June 27 2011|08.00 AM UTC

Samantha Eckles

Going Green: Will It Save Your Money or Just the Trees?

Category: SavingsTags: , , , , , ,

The clean energy business is a field that emerged from President Jimmy Carter’s administration. In the past, its urgency was tightly bound to the fluctuations of black gold on the international market. Today, we feel that clean energy is a serious candidate in replacing oil and natural gas as our main sources of energy. But is clean energy just about the environment or will it also be able to boost our staggering economy?

President Barack Obama’s inaugural address contained a lot of promises: doubling alternative energy production in the next three years, updating and expanding the nation’s infrastructure, saving billions of dollars in energy costs through improved energy efficiency. The facts are speaking for themselves though. According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, between 1998 and 2007, jobs in the clean energy economy grew at a national rate of 9.1 percent. On the other hand, traditional jobs grew by only 3.1 percent.

With that job growth, it does seem like clean energy can help the economy. Even federal and state lawmakers see this sector as very promising. They are planning to infuse a massive amount of funds into the economy of every single state through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

However, it’s not just the economy that can benefit from clean energy. Even households can save money by using clean energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an average American household used about 10,656-kilowatt hours per year in 2001. On average, about 30% of that was used to heat water, which will get slashed off your bill if you have a thermal solar system.

While solar panels can be costly upfront, they will pay for themselves over time with the amount you save on your energy bill. On top of that, many states offer grants to incentivize households to install them. For example, Wyoming residents can get $3000 or half the cost of the system.

Also, under the Solar Federal Tax Credit, you now have until December 31, 2011 to start a solar power project and apply for tax credits that will allow you to get 30% of your installation costs.

Some states also allow for net metering. This means that you can receive retail credit for all the energy produced in excess by your system.

As our country moves more towards clean energy, now could be the ideal time to invest in some yourself. After all, who wouldn’t want to stop sending checks to their Energy Company and start receiving them?

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