New Home Energy Loan Program Delivers Extra Incentives

A new loan program is now available that lets homeowners quickly and conveniently finance their home energy improvements. The Greater Cincinnati Home Energy Loan Program (or GC-HELP), created by the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (GCEA), offers a quick and easy application process for a preferred rate financing on loans ranging from $2,500 to $20,000, with no prepayment penalties.

GCEA logoTo be eligible for a GC-HELP loan, homeowners must use the financing for energy efficiency improvements on their single family primary residence or duplex.

Before any improvements can be made, a home energy audit needs to be performed by one of the GCEA-approved contractors (which includes Tiburon Energy & Constrution). GCEA offers these audits at a reduced rate for all eligible homeowners.

Homeowners must live in one of the counties covered by the GCEA (Hamilton county in Ohio; Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties in Kentucky).

Don’t wait to save money on your energy costs and live in a more comfortable living space. Register today for your home energy audit.

House covered with dollar bills

Federal Tax incentives for Home Energy Improvements Expiring Soon

House covered with dollar bills
Maximized your federal tax incentives to improve the energy efficiency of your house

Without further action by Congress, the start of 2012 may bring an end of the federal government’s series of tax incentives for homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Items such as new windows, furnaces and dishwashers will no longer be aided by incentives when homeowners file their federal income taxes. Details are available through a non-profit website designed to help consumers make the most of these incentives.

If you’re planning any home improvements before the end of the year, Tiburon Energy & Construction has a few suggestions to help you save more money while maximizing your tax incentives.

* If your home needs a new air conditioning system, now is the time to act. HVAC companies are preparing for winter by stocking up on heating equipment, but most still have cooling equipment in stock which needs to be sold before next year’s equipment arrives. This means big savings for consumers willing and able to act soon.

* Get a home energy audit. A comprehensive whole-home audit will point out the improvements that will deliver the most savings for the costs.

And don’t forget: other incentive programs may be available at the state and local levels, so do your research to find out other ways to save.

Builders Work Towards Energy-Efficient Houses

As house prices continue to remain low, home builders and remodelers are seeing rising demand for new energy-efficient homes and retrofitting older homes to improve energy efficiency.

Two-story townhouse
Many houses could benefit from retrofitting for better energy efficiiency, as demand for efficiency rises

“In the past, given a choice, frankly, many customers would have rather paid for upgraded amenities than energy efficiency,” says Steve Nardella, senior vice president of operations at Maryland-based builder Winchester Homes. But that’s all changing now, with frequent energy-price spikes and increased awareness about the environmental impacts of energy use.

As a result, 9 out of 10 builders are expecting to build smaller, energy-efficient designs in the coming years, going beyond including Energy Star-rated appliances and using better sealing technologies, smarter floor plans, and small but important structural modifications.

While these houses may be smaller in size, this has allowed builders to be more creative in how designing living spaces that don’t feel small, such as making larger open rooms with better air flow instead of separate ones.

Many of the energy-efficient model homes are being constructed with built-in sensors for monitoring temperature, humidity, water and electricity usage, and other data which is necessary towards making even more efficient homes in the future.

Thanks to rising demand, higher energy prices and incentives from the federal government and others, the incentives are there for homeowners to improve the energy efficiency in their homes.

Read the full article from US News and World Report.

Energy Rating System For Houses

Similar to MPG (miles per gallon) for automobiles, a new rating system for houses will give homeowners the ability to compare estimated annual energy costs and consumption levels before they buy.

Houses in a neighborhood
The new EPS rating system will allow homebuyers to see expected energy costs before buying.

The new EPS (Energy Performance Score) system could potentially increase the resale value of a house if a high EPS is achieved, says Toni Winston, president of Tiburon Energy & Construction. “If you are choosing between two, very similar houses, perhaps even in the same neighborhood, and one has a high EPS score, it make sense that the house with the high EPS score will attract more buyers. At the same time, houses with high EPS scores offer excellent economic and environment benefits for their owners.”

The EPS system has been used in over 1,900 houses in the Pacific Northwest, and is rolling out in pilot programs in Alabama, Massachusetts and Virginia.

Tiburon President Earns Spot on Bad Girl Ventures

Tiburon Energy president Toni Winston was named one of ten finalists to receive business classes and funding from Bad Girl Ventures, a non-profit organization that educates and funds women-owned business. This is the third class to be funded by the year-old organization.

Toni is elated about being named as a finalist, and will attend six one-day classes and receive a $25,000 loan for Tiburon Energy. Her passion about the home energy audit and improvement business is the biggest reason for seeking the training from Bad Girl Ventures.

Google Invests in Solar Power for Homes

Search engine company Google has invested $280 million in SolarCity, the largest deal for the home solar power in the United States. The investment will give San Mateo, Calif-based SolarCity the funding to build and lease solar power systems to a 7,000 to 9,000 homeowners in the 10 states where it operates.

Nationwide, the number of homes installing solar has gone from under 10,000 annually in 2006 to nearly 50,000 in 2010, roughly a 100% annual rate, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

With this investment, Google has shown that they want to move into the residential clean energy market, building on similar investments in commercial markets.

U.S. Falling Behind in “Green” Businesses

According to a recent New York Times article, the United States is continuing to fall behind other countries such as China and Britian in the development and use of green techonologies designed to increase energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

One area in which this decline is obvious is in the number of houses that have had improvements to increase their energy efficiency. In Britian, over 80% of the older homes have had partial improvements by the year 2010, while estimates for the United States are in the 10-20% range.

House before and after improvements
Thermal scans of a house before, left, and after being insulated. In Britain, subsidies cover much of the cost of home insulation. Source: The Mark Group

A big reason for this difference is that government programs in other countries have given homeowners incentives to get the improvements. In the U.S., the largest program aimed at increasing the home energy improvement market, appeared in the 2009 stimulus act, whose funding has mostly expired.

The article states that it’s not too late for the U.S. to get back into the green energy market, but time is running out.