Disconnect notices have risen sharply, indicating stress on more households.=========
By the way ----- HURRY
The Energy Trust of Oregon, the State of Oregon, and the U.S. Government would like you to install a solar hot water heater --- so much so that they will give you a TON of help to do so. They want to help you lose less power and save money on your bills --- and shouldn't you want that too?
In a suitable sunny location for a typical smaller-family household system in Oregon, costing between $8100 to $8500, you can conservatively expect to cut your hot water bills 50% or more. In return, Energy Trust will give you a cash rebate of approximately $1000, the State will give you a tax credit of $1500, and Uncle Sugar will kick in $2,000 (system must be installed before 12/31/08 for the federal tax credit).
A tax credit is not a deduction --- it's a dollar for dollar credit against taxes owed.
So, even if you don't have the money in savings and you can't borrow from family, you can probably go to your local credit union, borrow $8500, get the system installed, and pay back $4500 of the loan early in 2009, and then you can make monthly payments on the loan, in large part by using the money saved on hot water.
The cost of power is only going up --- pretty much straight up from here. You'd be crazy not to investigate this option right now, before these tax credits disappear in four months. There are some restrictions and you have to use an approved installer from a state-certified list, so you need to anticipate that their phones will be ringing off the hook soon as the credits get ready to expire. So don't miss out --- grab your share of the incentives now, and help reduce your exposure to rising utility costs forever.