Thursday, April 23, 2009

Insulate Now, Save Later!

Before you put your 2008 tax documents up in the attic, think about the $1,500 you could save on next year's returns if you added extra insulation or a skylight.

Congress tripled the tax credit for energy-efficiency home improvements when it passed the latest stimulus plan. The credit now covers up to 30 percent of the cost of products installed this year and next.

The list of big-ticket items it covers is long: windows, outside doors, metal or asphalt roofs, heating and cooling equipment and fuel-cell batteries, among others.

"This gets at the low-hanging energy-efficiency measures that can be done for existing homes," said Jason Hartke, director of public policy at the U.S. Green Building Council.

He suggests improving your home's insulation before tackling your heating and cooling systems. Otherwise, air will just leak out.

Kevin Enyeart, vice president and general manager of Gale Home Builders in Kansas City, Mo., recommends spray foam insulation that can be applied easily to the underside of an attic roof. He says this product is both an insulator and a vapor barrier.

Make sure your contractor breaks down the bills, showing labor costs and materials costs separately. Keep a copy of the receipt and the Manufacturer Certification Statement for your records.



Sunday, April 5, 2009

Enter to WIN a Green Home!

The HGTV Green Home 2009 contest is slated to begin on April 17! The $700,000 home was designed by Carlson Studio Architects, and it has already received LEED Platinum certification.

Of course, the home has Energy Star everything and water-efficient everything else. It's also about 2,430 square feet, which is just about the average size for new homes these days. There's vegetable garden in the backyard, with rainwater collection barrels against the back of the house.

In addition, the green home features solar water heating, solar electric panels, low-VOC paints and adhesives, ICF walls, spray foam roof insulation, low-e windows, and the Spanish-style design will provide some good overhangs for friendly summer shade. That red roof, too, will probably last 50 years, although I'm sure it'll get some wear and tear being in Port St. Lucie, Florida. If you win the HGTV Green Home 2009, let us know what you think... good luck!


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