Archive for July, 2009

Sustainable Home Remodeling Series – Intro

July 24, 2009 1 comment

3000 Phoenix Exterior 2003Is it possible to make a 1970 split level house cool by today’s standards?  Lara and I are foolish enough to try, with a green twist.  After all, doing so puts the walk in two things that we’re doing a lot of talking about – 1) that eco-friendly remodeling of an existing home is a relatively low-impact way to create a green dream home, and 2) that greenlording with a green exit strategy can be a smart approach to real estate investment.

We’ve just moved into the 4 bedroom, 2 bath 1900 square foot home pictured above.  We bought it in 2003 from the original owners as an investment property.  It is quite dated, and a bit tenant-worn after six years as a rental, but it has as they say “great bones”.  And the yard has mature peach, cherry and plum trees, as well as grape vines.  To put all of this fruit to good use, we’ll be calling on our friends Jana and Steve and their wine-making talents for payback for the cork floor labor they got out of me earlier this year :). 

There’s not much about this place that doesn’t need updating – nope, it’s all as dated as this kitchen.  So we’ll have lots of eco-friendly home projects to blog about in this series.  3000 Phoenix Kitchen 2003

Here is a sampling of the projects we have on deck…

  • new bamboo cabinets in the kitchen and vanities in the bathrooms.
  • replacing worn carpet with rapidly renewable flooring throughout.
  • sourcing and installing the most eco-friendly concrete countertops we’ve heard of to date.
  • re-painting the entire inside of the house with low or no VOC paint.
  • energy efficiency improvements guided by a professional energy audit.
  • a sprinkler system audit and corresponding xeriscaping to reduce lawn watering requirements.
  • installing water-conserving fixtures throughout.

We hope you’ll grab our feed, follow along and maybe even learn a bit from our experiences, if not our mistakes!

Oh, one last thought about the timing of things.  We’ll be completing and blogging about these green remodeling projects as quickly as our day jobs permit, but we may take a slower road toward our green exit of this home than originally anticipated.  We’re confident it is going to be a pretty cool and comfortable greened-up home to live in.

Tax Credits for Energy Efficient Home Improvements

July 17, 2009 1 comment

If you’ve been thinking about making energy efficiency improvements to your home, now is the perfect time. If you put in place new efficient windows, doors, insulation, roofs, heating and cooling equipment, or water heaters by December 31, 2009, you could claim a federal tax credit of 30% of the cost, up to a total of $1500.

 And, lately some contractors and retailers are even offering specials for large purchase items like windows and doors, offering an additional discount on their products to encourage people to get started. 

Make sure you confirm with the retailer, manufacturer or installer before getting started that the products you plan to claim do in fact qualify. Also, the credit applies for installation and product cost on heating and cooling equipment, but only product cost on windows and doors, insulation, and other parts of the building “shell”.  And, the credit only applies to a taxpayer’s primary residence, in the United States.

To claim the credit, you’ll need to file IRS form 5695. And don’t forget to save your receipts!

So, if you’ve been holding off on replacing that old, inefficient furnace, or those single pane windows throughout the house,  think about the savings you’ll begin to recoup and how much more comfortable  you could feel by making certain energy efficiency improvements! 

And, don’t forget that if you are planning to take the leap to greener power and fuel, you can claim a separate federal tax credit of 30% on solar photovoltaic or solar hot water systems, geothermal heat pumps, small wind energy systems and fuel cells. The good news is, this tax credit is good through 2016, and doesn’t have a cap on the actual amount you can claim . You’re eligible for 30% back on the cost of any of these systems!

 For more detailed information on these various tax credits, the Alliance to Save Energy has a good site. Go to:

Categories: Simple Starts