Life in the USA: bonuses for garbage and solar panels for taxes
Border parking, New Year bonus on trash and solar panels due to tax.
A Ukrainian woman living in America tells the publication “Today“About the life of US citizens and compares it with Ukraine.
The types and quality of utilities, costs and features vary depending on the state in which you live. Parking rules, electricity prices, subsidies in New York will differ from the same package in Hawaii or Alaska. As they say in the USA, “All politics is local”- all politics, in our case - the communal policy, is local, that is, it depends on local foundations.
So that no one has a monopoly position, in each state, as a rule, several companies are engaged in the provision of public utilities for water supply, sewerage, electricity, gas. At first glance, everything is like ours. But most companies have long since switched to online payments, which only mail can be an alternative to. You will not find a queue of retirees in a single US bank to the only window where utility bills are paid. The company sends all the bills to each of the clients independently, and the consumer of the service should inform the service provider about the counters' performance.
By the way, one of the differences is that some companies, along with the readings of your meters, also enter the indicators of neighbors, anonymously, of course, and also the average statistical indicators of consumers by the state. So you can compare how economical you are with the consumption of resources, and this is a government tactic designed to make citizens save water, gas and electricity. With the same motivation, utility companies have different service packages that save both resources and residents' money, which is very useful when you consider that Americans on average spend about 7% of annual income on paying utility bills. Services even in the most modest apartment will cost at least $ 200 (more than UAH 5 thousand) with the minimum wage of Americans at the federal level - $ 7,25 per hour, in the states of California, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia - $ 10, $ 10 and $ 10,5 per hour respectively.
Tariffs for "communal" are regulated by the authorities of each state separately. An increase in the cost of a particular service in a particular state may be due to the fact that one of the utility companies began to suffer losses. In this case, the company writes a petition to the state authorities in order for the state to raise prices for their services, providing a report on the audit and proving that this is necessary for the continued normal functioning of the company.
One of the most expensive goods in the United States is electricity. Due to the fact that the US energy market is represented by several electricity suppliers, there is no single fixed rate in the country. So, in 2017, the average price per kilowatt-hour was $ 0,129, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration. A typical family consumes about 908 kWh per month, which means that electricity alone costs the average American more than $ 100. But there are ways to save. Most of the houses in the living rooms do not have chandeliers, because here people mostly watch TV and the lighting is too much fun.
But, again, electricity rates are largely dependent on the state — from the lowest in Idaho to exorbitant prices in New York and Hawaii. The situation is similar with natural gas. The average state price for gas per year is $ 604. Water prices also vary depending on the region. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates, the average family uses 300 gallons of water per day (1135,62 L) - enough for six people to take a bath. This luxury is worth $ 50 per month. In some southern states there is no heating. In the central - the fee for this service is much cheaper than in the north. Often in apartment buildings, central heating is used, without meters. In this case, the cost of heating will be included in the rental price. Using a gas boiler in a cold winter will cost an average of $ 100 per month.
Energy Saving: Suppliers Help Save
What benefits cost Americans the most? No, this is not a washing machine or TV. According to the US Department of Energy, the average American family spends more than $ 2200 annually for using the air conditioner and heater. Anyone who has ever visited the States will confirm: in the winter for heating or in the summer for cooling air conditioners and heaters in this country work 24 hours a day every day in the house, office, store. Especially in supermarkets, where even in summer days it is worth taking a jacket. Even in the car, the American will turn on the air conditioner rather than open the window.
Knowing this local peculiarity, the authorities unobtrusively teach the people to save with the help of special programs. I came across one of these programs when I lived in Texas - our family connected to it online on the company's website. According to the terms of the program, on certain days, during the so-called rush hour of the use of air conditioners in the city (in the summer, for example, from one to seven in the evening), while residents are at work or study, the company disconnects the dwelling from the air conditioner and heating - moreover exclusively from these services. The cost of the "outages" is later deducted from the total energy bill, on average they save $ 5-8 per day.
It was just one of many programs of the company. In general, almost all utilities in the US today have a lot of, in my opinion, useful information on how to save on various services, as well as to save nature. The topic of energy conservation is very important for the government of America. For the same purpose, authorities in many states encourage the use of solar panels. The cost of solar panels purchased by citizens for installation in the house at the end of the year can be deducted from the amount of the mandatory tax. And Americans are obliged to pay taxes on their own.
Accumulated fines - the car will be sold
In the work of parking, which in America are of two types - street along the sidewalk and on a dedicated parking lot, quickly figure out impossible. Especially if you do not travel outside of your quarter, and moreover you do not ride to another state. Recently, my friend Tanya from Baltimore (Maryland) was forced to go to dry cleaning in another area, since her home was a similar institution. Arriving at a new dry-cleaner in order to return the clothes, she left the car at the entrance and wanted to pay for the parking, but when she came closer to the machine, she realized that it was broken. Thinking that nothing terrible will happen if she just leaves the car for a couple of minutes, the girlfriend went to the dry-cleaner. It took a few minutes to take the clothes off, but when she came out she found what was called on the windshield. ticket - fine for unpaid parking.
Penalties for improper parking, for example, in New York, range from $ 46 to $ 265, with an hour's cost in the parking lot $ 27 (the most expensive payment in the US), and the national average is $ 115 (the average cost is $ 9). And to pay the fine is given 30 days. But besides the fines themselves, the offender can also wait for one of the two types of punishment. The first is wheel locks. The second type of punishment is the evacuation of cars. This type of punishment is applied to system defaulters of fines. But it is enough that you do not pay the sum of $ 110, and then the transport will be taken away. Nobody will keep your car: did not take it for three days - it will be sold at auction. And then everything is fair: the money will go to pay for your fines, and the remaining amount will, of course, be returned to you.
A couple of days later, when it was time to pick up the things, Tanya, whose whole story flew out of her head, parked in exactly the same place and remembered about the broken parking meter only near it. She had already decided to move the car to the next block with a working machine, when a tramp approached her and offered to use a coupon, which for some reason he had and which he would gladly give for “how much you don’t mind” cash or some food. The friend was surprised, but there was nothing to do - she gave the man a few dollars, put the check on the parking lot under the glass and went to get her things.
When Tanya told me this story, together we began to guess where the homeless person got a check. The most courageous assumption was that there was some kind of criminal network of homeless hackers who hacked parking meters throughout the city, took checks from there, and then sold them to people from a broken machine. Having accepted this version as true and indignant at what she let herself be divorced, my girlfriend almost immediately after our conversation with her called the city service involved in servicing parking meters. In fact, the scheme turned out to be much simpler: as the cute girl from the service center explained, the machine issues parking tickets for a certain time period. For example, if our concrete machine was a worker, it would give out for one hour. So, as the operator explained, due to the fact that the US residents are good enough people, they usually give coupons with unused time to the person who just arrived. If there are no such people nearby, then people throw away coupons, which the homeless can safely find and also share, but not for free. As for the malfunction of the machine, then, as the girl explained, it is in no way connected with the homeless.
But there are also many programs in the country designed to both make citizens use less personal transport and not use it during rush hours. For example, in some major US cities, subway parking is free on weekends. This helps to popularize public transport, save time, and free up busy city streets for at least a couple of days. Well, parking at supermarkets is always free, albeit with the restriction “For customers only”.
You can find out where it is allowed to park on the road in the USA by the color of the curb. Usually a red curb - parking and stopping are forbidden, white - you can stop and pick up or drop off passengers, yellow is intended for a short stop for the time indicated on the sign for the purpose of boarding / disembarking people, green - parking for a limited time, but blue - parking only for invalids. Color marking may vary in different states, but usually red and blue are common to all.
In America, the most common car parks are high-rise buildings without walls and roofs with a car lift, in which the owner himself drives in and puts the car on an open floor. Such car parks can accommodate up to 250 cars.
Prepare for snowfall in at least two days
The state also deals with garbage collection on the streets. And not only garbage: in the winter, when in the USA you can often see a record amount of snow, local authorities are still responsible for city roads. Due to the extremely accurate and timely weather forecast, the preparation of roads for snowfall usually begins 2 — 3 the day before they arrive. By this time, the state has time to hire a snow removal company or firms - mostly private enterprises are engaged in this business in America. Those, in turn, are engaged in cleaning the main and secondary city roads. Residents of private sectors are less fortunate - in the case of snow blockages, they should hire a snow cleaning company on their own territory or through utilities. Or remove everything yourself.
The cleaning of the main highways - the so-called arteries connecting the cities - is also assumed by the local authorities.
Of course, these and other benefits in the United States at first glance seem to be an absolute advantage. But do not forget that for all free services, smooth roads and clean streets, locals auto-pay a tax check for a round sum.
Christmas trees are exported for free
In 1895, the world's first waste sorting and recycling center was opened in New York. Even then, the United States realized that it was more profitable to recycle scrap metal than to manufacture products from primary raw materials. Today, every American produces more than four kilograms of garbage every day. Knowing this, it becomes quite obvious that the guys from the garbage companies get their money for a reason. The cost of garbage collection ranges from $ 12 — 20 per month from an apartment or house. An unusual fact is that in some cities and private garbage collection companies, a fee is charged per bag, so large packages are not just a convenience, but also a good way to save money. And in many states, such as, say, California, garbage removal from disadvantaged areas is carried out at the expense of local budgets, while residents of other areas receive such a bonus only once a year - after the Christmas holidays, when citizens go to make trees.
The Americans themselves, on the other hand, are also trying to help in every possible way in solving the problems of large quantities of garbage - in almost every house I visited, there were several containers for waste, which the United States doesn’t sort except very lazy. In houses with a garbage chute, food waste is most often disposed of, folded in one bag. In the other - that can not be sorted. Bottles and cans are usually placed in a container that is located separately. All this later makes the garbage man.
As already mentioned, in the USA almost every family is engaged in waste sorting, and on November 15, Americans usually celebrate the Day of recycling, which was established in 1997 year.
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