Archive for the ‘Financing/Energy Loans’ Category

Welcome Gundlach’s! New to GreenHomes but 100 years in Business!

January 23, 2013




It is an honor and a pleasure to welcome our latest partner Gundlach’s Plumbing & Sheet Metal to the GreenHomes America network where we can truly help fulfill their statement, “today’s technology with good old fashioned integrity.”  It is great to see our network grow in Southern California, with this new location in Bakersfield.

Gundlach’s is a plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning service provider, originating in 1900 as a plumbing repair shop.  They also provide remodeling services for bathrooms and kitchens; becoming a GreenHomes America partner, they will now include home energy retrofits, allowing homeowners to dramatically improve their home’s energy efficiency and comfort levels.

Ken Wonderly, Owner of Gundlach’s says “We feel that the home energy retrofit market is going to grow substantially over the next few years and we are very excited to be part of it”.  Too true, I can see it growing already.  Welcome aboard!

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Maine offers “PACE” loans for home energy upgrades

May 16, 2011

Good news for Mainers.  Efficiency Maine’s PACE loan program is up and running to help homeowners finance energy efficient upgrades to their homes. The PACE loans [same name, but a totally different approach than the PACE program squashed by FHFA late last year] are subsidized and offered at low-percentage rates.  The is great news with the high energy prices we’re seeing—most Maine homes are heated with oil—and the old housing stock in the state. 

For more information and to find out if you qualify, Contact Efficiency Maine today to see if you qualify.  And if you live near or between Portland or Lewiston/Auburn, call GreenHomes’ partner, Thayer Corp, at 800-649-4197 (or 207-782-4197) to schedule a home assessment and get the ball rolling.

Home Affordability: Total Cost of Ownership

January 23, 2011

As a green real estate agent, I think energy efficiency features are important.  But not for the obvious reasons.  I appreciate them because I think buyers who understand energy efficiency make for happier home owners – it helps you manage your home costs better.

For years, mortgage lenders have trained us to focus on PITI.  We figure out how much home you should buy based on Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance.  But that is only part of the picture.  For example, the Institute for Market Transformation notes that energy costs are a significantly larger aspect of a family’s monthly budget – much bigger than the taxes and insurance we base mortgage calculations on. 

So how can you make better choices and get more control over your monthly budget?  It’s time to start thinking about the Total Cost of Ownership.  Total Cost of Ownership means you factor in your mortgage, plus Transportation, Utilities and Maintenance costs. 

Today there’s no one-stop resource for evaluating Total Cost of Ownership.  But the resources are evolving fast.  Here’s a list of the best Total Cost of Ownership resources right now:


  • Abogo (as in “abode” + go) helps you see the transportation costs associated with one address vs. another
  • Look for the Walkscore badge on more and more listings for sale; or, visit the site to enter an address and see how walkable it is and what the public transit options look like


  • A home energy makeover, like the retrofits GreenHomes America is known for, is a great investment that will cut your monthly costs
  • If you are shopping for a home, ask for the utility bills over the past 13 months and background details on retrofit work done, and the results of any before and after testing


  • Condo associations have performed Reserves Studies for years.  Homeowners can use the same approach.  A reserve study considers how old the key systems in your home are, how long you can expect them to last, and helps you budget funds to proactively replace or update them as needed.
  • A good home inspection, combined with a home energy assessment is a great tool to create your own home maintenance plan. 

So start thinking about  Total Cost of Ownership for a better way to enjoy your home and manage your family budget.

Laura Reedy Stukel is an EcoBroker Certified real estate agent and nationally recognized consultant, writer and speaker on home energy efficiency.  She is a market transformation expert, focused at accelerating home retrofits at key real estate leverage points.  Her work is unique, focused on energy efficiency projects fueled by the power of consumer choiceSM.

FHFA doesn’t like PACE, but nobody can argue against home energy efficiency upgrades.

August 10, 2010

Everyone’s talking about PACE, but what does it all mean?

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which regulates secondary mortgage giants Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks, released a statement slamming PACE loans.

PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs are county or municipality based schemes offering homeowners loans to improve energy-efficiency of their home or equip their properties with photovoltaic solar panels. PACE loans are held as a lien against the property, and are repaid in the form of increased property tax payments over many years.

FHFA doesn’t like PACE loans because property tax assessments get first dibs in the case of default. This means if a property is foreclosed upon the county or municipality gets its money back first, and the mortgage holder gets whatever is left. Given that photovoltaic solar arrays commonly cost in the range of ~$20,000, we’re not talking about pocket change here.

What does this mean for your home energy efficiency plans? For most of us, nothing at all.

The fact of the matter is that in many locations taking simple steps like ensuring your home is properly sealed and insulated can save more energy than you could generate using an expensive solar array, and such home improvements are eligible for a Federal Tax Credit of up to $1,500.  As designed, PACE loans would be helpful (if they were permitted) for many homeowners, but many projects wouldn’t have qualified, especially those that focus on non-energy benefits like improving comfort or the safety of the home.

The Federal Tax Credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency provides a tax credit of 30% of the cost of energy efficiency upgrades up to $1,500. The only caveat… the program expires on December 31, 2010.

So what are you waiting for?

Save money on the purchase and installation of home improvements, save money on your heating and cooling bills for years to come, improve the comfort and safety and your home, and help protect the environment as well. It’s a win, win, win, win–quadruple win!–situation.

Energy-efficiency tax credit and green jobs stories on NPR

May 12, 2009

There were a couple of stories of interest on NPR’s Morning Edition today.  The first was a quick story on the tax credit (with a minor factual error regarding the credit on HVAC installations).  This is much along the lines of what we’ve discussed here earlier

There was also a related story on Green Jobs, which parallels the GreenHomes experience as we expand into new states and locations.


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