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Green Architect

(Welcome back Rachel, who's trying out for our Green Architect column. This is her second post. Comment away!)
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We all know by now that installing energy efficient appliances will save you money down the road. Just by replacing an old clothes washer with one that is Energy Star rated can save you over $135 a year. But did you know there are other ways in which going green can add to your wallet? From the federal government to your local bank, opportunity awaits. First, let’s see what Obama has to offer...

The stimulus bill has something for everyone looking to green their home. If you want to make your home more energy efficient by replacing those leaky windows, the government wants to help. They are offering a tax credit for 30% of the purchase price of new doors, windows and skylights, up to $1,500. That also applies to insulation, roofing material and heating and cooling equipment. Just make sure they meet specified ratings in order to qualify. If you decide to invest in renewable energy such as photovoltaic panels, solar water heaters or a small wind turbine, you again qualify for a tax credit for 30% of the total cost (including labor) but this time there’s absolutely no limit.

In addition to tax credits, utility companies are offering their own rebates on energy efficient appliances and fixtures. Some will even pick up your old one for free. For example, in Los Angeles, the Department of Water and Power will give you a $65 rebate when you purchase an Energy Star rated refrigerator, an additional $35 to have them pick up your old one and they’ll throw in six free compact fluorescent bulbs.

If you find that the tax credits and rebates aren’t quite enough, banks are now offering reduced interest rates for green home improvement loans. Now, let’s say you got your green loan, some money from Uncle Sam and some cash back from your utility company. There’s more. Now that your new energy efficient appliances are installed and you’ve replaced those leaky windows, you’re starting to see a drop in your energy bills. Did you know there is a direct resale correlation to those savings? Real estate appraisers are saying that every $1 decrease in energy bills results in a $10-$25 increase in a home’s selling price. For example, if you’re annual energy savings amount to $1,200, that can translate to a $12,000-$30,000 increase in your home’s value.

Improving your home’s energy efficiency pays off in so many ways. Not only do you lower your energy bills, the government will cover a good portion of the initial costs. Even utility companies and banks want to help. Further down the road we may even find it possible to pay off retrofits through property taxes. That means the cost of the upgrades will stay with the home and not your credit line.

-Rachel

Rachel's First Post:

Three Green Innovations For Your Home

Image: Marvin Rand and Darcy Hemley via this Green Style