - at full retail price.

You can't go into business as a power company but you can almost always sell back enough power to cover your system costs.

U.S. Geological Survey

Wikipedia -
"Geothermal power (from the Greek roots geo, meaning earth, and thermos, meaning heat) is power extracted from heat stored in the earth. This geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet, from radioactive decay of minerals, and from solar energy absorbed at the surface. It has been used for bathing since Paleolithic  times and for space heating since ancient Roman times, but is now better known for generating electricity. Worldwide, geothermal plants have the capacity to generate about 10 gigawatts of electricity as of 2007, and in practice supply 0.3% of global electricity demand. An additional 28 gigawatts of direct geothermal heating capacity is installed for district heating, space heating, spas, industrial processes, desalination and agricultural applications.

Geothermal power is cost effective, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, but has historically been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. Recent technological advances have dramatically expanded the range and size of viable resources, especially for applications such as home heating, opening a potential for widespread exploitation. Geothermal wells release greenhouse gases trapped deep within the earth, but these emissions are much lower per energy unit than those of fossil fuels. As a result, geothermal power has the potential to help mitigate global warming if widely deployed in place of fossil fuels.

The Earth's geothermal resources are theoretically more than adequate to supply humanity's energy needs, but only a very small fraction of it may be profitably exploited. Drilling and exploration for deep resources costs tens of millions of dollars, and success is not guaranteed. Forecasts for the future penetration of geothermal power depend on assumptions about technology growth, the price of energy, subsidies, and interest rates"


What is a ground source heat pump?

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are electrically powered systems that use the earth’s fairly constant temperature to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and buildings.

How do ground source heat pumps work?

Ground source heat pumps have closed loops that are be installed horizontally, vertically, or in a pond or lake.

The surrounding land area and  types of soil and rock at the site will help determine the most economical and efficient choice (system type) for the ground loop installation

An antifreeze solution is circulated through plastic pipes buried beneath the ground for closed loop systems. The fluid gathers heat from the earth and circulates it through the system and into the building.

During the summer, the system reverses itself and pulls heat from the structure and places it in the ground. This process creates free hot water in the summer and and produces a considerable savings on hot water in the winter.

The Self-Sufficiency Specialist; The Essential Guide to Designing and Planning for Off-Grid Self-Reliance

Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems

Spring and Summer energy saving tips

We all need air conditioning to stay comfortable during the soaring temperatures of the summer. But you can still stay cool while saving energy and money by preparing your home and maintaining your air conditioning equipment.

Because air conditioning works hard to remove moisture from the air and reduce humidity inside your home, turn off A/C, or program your thermostat to a higher temperature, when not at home.

Minimize mid-day washing and drying of clothes, showering and cooking
Turn on ventilating fans, but turn them off when not required so they don't extract cooled air from the house

Set the temperature a little higher (around 78-80°F) to help save 6-8% of your cooling costs for each degree above 78° while remaining comfortable

Shade your home from direct sunlight – use shades, drapes and awnings to block the sun from heating your home



Henry David Thoreau "First, there is the power of the Wind, constantly exerted over the globe.... Here is an almost   incalculable power at our disposal, yet how trifling the use we make of it! It only serves to turn a few mills, blow a few vessels across the ocean, and a few trivial ends besides. What a poor compliment do we pay to our indefatigable and energetic servant."
Henry David Thoreau In 'Paradise (To Be) Regained', Democratic Review (Nov 1848)

It's a challenge for sure, but imagine the rewards both financial and spiritual to live with a sense of independence that off-grid living can provide. We hope to address these needs on every level: from campers and RV enthusiasts to homeowners and businesses. 

It's impossible to be completely off the grid in suburbia, but you can mitigate your carbon footprint by exploring renewable green energy alternatives: Wind, Solar, Hydro and more. Others are looking to be completely independent, to get as far away from civilization as possible and live 100% OTG.



Grand Canyon

ENERGY CONSERVATION IDEAS   courtesy of New Breed Energy
please add your ideas

Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you'll save up to 5 percent on heating costs. Wear warm clothing like a sweater Set the thermostat back to 55 degrees or off at night or when leaving home for an extended time, saving 5-20 percent of your heating costs
Seal up leaks. Caulk leaks around windows and doors, pipes, vents or electrical conduits that go through the wall, ceiling or floor. Check the bathroom, underneath the kitchen sink, pipes inside a closet, etc. If you find a gap at the point where the pipe or vents goes through the wall, seal it up. Caulk works best on small gaps.

Let the sunshine in. Open drapes and let the sun heat your home for free (get them closed again at sundown so they insulate).

Rearrange your rooms. Move the furniture around so you're sitting near interior walls - Exterior walls and older windows are drafty. Don't sit in the draft.

Traditional fireplaces are an energy losers. Keep them shut. It's best not to use them at all because they pull heated air out of the house. When not in use, make sure the damper is closed. Before closing the damper, make sure that you don't have any smoldering embers. If you decide not to use a fireplace, then block off the chimney with a piece of rigid insulation that fits tightly into the space.

Eliminate wasted energy. Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. Unplug 2ndrefrigerator e if you don't really need it. This adds 10-25 percent to your electric bill. Turn off kitchen and bath-ventilating fans after they've done their job - Kitchen exhaust fans can blow out a house-full of heated air if left on. Keep the fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning to prevent up to 8 %of your fheated air from going up the chimney.

Turn the lights off when
you leave a room. Fluorescent lights should be turned off whenever you'll be away for more than15 minutes.
Wash & dry full loads. If you're washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
Replace your current tank water heater with a tank-less one,  only heating water when you need it. (There are some caveats here, and some (differing opinions)

Install a programmable thermostat. If you have a heat pump, select a model designed for heat pumps.

Seal up leaks. Caulk leaks around windows and doors, pipes, vents or electrical conduits that go through the wall, ceiling or floor. Check the bathroom, underneath the kitchen sink, pipes inside a closet, etc. If you find a gap at the point where the pipe or vents goes through the wall, seal it up. Caulk works best on small gaps.
Replace your five most used light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. These light bulbs use less energy and last up to 10 times longer.

Use light-colored, loose-weave curtains on your windows to allow the daylight to penetrate while preserving privacy.

Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.

Computers and chargers use power even when turned "off". Use a power strip w/ith a switch to turn them completely off when not in use.

Take short showers and turn off the faucet when you're brushing your teeth to save water.

Clean the lint filter in the clothes dryer after every load.

Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.

Reduce air drag by placing items inside the car or trunk instead of on roof racks. A loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel efficiency by 5%.

Activate "sleep" features on computers so they power down when not in use.

Only use air conditioning to achieve neutral temperatures. Lower temperatures use significantly more energy.

If you pull your refrigerator 10" away from the wall you will save energy.
5% of an average homes energy goes to heating water. Lower the temperature on your water heater so you don’t add cold water to shower.

Check your furnace or air conditioner filter each month. Dirty filters increase energy use.

In the summer, use fans whenever possible instead of air conditioning. Fans use considerably less energy.

As the seasons change, remember to dress appropriately for the weather so you're not using heating or air conditioning unnecessarily.

Shortening shower time by a few minutes can save hundreds of gallons of hot wate/month for a family of 4. Showers account for 2/3 of your water heating costs. Cutting your showers in half will reduce your water heating costs by up to 33 percent.

Full loads only! for the dishwasher and washing machine. Use the cold water setting on your  washing machine whenever possible. Using cold water reduces your washer's energy use by 75 %.

Clean your clothes dryer's lint trap after each use.  If you have one, use the moisture-sensing automatic drying setting on your dryer.

Many new TVs, VCRs, chargers,
computer peripherals and other electronic convenience items use electricity even when they are switched "off." Although these "standby losses" are minimal, they typically add up to over 50 watts 24/7.   If possible, unplug electronic devices and chargers that have a block-shaped transformer on the plug when they are not in use. For scanners, printers and other devices that are plugged into a power strip, switch off the power strip after shutting down your computer.

Choose ENERGY STAR® Products. Replace incandescent light bulbs with ENERGTY STAR compact fluorescent light bulbs, especially in high-use light fixtures. Compact fluorescent lights use 75% less energy than incandescent lights.

Plug your home's leaks. Install weather-stripping or caulk leaky doors and windows and install gaskets behind outlet covers. Savings up to 10 percent on energy costs.

Install low flow shower heads. Low-flow shower heads and faucets can drastically cut your hot water expenses. Savings of 10-16 % of water heating expenses.

Wrap the hot water tank with jacket insulation. This is especially valuable for older water heaters with very  little internal insulation.Leave the air intake vent uncovered when insulating a gas water heater. Savings up to 10% on water heating costs.

Choose ENERGY STAR-certified appliances. A new ENERGY STAR refrigerator uses about 20% less energy than a standard new refrigerator, and 46% less than one made in 1980. A new Energy Star® clothes washer uses nearly 50% less energy than a standard model.

Increase ceiling insulation.  Increasing your insulation to up to R-38  reduces heating costs by 5-25 %.

High-efficiency windows. If you're planning to replace your windows, choosing ENERGY STAR windows can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 15 %.

Energy Savings Calculators

These calculators allow you to focus on the energy use of a specific appliance in your home. You will learn how much you can save by installing new, energy-efficient appliances and how to operate them efficiently.


Below are Web sites from a variety of organizations that can provide information regarding energy efficiency:

Advanced Energy Corporation 

The Knowledge Library  offers great information and articles about creating an energy-efficient house.

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
   A non-profit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting both economic prosperity and environmental protection.

View the Home Energy Checklist  

Action and the Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings

Builders Challenge  This initiative, sponsored by Building America, encourages builders to construct more energy-efficient homes. This page provides a list of all builders that have committed to building these higher quality homes.

Building Science Consortium  Homeowners Resources  Provided by a Building America team leader, this site offers helpful articles geared towards energy efficiency and a higher quality home. You can also search all documents.

BuildingGreen  Lots of news stories and feature articles offered online that deal with energy efficiency in design and construction.

DSIRE  Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy—  A comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and selected federal incentives that promote renewable energy.

Do It Yourself Network  An on-air, online network that provides in-depth project instructions, easy to understand demonstrations and product tips for home and hobby enthusiasts.

DOE's Efficient Windows Collaborative Provides unbiased information on the benefits of energy-efficient windows, descriptions of how they work, and recommendations for their selection and use.

ENERGY STAR®   sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, offers product-specific information on high performance appliances and lighting for the home. You can also view information about home improvement, new homes, and tax credits for energy efficiency.

Florida Solar Energy Center This Building America team leader offers excellent technical resources, particularly on energy efficiency for hot-humid climates. See the consumer section.

Home Energy Briefs  Offered by the Rocky Mountain Institute, these nine guides describe what the average homeowner can do to save energy.

Home Energy Magazine
  Good technical information for both builders and consumers.

Home-Smart  A resource for Minnesota homeowners that provides step-by-step Basic Care guides, tutorials on How Your Home Works, and Troubleshooting on moisture and energy issues. Helpful for anyone who lives in a cold climate.

Insulation Fact Sheet and Tool This fact sheet, provided by the DOE, covers a variety of information regarding insulation. You can also access an online tool, the ZIP-Code Insulation Program,    to help determine the amount of insulation appropriate for your house based on your location.

National Energy Affordability and Accessibility Project
The Residential Energy Efficiency Database helps consumers find energy efficiency programs a utility or state offers to help save energy and money.

National Renewable Energy Lab
  This national laboratory does a wide range of work on energy efficiency-this section of their Web site focuses on the Residential Buildings Research Projects.

Oikos Green Building Source  Produced by Iris Communications, this is one of the oldest and best commercial sources of publications, products, and news on sustainable and energy-efficient construction.

Simply Insulate  Helpful information about insulation and links to information about incentives in your area. This Web site was created and is maintained by North American Insulation Manufacturers Association.

Southface Institute  A Building America partner, based in Atlanta, has great resources on sustainability and energy efficiency.

solar installation


1. How do I know what size system I'll need?

The optimal grid-connected system size takes into account your current and expected electricity consumption. The best place to start is with your past 12 months' consumption, in kilowatt-hours. This can be found on your utility bills or by calling your utility's customer service line (also on your utility bill).

The other variables that will influence the size of your system are:

    * the directional orientation of your home
    * shading
    * available roof space.

2. Can I sell power back to my utility?

Yes. This is one key factor that makes  Solar Systems so attractive. Once connected, the entire process is automatic. When your  system is generating more power than you're consuming, your meter spins backwards as it tracks the amount of power your utility company is buying from you - at full retail price. You can't go into business as a power company but you can almost always sell back enough power to cover your system costs.

3. What does a system cost?

In other states, there are different incentives. However on Long Island NY, the smallest systems can cost as little as $6,000, net of the LIPA Buy down cash rebates and tax credits.  Larger systems cost more. In general, costs for smaller systems range from $7.50 to $8.00 per watt installed, while larger systems range from $6.50 to $7.00 per watt installed.

4.  Does a solar system generate electricity when it's cloudy?

Yes. Photovoltaic solar modules are less efficient in low sun and cloudy conditions, but the output of any industrial PV module is reduced by only 5-20% of its full sun output when under cloudy conditions. Many successful installations are in areas with occasional daytime cloudiness. SUNation typically factors coastal cloudiness and its impact into your system sizing requirements.

5. Do I need southern exposure?

No. While a southern exposure is ideal, shallow pitched roofs facing east and west may be OK. SUNation takes this into account when designing a system to maximize output for your conditions.

6. How much roof space will this occupy?

The size of the system will determine how much space.  As a rule of thumb, each AC kilowatt of power production (DC power produced by the panels then converted to AC by the inverter) requires about 100 square feet of space.

7. What about batteries so I can have power during blackouts?

Batteries are an easy option to add.  This requires the batteries themselves and the use of a special inverter and power controller to handle the near-instantaneous switchover to battery power should it be required, and the charging and conditioning of the batteries.

Unfortunately, battery technology hasn't improved much and there are a few resulting penalties of choosing this option. First, is a small degradation in efficiency of the system (to charge and maintain the batteries).  Second, is the limited battery life - they typically last only ten years before needing to be replaced.  Finally, the cost of the batteries themselves is not covered under the LIPA Buy down rebate program. But if you have a critical need or want to ensure power in the case of a blackout, let us know and we can design an efficient solution to meet your needs.

8. What is the lifespan of the equipment?

Most major solar panels sold today carry a 5-year warranty for workmanship and defects and a 25-year warranty on output. The manufacturers expect their products to have a lifespan of 30+ years. DC/AC inverters typically carry a 10-year warranty and are expected to have at least a 20-year life.


Green Building Energy Efficiency Tax Deductions (Section 179D)

he Energy Policy Act of 2005 added section 179D to the Internal Revenue Code. Section 179D permits a deduction for the costs of installing certain energy efficient building systems in commercial buildings.

To claim the deduction, a taxpayer must obtain a certification of energy savings. The certification process must be performed by a qualified firm or individual that performed an on-site inspection of the building. The energy savings must be calculated using qualified software from the Treasury Department’s list of certified software programs.Staff includes engineers that are qualified and certified to perform Green Building studies.

Green Building 179D Energy Efficiency Tax Deductions

A tax deduction is available for improving the energy efficiency of existing commercial buildings or designing high efficiency into new buildings. Investments that appreciably reduce the heating, cooling, water heating, and interior lighting energy cost of new or existing commercial buildings are eligible for a tax deduction.

Overview of Green Building Study Process

    * Review specifications and determine if building qualifies
    * Site visit
    * Certified engineer performs the energy modeling and analysis
    * The study is completed and turned over to the building owner and their  financial adviser.

Audit Support

As with many tax incentives, there is a chance for an IRS audit. In the event of an audit, fees for a study include predetermined hours of audit support. We feel comfortable in providing audit support because our engineers are experienced and follow all the rules and regulations as required by the IRS. In addition we feel our studies will withstand IRS scrutiny because we follow the methodologies recommended by the IRS.

The Next Step

If you are a building owner or a CPA firm with clients that you think might qualify, let a certified engineering professional help you determine if you can take advantage of this great tax incentive and if so, maximize your deductions.

Telecommuting significantly reduces energy use and saves money.

Over the course of a year, the average American worker could save about 340 gallons of gas, more than one thousand dollars in commuting costs, and more than three tons of carbon-dioxide emissions by teleworking.

Annually, a worker with a one-way commute of twenty-two miles could save 81,000 Megajoules of energy by teleworking five days a week--which is equivalent to 50 percent of the annual energy consumption of an average household.