If you are looking for a home on a golf course or on the water, you'll find that both locations are ideally suited for using solar power. The sun reflecting off the water increases the amount of light and heat given off and both locations are open to allow light shine in. And golf courses on mountain tops and on the desert in areas such as Palm Springs and Phoenix are ideal for taking advantage of the sun.
This morning's New York Times reports on a German company that is expanding its solar panel producing capacity at its plant in in the heart of Oregon's “Silicon Forest," a growing that has attracted many wind and solar companies. What's remarkable is the company started its buildup right as the markets and economies were collapsing last October.
Germany is at the same latitude as southern Alaska, but that hasn't stopped the country from pushing ahead with solar. The country has more than three times the number of solar panels installed than the U.S., according to the article. And the U.S. lags in production, generating only 5 percent of the world market.
But things may be beginning to change. U.S. installations should begin to surge with the addition of Federal tax credits for installing alternative energy: homeowners can expect to deduct up to 30% of the cost of installation. And the cap on the amount of money you are allowed to deduct was lifted in the stimulus bill.
So if you are thinking about refinancing your mortgage, now would be an excellent time to put some of the cash you receive toward alternative energy whether it is solar, double-paned windows, insulation or simply sealing up the gaps in windows and doors.
For a summary of all the different kinds of improvements you can do and what the government will cover, check out this summary from Energy Star.