Archive for the ‘Energy efficient homes’ Category

Government May Help Pay for Your Home Improvements

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that it has initiated a program that could help you pay for home energy improvements. This program will grant loans, called FHA PowerSaver Loans, to credit-worthy borrowers up to $25,000 to make energy efficient improvements of their choice.

PowerSaver loans will be backed by the FHA, and up to 90% of the loan amount will be insured by FHA mortgage insurance. Lenders will be chosen to participate in the program based on commitment and ability to provide energy saving loans. Interest rates will be low and borrowers must have at least some equity in their homes, but it is not yet clear exactly how much and whether it will be a case-by-case basis.

Examples of energy efficient improvements include duct sealing, new doors and windows, water heaters, HVAC systems, solar panels, insulation and georthermal systems. It is not clear whether energy efficient appliances–such as washers and dishwashers–are included but most states have programs that provide rebates for these appliances.

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Appliance Rebates Increase for Local Residents

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

In an effort to encourage water conservation, Carlsbad residents can now take advantage of rebates for the purchase of high-efficiency clothes washers. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) has recently increased the $100 rebate to $150 due to a grant from the State Department of Water Resources.

According to the San Diego County Water Authority’s conservation website, http://www.20gallonchallenge.com, high-efficiency washers can save between 20-30 gallons of water per load. Standard top-loading machines not only use more water, but are harsher on clothing, increase drying time, use more detergent and don’t clean as well as the new models, utilizing more energy.

For a list of washers that qualify for the rebate, as well as other appliances subject to rebates, visit the MWD site at http://socalwatersmart.com or call 888-376-3314.

The California Energy Commission is ALSO providing rebates for the purchase of energy-efficiency machines, but this program has different criteria for purchase and disposal of old appliances. For more information on this program please visit http://www.cash4appliances.org or http://www.energy.ca.gov/releases/2010_releases/2010-03-09_cash4appliancesPrgm_main-release.html.

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Reversion to Simplicity

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about refocusing on priorities and reassessing what is valuable in our lives. Into this equation falls one’s home and the manner in which we live. The real estate boom of the early 2000s was all about bigger, better, more, about keeping up with the Joneses. Homes were bigger, cars were bigger; everywhere you looked there was an overwhelming focus on getting the next BIG thing.

With the economy in dire straits, the last several years have been a wake up call; millions of Americans have to face the facts: all that BIG stuff doesn’t matter. It is the quality of life that matters.

Today’s buzz words have changed from McMansions, SUVs, bling and grande lattes to more realistic terms, terms like sensible houses, green appliances, family game night, sack lunches and yes, homemade coffee. This “reversion to simplicity” has caused many companies to change the way they market their products, including home builders.

The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) reported at the end of 2009 that the median square footage of new homes dropped 9% between the third quarter of 2006 and the third quarter of last year.

KB Home, a large builder here in California, reported to USA Today at the end of last year that building smaller models helped it achieve a 62% increase in year-over-year net orders in the third quarter.

Many new construction developments are displaying smaller floorplans, complete with energy efficient appliances, solar power and drought resistant landscapes. They are also building closer to urban areas, with many new communities including multi-zoned housing tracts which incorporate businesses, eateries, shopping and parks within walking distance to homes.

Other companies have taken advantage of consumer trends. One of the best examples is the synthetic lawn industry, which really has a dual advantage: you get a zero-maintenance, great looking lawn year round AND you are saving lots of change on your water bill. Good for the environment and maintenance free….this is the new mantra for consumers.

Duane Ruth, owner of SYNLawn, a Southern California company that installs synthetic lawns for residential, business and golf courses, says that “We’ve seen year to year 50% growth in our installations with over 7,500 residential installs in So Cal so far.” Ruth says that according to studies hundreds of millions of gallons of water are saved a year by the lawns they have replaced, and “that’s millions of square feet of grass that are not being cut 32 times a year and dumped into landfills where they produce harmful methane.” For more information on synthetic lawns and their benefits please visit http://www.synlawn.com.

This new movement is not only sensible but is good for the planet. Most importantly though, it is good for our souls. It is the beginning of creating a new focus on priorities that we can pass down to our children. No matter what you do for a living, no matter where you live, you can make a big difference by embracing the reversion to simplicity. If you have more ideas on how you have or plan to simplify your life and your home, please post a comment below.

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