Posts Tagged ‘home star’

Energy Efficient Tax Credits For 2011 and 2012

March 20, 2012

It’s that time of year again, and although we have written about Energy Efficiency tax credits for 2011 before, if you had work done this past year, it might be time to review.  You can also go to our learning center for solutions to common problems we fix in homes just like yours, as well as links to our franchise locations; they can provide details about incentives available in their area.

Many of the federal tax credits ended in 2011, but not all of them.  What will continue for 2012, are credits for some renewable energy systems.  Solar water heating and photovoltaic systems, small wind systems, and geothermal heat pumps, are all eligible measures through 2016.  If you are thinking of alternatives, consider our interactive online home to get a better sense of whether or not these types of improvements are really what you need this year.

Alternative energy systems can be expensive, and it often makes the most sense to install them in homes that are very efficient from the start.  You might be surprised by what some simple measures can save you money.  Tax credit or not, insulation, air sealing and efficient heating and hot water systems can pay for themselves in short order.  Simple measures that cost less and save you more!



Summary of 2011 Home Energy Improvement Tax Credit Now Available

January 5, 2011

As noted earlier, the federal energy efficiency tax credit has been extended through 2011, but the federal government has significantly changed the credit limits and eligibility requirements.  And we’ve been getting a lot of questions about this.  So let’s try to clarify things.  Here’s how it looks in 2011.

For measures installed between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011, the credit is generally 10% of costs on qualifying energy efficiency improvement measures, up to a maximum of $500.  However, special limits have been put on certain qualifying equipment and measures.  For example:

  • 10% up to $500 for insulation, roofs, and doors
  • High efficiency furnaces and boilers – $150
  • Air-Conditioners and  heat pumps – $300
  • Main air circulating fans – $50
  • ENERGY STAR Windows – 10% capped at $200
  • Energy efficient water heaters – $300

The $500 cap will apply to anyone who received the credit from Jan. 1, 2005 to present. Thus, if you’ve claimAsk your GreenHomes Advisor for information of the 2011 Tax Creditsed a cumulative credit of $500 or more since Jan. 1, 2005, you won’t be eligible for the 2011 extension.  If you’ve claimed less than $500 cumulatively, you are eligible for the difference with qualifying measures.  Check out our more complete summary of the 2011 credits and FAQ for further details.

Certain renewable energy tax credits for solar PV, solar hot water, and geothermal, for example, remain in place at 30% of cost, with no cap.

[Note: 2009-2010 tax filers, the 2010 tax credit information is still available—don’t forget to claim any credits you’re eligible for when you file your 2010 tax return.]


New homes “can” be energy efficient–but you don’t have to buy a new home to lower your bills!

October 26, 2010

According to a NY Times article, home builders can build more efficient homes than they used to.  Go figure! 

“Rapid advances in building technologies and appliances have made it easier to build more energy-efficient homes, but builders are only just beginning to promote the savings for consumers, said Liz Verna, the president-elect of the Home Builders Association of Connecticut, and developer of the Willows, a 65-house development in Wallingford.”

Of course, they could have been building more efficient homes for decades.  Now builders and developers would like you to buy a new home to replace your less efficient home.  Sure, you can do that if you’d like to.  However, “new” doesn’t automatically mean “energy-efficient”.  We fix a lot of newer homes.  And a good assessment of your current home, combined with quality energy and money savings improvements, can make your home perform as well as most newly built homes.  This is the “home performance” approach being touted by EPA, DOE, and many state and local programs.  And the approach that’s transformed so many of our customers homes.

You don’t have to build a new home to save money!


Contracting Business Article Cites Clear Thinking in Support of Home Star

September 4, 2010

A Contracting Business article this week, quotes heavily a letter from The Linc Group CEO Tracy Price in support of Home Star.  Tracy very effectively counters short-sighted trade association ACCA opposition to the pending Home Star legislation.  Home Star, supported by of coalition of almost 3,000 companies and organizations nationally from manufacturers and labor groups to small contractors and environmental groups, would provide up to $6 Billion to create U.S. jobs and make home more energy efficient.   ACCA, late to the game and with the finesse of a bull in china shop, supports the basic concept, but would risk killing the program with an argument against high quality standards intended to deliver results and protect taxpayer dollars.  Click here to read Tracy’s full letter.

Whether the Senate has the ability to get the legislation passed—it passed the House in May—remains to be seen.  As mentioned a month ago, we have the technology and ability in this country to make our homes much more energy efficient, increasing our energy security, creating good local jobs, and improving national and home economics.  What is unclear is whether we have the leadership and political will to make it happen.  What do you think?

Reduce your Risk – Hire a BPI Gold Star Accredited Contractor

August 5, 2010

Chances are good that you, or someone you know, have had a bad experience with a home improvement contractor. We’ve all heard stories of shoddy workmanship, inflated costs and projects completed late—or not at all. Homeowners need protection. So do the good contractors.

Improving the energy efficiency, durability, comfort, health and safety of your home is a great investment, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you choose a home performance contractor, someone with specialist training and skills.

That’s where we come in. The Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI) is the national standards development and credentialing organization for contractors that offer those specialist skills. We set the standards they have to meet, then certify individuals that prove their ability to conduct whole-home energy and safety assessments, seal air leaks, install insulation or fine-tune your furnace or air conditioner.

The highest level you can find when you’re researching a home performance contractor is a BPI Gold Star Accredited Contracting Company. Not only do these companies employ those certified professionals that have proven that their skills meet our national standards, they also offer you something almost unheard of in the contracting world—a formal Quality Assurance Program.

Each and every BPI Gold Star Accredited Contracting Company in the United States is required to participate in our national Quality Assurance Program. Contractors must conduct tests on your home before they start and after they’ve finished the job to make sure it was done right. They have to fix any problems identified during the test-out phase and have you, the customer, sign off that you are satisfied with the work. In the case of a disagreement, contractors must also have a formal conflict resolution policy.

At the end of your project, they submit a report that includes your sign off that you’re satisfied. BPI audits all the paperwork and also conducts periodic inspections on the company’s work throughout the year just to make sure they’re batting 1,000 (or as close as possible).

It is this commitment to quality that sets BPI Gold Star Accredited Contractors apart. That is why BPI Accreditation is a prerequisite for contractors participating in funded energy efficiency incentive programs in states like New York, New Jersey and, soon, California.

When you choose a BPI Gold Star Accredited Contracting Company, you know you will get quality work, lower energy bills, enhanced comfort and improved durability without ever risking the health and safety of your family.

How’s that for homeowner protection?

Larry Zarker is the CEO of the Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI), an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to the improvement of home performance via affiliate training, certification, accreditation and quality assurance programs for residential contractors and their customers.

As a country, we have the technology to make our homes more energy efficient. What we lack is the will to do it.

August 3, 2010

I think Harold Orr, a pioneer in practical deep energy-efficiency in homes from Saskatchewan, summed it up very nicely three years ago at the ACI Deep Energy Retrofit Summit, when he said that with respect to serious energy-efficiency savings in homes, we don’t lack the technology, we lack the will.

Harold was right then.  And the same holds true today.  We do have the technology.  We routinely save 20-30% in homes.  We often save more than 50%.  And even without getting into renewable energy like PV or wind, we could in many cases chop 80% of the energy a home uses.    The technology exists today.  Most of the technology has existed for decades.  We have the skills.

But as a country we lack the will.  The political will.  We find it easier to ignore the problem.   We strip our mountains for coal and fill in the streams with dirt.  We damage our oceans.  We use our farmland—the land we don’t allow to erode into the sea—increasing to grow fuel, not food.  And we argue about global warming. 

And we don’t do anything to address our energy security, our economic vitality, protect the environment.  As a country, we don’t seem able to institute a sound energy policy.

This is epitomized by the energy bills (or “oil spill bill” if you prefer), Democratic and Republican alike, stalled in the Senate right now.  “Energy” policy—or lack thereof—today seems to have more to do with making the “other side” look bad than with helping the whole country.  Home Star, a bill that would create jobs across the country, help make millions of homes more energy efficient thereby saving homeowners money, and protect the environment, is stalled along with everything else.  It would be downright silly that this isn’t moving forward immediately…if it weren’t such a shame.

We can make homes much more energy efficient—and more comfortable, with better indoor air quality, and a safer environment!—today.   But to do this at scale and in a way that makes sense for the country, in a way that makes broad economic sense for the country, we need a coherent energy policy.

While partisan bickering keeps the country from moving forward, we the people are going to have to lead on this one.  We do have the technology.  We’d better find the collective will.  And soon.


Oil company profits—are we being played for fools?

July 31, 2010

The AP reports that Chevron’s income tripled last quarter. Exxon Mobile reported income of $7.56 billion in the quarter. Shell…up 15 percent. Cononco…profits tripled.

BP blew it in the Gulf. But the other companies had essentially the same disaster plan. And the Gulf is a mess. There’s a big leak in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. And so on and so on. The oil companies get huge taxpayer subsidies. They make enormous profits. And we’re on the hook to clean up the mess? And just like the tar bars on the beaches of the Gulf, it doesn’t look right to me.

It’s time to do things differently. We need to hold not just BP but all oil companies accountable. And we should stop subsidizing their astronomical profits and rather start investing in our own economic and energy security. We can start weaning ourselves off oil. And energy-efficiency is one of the cornerstones. Investing less one-quarter of what the BP spill is costing in energy-efficiency could save 30 times the energy of the oil spilled. That’s exactly what’s suggested in the Home Star legislation currently up in the Senate. Smart energy policy holds oil companies accountable and gets us out from under their expensive thumb. Let’s be smart and not let them keep playing us for fools.

Thanks, Mike

The Sierra Club And Dow Chemical Agree On Something! (Home Star!)

June 26, 2010

That’s the headline on an op-ed piece in Forbes by Michael Brune, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, and Andrew Liveris, Chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical.  They are writing in support of Home Star, one of the most important pieces of legislation on home energy-efficiency retrofits to ever be considered at the federal level.  A great idea with broad and bipartisan support.  Let’s hope it moves forward quickly.


Peter Welch on Home Star

June 21, 2010

Congressman Peter Welch and Mike Rogers, SVP of GreenHomes America and Chair of Efficiency First address members of Efficiency First in Washington, DC. May 20, 2010.

Speaking of good energy policy, I recently visited Washington, DC with more than 100 contractors from around the country to help educate Congress about the potential for Home Star.  As part of that, I had the pleasure of introducing Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont who said a few words about Home Star.  Home Star is good energy policy, that creates local jobs, and helps home owners fight rising energy costs.

Michael Tanesky caught some of the remarks in this video clip.


Homeowner with too much time on his hands?

June 14, 2010

Matt insulated his own attic.  And he did it right by air-sealing (and more air-sealing) first—-please, please also air-seal first!   But as he points out, the DIY project wasn’t all fun and games.  And who has the time to put together a video documentary of their project?

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