Posts Tagged ‘house’

Free Home Energy Assessments for Arlington MA Residents

Arlington MA residents are eligible for a free home energy assessment, sponsored by Mass Save’s Home Energy Check Campaign and supported, in part, by Arlington’s Vision 2020/Sustainable Arlington organization.

A energy-efficient, air-tight home diagram

A green home is a happy home

The Home Energy Check Campaign offers homeowners the opportunity to have a complimentary energy assessment of their home completed at no cost to the homeowner, and includes the assessment, complimentary give-aways, and a follow-up list of suggested improvements the homeowner can make to improve the energy efficiency of their home. You can sign up for your free assessment at the Home Energy Check.org web site.

“Residents who get a home energy assessment and follow up on the suggestions made during the assessment will benefit by lowering their energy use, which reduces their utility bills and improves comfort. This is a home run for residents,” says Rob Garrity, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN), the organization responsible for running the program.

During the energy assessment, an energy auditor will perform a walk-thru assessment using a checklist of standard areas that provide the biggest energy savings. If you sign up for an audit, you can expect the auditor to check your home’s attic, windows, and heating system. In general, your home’s insulation will be the biggest area for improvement.

“The more insulation you have, the more you’re separated from the exterior temperature effect,” says David Landskov, an Arlington resident who recently completed an energy assessment. According to Landskov, “insulation degrades over time and you should periodically review it to see if it meets current standards.” A home energy assessment will help you determine the effectiveness of your insulation.

In addition to the valuable information the homeowner receives from an assessment, there are also some nice give-aways that help to make an immediate impact on your energy savings. Number one among them, free faucet aerators. Not only are they free, but the energy auditor will install them for you. Once installed, you use less water and you don’t even notice a difference in your water pressure. This translates into an immediate payback, as your water bill is reduced and the energy cost that would have been used to heat any of that excess water is also saved.

Perhaps the least-known of the benefits of having a home energy assessment are the varied rebates and incentives for which the homeowner is then eligible, including a 75% instant rebate (up to $2,000) for completing the recommended insulation and weatherization audit items. Also available is a Federal tax credit of up to $500 per household.

The most intriguing incentive, however, is the homeowner’s eligiblity to participate in the Mass Save HEAT Loan Program, which provides up to a $15,000 zero percent (0%) interest loan to have energy-efficient improvements made to a home. With a seven-year payback period, the loan payment you make would be less than the amount of money you save from the energy-efficient improvement(s). For more information on this program, visit the Mass Save HEAT Loan program web site.

“The overall benefit [of the Home Energy Check Campaign] is you get to know your home better,” says Austin Whitman, another Arlington resident who recently had an assessment of his home completed. “But there’s also a reward in knowing you’re contributing less to overall energy usage and having less of an impact on the environment.”

The program is open to all Arlington residents through the end of this month.

For more information, visit the following web sites:

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

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Wanna Go Potty?

One of the easiest ways you can start going green is by tackling your toilet. (Not literally, but if you want to, go ahead. Whatever floats your boat!) Every time you flush your toilet, you could be using up to 5 gallons of water (or more if your toilet was built before 1994, when dual flush toilets came into voque). If you’re like most people, you tend to flush the toilet after every use, which can waste up to hundreds of gallons per week based on the size of your household. Depending on your budget and purpose, here are some helpful tips:

Picture of a Neorest toilet

Oh, So Sexy!

  • Fix toilet leaks – You may not even know you have a leaky toilet, but if you do you could be wasting 20 gallons of water per day.  To determine if you have a leak, add some food coloring to the tank and wait about 30 minutes.  If the food coloring appears in the bowl, you have a leak. Watch this quick 2 1/2 minute video on eHow.com to learn how to fix a leaky toilet.
  • Don’t use your toilet as a wastebasket – I’m just sayin’.
  • Follow the old mantra – Come on, you know it…”If it’s brown, flush…” blah, blah, blah. I hate the saying myself, but it’s still true.  Just try it.
  • Replace your old toilet – If you’re thinking of putting your home up for sale soon, consider replacing the entire toilet, especially if it was built before 1994. At the very least, consider upgrading to a dual flush, if not one of the newer low-flow ones. You won’t believe the variety of new models and styles available today. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  now has a water-efficiency rating system for water-efficient products called the WaterSense labeling plan.  You can also search for just about any make and model toilet at the WaterSense Product Search page.
  • Replace the flapper – You may have a flapper in the tank that’s already adjustable.  Lengthen it just a bit so it closes earlier, using less water per flush.  You can also buy a new flapper for relatively little out-of-pocket expense.  Home Depot always has a variety in stock.
  • Make your own low-flow toilet – This is my favorite tip.  It’s so simple to do with things you already have around the house.  Check this out:

Now how hard is that?!?!

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

6th Annual Arlington MA Spy Pond Trails Day

Engraving of ice cutting on Spy Pond in Arlington MA

Ice Made Arlington Hot!

One of Arlington, MA’s most treasured spots for both residents and visitors alike is Spy Pond, located just south of Mass Ave. and east of Pleasant St. in East Arlington. Spy Pond was originally formed during the last great ice age, about 50,000 years ago, when it was covered by the Wisconsin Glacier. As it melted, between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago, the glacier left a depression in the ground known as a “kettle hole,” which then filled with water and formed the pond we know today.

As part of its rich history, Spy Pond was notable as an ice harvesting spot, supplying ice to the greater Boston area and exporting it as far as India. This prompted the building of the local railroad and an increase of manufacturing in the area, primarily ice-cutting tools. As the area expanded and became known as “West Cambridge,” the pond became a source of potable water for local residents. Eventually West Cambridge was incorporated as Arlington, MA and Spy Pond was officially named.

Today Spy Pond is one of the most relaxing and peaceful places to visit in Arlington. But it needs help to remain so. To that end, this coming Saturday, May 8, 2010, local residents in cooperation with the Appalachian Mountain Club will gather to clean up the shores of Spy Pond. Volunteers are asked to meet along the Route 2 path from 9:00am until 1:00pm. Volunteers will spend time picking up trash, cleaning debris from trails, pruning, planting, and weeding out some of the invasive weeds that have infiltrated the area.

If you want to take part, all you need is some time, gloves, and a few garden tools (rakes, shovels, pruning shears, etc.). If you don’t have any equipment to bring, don’t worry. Everyone is welcome and snacks will be provided (free food always attracts more people, doesn’t it?).

If you’d like more information on how you can help, contact either Elizabeth Karpati at 781.643.4172 (email: ekarpati@juno.com) or Stroker Rogovin at 781.641.2506 (email: stroker@alumni.clarku.edu). You may also visit the Spy Pond Vision 2020 Committee web site at www.arlingtonma.gov/spypond.

Read more about Arlington’s history and get more information on the local area at these web resources:

I hope to see some of you there!  Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

Rent Some Sun and Save Money

In your mind’s eye, what do you envision a solar panel to look like? Do you think they’re still big, white and boxy? Maybe you think of some ugly black strips across your roof, which look more like a shredded tire laid out flat than a solar panel. Then again, you might be “hip” with the latest PV styles (like these PV panels that look like clay tiles) but you think it’s still too expensive. Fret no more!

Many companies, including two here in Massachusetts (SunRun’s MA partners – Alteris, Inc. and groSolar, Inc), offer you a chance to rent solar panels, effectively locking in your electric rate for up to 25 years (the average lifespan of a solar panel). Moreover, you are relieved of any of the hassles involved with purchasing the panels outright (such as obtaining the proper permits, filing for the appropriate rebates, etc.). Some providers may require a “security deposit,” which may be up to $1,000 at the most.

How does it work? The concept is simple – your solar power company purchases and installs the appropriate equipment based on your historical electric usage. You then pay a monthly rental fee to the solar company, which becomes your new “electric” bill. This monthly fee will be equal to, or lower than, your current bill AND will never rise – sun power is free power! Perhaps best of all, you don’t have to worry about maintenance and repairs – the panels are owned and maintained by the solar company, so they have a vested interest in keeping the equipment in top working order.

In addition to the money saved on your electric bill by switching to solar power, you may also be eligible for one or more of the many current state and federal incentives. Find out if your state offers incentives at SunRun’s Solar State Rebate page. If you purchase locally-made equipment, the incentives and rebates get even bigger!

For further information, check out these helpful resources:

Do you know anyone who’s currently renting solar panels? Ask them to share their story here.

Visit CyberGreenRealty.com for a list of some solar vendors in the greater Boston area. If you happen to be in the market for a new home or condo, you may also wish to visit Avenue 3 Real Estate for a listing of current homes and condos for sale in Arlington, Cambridge, and Somerville, MA. While there, search for homes already equipped with solar equipment and start saving money from Day One!

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

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

Arlington, MA Apr-Jul 09 Housing Sales Trends

In these swiftly changing times, it’s hard to look at one month’s worth of data and try to predict what’s coming next. But if we look at three month’s worth of data, usually considered a “trend,” we begin to get a more clear picture of the direction of the market.

Here’s what’s happened with Single Family and Condo units in Arlington, MA from April 2009 through July 2009:

  • Total April Sales (in units): 27
  • Total July Sales (in units): 72
  • Avg. Days on Market in April: 77
  • Avg. Days on Market in July: 43
  • Avg. Sales price, April: $441,992
  • Avg. Sales price, July: $451,813
  • Sales Price/List Price Ratio, April: 98%
  • Sales Price/List Price Ratio, July: 99%

So what does this tell us? In short – the Arlington market is making a rebound! As you can sell, total number of sales increased 167% over the April to July period, while the average days on market fell by 56%. The average sales price increased by an overall 2% in the same period, while the SP:LP ratio increased to 99%, meaning the listing prices of homes are almost spot-on with market demand – so there’s not much wiggle room for negotiating your price.

In short – NOW is a great time to buy while rates are still at historical lows, inventory is getting tighter and prices are starting to rebound.

So jump on in – the water’s fine!

-TMC