What the Health

Nothing beats a good food documentary to make you want to change your diet. Watching “What the Health” on Saturday night was very eye-opening and thought-provoking. Probably not a good idea to watch it while eating dinner though.
“What the Health” was directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, and produced by AUM Films and First Spark Media.

Directors Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn

What’s it about?

What the Health is the groundbreaking follow-up film from the creators of the award winning documentary Cowspiracy. The film follows intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the secret to preventing and even reversing chronic diseases – and investigates why the nation’s leading health organizations don’t want us to know about it. With heart disease and cancer the leading causes of death in America, and diabetes at an all-time high, the film reveals possibly the largest health cover-up of our time. With the help of medical doctors, researchers, and consumer advocates, What the Health exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick.

Join Kip as he tracks down the leading and most trusted American health nonprofits to find out why these groups are staying silent, despite a growing body of evidence. Audiences will be shocked to learn the insidious roles played by pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness, and processed animal food companies in the nation’s health, especially in the most vulnerable communities, and will cheer at the transformation and recovery of those who took their lives into their own hands.

What the Health is a surprising, and at times hilarious, investigative documentary that will be an eye-opener for everyone concerned about our nation’s health and how big business influences it.

Obesity rates are skyrocketing. So many people are sick, taking numerous medications daily or undergoing expensive medical operations. What’s happening to the state of public health in the U.S.?

Available on DVD ($19.95) and online ($9.99), “What the Health” will make you rethink about what you consume on a day-to-day basis. “What the Health” successfully manages to connect seemingly disparate dots linking big businesses like pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness, and processed animal food companies to what’s happening. I kept shaking my head in disbelief and outrage while watching. It’s pretty repugnant when you think how profit keeps winning over public health. It’s so unfortunate that American consumers are thrown under the bus by the very institutions they trust.

Thankfully, the documentary presented a workable solution so hope is not lost.

Disclaimer: A representative for “What the Health” contacted me to watch this documentary online for free. All opinions are my own. This post also appeared in the blog SnapHappy Foodie.

Clean with pHur

Have you heard of pHur, an organic cleaning disinfecting agent?

Water + Salt + Science became pHur’s magic formula. And thanks to painstaking, multi-year testing, it was registered as a proven disinfectant with the EPA on both Federal and State levels.

It is already making a difference in the healthcare industry, replacing multiple toxic products used in hospitals with our alkaline cleaning water and natural disinfecting water.

pHur™ Cleaning and Disinfecting Water can be shipped to doorsteps every 30 days, and in select counties, a certified pHur technician can electrostatically disinfect entire households. Both options give consumers the option to live naturally and live clean.

It’s the first cleaning agent of its kind and perfect for Winter cleaning.

If you’re tired of using those cleaning products that are chockful of chemicals, then you should check out pHur.

The pHur System Kit ($30.95 as of this post) included:

  • 16 fl.oz. Disinfectant
  • 16 fl.oz. Cleaning Water
  • 2 fl.oz. ON-THE-GO Disinfectant
  • 1 Greenspeed Original Microfiber Cloth
  • 2 Sprayer Heads (not in the picture below).

What exactly are the ingredients in each bottle?

pHur Cleaning Water is high pH alkaline cleaning water without hazardous solvents, phosphates or ammonia. There are no added scents or colored dyes. It’s safe on hard and soft surfaces, leaving no residue. The active ingredient is Sodium Hydroxide. pHur Disinfectant’s active ingredient is Hypochlorous Acid. Both Cleaning Water and Disinfectant can’t be used with acids and hydrogen peroxide.

As someone who does a lot of cooking and baking, I used pHur to clean my kitchen countertop, which really gets plenty of action. Imagine my surprise when it worked and it worked well!

Despite its organic nature, there’s a warning in the back that it should be kept out of children’s reach. A reasonable warning, if you ask me, but I looked into that and found this on their website:

If pHur isn’t harmful, why does the label say CAUTION and carry the 10-minute dwell time? pHur™ Disinfecting Water has been registered with the EPA under traditional disinfecting standards. Although contradictory to pHur’s all natural makeup of water and salt and its kill-on-contact power, our label must place traditional warnings and directions on its bottle based on the EPA’s standards for toxic, chemically-laden products. pHur™ Disinfecting Water is THE FIRST disinfecting solution to kill bacteria physically rather than chemically. We’re in desparate need of a new category within the EPA, but until then, we’ll bear the burden of the old labels.

Packaging’s recyclable, so that’s a bonus. Unfortunately, you can’t buy it elsewhere because it has a short shelf life – 30 days. It doesn’t have any preservatives that will allow it to stay in shelves for a long time. According to their website, pHur™ products are currently sold exclusively through phurwater.com to those living in AZ, CA, CO, NV, OR, TX, WA. Here’s hoping it’ll be available in the Northeast soon!

Disclaimer: A representative for pHur contacted me to review their product. I received a sample in exchange for writing a review on the blog. All opinions are my own.

Farm fun at Costales Nature Farms

Here’s an endeavor that I’m throwing my full support behind: organic and sustainable farming at Costales Nature Farms!

The Philippines with its more than 7,000 islands is best known for its gorgeous beaches. How many people go there to visit a farm? Not many, I suppose. But I read about Costales Nature Farms and it piqued my curiosity. Sustainable and organic. No pesticides and chemicals. Zero waste. How do they do it? I decided to find out.

The drive from Quezon City to Majayjay, Laguna took three hours straight via C-5 and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). The drive back to Quezon City took four hours. Whew!

Costales Nature Farms offer different tour packages (you can find it here). I managed to do the 3PM Lakbay Aral Tour (PhP260 = US$5.20). It included vegetable snacks and a guided farm tour, plus free WiFi access (which I didn’t get to use during my visit).

Before the tour began, what turned out to be “vegetable snacks” were a vegetable salad and a refreshing glass of fresh cucumber juice! The salad had lettuce, radish, carrots, cucumber and alfalfa sprouts – all grown on the farm.

Here are the photographs I took during the farm tour.

The secret behind Costales Nature Farms is best summarized in four words: Effective Microorganism Activated Solution. You’ll find out more about it when you visit. If you want to experience farm life, they offer cottages that accommodate two to twelve persons. Tip: If you’re going there, wear boots. The farm has muddy areas, of course, so traipsing around in sandals is a no-no.

I was very impressed with their organic animal farm. If you’ve ever been to a regular animal farm, then you know that most of the time, the smell isn’t really quite up to snuff (or sniff). But the piggery at Costales does not smell bad. The pigs also look lean and healthy, and they have ample room to roam. Even the chickens were walking about; one went rogue, roaming outside of its cage, but the tour guide told me that it goes back to the right cage anyway, so I shouldn’t worry.

An interesting discovery for me was magic fruit (or miracle fruit) given to me by my tour guide. She peeled a calamansi for me, told me to eat the magic fruit and then eat the calamansi. The magic fruit made the calamansi taste sweet! Amazing.

After visiting this place, I decided that a longer visit next time is definitely in order, especially since I didn’t get to eat at Apong Damian’s Organic Resto. Have you been to Costales Nature Farms?

Costales Nature Farms
Brgy. Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna
Website, Facebook

Join Stonyfield’s The Great Food Find!

STONYFIELD THE GREAT FOOD FIND Knowing where your food comes from, how it’s made, and what’s in it is definitely important these days, since that will allow you to live a healthier life. As part of its ‘Know Your Food’ campaign, Stonyfield has launched an online food hunt that will take you to various websites in search of food products to fill your virtual shopping bag with. Every time you read a clue and find the right food item, you get some interesting tidbits of information about it, too.

Apart from the fun of discovering some healthful and organic food products, what else do you get for taking part in the hunt? If you’re one of the first 50,000 people to fill up your tote, you can get great coupons from the online grocery list. You may even be the winner of the grand prize: a $15,000 kitchen makeover.

Stonyfield’s virtual scavenger hunt began yesterday, but don’t worry–you’re not too late for the party! The hunt goes on until May 21, so you have plenty of time to take part in the game and maybe even win the big prize.

Photo from PR Newswire

Vote in the 2012 Odwalla Tree Planting Program!

Odwalla Plant A TreeThe tree planting program is a yearly program of Odwalla, and this year, they’re calling on people to vote yet again for 10 tree planting projects that will receive $10,000 grants for new trees that will be planted during this year’s fall planting season. Twenty projects are in the running, each of which was nominated, and are in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. Head over to www.odwalla.com/plantatree to start voting! Voting runs through May 30.

“10 Different Fuels Actually Used to Run Cars”

(Article reprinted with permission. Original article can be found here.)

“10 Different Fuels Actually Used to Run Cars”

We have known, for quite some time, that the fossil fuels we use today are a finite source of energy; we only seem to disagree on when those sources will run dry. Alternative sources have been around for quite some time, including electric power and solar power, but none has yet supplanted dead dinosaurs. Presented here are some other fuels, some strange, some downright weird.

  1. Trick-or-Treat – University students in England tested a Formula racing car that ran on fuel made in part from waste chocolate from a Cadbury plant. No word on whether-or-not the car was eaten after testing was completed.
  2. Gobble Gobble – For turkey-lovers (Ben Franklin suggested, tongue-only-partly-in-cheek, that the turkey would make a more noble national bird than the eagle), the idea of putting a Tom into the gas tank might seem anathema, but viable fuel can be made from virtually all parts of the bird.
  3. Starbucks In the Tank – Coffee grounds, which contain a lot of oils, make a bio-fuel that is relatively cheap and clean to produce, comes from an abundant source, and, of course, makes the morning commute a much more aromatic experience.
  4. Paper or Plastic? – Both paper and plastic can be made into fuel, and each comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, though the future may show us many new ways to recycle waste products in a green manner.
  5. Blow Me Down – Wind turbines have been mounted on vehicles, and they have been used to charge batteries that then power the vehicle. This system works best for those who live in tunnel-free expanses of windy salt-flats.
  6. Mulch for the Minivan – Not as strange as it sounds, wood chips and sawdust are prime ingredients of what are called “bio-mass” fuels, which are foreseen by some as the most likely replacements for petroleum-based fuels.
  7. Styrofoam – With as many styrofoam cups as we see littering our highways, it would be a nice thing to see if economically feasible methods of converting those cups into useful fuels can be developed.
  8. Dung Beetles? – Methane gas, available in all your friendly neighborhood cow-patties, can be rendered into fuels that can run an automobile.
  9. Beans, Beans, They’re Good for Your Car – Beans, soybeans in particular, are used to make bio-fuels, and are among the few sources that show real universal promise.
  10. Lend Me Your Ears – Ears of corn, that is; ethanol is a fuel already in wide use around the globe, and can be made from crops such as corn, potatoes,sugar cane and the ever-popular manioc (known more commonly as “cassava”, one of the most-eaten sources of carbohydrates on the planet). Henry Ford was using ethanol in his Model T’s as early as 1908.

You won’t be able to run your car on tap water any time soon, but hydrogen (the “H” in H2O) is seen as a leading candidate to replace world dependency on fossil fuels. Stay tuned.

“50 Common Eco-Crimes Committed By College Students”

Here’s a reminder to college students out there.

(Article reprinted with permission. Original article can be found here.)

50 Common Eco-Crimes Committed By College Students

Most people try to be mindful of the environment, students included, but it’s not always easy to remember that almost every action we take has the potential to damage the world. College students especially have many opportunities to change their ways for the better, but for one reason or another, still continue to commit eco-crimes against nature. Read on to learn about 50 crimes you may be committing, and what you can do about it.

  1. Boiling unnecessary water: Overfilling your teakettle or boiling without a lid wastes energy and takes more time to get going.
  2. Buying new books: Instead of buying new books, it’s more eco-friendly to buy used ones, or even rent or check out books from the library instead.
  3. Throwing away pens: Cheap bulk bag pens are convenient, but wasteful. Get a refillable pen instead, and throw away just a small refill rather than an entire pen.
  4. Wasting paper: Unlimited printing at the library doesn’t mean you should go crazy — print only what you absolutely need to have on paper.
  5. Forgetting to turn off the tap: Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth or washing dishes.
  6. Recycle the way they say: Recycling doesn’t work if you don’t do it right. Remove caps, put the right item in the right bin so it can be processed correctly.
  7. Wash full loads: Load the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads instead of half or less.
  8. Writing inside the margins: You’ve probably been taught to stay neatly within the margins of your paper, but that is a wasteful practice when you’re just taking notes. Write all the way to the edge, and you may be surprised how much you can fit on each page.
  9. Dumping unwanted items: When the semester’s over and students move on, students often leave behind items that they don’t really want to take with them.
  10. Leaving your TV on in an empty room: If you’re not watching your TV or listening to the radio, turn them off.
  11. Buying more dorm stuff than necessary: Chances are, you’ll have a roommate in the dorms, and that roommate will be bringing lots of stuff with them. Instead of buying and loading up lots of your own stuff, check with your roommate to see if you can split items.
  12. Disposing electronic waste improperly: When you’re done with your laptop or cell phone, donate it or drop it in a recycling box designated for electronic waste.
  13. Forgetting to recycle: College campuses often have excellent recycling and even composting programs, but college students don’t always take advantage of them. Pay attention to what’s available, and use it.
  14. Forgetting what you have already: Remember to take inventory to avoid duplicates when you’re headed off to college.
  15. Unnecessary driving: College campuses are usually pedestrian friendly, so walk, bike, and avoid using your car unless you need to.
  16. Idling your car: Leaving the motor running when parked waiting for a friend wastes gas. It’s better to shut it off if you’ll be sitting for 10 seconds or longer.
  17. Buying notebooks: If you don’t fill your notebook each semester, you’re wasting paper. Use a refillable binder, or even a laptop instead.
  18. Buying bottled water: Buy a refillable bottle and wash it instead of buying disposable bottles.
  19. Buying cheap supplies: Buying a new backpack is wasteful — just buy a great one to start with, and you won’t have to get a new one later.
  20. Using incandescent light bulbs: If you’re renting or living in a dorm, you’re probably just going to use the bulbs provided, but switching them out for compact fluorescent light bulbs can save energy.
  21. Shipping your stuff everywhere: Instead of shipping your stuff back and forth, look into local storage options.
  22. Using disposables: It’s easy to clean up disposable plates and cups, but they’re terrible for the environment. Stick to inexpensive plates you can wash instead.
  23. Drinking bottled beer: Beer on tap doesn’t create nearly as much waste as bottled beer.
  24. Buying brand new supplies: Save your supplies from semester to semester and avoid having to buy them over again.
  25. Buying highly packaged food: Instead of buying processed foods, get fresh items that come with less packaging.
  26. Cooking with inefficient appliances: Instead of using outdated appliances, use efficient ones like microwaves and toaster ovens.
  27. Using the dryer: Invest in a clothes drying rack to hang dry your clothes instead of using the dryer.
  28. Replacing instead of upgrading: Before buying a new item, find out if you can upgrade first.
  29. Using wasteful beauty products: Look for natural and organic personal care brands to make sure your clean is really clean.
  30. Sleeping with the TV on: Set a timer for your TV to turn off once you’re asleep so it’s not on all night.
  31. Reading the school newspaper: Find out if your school’s newspaper offers an online edition instead of picking up a paper copy.
  32. Working out in the gym: Gym equipment like treadmills put out lots of carbon emissions. Save the earth while you work out by doing it outside.
  33. Don’t take more than you’ll eat: Be careful not to overly fill your plate at the cafeteria — just take what you need.
  34. Leaving your air conditioner on: College students spend lots of time out of their dorms and apartments but may not remember to program their thermostat to go down when they’re not at home.
  35. Printing on one side: There’s no excuse for printing on just one side — learn how to do double-sided printing.
  36. Leaving electronics on: Leaving on your laptop, TV, and other electronics can drain energy without you noticing it-plug your electronics into powerstrips and turn them all off at once.
  37. Eating mini packs: Pack your lunch in reusable bags instead of mini packs of chips and other items.
  38. Using paper napkins: If you’re eating fast food, chances are you’ve gotten napkins. Limit your use — you probably just need one.
  39. Spring breaking: Instead of flying to a far-flung destination, take an eco-friendly spring break trip.
  40. Forgetting to bring reusable shopping bags: Reusable bags are easy — if you actually remember to bring them to the store. Use keychain bags or ones that fold up to fit in your backpack so you won’t forget.
  41. Waiting for the hot water: Let the cool water fill up a bucket to use on your plants and other items while you’re waiting for the hot water to come in.
  42. Eating takeout: Take out is often in wasteful packaging-find restaurants that use less packaging, or just make food for yourself at home.
  43. Throwing away old clothes: Updating your wardrobe doesn’t have to mean being wasteful — donate your old clothes to a charity a homeless shelter.
  44. Letting lint build up: Whether you’re using community dryers or your own at home, always remember to clean the lint filter for a more efficient dryer.
  45. Using unnecessary kitchen items: Tin foil, plastic wrap, disposable cleaning cloths, and more can be switched for reusable items.
  46. Buying new clothing: Buy used clothing, or swap with friends to save resources and money.
  47. Paper statements: Switch to paperless billing for your bank, credit cards, utilities, and more.
  48. Driving alone: On a college campus, you should be able to find someone to share rides with — rideshare home to visit family and friends, or just go to the store together.
  49. Leaving lights on: It doesn’t have to be day-bright in your room all of the time. Dim your lights or turn them off completely unless you really need them.
  50. Throwing away paper: Students deal with lots of paper, and it’s important to dispose of it correctly. Remember to recycle instead of throwing away paper.

“2010 Cool Roofing Tax Credit: 10 Things You Need to Know”

Are you done with your taxes? If not, we’d like to share some information from our friends over at The Roofery.

(Article reprinted with permission. Original article can be found here.)

2010 Cool Roofing Tax Credit: 10 Things You Need to Know

One of the most promising Green innovations within the roofing industry of the past five or more years is the development of a wide range of roofing materials known as Cool Roofs. Not only have these roofs proved themselves to be very effective at reducing cooling loads, but certain Cool Roof products qualify for the federal consumer energy efficiency tax credit.

However, despite the clear benefits of these roofs, there is a lot of confusion surrounding exactly what products qualify for the federal tax credit. In fact, more than a few unlucky homeowners have fallen victim to roofing contractors that either didn’t fully understand what materials do and do not qualify for the credit or made claims that are not true.

Adding to the confusion, neither Energy Star nor any other federal agency has released a list of qualifying Cool Roof products. (Roofery.com has compiled a list of qualifying shingles.)

Given the cost of Cool Roofing, which can be quite substantial depending on the product, and the complexity surrounding the tax credit, homeowners need to do their homework before installing a roof. This may add a bit of work to an already time intensive process of selecting a roof and contractor, but considering the savings of the tax cut when combined with reduced energy bills, it is well worth the effort.

The following is a list of the 10 things you need to know to get the most benefit from cool roofing materials AND the largest tax credit possible.

1. What is a Cool Roof?

Cool Roofs are roofing materials–primarily metal and asphalt shingles — that are capable of reflecting significant levels of solar radiation off the roof and back into the atmosphere. So much heat is reflected that the amount of energy to cool the home is significantly reduced making the home far more energy efficient.

It is also important to note that some, but not all of these roofs use special coatings that are far more reflective than simply painting a black roof white. Simply stated, they better reflect near infrared light that is not detectable by the human eye. These coatings represent a significant leap in roofing technology and mean that a roof composed of these coatings can be any color and qualify for the tax credit.

2. How Green Are Cool Roofs?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. spends about $40 billion per year on air conditioning. This means that even a small increase in energy efficiency could net big savings. The EPA further estimates that Cool Roofs that meet Energy Star specifications (in a moment we will explain why this is not the same thing as meeting tax credit requirements) can reduce roof surface temperatures by 100 degrees. They can also reduce peak cooling demand by 10 to 15 percent per home.

However, savings depend on location. Homeowners in hot climates will achieve a greater benefit because they cool their homes more than they heat them. If you live up north, don’t despair says Hashem Akbari, a leading expert on Cool Roofs and professor of Industrial Research at Concordia University. “Nearly any place in the world where you need a mix of cooling and heating, a Cool Roof will save you money.”

To assess if a Cool Roof would benefit your home, the U.S. Department of Energy has a Cool Roof Calculator.

3. Are they Worth the Expense?

Despite the benefit, these products tend to be more expensive than standard roofing materials. According to Akbari, Cool Roof products are on average about five percent more expensive than equivalent standard materials.

However, since roofing contractors tend to markup the cost of materials, it is important to scrutinize the bids you receive in order to ensure you are not overpaying on materials. “You can have 50 percent price variation between different contractors,” says Akbari. “There is no basis for the cost, but you are at the mercy of that contractor so the best you can do is seek out a number of contractors to give you bids.”

According to James Kirby, Associate Executive Director of the National Roofing Contractors Association, Cool Roof materials will cost a bit more, but only a relatively small percentage. The additional cost, he says, will depend on the product you buy. Some higher end materials may cost more, but they also will have additional protections to the homeowner such as guaranteed longer life and durability.

Greg Malarkey, Senior Vice President of Malarkey Roofing Products, says that for the Cool Roof asphalt shingles his company produces, the specially coated granules, “Are extremely expensive, so it does affect the cost by about 25 percent.”

As to roofing contractor markups, Kirby believes that in most cases they should not be that big of an issue. He also encourages homeowners to ask for bids from a number of different contractors and take a good look at the estimated cost of materials.

4. How Does the Rebate Effect Cost?

The federal rebate is capped at $1,500 and is leveraged against one-third of the total cost of materials. Labor is not included. Therefore, when you do the math, a homeowner will miss out on receiving the full rebate if the materials cost less than $5,000.

On balance, says Kirby, when you add the savings on cooling and the tax rebate, homeowners should be able to easily make up for the additional expense.

Akbari says emphatically that with or without the rebate Cool Roofs are worth the expense. “Worth the money? Oh yes, yes. I am installing a roof right now and I am getting estimates from a number of contractors and since I am able to claim one-third of the cost of materials on my taxes and will save money through improved efficiency, it is all money in my pocket. Energy efficiency always pays,” he says.

5. What Products Qualify for the Tax Credit?

The answer to this question should be fairly straight forward, but it isn’t. There is no official list of qualified products and not all Energy Star rated Cool Roof materials qualify.

Only certain metal and asphalt Cool Roofing materials qualify for the tax credit, and each has its own unique requirements. Metal roofs must have an appropriate pigment (e.g. color) coating that meets Energy Star specifications for reflectivity.

Cool Roof asphalt shingles must meet Energy Star reflectivity requirements and include a top layer of mineral granules that have been coated with compounds that enhance reflectivity of near-infrared solar energy.

Additionally, says Malarkey, these products must maintain a minimum level of reflectance for at least three years. However, most if not all of these materials are designed to last far beyond that timeframe.

Roofery.com has compiled its own list of qualifying roofing materials, based on Energy Star ratings and the presence of a statement from the manufacturer that the materials qualify for the tax credit.

6. Why Aren’t All Cool Roofs Qualified?

It may seem that the most effective and efficient means to encourage Cool Roofs would be to simply include all Energy Star certified products in the tax credit.

Unfortunately, there are some questions as to the accuracy and effectiveness of Energy Star rated products. For example, says Sherry Hao, Administrative Manager for the Cool Roofing Rating Council (an organization that tests and rates the effectiveness of Cool Roof materials), there is concern that some of the claims by manufacturers are not accurate. “Some of our licensees believe that Energy Star is too easy to game and that there is no verification plan in place,” she says. “This is something that Energy Star is working on now–establishing verification programs for every product they rate.”

There was also the intention of Congress when they passed the tax credit to go above and beyond Energy Star ratings. “Generally speaking,” says Karen Schneider, Energy Star Website Manager, “all Energy Star products are so cost effective that most people don’t need a tax credit to be incented to purchase these products. Congress wanted to provide incentives for higher tiers of products, which includes super-efficient roofs.”

7. How Can I be Sure a Product Qualifies?

The system is anything, but straight forward so it is worth double checking.

“There are a lot of people that went with a contractor that said, ‘Oh yeah, these products qualify,’ but then they go and do their taxes only to find out the materials don’t qualify for the tax credit,” says Schneider. “People have to insist on the Manufacturer’s Certification Statement and the best way to do this is to go to the manufacturer’s website, though a good contractor would have copies available and be able to help you find it on the website.”

According to Malarkey, his company’s certification statement is easily accessible on their website–it is. They also encourage roofing contractors that work with their products to include the certification and other information to help the homeowner fill out the paperwork for the tax credit.

8. How Do I Get the Tax Credit?

The tax credit is good for qualifying home improvements made in the years 2009 and 2010 and is capped at $1,500 for both years. (This means if you claimed the full $1,500 in 2009, you can’t do it again in 2010.)

According to the IRS, homeowners must fill out and file form 5695 with their 1040 form (the credit is claimed on line 52 of the 1040 form) and include their receipts and the manufacturer’s certification statement.

Additionally, since the credit is only good for materials and not labor, it is important to get the roofing contractor to separate out the charges for these items. This, however, can be a bit tricky as many contractors do not like to break down product and labor costs.

9. How Should I get a Contractor to Itemize the Bid?

Some contractors don’t want you to know how much materials cost versus labor. However, if this is the case, move on to a contractor that is willing to provide this information upfront.

“People have to get this information from their contractor,” says Schneider. “You have to ask the contractor to provide an itemized bill and if they won’t do it then you have to rethink using that contractor. However, those that are out there doing these roofs are used to this.”

It is also important to ask for receipts and select a contractor that is certified by the manufacturer to install a particular product and by a professional organization as well. “Ask them for whatever receipts there are that cover the products they purchased and make sure you hire a certified contractor do the work,” he says. “If a contractor has been certified by us as well as manufacturers, it is more than likely they are at least aware of the paperwork that is required for the submittals and will have a better idea of what products will qualify for the credit.”

10. What about Product Warranties?

One of the most important aspects of purchasing a new roof is ensuring you have good warranties on both the materials and the installation. Cool Roofs are no different.

Energy Star requires that “Each company’s roof product warranty for reflective roof products must be equal in all material respects to the product warranty offered by the same company for comparable non-reflective roof membrane products. A company that sells only reflective roof products must offer a warranty that is equal in all material respects to the standard industry warranty for comparable non- reflective roof products.”

Malarkey notes that the warranties for their qualified Cool Roof products are the same as for their other products and range from 40 to 50 years.

11. Bonus Question: What is the Future of the Tax Credit and Cool Roof Products?

In terms of the future for these products, things look bright at the state level, but less so at the federal level. California is leading the way by mandating certain new construction to include Cool Roof materials and prescriptively requiring roofing contractors to encourage the use of these materials for their clients. California is also providing its own energy efficiency tax credits for the use of these materials.

Hawaii also has a similar requirement and Arizona and Texas are looking at ways to support Cool Roofs.

As far as the federal tax credit is concerned, the generous 2009 / 2010 tax credit has expired. The 2011 tax laws only allow you to take up to 10% of the cost of cool roofing materials (as opposed to 33%). The maximum benefit therefore is $500 — as opposed to $1,500.