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Get Powered Up! Certified Energy Manager Jeff Yago answers your alternative energy questions

Wondering about a great new energy-saving device
you found on the Internet? Then CLICK HERE!

Sorry. Jeff no longer answers questions online.
This will remain as a searchable
resource for all BHM website visitors.

Archive for the ‘Credits / Rebates / Vouchers’ Category


EPA Woodstoves vouchers

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Dear Jeff,

I was in the hardware store last week, and was speaking to the owner about the wood and pellet stoves he had on display. I told him I had an old Franklin stove in my bedroom that I wanted to replace with a propane stove, as it gets too hot in the room once the fire is lit, and a propane stove can be turned off, where the Franklin stove, once lit, could not.

He told me to hold off on buying a new anything because the Salt River Project in St Johns, AZ. (the local power plant about 6 miles away) was going to give out vouchers towards the purchase of a new stove, and my Franklin stove would qualify as one that could be replaced with an EPA approved model.

Try as I might, I was and am unable to find anything online about this new program, and was wondering if you knew anything about it, and if not, then perhaps it may be something you might want to research for the BHM readers.

Thanks for your time, I look forward to hearing you response.


Len Torney
St Johns, AZ


I am not aware of any national EPA programs.  This sounds like a local program funded by your utility, and they just require the EPA rating as a way to set the quality of the stoves they will help purchase.

It’s not unusual for utilities that are facing power demands higher than they can provide to offer credits or rebates to customers to help lower their energy usage.

The alternative is for them to build another 10 billion dollar plant and they usually find it is more cost effective to just lower their peak demand.  Virginia Power here supplying Virginia always has excess capacity, regardless of demand, so they never have offered any programs like this as they don’t need to reduce demand.  Some utilities in California offer rebates like this to install solar systems.

Hope this helps,

Jeff Yago

Thanks Jeff,

I did some in-depth searching and found out it was part of a settlement between the local power plant here where I live and the EPA. I appreciate your efforts, and sorry to send you on a wild goose chase.

Thanks again,

Len Torney


Book on solar power

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Hi Jeff,

I’m a long-time fan of BHM and your articles.

Please advise, is there one single book out there that will best explain to a middle-aged single gal how best to go solar powered at home? I don’t have the large sums to spend on big systems, but a smaller project, perhaps, or a system in steps?

I know you get tax credits but I don’t have the cash flow upfront to spend, let alone to wait for the rebate or credit. What can people with no mechanical skills and modest means do to get the benefits of solar power other than making ‘sun tea’?


PJ in Hillsboro, OR


I am going to help you feel better about yourself and what you are wanting to do. I would bet over 75% of the initial phone calls and email I receive from potential solar clients are women. Yes, most are married, but they seem to be driving this effort in their household and are very aware of what is involved. I would also point-out that our two most recent totally off-grid solar projects were for a single middle-aged women and a 84 year old widow, both living by themself. Both were very capable and very much into solar. You will also find that a good solar dealer can design a system with a reduced solar array to keep down initial costs, but have the wiring there to add more solar modules later in several stages which avoids having to finance a larger up-front system cost.

Please see the Jan/Feb, 2009 issue of Backwoods Home magazine as it will include a book review on a solar text I am recommending, plus an article describing the new solar tax credits includes several financing methods.

Good Luck!

Jeff Yago


Grants for solar

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Where might I find information about free grants to install solar panels or an inexpensive way to finance the installation of the solar panels?


Misty Brice


I receive many emails like this and you will not like my answer. Solar is expensive, and some countries like Germany provide very heavy “buy downs” to make it affordable there. Some states like California and New Jersey have their own version of solar rebates, and some utilities that are having problems meeting higher demands are even offering some form of solar rebates.

Unfortunately, although most of these started with very good intentions, after a few years they become so plugged up with added forms, additional inspections, insurance requirements, and more overhead that most installers just raise their prices to a level that totally offsets any price reduction benefit.

I believe the market will adjust supply with demand and establish a fair pricing level for all, but again, this is hard to do when some areas of the international market is not playing by the same rules.

There is some form of “Energy Office” in every state and they would be able to help you if there are grants available where you live. I suggest staying away from those out there promising to “Lease” or some other form of time payments, as most of these are tax related arrangements that heavily favor them, not you.

For example, in these third party arrangements, the “leasor” could lease a solar system that is installed on your house, you pay them a big cash down payment and so much a month,then they default at the bank where they borrowed the money to buy the solar system, then the bank sends somebody to your house and rips it off your roof, and sometimes they are not too concerned about plugging any holes they leave behind.

If you can’t afford solar then perhaps you should not buy at this time.  As an alternative, many solar systems are “modular” and if you start with the right basic hardware, you can add the more expensive solar modules a few at a time as you have the funds.

Good luck,

Jeff Yago



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