Hey Mr. Green,
I really want to use solar energy for heating and cooling. How can I get advice about that? I'd also like to know if there's a local place to recycle an unwanted computer.
--Linda in Rimrock, Arizona
I get more questions per capita from North Carolina and Arizona than from any other states. I attribute North Carolina's curiosity to Research Triangle spillover and Arizona's to the desire to harness all that sun power, a growing appreciation of desert ecology, and an undeniable need for water conservation.
Now back to your inquiries after that informative digression . . .
The best way to figure out what steps to take with a solar installation is to talk to a reputable local dealer. But I strongly recommend doing some research first so you'll be armed with intelligent questions about power needs, costs, rebates, tax credits, and so forth.
For solar electric panels, click here. For solar water heating, read the EPA's advice here. For advice specific to Arizona, try azsolarcenter.org and your local utility.
But, as I've mentioned many times, the best and cheapest way to save energy is to reduce your use.
For recycling just about anything, go to earth911.com, click on whatever it is you want to get rid of, type in your address, and voila! It shows you the nearest recycler. If a gadget isn't too aged and is in decent condition, you can also track down organizations that accept computers as donations.
Although it lists more than 100,000 recyclers, Earth911.com can't guarantee that they're all safe or ethical. So to learn more about a particular recycler, check with the International Association of Electronics Recyclers (iaer.org/search) or the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (isri.org).