Solar panel aesthetics – This is an interesting question from a reader that is particularly relevant as more homes in the Charlottesville and Albemarle area are installing solar panels, many thanks to the Solarize Charlottesville program.
Browsing Category Green
Monday Reads – Energy Efficiency, Trains and a New Brewery
These are a few stories of interest as we crest the middle of November 2016 … starting with Universal Design, then trains, then energy efficiency …
– Some Universal Design design tips and advice.
Gas Price Math: Charlottesville City vs Albemarle County
Gas prices and commute times/distances matter. Shorter commutes have been proven to be better both for happiness and budgets. For those of us who do this every day, gas prices are something we evaluate frequently,…
Location, Location, Efficiency of Home and Transportation?
A bill to make energy efficient homes more marketable? Location efficiency when choosing where to live? Think about it – homeowners seem to be choosing to stay in one location for longer. This trend is leading more and more (at least my clients) to consider and choose more energy efficient homes (not just greenwashed). The longer one chooses to stay in a home – particularly a more efficient home – the more potential energy (read: dollars) savings, right?
A bill to improve the accuracy of mortgage underwriting used by Federal mortgage agencies by ensuring that energy costs are included in the underwriting process, to reduce the amount of energy consumed by homes, to facilitate the creation of energy efficiency retrofit and construction jobs, and for other purposes.
When I first looked at Senate Bill 1106 on Govtrack, the bill was purported to have a 2% chance of making it out of committee. That chance is now 1%. It’s premise is useful, and I encourage everyone to read it in its entirety, for no reason other than to see the valid points the authors make.
A few of the bill’s highlights (bolding mine):
â—¦ (4) the current test for loan affordability used by most covered agencies, commonly known as the `debt-to-income’ test, is inadequate because it does not take into account the expected energy cost savings for the homeowner of an energy efficient home; and
â—¦ (3) require a covered agency to include the value home buyers place on the energy efficiency of a house in tests used to compare the mortgage amount to home value, taking precautions to avoid double-counting and to support safe and sound lending.
â€¢ To the extent that a covered agency uses a test such as a debt-to-income test that includes certain regular expenses, such as hazard insurance and property taxes, the expected energy cost savings shall be included as an offset to these expenses. Energy costs to be assessed include the cost of electricity, natural gas, oil, and any other fuel regularly used to supply energy to the subject property.
â€¢ (c) Determination of Estimated Energy Savings-
â—¦ (1) AMOUNT OF ENERGY SAVINGS- The amount of estimated energy savings shall be determined by calculating the difference between the estimated energy costs for the average comparable houses, as determined in guidelines to be issued under subsection (a), and the estimated energy costs for the subject property based upon the energy efficiency report.
â—¦ (2) DURATION OF ENERGY SAVINGS- The duration of the estimated energy savings shall be based upon the estimated life of the applicable equipment, consistent with the rating system used to produce the energy efficiency report.
â—¦ (3) PRESENT VALUE OF ENERGY SAVINGS- The present value of the future savings shall be discounted using the average interest rate on conventional 30-year mortgages, in the manner directed by guidelines issued under subsection (a).
To my eye, the bill is useful, reasonable and rational. Thus, it’s probably not likely to get out of committee. That cynicism aside, what can buyers do when they want to be more locationally efficient?
Buy Local. It Matters
From where contractors’ subs come from to where the money ultimately goes when consumers buy a house, more and more of my buyer clients are asking about “local” â€¦ Most home builders have energy efficient…
See Albemarle County’s Trails – without Leaving your House
Albemarle County’s parks are a tremendous asset to all – from the disc golf course at Walnut Creek to swimming and fishing at Mint Springs to mountain biking and horseback riding at Preddy Creek.
And now this, via press release:
Have you ever wondered what a trail was like before you hiked it? The Albemarle County Parks and Recreation department has partnered with Terrain360.com to offer a new tool that will solve that dilemma. By visiting www.albemarle.org/trails, hikers can take a 360 degree panoramic tour of the trails at Darden Towe, Preddy Creek, Byrom, Mint Springs, Ivy Creek Natural Area and Walnut Creek from their computers or smart phones.
5 Takeaways from “Green Real estate” Training
I spent last Wednesday and Thursday in Northern Virginia in Earth Advantage training, learning more about green homes, green real estate, their respective relevance in the market and how best to help and advise my clients regarding such. Below the “fold” is a Storify I did and conversations I had during the sessions, but these are five big takeaways.
1 – Consumers (generally) don’t care how green a house is; the house could be painted with motor oil but if it costs them less they’ll buy it. In fact, making one green decision may lead to making less green decisions. (see also: Do Green Products Make Us Better People?)
2 – Green homes and energy efficiency matter. “How much does this house cost to run” is one of the number one questions my buyer clients ask, and this is more than a trend; it’s a way of life. See: Green-certified homes sell for 9% more, study in California finds
3 – I’d wager that a “miles per gallon” for homes will be common place in the next three years. I firmly believe that a “MPG for homes” would hurt resale value of existing, less-energy-efficient homes. The Department of Energy is funding programs such as LEAP and this Earth Advantage training and other such programs in order to create a market for energy efficient homes and products; I can make at least two arguments about this, one pro and one con. Either way, now would be a good time to learn about the SAVE* Act and see who supports and opposes it.
4 – There are more than 70 green home certifications across the country; Earth Craft, Energy Star, LEED are the most prominent in this part of the country. They’re all different; they all have different qualification systems and they’re all brands.
5 – Charlottesville’s @LEAP_VA program has retrofit 600+ homes; $370k projected annual savings; 2.5 GWh in energy savings.
Heck, I’ve saved about $2k in heating bills since my home’s LEAP makeover.If you’re interested in retrofitting your home, now would be a good time to do so; start with an energy audit (ask me if you have questions about what that is â€¦ I might write a post about it soon) and look at the 0% interest Power Saver Loans offered by the UVA Credit Union;
Figure out how you might save locally by taking LEAP’s survey.
If you’re interested, spend some time (scroll to the bottom and work your way up) reading through the green real estate training Storify after the break.