How to get ready for Cash for Caulkers

January 5, 2010

Cash for Caulkers (Photo: Getty Images)
Details for the U.S. government's Cash for Caulkers program aren't available yet, but it's not too early to start thinking about how to cash in on the proposed stimulus program. "Homeowners that educate themselves will be the first ones to take advantage of the program," says Lane Burt, at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He recommends that you get educated about your home now so you'll know what kinds of changes you'd like to make when the money becomes available. This is good point when you remember that Cash for Clunkers ran out of cash in the end. "Understand what you want to do so that you're not the one left in line when the program runs out of money," says Burt. While the details are still being hammered out, there are potentially two ways to have the government help with the costs of making your home more energy efficient:
  1. One idea is that an accredited buildings professional would come in to conduct an energy audit to determine where energy efficiency improvements can be made, help you decide on a plan of action, and then execute that plan. The expectation is that homeowners could get back 50 percent of what they spend up to a maximum rebate of $12,000.
  2. The other way to get government money is to buy an energy-efficient furnace, windows, or other component. There are federal rebates already available and several states also offer rebates for purchasing energy-efficient appliances and more.   
If you decide to make changes yourself and get a rebate on an individual purchase, then know that which order to make home improvements in is important. You'll want to seal leaks and tighten your building's shell so the air you pay to warm or cool doesn't leak out before you buy a new furnace, for example. While we're all waiting for the proposal to get passed, Burt suggests thinking what your home needs. Figure out where you are wasting energy. Take a look at your energy bill and compare it to others in the area. Start looking for leaks. Look at ducts and make sure they are all connected. Do the things that you can do yourself and that don't cost much money. Some suggestions: These are all baseline changes that should be made before you embark on more extensive changes so that you can maximize energy and money savings. Also, think about whether you want to hire a contractor and go for the whole-house approach or if you'd like to pick one project to focus on. Experts say that you'll most likely need to hire a professional contractor to get the most financial support from the government. If you hire a contractor, that person will tell you exactly where you can save money and in which order you should make changes so that you can maximize savings. Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green's users. Send Lori a question or suggestion for potential use in a future column. Her book, Green Greener Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-smart Choices a Part of Your Life is available on Yahoo! Shopping and Check out Yahoo! Green on Twitter and Facebook.
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My furnace runs less than your furnace. Are you using zones?

December 23, 2008

Like many of you, my house has (had) an old furnace that I swear was a rocket engine taking off when it started up!  Struggling with PG&E bills north of $600/mo in the winter, I was determined to change this consumption of cash and energy during my remodel.   (Granted the single pane windows and minimal insulation were also contributing factors.)

So the furnace was one of the first items to go as the house was remodeled.  I wrote earlier about Carrier furnaces, and their associated rebates.  I actually took advantage of that, and saved an additional $1,100 with that offer when I purchased an Infinity model for just south of $15,000 fully loaded, installed with all new duct work.    Anyway getting to the point here, my new Carrier furnace enables my house to have multiple ‘zones’ which enables me to save my energy consumption and stop the bleeding of dollars sent to PG&E each month.

What is a ‘zone’ you ask, and how does it work?  A ‘zone’ is an area of your house that you define with your heating/cooling installer.  A zone is heated (or cooled) to a certain temperature while leaving other ‘zones’ at a different temperature.  I went with two zones in my house.

One zone is the family/kitchen/dining living space, and the second zone is Read more

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The latest on Home Depot’s Eco Options green products and Ron Jarvis

December 15, 2008

What is orange, green, and good for a residential home remodel or improvement project? GetWithGreen thinks one answer is the ever growing inventory of Eco Option products located around the corner at your local Home Depot.

This past week Ron Jarvis senior vice president of environmental innovation with The Home Depot and, sat down to talk about the Eco Options program, and retail trends in green home product market.

Ron’s home improvement career spans 23 years, starting early on with Lowe’s, followed by 13 years at America’s largest home improvement retailer, The Home Depot. For the last eight years Ron has been tracking energy products for the retail giant, and now leads the company’s Eco Options program, among other environmental initiatives, reduced energy consumption by stores, reduced waste and increased recycles as well as increased sustainability into all business functions.

Eco Options is Home Depot’s product labeling program that allows customers to easily identify products that have less of an impact on the environment. The 3,000+ products are located Read more

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