How can I GREEN my home?

Real Estate Agent with Sullivan Enterprises, LLC

Hi all!

The last week has been pretty hot and humid here--more than 80 degrees at 6:00 a.m. with humidity at or near 100%. UGH! So much for that cold front that came through for a few days before that! Even the poor dog is exhausted after our early morning walks!

Discussions have been coming up all around me lately about how to "Green" your home, and whether or not it's possible to green an already existing home. The answer--absolutely! The cool part is that in some cases, you can also get a tax credit for certain "greening" or energy saving features you install or replace in your home.

My husband and I decided to get this "energy blanket" insulation a couple of weeks ago. It looks like thick tinfoil, and goes on top of your already existing insulation on your attic areas. I don't know the specifics and details of what exactly it does. They also wrapped our water heater. The guarantee is that it will lower our energy bills by up to 44%. And we'll get a tax credit of 30% of the cost, up to $1500 total.

This is the one picture that turned out. It's behind some A/C duct work going up an inside wall in the attic. We've had it for 2 weeks, and we've already noticed a difference in the house. It takes longer for the house to heat up during the day and cools down quicker when we turn the temperature down. The humidity level in the house seems lower. The installers said that would be the first thing that we would notice--the humidity level would go down. Considering what the level is outside, it sure is nice to have it even lower inside!

I've heard some people say "when I build my new house, I'll install all these green features" not realizing that you can "GREEN" your existing home in multiple ways. As you maintain and update your home, through time, you can make the energy saving choices. Many of these choices also allow for federal tax credits at tax time, and some may even have local or state tax credits.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy website at, tax credits are given for 30% of the cost, up to $1500 on these items if placed in to service before December 31, 2010;

  • Biomass Stoves
  • HVAC
  • Insulation
  • Roofing (Metal and Asphalt)
  • Water Heaters (non-solar)
  • Windows and Doors

Tax credits are allowed on additional items placed in service before December 31, 2016, for 30% of the cost, with no upper limit;

  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Solar Energy Systems (including Solar Water Heaters)
  • Small Wind Energy Systems
  • Fuel Cells

Most of these tax credits are allowed only on a primary residence, and no rental homes. You can check the Department of Energy website for further details.

But what are energy saving things that you can do that don't require such a large purchase? Installing a programmable thermostat can help a lot if your home is empty while you're at work for the day. When I lived in Minnesota, and realized I kept forgetting to turn down the heat when I left for the day, I got a programmable thermostat to lower the heat automatically for the 12 hours I wasn't home. It dropped my electric bill in half. Now I make sure I have one no matter where I live.

Using ceiling fans, and turning up the A/C a few degrees can make it seem cooler in the home. Turning off lights in rooms when you're not in them helps as well. Double-checking for drafts around windows and doors, and putting in weather-stripping helps heat or a/c from escaping.

There are also energy saving appliances out there now that can cut your energy bills. I had an old washing machine that broke a while back. The repairman said it would cost as much to fix it as it would to replace with a similar washing machine. I chose to get a front loading washing machine, and both my water and electric bill dropped.

Regular household maintenance will keep energy costs down as well. Dry or cracked caulking around windows should be replaced. If you have a leak anywhere in the home, it can increase your water bill tremendously. A toilet that keeps running is like it is in perpetual flush mode--wasting a lot of water. If you can't or don't want to do the repairs yourself, hire a handyman to come through the house for some routine maintenance. The cost of hiring a handyman can far outweigh the cost of leaks in increased energy bills.

While this all may seem like a "dry" subject to discuss, when you decide to add energy features to your home, that adds another selling point when you are ready to sell. More buyers now want a home that is energy efficient, and if they can see that the energy bills are low, it will help in their decision-making.


Until next time!

Valerie Sullivan
Broker/Owner, GRI, e-Pro
Fort Walton Beach, FL

Comments (1)

Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Hi Valerie, thank you for some great information on adding green features to your existing home. I don't think all too many people realize the tax incentives that are in place.  Also, I hadn't actually seen the energy blanket and am pleased to hear that it's working. There's nothing better than a happy customer testimonial!

Oct 16, 2009 11:49 PM