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February 29, 2012

A Spring-like February

The skies are clear and beautifully blue. The temperature has been reaching a high of 70 degrees on some days. You'd think it was spring. It's not. It's February. Spring is still a month away.

It might be hard to see in this picture, but if you look closely you'll see the black and yellow marbled pattern of a northern box turtle. They dig deep into the soil to keep their bodies from freezing while they sleep during the cold winter months. But as you can see, this little guy is under very shallow cover. This means that this particular turtle is about to emerge for the spring. He may already have done so as the surrounding soil seems a bit loose.

And, naturally during springtime, the wood frogs emerge from their leaf and soil cover to create an enormous racket. I was making my way to a nearby stream at the sanctuary when I came across these guys calling out for potential mates already. But it's not springtime. It's February.

Here's a look at what was just over the hill:

Amazing. All this springtime activity in February - which is traditionally the coldest, snowiest month of the year - makes you wonder what the rest of the year will look like.

February 28, 2012

Energy Efficiency Can Lower Your Tax Bill

According to the Pacific Daily News, homeowners who made energy efficient upgrades to their homes can claim an energy efficient credit to offset some of the costs related to the purchase of energy efficient equipment and appliances.

"Congress wanted people to invest in energy saving equipment for their home. Up to 30% of the cost is covered by the tax credit," said Joe Arnett, partner for tax services at Deloitte and Touche LLC.

The nonrefundable credit is available for individuals who installed alternative energy equipment in their principal residence.

"Nonrefundable means you can't use the credit and create a refund, but you can use it to offset any tax you do owe," Arnette said. Also, if there is an excess amount the tax filter can claim, it can be carried over and used next tax year.

"There is a limit to claim, based on your tax liability," Arnett said.

The credit is available for the cost of solar water heaters, solar electricity equipment, qualified small wind energy property, geothermal heat pumps and fuel cell plants, according to the Internal Revenue Service web site.

The qualifying equipment must be installed and in use before Jan. 1, 2017, Arnett said.

The credit also is available for condominium owners.

"So even people who live in condos can claim this credit, based upon the percentage of cost that is allocated to them."

"It's recommended that tax filers who wish to claim the tax credit keep receipts of their purchases to prove elegibility."

Another great reason to "go green."


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