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  Goldwater Newsletter-GEM Blog  |  September 2016    


        How to Take Advantage of Tools for Home Retrofits         

Sept Gem Blog_55164335

Final Logo.pngby Teresa Lopez, CEO Green Energy Money, September/October 2016 


How to Take Advantage of Green Energy Money’s Toolbox for Home Retrofits

Green Energy Money’s Free Report for existing home retrofits is a great free tool available to homeowners that help them determine estimated building upgrade improvement costs and the potential return on investment upfront.  You can even get pre-qualified for financing before scheduling any builder or contractor appointments.  It takes about 3-5 minutes to complete GEM’s free report.

The Free Report does not replace a contractor bid but offers a quick tool to gage estimated costs so you can budget and obtain financing approval.  Most folks often reverse this process and obtain builder bids, contracts, budgets, and inspections first. This can be problematic if there are loan qualification or appraisal issues that could have been mitigated earlier in the process.  

Once an estimated budget has been determined, owners can be pre-qualified for a loan amount and loan program that fits their project and financial plan. The loan criteria can vary depending on:

  • Current interest rates
  • Cost of the upgrades – budget
  • Qualifying – credit, income, assets and loan-to-value ratios (programs vary)
  • Reduction in utility bills and energy costs (energy savings can offset loan payments)

The average deep energy retrofit costs depend on the property’s current condition, square footage, regional climate and labor costs, type of equipment and building upgrades and other factors.  Average prices for deep retrofits in the US range from $2 – $20 per square foot, depending on the level of efficiency, and factors mentioned above.  

The biggest bang for the buck appears to be a hybrid approach of adding more conditioned space (especially if your property is smaller than comparable properties in the neighborhood) and retrofitting the building envelope at the same time.

If costs and qualifying for financing is an issue, it might make sense to create a plan to stage your property upgrades.  The downside to this strategy is:

  • It can be a hassle to go through the construction process multiple times;
  • Building, utility costs, and interest rates are going to go up;
  • Closing costs on multiple transactions;
  • If installing solar, Federal Tax Credits are set to expire and might not be available after 2019

View the chart reflects the various stages to greening up your property.



The Quest for Home Utility Bills of…Zero

New regulations in California have builders scrambling to make houses more energy-efficient


Updated Sept. 13, 2016 11:08 p.m. ET


SANTA CLARITA, Calif.—The KB Home development here looks like any other middle-class subdivision in Southern California—rows of stucco houses with tiled roofs and two-car garages—except for the sticker on the entryway of one of its showcase units.

The sticker displays the average monthly cost to heat and cool the home and run the appliances: $119, compared with $252 for a standard-built home of similar size. If an owner adds solar panels, the monthly bill would drop to near zero.

Buried inside the extra-thick walls of these homes are layers of high-density fiberglass insulation flanked by rigid foam boards taped together at the seams to forge a thermal barrier. Every crevice, duct and electrical outlet is coated with a special sealant to prevent leakage.

“We’ve turned the home into an airtight fortress,” says Jacob Atalla, KB Home’s vice president for sustainability. All of the nearly 2,300 houses the company built in California last year were equipped with similar energy-saving features. Some had even more. The company presold all of them, at premiums of 1.5% to 3.8% above the price of similar homes without those features.

Read Wall Street Journal Article



New Bay Area home is part of California’s energy-saving future

By David R. Baker

 Updated 4:26 pm, Friday, June 17, 2016


The taupe stucco house at 317 Bougainvilla Drive looks like any other — which is part of the point.

No outward sign distinguishes it from the other homes taking shape on this street of new construction teeming with work crews. Two stories, with a two-car garage; a shaded front porch offers shelter from the blazing sun.

But this particular house is an experiment. And it could represent California’s future.

If all goes as planned, the home will generate as much electricity as it pulls from the grid over the course of a year, achieving a status known as “zero net energy.” Within four years, California officials want all new residential construction in the state to consist of zero net energy homes — a tall order.

‘It’ll just be normal’

Designed by the Pulte Group development company, the Brentwood house uses two small solar arrays to generate electricity and highly efficient lights and appliances to conserve it. But the house looks and feels like a typical three-bedroom, two-bath home, rather than a test bed for new technology.

“Pulte is going to help make this normal, where it isn’t something weird that causes 100 people to come out and look,” said Drew Bohan, chief deputy director of the California Energy Commission. “It’ll just be normal. That happened with solar; it’ll happen with this.”

Read Article



"GEM": The Word on the Street

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The Green Energy Money financial tools and valuation methods add tremendous value to our HERS Index and building performance analytic certifications. We are motivated to support GEM in their development of economic solutions to provide ‘true’ cost benefits to building owners across the country.  Now our energy rating and building science industry finally has a way to provide the financial markets with the ability to quantify their risk and financially reward building owners with incentivized high-performance building loans and appraisals necessary for mass market adoption. 

— Steve Baden, Executive Director, RESNET



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