Diamond Certified Blog

Driving the Zeitgeist: Why it’s Time to Consider Buying an Electric Vehicle

Thanks to ongoing technological innovation, the electric vehicle has become a viable alternative to conventional means of transportation. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2016)

Thanks to ongoing technological innovation, the electric vehicle has become a viable alternative to conventional means of transportation. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2016)

Electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way during the past decade, thanks to automakers like Tesla and Nissan making continual advancements in efficiency and capability. Unlike hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius, which revert to a gasoline engine after the electric battery is depleted, EVs don’t rely on fossil fuels at all, which is why innovation has been so crucial in making them viable for commuter use. As range capabilities rise in excess of 100 miles per charge and public recharging stations continue to sprout up across the metropolitan landscape, there’s no doubting that EVs are more practical today than ever before. What’s more, they offer the following advantages:

Zero emissions
An electric vehicle represents the ultimate eco-friendly means of automotive transportation, allowing you to get where you need to go without contributing to ozone depletion. Plus, no emissions means no more smog checks!

Zero gas
If you’ve driven a gas-powered vehicle for most of your life, you’re familiar with the “pain at the pump” that sets in when fuel prices spike. By doing away with reliance on fossil fuels, an EV lets you avoid this altogether. While charging an electric car isn’t free, it’s substantially cheaper than the price of gasoline and will likely continue to be.

Owning an electric car means no more pain at the pump! Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2016)

Owning an electric car means no more pain at the pump! Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2016)

Less maintenance
Since EVs don’t have fuel combustion engines, you can say goodbye to oil changes and other associated maintenance steps. In most cases, the only maintenance that needs to be done prior to your first major service interval is a tire rotation.

HOV lane privileges
In California, EVs are eligible for single occupant access to HOV (carpool) lanes. To take advantage of this, drivers must first obtain a Clean Air Vehicle (CAV) sticker from the DMV.

 Parking perks
For the most part, EVs tend to be fairly compact, which makes parking less of a challenge in congested urban areas like San Francisco. Furthermore, driving an electric car can save you money on parking. In Sacramento, EVs are eligible for free parking and recharging in designated spaces, while in San Jose, they can park for free at downtown garages, on-street metered spaces and regional parks. Keep in mind that owners must first register their vehicles with the city.

Financial incentives
Over the last five years, government programs like the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) have provided financial incentives for California drivers to purchase hybrid and electric vehicles. Also, individuals who purchase clean power vehicles are currently eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 (depending on the size of the vehicle’s battery pack).

Here’s the catch: At the moment, most of these incentives are either on hold or nearing expiration. Currently, CVRP funding has been exhausted, so rebate seekers are being put on a waiting list while the state legislature decides whether to extend funding for the program. Meanwhile, the federal income tax credit is set to phase out gradually in conjunction with the number of EVs sold. While this number has yet to be reached, it’s not far off, so if you want that tax credit, there’s no time like the present to make your electric vehicle purchase.

To find an EV dealer in your area, visit www.diamondcertified.org.

 

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Video: Financing Your Solar Installation with PACE

Earlier this week, we posted an article featuring expert tips about residential solar. One tip mentioned a recent financing program available to California homeowners called Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE. To learn more about PACE and its benefits, watch this informative video by Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Randy Zechman of Clean Solar, Inc.

To learn more about solar power and other topics, visit our Diamond Certified Expert Reports at experts.diamondcertified.org.

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Diamond Certified Experts: Residential Solar Basics

Despite the prevalence of solar power, many Bay Area homeowners still aren’t sure how to take advantage of it. Photo: Freedom Solar, Inc. (2016)

Despite the prevalence of solar power, many Bay Area homeowners still aren’t sure how to take advantage of it. Photo: Freedom Solar, Inc. (2016)

Not long ago, solar power was a fringe technology whose viability as a widespread energy source remained in question. Flash forward a couple of decades to today, where solar panels can be seen mounted on rooftops and hillsides throughout the Bay Area and beyond. However, while Bay Area residents have become well-acquainted with the concept of solar power, many still don’t know how to incorporate this revolutionary technology into their own lives. To learn more, we’ve asked seven Diamond Certified Expert Contributors to shed some light on the basics of residential solar.

Determining whether solar is worthwhile for you
Everyone knows solar power works, but the question on most homeowners’ minds is whether it will work for them. According to Christina Danenhower of The Solar Company, there are a few factors that go into determining this, one of which is the amount of sunlight your home receives during the day. Continue reading “Diamond Certified Experts: Residential Solar Basics” »

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Savvy Consumer Tip: Trees & Privacy

If you want more privacy at your home, consider the benefits of adding trees to your property.

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Low-Impact Floors, Part 2: Recycled Flooring Options

Photo: Baila Floors (2016)

By cutting down on both landfill waste and resource consumption, recycled flooring is as Green as it gets. Photo: Baila Floors (2016)

In the previous installment of our “Low-Impact Floors” series, we talked about flooring made from sustainably sourced materials. In this second half, we’ll cover an even more eco-friendly option: recycled flooring. If sustainable flooring ensures that harvesting and manufacturing are performed in an ecologically sound manner, recycled flooring takes things a step further by eschewing the consumption of new materials in favor of reusing existing ones. Here are a few of the top recycled flooring options: Continue reading “Low-Impact Floors, Part 2: Recycled Flooring Options” »

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Tip Sheet: Readying Your Home for Labor Day Entertaining

Photo: Hansen Landscape Contractor (2016)

A well-maintained outdoor living space creates the perfect setting for a Labor Day weekend get-together. Photo: Hansen Landscape Contractor (2016)

Labor Day is just around the corner, and if you’re like most people, you already have plans for how you’re going to spend the three-day weekend. If those plans include having friends and family over, you’ll need to make sure your home is in suitable condition to receive guests. Here are five quick things you can do to get ready:

1. Clean your living room. Expelling the clutter that has accumulated in your living room can be a daunting task, so it’s best to take a systematic approach. Begin at the top of the room (removing cobwebs and dusting high shelves, for example) and work your way downward—this will help you avoid having to redo things like floor cleaning. Continue reading “Tip Sheet: Readying Your Home for Labor Day Entertaining” »

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Low-Impact Floors, Part 1: Sustainable Flooring Options

Installing an environmentally-friendly flooring product is a great way to help the planet. Photo: Elegant Floors (2016)

Installing an environmentally-friendly flooring product is a great way to help the planet. Photo: Elegant Floors (2016)

Flooring is a major part of any home—not only does it provide a surface to walk on, it’s also a focal point of interior design. While homeowners were once limited in their flooring options, today there are countless choices available, including a diverse array of both natural and synthetic materials. However, since every home needs floors, it’s easy to see how the materials needed to manufacture them can have an impact on the environment. That’s why many Bay Area homeowners are interested in eco-friendly options that allow them to walk on their floors without leaving an oversized carbon footprint. Continue reading “Low-Impact Floors, Part 1: Sustainable Flooring Options” »

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Video: How to Jumpstart Your Car

Earlier this week, we posted an article featuring expert tips on what to do in a vehicle emergency. One tip in particular talked about correct and safe procedure for jumpstarting a car with a dead battery. For a full demonstration on how to properly jumpstart a car, watch this informative video by Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Snehal Shah of Auto Techies.

Continue reading “Video: How to Jumpstart Your Car” »

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Diamond Certified Experts: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency

You may not be able to predict a vehicle emergency, but with proactive measures and knowledge, you can be prepared when it happens. Photo: Ramirez Tow (2016)

You may not be able to predict a vehicle emergency, but with proactive measures and knowledge, you can be prepared when it happens. Photo: Ramirez Tow (2016)

Nine times out of 10, driving is as simple as getting from point A to point B, but every so often, things don’t go according to plan. Whether a minor collision, a mechanical failure or a dead battery, vehicle emergencies are an inevitable part of driving, so it’s important to be prepared. To gain insight on how to do this, we’ve asked five Diamond Certified Expert Contributors to weigh in on some common scenarios. Continue reading “Diamond Certified Experts: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency” »

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Five Steps for Negotiating a Speedy Partial Refund

Have you ever hired a service provider to perform a repair and found that while certain elements of the performance were acceptable, other elements weren’t performed correctly? Here are some tips for speaking with the manager/owner to request a partial refund.

1. Prepare your mind
Be rational when asking for a partial refund—it shows the other party that you’re realistic and makes an implicit promise that a speedy fix is within sight. Separate what you know to be true (the service contract, industry requirements) from what you believe to be true (your subjective assessment and intuition).

2. Temper your approach
Try to gradually escalate pressure in your tone, language and body language. In order to achieve this, you have to be deliberately relaxed in the beginning. Breathe and be cordial. State what your expectations were before work began and clearly explain where they fell short. Continue reading “Five Steps for Negotiating a Speedy Partial Refund” »

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