Archive for September, 2009

What you don’t know can cost you!

Given that I’m a Massachusetts resident and a green EcoBroker Realtor, it’s my goal to find out all the information available to MA residents for installing and using renewable energy methods for heating and cooling their home. Additionally, there are also a number of Federal incentives available to you. You can find all the state and federal tax incentives and rebates in the Database of State Incentives available on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website. For MA residents, a short list is outlined below. If you don’t live in MA, skip down to the Federal listing and then check out the database directly for the incentives available in your state.

Short list of Massachusetts programs:

  • Massachusetts Personal Tax Credit – Massachusetts allows a 15% credit — up to $1,000 — against the state income tax for the net expenditure of a renewable-energy system (including installation costs) installed on an individual’s primary residence. Eligible technologies include solar water and space heating, photovoltaics (PV), and wind-energy systems. The original use of the system must begin with the taxpayer, and the system should “reasonably be expected to remain in operation for at least five years.”
  • Massachusetts Property Tax Exemption – Massachusetts law provides that solar-energy systems and wind-energy systems used as a primary or auxiliary power system for the purpose of heating or otherwise supplying the energy needs of taxable property are exempt from local property tax for a 20-year period. Hydropower facilities are also exempt from local property tax for a 20-year period if a system owner enters into an agreement with the city or town to make a payment (in lieu of taxes) of at least 5% of its gross income in the preceding calendar year. NOTE: This incentive applies only to the value added to a property by an eligible system, according to the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). It does not constitute an exemption for the full amount of the property tax bill.
  • Massachusetts Renewable Energy Equipment Sales Tax Exemption – Massachusetts law exempts from the state’s sales tax “equipment directly relating to any solar, windpowered; or heat pump system, which is being utilized as a primary or auxiliary power system for the purpose of heating or otherwise supplying the energy needs of an individual’s principal residence in the commonwealth.”
  • MassSAVE Heat Loan Program – MassSAVE, a residential conservation services program administered by Massachusetts electric companies, gas companies and municipal aggregators, offers no-interest financing to help residential consumers increase the energy efficiency of their homes through their HEAT Loan Program. This financing is available to all residential customers who own and reside in a one to four family residence, buy their power from one of MassSAVE’s member companies, and obtain a Home Energy Assessment through the MassSAVE Program.

For more info on the myriad other Massachusetts programs, visit the EPA’s Massachusetts list on the Database of State Incentives page and review all the offerings.

And here are some Federal incentives you might be interested in:

  • Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit – The federal tax credit for energy-efficient home improvements was established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. After expiring December 31, 2007, the credit was extended and expanded by The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424: Div. B, Sec. 302) and The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1: Div. B, Sec. 1121). The credit now applies to eligible equipment purchased between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2010.
  • Energy-Efficient Mortgages – Homeowners can take advantage of energy efficient mortgages (EEM) to finance a variety of energy efficiency measures, including renewable energy technologies, in a new or existing home. Loans are supported by insuring them through Federal Housing Authority (FHA) or Veterans Affairs (VA) programs.

For more information, check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy page or visit my web site, CyberGreenRealty.com, for more information.

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

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Saving Money with Energy Star

With the heating season quickly approaching, I thought it would be a good time to pass along some energy-saving tips to help you both indoors and out. Not only can you reduce your energy bill, but you can reduce your carbon footprint by following some simple, easy steps:

  • Energy Star Lighting – Energy Star labeled light bulbs and fixtures are very energy efficient without sacrificing performance or design. Special promotions and rebates are also available at many home improvement and other select stores. You can also visit the Energy Star web site for more information or call 877-378-2748 for more details.
  • Energy Star Refrigerator Rebate – if you’re a Massachusetts resident, NSTAR is offering a $50 mail-in rebate toward the purchase of an Energy Star-qualified refrigerator. For more info on this program, visit the website listed above or call 877-ESTAR-4U.
  • Cool Smart Central Air Conditioning – Now might be a good time to think of having central A/C installed (demand is very low right now!). Did you know that a properly installed Energy Star central air conditioning unit can save you up to 20% on your cooling costs? Think of it as investing for savings next summer! Again, for Massachusetts residents, NSTAR is offering a mail-in rebate of up to $600 for the purchase and installation of high efficiency central air conditioning units. Visit www.mycoolsmart.com or call 800-473-1105 for more information on this program.
  • SmartStrips – Did you know many electrical appliances continue to draw electricity, even when not in active use? SmartStrips power strips sense when the power button turns off TVs and computers and will also automatically cut the power to other devices, such as printers, faxes, and stereo equipment. Neat, huh? Visit www.myenergystar.com for information on instant rebates available toward the purchase of SmartStrips.

These programs are designed to help you reduce your electric bill and help the environment at the same time. Why not give them a try? Visit my web site at Cyber Green Realty.com for more information or check out the following useful links:

Arlington MA Real Estate Update

Week Ending 9/10/09

The average price per square foot for Arlington MA was $283, a decrease of 12% compared to the same time last year. The average sales price for homes, condos, and multi-families in Arlington MA for the period 8/10/09 to 9/10/09 was $411,196 based on 96 home sales. Compared to the same period one year ago, the average home sales price decreased 17%, or $85,260, but the number of home sales increased 71%.

There are currently 41 resale and new homes in Arlington MA (not including bank-owned or pre-foreclosure properties). The average listing price for single family homes for sale in Arlington MA was $589,342 for the week ending Sep 10. The average listing price for condos for sale in Arlington MA was $380,938 and for multi-familes it was $557,770 for the same period. There are currently a total of 108 total properties for sale in Arlington MA (including bank-owned and pre-foreclosure listings), with 52 Single Family homes, 44 Condos, and 12 Multi-family homes currently listed.

If you’ve been on the fence about buying property in Arlington MA, now is a great time to make your move. Prices are lower than last year but the inventory is also lower, which will start to drive prices up. Get in now before it’s too late!

-TMC

Cook with Gas, Save Some Dough

Of all your household appliances, which one do you think uses the most energy? If you said refrigerator, you’re right! Among the other high-usage appliances, dishwashers, washers, and dryers rank right up there (see the Energy Star web site for more info). In fact, up to one-third of a households total energy consumption occurs in the kitchen and laundry areas. But what about your gas stove?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cooking accounts for only 4.4% of a household’s total energy consumption (Buildings Energy Data Book). It’s so low, in fact, that Energy Star doesn’t even calculate an optimal energy use rating for these appliances. But which is better – gas or electric?

If you’re concerned about lowering your carbon footprint, gas is the better alternative. Not only does the gas come on immediately, producing heat at the moment of ignition, but it also allows for greater control of the cooking temperature. If your stove is electric, the power needs to be generated at the power plant, transmitted to your house, and then turned on to begin heating up the coils. The heat-up and cool-down periods of the coils end up utilizing more electricty than you need. And modern gas stoves don’t use a pilot light that needs to remain on all the time – saving even more natural gas!

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint even more, consider getting an induction stove. Induction creates heat faster by magnetically accelerating metal molecules in steel, cast-iron and some stainless steel pots. With induction stoves, 90% of the energy is transferred to the cooking pot, compared with 35-40% with gas heat and 70% with electric heat (source: NY Times, January 2, 2008). However, the cost of an induction stove is out of reach for most homeowners ($700 – $1300 compared to $300 for an electric or gas stove).

Once you’re cooking with gas, here are a few tips to save even more energy:

* Cover your pots – a covered pot of water will boil in half the time of an uncovered pot
* Use flat-bottomed steel, stainless steel, or cast iron pots and pans – they conduct heat faster
* Clean your burner grates often – the shiny metal will reflect more heat and energy upwards to the pot

If you have more tips on how to save money by cooking with gas, please share them here!

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC