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ZEDFest 2: Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy and FREE Beer!

September 30, 2011 1 comment

Friday, October 7th, 2011.

Our friends at FortZed asked if we could pass along the following information about the great event they have planned…

Part of the FortZED Community Energy Challenge, ZEDFest 2 is a community-wide celebration of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable living. During the evening of October 7th, homes all over Fort Collins will be hosting fun parties to celebrate conservation and efficiency. You may have taken the FortZED Challenge pledge to reduce energy use; you may want to learn more; you may not be familiar with FortZED. No matter where you stand, we want you!

The FortZED Challenge staff are currently finalizing details for ZEDFest 2, including confirming hosts, gathering volunteers, and coordinating party materials and giveaways. Materials include a party-in-a-box with energy-saving resources, energy-related activities for guests to participate in, and free beer from Odell Brewing Company! A map of host locations is available on the ZEDFest page of their website .

Giveaways at each party will include:

  • CFL’s
  • Free home energy audits provided by the City of Fort Collins Utilities
  • A pair of tickets to the FoCo Eco Cruise (scheduled for the following day on Saturday, October 8th!)

If you are interested in volunteering or hosting, please email Ariana TODAY at  AFriedlander@AtmosphereConservancy.org to sign up!

Categories: Uncategorized

Come out to the FoCo Eco Cruise!

September 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Hello everyone! On Saturday, October 8th, The Northern Colorado Renewable Energy Society (NCRES) is hosting the first ever FoCo Eco Cruise from 9 am-5 pm. Previously known as the Solar Homes Tour, this year’s event has morphed into a tour of sustainable sites throughout northern Fort Collins.

The self-guided and bike-friendly tour starts at the Fort Collins Bike Library LaPorte Station at 9 am and ends at the Rocky Mountain Innosphere at 3 pm. Participants who would like to ride should plan on bringing their own bikes or can check one out from the Bike Library on the morning of the event. An estimated 250 attendees have expressed interest, so this could be quite the biking event of early Fall!

Show up Saturday, October 8th between 9 am – 11 am at the Bike Library LaPorte Station (222 LaPorte Ave, between Mason & Howes) to get your Cruiser Bag, meet our friendly partner groups, and take off on the Cruise!

There will be a mix of eight residential and two non-residential sites on the cruise: each of which demonstrate a sincere commitment to integrating green building techniques, renewable energy technologies and eco-landscaping principles with a magic x-factor…their interest in sharing it with YOU, the Eco Cruiser!

Tickets will be available on the day of the event. Tickets prices are listed below:

Individuals: $10

Couples: $15

Family: $20 (two adults, two children age 12 and up. Children under 12 ride free!)

Group: $50 (up to six people)

All proceeds go to support NCRES events and operations. You can also win free tickets by attending a FortZED Community Energy Challenge ZEDFest house party the day before on Friday, October 7th (a couple of tickets will be given away at each house party as a door prize!). Click here for a list and map of ZEDFest house parties.

The FoCo EcoCruise is looking to show off sustainable sites across northern Fort Collins – for more information on the event, go to the FoCo Eco Cruise website today!

Thanks, and see you out there!

Categories: Uncategorized

Fort Collins Solar Rebate Program

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

As a follow-on from my recent post about Rebates and Credits for energy efficiency projects, it looks like the City of Fort Collins has funds available for Solar PV (among other things).  I am a little late in posting about them. It sort of slipped in under the radar, in that  City residents could begin submitting applications  January 31 of this year. But in my experience, if I didn’t know about it until now, chances are most of the public didn’t either!

It looks like the City will provide $1.25 per watt, up to 3 kW, so I think you could receive $3,750 for a 3 kW project. (That is probably the minimum a family would install for a Solar PV project.) They require that the system must be tied to the electrical grid, among a host of other rules. At the same time, it looks like you could get a comparable rebate from ReCharge Colorado (see my earlier post) and you would qualify for the Federal Rebate as well. So a project might get $7k or $8k covered by credits and rebates, it appears.  Not bad!

So if you had been thinking about doing a Solar Photovoltaic system this year, you need to know that the deadline for applying for this City rebate program is Feb 28, 2011. It looks like if applications exceed the available funds ($110K) they will have a drawing, so it’s definitely not too late to apply.

However, it’s going to require that you have a meeting with professionals and have your system mapped out and have an energy audit completed in order to submit your application for funds. And you need to be pretty serious and ready to roll, as the system would need to be installed within 6 months of being promised City funds.  To find out more, I suggest you go to the City of Fort Collins website and review their information and instructions.

If  Solar PV isn’t in the cards for your current home, but you’d really like it in your next place, make sure you contact The Green Team Real Estate when you start looking for homes. We are the one real estate company qualified to help you find the right place that will work for Solar.  And we can connect you to the professionals to assess your new location and do your project.

Categories: Uncategorized

Don’t Forget to Look for the Energy Rebates and Credits!

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Things have been busy of lately here and we have been away from blogging for a while. But during that time, some cool things have been happening with the ongoing effort to refresh our home and make it more energy efficient.

We actually saved the best for last, so to speak, when we replaced the old, inefficient and leaky furnace with a new 95.5% ultra efficient unit, and bumped up the insulation in our attic to R50. The difference in comfort is obvious with these two projects and so is the difference on our monthly gas bill. In fact, the first month after we did the work, November 2010, we had about a 50% reduction in gas use over the same month of the previous year. And we even had the heat set a bit higher than the year before because our garden level does tend to be chilly in the winter.

Aside from the obvious energy efficiency improvement, the great thing about this project was how much money we saved when we did the work due to rebates from the local utility and a State of Colorado program called ReCharge Colorado, and due to the Federal tax credit in place for 2009 and 2010.

Check this out…our ultra-high efficiency furnace cost about $3700. But, I was able to get an immediate rebate from Xcel Energy, our natural gas provider, of about $100, or maybe it was $120. Then, I filed with the State of Colorado and using ReCharge Colorado, a program to  incentivize energy efficiency improvements, I could claim $500. That check came to me in about one month. Whoo-wee, we like that!

But that isn’t all. I am in the process of preparing all my information as I write this in order to claim a hefty tax credit on my Federal return. It is going to work out that this new furnace will get me about $1200 back on my income tax for 2010.  So, by my calculations, that $3700 furnace ended up costing me about $1900!

It was a really similar story with the ubur-insulation job. By tapping into the same three programs, I was able to get the price down from $500 to about $50! (Note: I am still waiting for the check from ReCharge Colorado. They claim that the funds haven’t been released yet, but I can expect a $200 check in the next month or two.)

So, if you did any energy efficiency improvements last year, it may not be too late to take advantage of rebates and tax credits. Make sure you collect all of your receipts and documentation and start looking for what was available for you in 2010. The best place I have found to gather this information is a clearinghouse called  “DSIRE” (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency) at http://dsireusa.org . Just select your state from the interactive map and you’re off and running.

If you plan to do any work in 2011, make sure you do your homework in advance to see what you might qualify for. State and local rebates are constantly changing and to qualify, sometimes you need to apply in advance of the work, or I have even seen a local program that requires a simple energy audit by an approved provider before you apply to participate.  If really pays to do your research in advance to make sure you follow all of a particular program’s steps to qualify.

A note on the Federal residential energy tax credit. This program allows people to claim 30% of the costs of energy improvements up to $5000, so basically up to a $1500 tax credit over the two year period of  2009 or 2010. Since I claimed about $200 for some energy efficient doors I installed in 2009, I could claim about $1300 in 2010. To claim this you will need to  file IRS form 5695.

It look likes the Federal residential energy tax credit was renewed for 2011, but at significantly lower levels.  In general it appears that a person can claim up to $500, but windows are maxed out at $200, furnaces at $150, air conditioners and water heaters at $300.  And those who claimed the tax credit in previous years are not eligible in 2011.

If you are thinking about selling your house this year, projects like the ones mentioned above are especially inexpensive right now with these credits and rebates and can add significant value to your home, or help to overcome an objection if your home is currently inefficient. If you live in Northern Colorado, give The Green Team Real Estate a call. We can help you decide what projects  makes sense to do before you put your home on the market and we’ll help you sell it for the best price.

When it comes to eco-friendly homes, bird by bird is the word

February 23, 2009 Leave a comment

A favorite author, Anne Lamott, offers up some universal wisdom in her book “Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life“.

 

“Thirty years ago my brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write.  (It) was due the next day.  We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead.  Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

 

To our reading, this little anecdote from Lamott’s book has two very important things to say about creating more eco-friendly homes. 

 

First, it speaks to breaking the often powerful grip of procrastination.  Anne Lamott’s brother had chosen a reasonable scope for his report and collected what he needed to write it, but he was frozen by inaction.  Most of us really do want to green up our act and live in a manner that is less wasteful, if not for the sake of the planet, at least for the sake of our own pocketbooks and well-being.  But where to start?  So much information, so little time.  And, of course, old habits are hard to break.  Well, enough with the excuses.  Picture your version of a green home, plan a route to it, and get started.  Don’t hesitate to lean on great resources like GenGreen, or take a class in your area like the one Ariana Friedlander is offering here in Fort Collins.  And make sure your plan includes a Simple Start project or two – they are easy, don’t cost much to implement, and will build your confidence for larger projects down the road. 

 

Second is the important reminder that any plan is ultimately realized one piece at a time.  In recent years, mortgage lenders and “reality TV” home makeover shows have created the illusion that achieving a “dream home” is a snap.  Until the recent banking meltdown, it was way too easy for folks to overextend themselves by letting these shows shape the scope for do-it-all-now dream home projects that were then financed with loans that were too big, too easily granted, and in many cases just too good to be true.  Well, for most of us, it is now time to retrench to a truer reality more in line with the pay-as-you-go, bird by bird approach of our parents’ and grandparents’ generation.

 

So as you travel toward Destination Green, think bird by bird.  It is a great way to be realistic about, and truly engaged in, your journey to a more eco-friendly home. It may also help us teach some lost lessons to the generations that follow us and leave them with a healthier planet than we inherited.  We owe them that.

The journey to a more eco-friendly home…

January 15, 2009 Leave a comment

…a quest to help save the planet by providing a practical, useful and hopefully even inspirational forum for more sustainable living in homes that are built green, or improved via green makeovers and green remodeling projects.  We’ll be blogging about: 

  • Simple Starts – energy conservation, energy efficient lighting, water conservation and purity, toxic free living, reuse and recycling, indoor air quality, and not-so-big living;
  • Rewarding Refreshes – green home updates and green remodeling using healthier, sustainable materials; 
  • Interesting Investments – rental property investments with a green exit strategy; 
  • Green Gigs – relevant fairs, festivals and gatherings focused on sustainable living, and 
  • Beautiful Builds – eco-friendly and built green home construction. 

We hope that you will follow our blog, comment freely and even contribute to it by sharing how you are working, like we are, toward a planet of eco-friendly homes, one project at a time.

Sincerely, Lara and Dave