Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

From EPA.gov

What is a REC?

A REC (pronounced: rěk) represents the property rights to the environmental, social, and other non-power qualities of renewable electricity generation. A REC, and its associated attributes and benefits, can be sold separately from the underlying physical electricity associated with a renewable-based generation source.
RECs provide buyers flexibility:
  • In procuring green power across a diverse geographical area.
  • In applying the renewable attributes to the electricity use at a facility of choice.
This flexibility allows organizations to support renewable energy development and protect the environment when green power products are not locally available.

How do RECs work?

All grid-tied renewable-based electricity generators produce two distinct products:
  • Physical electricity
  • RECs
Renewable Energy
Certificates (RECs)
This diagram shows how renewable energy certificates (RECs) and electricity take different pathways to the point of end use.  RECs represent the right to claim the attributes and benefits of the renewable generation source.
High Resolution
At the point of generation, both product components can be sold together or separately, as a bundled or unbundled product. In either case, the renewable generator feeds the physical electricity onto the electricity grid, where it mixes with electricity from other generation sources. Since electrons from all generation sources are indistinguishable, it is impossible to track the physical electrons from a specific point of generation to a specific point of use.

As renewable generators produce electricity, they create one REC for every 1000 kilowatt-hours (or 1 megawatt-hour) of electricity placed on the grid. If the physical electricity and the associated RECs are sold to separate buyers, the electricity is no longer considered “renewable” or “green.” The REC product is what conveys the attributes and benefits of the renewable electricity, not the electricity itself.

RECs serve the role of laying claim to and accounting for the associated attributes of renewable-based generation. The REC and the associated underlying physical electricity take separate pathways to the point of end use (see diagram). As renewable generators produce electricity, they have a positive impact, reducing the need for fossil fuel-based generation sources to meet consumer demand. RECs embody these positive environmental impacts and convey these benefits to the REC owner. The following is a list of the inherent primary and derived attributes that a REC can convey to an owner:

Primary REC Attributes Derived REC Attributes
  • Renewable fuel source
  • Emissions of the renewable generation
  • Geographic location of the generator
  • Vintage of the generator
  • Eligibility for certification or RPS
  • Avoided emissions
  • Eligibility for emission reduction credits or offsets
  • Price stability
There are two approaches to verifying REC ownership and the right to make environmental claims:
Both of these approaches help buyers avoid double counting and double claims and ensure against fraud. Of the two, REC tracking systems provide greater transparency when tracking RECs from their point of creation to their point of final use.

Added Reading

The following documents provides greater detail on issues related to this Web page.
Text Box: ThumbnailEmerging Markets for Renewable Energy Certificates: Opportunities and ChallengesNational Renewable Energy Laboratory NREL/TP-620-37388, January 2005 (PDF) (69 pp, 1.5MB, About PDF). Exit EPA Disclaimer This report describes how RECs are marketed; examines RECs markets, including scope and prices; and identifies and describes the key challenges facing the growth and success of RECs markets.

Cover of Renewable Energy Certificates document.Renewable Energy Certificates (PDF) (6 pp, 996K, About PDF). This white paper provides a brief overview of renewable energy certificates (RECs): what they are, how they work, and why they are an important option for individual and organizational buyers in renewable electricity and green power markets.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why Get A Home Energy Audit - Home Energy Team

Why Get A Home Energy AuditWhy get a home energy audit is a common response, which many homeowners have when asked the question. However, if you're serious about saving on your high energy costs, then here are a few reasons to get a home energy audit:

Manage Your Energy Consumption

Average 30% SavingsA Home Energy auditor will provide a detailed assessment of your home and supply you with recommendations to maximize your home's energy efficiency. To help you implement your proposed energy saving strategy, the Home Energy Team can also provide you with certified energy efficient contractors to help you get the job done. These independent contractors are practiced in energy management solutions. Trust the team, and put an end to your energy loss today!

MitigateYour Energy Loss

Older Homes Save MoreDue to the natural settling of the ground, exposure to the elements, deterioration of building materials, and the development of modern energy efficient materials, older homes are less energy efficient than newer homes - so owners of older homes can benefit even more from a home energy audit.

If your home is more than 25 years old, you will save an average of 35% on your energy bills. And if your home is more than 50 years old, that percentage goes up to 38 % (according to Osprey Media). Even if your home is just over 10 years old, there is a good chance that it's losing energy.

Energy Audits Pay Dividends

16% Return on InvestmentYou may be thinking that saving money on your energy bill is a good idea, but what about the cost of the upgrades needed to improve your home's energy efficiency? After taking into account the cost of upgrades, the average return on investment is 16 percent (see chart). That's a better return than bonds, money market accounts and even the stock market can offer. And with those investments you have to pay tax on your earnings, while the money you save on your energy bill is yours to keep.

Federal Tax Rebates - and a Rebate from Home Energy Team!Many energy efficient home upgrades are eligible for tax rebates from the federal government. Check the 2009 Tax Benefits article for more details. You will also receive up to a $300 rebate from Home Energy Team if you use a contractor listed on this website.

Increase the Comfort of Your HomeBeyond the financial savings, other reasons to get a home energy audit include increasing the comfort in your home. Imagine your home without the draftiness or the cold basement. Imagine the upstairs being as cool as the main floor in summer. Increasing your home's energy efficiency and improving ventilation will give you greater enjoyment from your home.

Increase Your Home's ValueFinally, making your home more energy efficient will increase your home's value. According to a study published in Appraisal Journal, the market value of a home increases $20 for every $1 decrease in annual energy costs. So whether you are planning to stay in your home for years to come, or thinking about re-locating, a home energy audit is the first step to maximizing the value of your largest investment.

Social Responsibility

The Environmentally Responsible ChoiceAccording the non-profit environmental advocacy group, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), 21 percent of the green house gas emissions in the United States are due to residential energy use - even more than cars. By getting an audit and making your home more energy efficient, you are doing your part to reduce the greenhouse emissions which threaten us all.

From the http://www.homeenergyteam.com/

Monday, December 6, 2010

From the Department of the Environment

2010 -- A Watershed Year

In 2010, the recharged effort to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay attracted wide interest and garnered many headlines, probably the most of any environmental story. The attention was well deserved. Marylanders worked diligently throughout the year to set limits on water pollution -- and plotted a course that finally puts the restoration of the Bay within sight.

But that wasn't the only good news this year. In Maryland, where the quality of our air is the best it's been in a long time, we saw signs that air pollution programs are making a real difference. We continued to help lead the way in addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gases -- which also helps our economy and creates jobs. We made progress in cleaning up industrial sites and protecting children from lead poisoning. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects put people to work and provided environmental and health benefits.

An MDE initiative to improve our enforcement of environmental regulations continued to produce results: for the third straight year, the Department issued more enforcement actions than in any previous year.

And Maryland businesses and organizations shared ideas on environmentally sustainable practices through the Maryland Green Registry, a Smart Green and Growing Program that earlier this year won a national award for pollution prevention.
The Air

Key provisions of the Healthy Air Act -- the most sweeping air pollution program ever in Maryland and the toughest power plant emission law on the East Coast -- went into effect in 2010. The state's major power plants met the requirement to install "scrubbers" to help meet benchmarks for reducing air pollutants.

Hot, sunny weather helps to create ground level ozone -- and the summer of 2010 was a record-breaker for heat. But the number of unhealthy air days would have surely been higher if not for our progress in improving air quality. MDE also continued to push for tougher federal standards for air quality, including regulations that would reduce the amount of ozone transported into Maryland from other states.

Meanwhile, Marylanders were finding ways to help. Hundreds came to Camden Yards on a summer Saturday to trade gasoline lawn mowers for cleaner, battery-powered models (discounted as part of a program co-sponsored by MDE).

And progress continued in addressing climate change. Maryland worked with a coalition of northeastern states to establish the start of a framework for a low-carbon fuel standard. Maryland's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the country's first cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has raised more than $130 million for such initiatives as low-income energy assistance and for energy efficiency and clean energy programs that will lower greenhouse gas emissions. The program will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the State's electricity generators by about 10 percent by 2019.

The Land

Maryland continues to address needed cleanup at some of our state's most polluted sites. MDE staff worked throughout 2010 to advance the cleanup of areas at the Sparrow Point steel-making facility and successfully pushed for improved communication between the company and the community. Also in 2010, Maryland asked that the Dwyer Property, a former munitions plant in Cecil County, be added to the national Superfund list of polluted properties. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommended that the site be added to the list.

We continued to make progress in addressing lead poisoning, the biggest -- and entirely preventable -- environmental threat to children. The annual Childhood Lead Registry report for 2010 showed that more Maryland children were tested last year for lead poisoning and fewer were poisoned by lead than in any year since figures have been collected. But, as First Lady Katie O'Malley pointed out in announcing those results, we must do more -- and that includes spreading the word that lead poisoning can also occur in owner-occupied homes as well as in older rental units.

MDE moved forward in 2010 to implement requirements of a new program to improve the management of manure at animal feeding operations. The program will reduce polluted runoff from over 500 poultry operations and help farmers comply with Federal and State laws.

The Water  

To meet Maryland's ambitious two-year milestones, we have more than doubled our efforts to reduce nitrogen, the most serious pollutant in the Bay. Indeed, we worked on many fronts in 2010 to improve the quality of our waterways.

We took steps to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff, the fastest-growing source of Bay pollution. Regulations adopted in 2010 require "environmental site design" -- that is, permeable surfaces, vegetative buffers, and other small-scale treatment practices to trap and absorb stormwater -- for new development.

Also this year, MDE worked to address the largest source of stormwater pollution -- our already developed areas. Montgomery County supported a stormwater permit issued by MDE that is one of the most progressive in the nation and provides a framework for similar stormwater permits for other Maryland jurisdictions.

Maryland's septic upgrade program continues to be a tremendous success, with more than 2,200 septic systems upgraded through MDE's program. Meanwhile, Marylanders continue to upgrade many of our largest wastewater treatment plants with Enhanced Nutrient Removal technology. We have upgraded 16 plants, and another 15 are under construction.

ARRA funding created and saved jobs and helped pay for projects that provided environmental and public health benefits. MDE administered the $121.6 million for 85 clean water and green projects.

Finally, 2010 has proven to be a pivotal year in the long fight to restore the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland worked with the EPA on the development of a Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, often called a pollution "diet." We were the only State, along with the District of Columbia, to submit an adequate Draft Watershed Implementation Plan to meet that diet. After hearing and considering public comment to our proposal, we are putting the finishing touches on a refined Plan that will significantly reduce pollution by 2020 -- a self-imposed deadline five years ahead of the EPA and the other Bay States.

It is a plan that will improve our environment and public health, help create jobs, and protect the economic value of the Bay.

These are but a few of the many accomplishments this year, achievements that occurred during difficult economic times and that could only be made possible through the hard work of State employees and our stakeholders, and I thank you for all you did this year to protect the environment and public health.

On behalf of our talented staff -- scientists, administrative specialists, emergency responders, meteorologists, modelers, radiation experts, geologists, project managers, planners and engineers and more -- thank you for your work to achieve the important progress we are making. If you attended a stakeholder meeting, submitted a comment, sponsored a cleanup, sought funding for a project, reported a problem, or obtained a permit, you have improved Maryland's environment. The Department looks forward to working with you in 2011.

On a personal note, I want to take this opportunity to offer many thanks for your support over the past four years, as I recently announced my decision not to seek a second term. Serving the citizens of Maryland as Secretary of the Department of the Environment has been my honor and my privilege. I am enormously proud of our collective accomplishments and particularly of the significant progress we've made under Governor O'Malley's leadership. I look forward to following Maryland's continued achievements in protecting our air, land, water, and public health.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Save Money and the Planet!

Part 1 - Baking Soda - Household Cleaner, Stain Remover, Deodorizer

There was a time when families made their own cleaning products for pennies a gallon or 
less. Some figures show the average family spends $1200 a year on household cleaners! 
Who says you can’t afford a vacation or dinners out! Just MIY!

You’ll also eliminate many toxic chemicals in your home and help the environment.  

These homemade cleaners are much safer around children and pets.

First: Label Your Products 

ALWAYS label your bottles with all the ingredients they contain and make sure

the label states NOT TO BE CONSUMED BY ANYONE, but used for (state the purpose 

of the product).

Shake a bit of baking soda on a damp sponge, and you can clean and deodorize all 
the surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom. Always rinse thoroughly.

Add 2-4 tablespoons of baking soda in a spray bottle filled with a quart of warm 
water for a more liquid cleaner and deodorizer to use on fixtures, stainless steel, 
chrome, fiberglass, ceramic, porcelain or enamel and other non-porous, surfaces.

Keep an open box in your refrigerator to eliminate odors and sprinkle it in the 
bottom of a garbage pail or bag to keep odors down.

Keep baking soda by the stove to put out grease fire emergencies.

Sprinkle some in your plasticware, and rinse with hot water to deodorize.  
Do not use baking soda on porous surfaces like wood.

These articles from Angel Brown, Keller Williams - Upper 
Marlboro, 240-34-ANGEL and Home Warranty of America, Inc., will 
help you improve your home, creating a healthier environment while 
saving energy and the planet. Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stay Cool this Summer

This message brought to you by EcoBroker International.
Easy Tips to Stay Cool (and Save Energy) This Summer

Green the Block, http://www.greentheblock.net/, is offering some simple summer tips to stay cool and save energy. Find a few tips below and at this link.

1. Using operable windows, shutters, awnings, and vents as originally intended to control the interior environment.

2. Place your air conditioner in a central window, rather than a corner window, to allow for better air movement.

3. Fans can make rooms feel five to ten degrees cooler and use 80% less energy than air conditioners.

4. To get the hot air out at night: open the downstairs windows, and use window fans in upstairs windows to suck large volumes of hot air out of the top floor of the house. On really hot evenings, run bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans for an hour.

5. Unplug the AC to DC power converters when they're not needed. Some of them use electricity even when nothing's attached to them, and they produce heat when they consume power. Feel each plugged-in power converter. If it's cold, it is not using much electricity and isn't warming your house. If it's hot, unplug it if possible.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spring Cleaning for Busy People

It’s hard to carve out a block of time to do any big projects, which is what spring cleaning is to most families.
But there are fun ways to set it up and accomplish a lot of these tasks while getting a refreshed feeling toward your home and the summer yet to come!

Here are some quick ideas:

• Put music on while you are spring cleaning.

• Make a list and do some small tasks first giving you a feeling of accomplishment.

• Treat yourself after you finish some tasks whether it’s a movie, a meal out, whatever constitutes a reward for you.

• Make a list with some easy tasks at the top and then a priority task or two next that you really want to finish this spring. Refrain from making too long a list which will seem never-ending. You can always add later.

• If you have older children, involve them too. Put on their music for some of the time as well and design little treats around their desires. Nothing has to be expensive, just fun.

• Get real. If you are cleaning out a closet and haven’t worn that size since high school or haven’t worn it for a year or more, donate it. You’ll get a good feeling when donating which will help with the motivation to do more cleaning.

There are fun ways to do any big project in the home!

These articles from Angel Brown, Keller Williams - Upper

Marlboro, 301-928-1007 and Home Warranty of America, Inc., will

help you improve your home, creating a healthier environment while

saving energy and the planet. Stay tuned for more!

These helpful, money-saving home improvement ideas are brought to you by

Angel Brown, Keller Williams - Upper Marlboro, 301-928-1007 and Home

Warranty of America, Inc.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Taking Steps to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint-Greening Your Home

Courtesy of http://www.whatsmycarbonfootprint.com/

Taking Steps to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Greening Your Home

Greening at home keeps more of the "green" at home: inefficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning units, windows leaking conditioned air, and appliances devour energy.

This is money out of your pocket, and it's bad for the environment: the electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home — almost 8500 Btu's annually for an average home, puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars.

Tips to help get you started:

Tuneup Your HVAC System

Clean air filters regularly and have your heating and cooling equipment tuned annually by a licensed contractor to save energy and increase comfort at home. When it's time to replace your old equipment, choose a high efficiency model, and make sure it is properly sized and installed.

Efficient Appliances

When you replace an appliance, look for products with an ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR-qualified products are available in more than 40 product categories, including lighting, home electronics, heating and cooling equipment and appliances. If your local utility supports appliance recycling, find out how you can participate.

Be Water Wise

Municipal water systems require a lot of energy to purify and distribute water. Don't let water run while shaving or brushing teeth. Repair leaky faucets and toilets promptly. These simple actions can help households save hundreds of gallons of water each month: saving water, especially hot water, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Be Smart with Power Management

Did you know that your battery charger uses energy while plugged into the wall even when you’re not using it to charge your phone, laptop, or PDA? Unplug your appliances when not in use. Adjust power management settings for your computer to conserve energy. Consider using a power strip that can be turned off when you're done using your computers, printers, wireless routers and other electronics. Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms.

Replace Low-Efficiency Lightbulbs

Replace incandescent bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). Check the package to match the bulb type with your fixture to get the best performance and life from the CFL.

Use Renewable Energy

Solar energy can be used to heat homes, buildings, water, and to make electricity. Today, more than 200,000 houses in the United States take advantage of the sun's energy. Find out about renewable energy incentives in your state: http://www.dsireusa.org/

More Smart Tips To Green Your Life:

Buy Seasonal Produce

Organic food tastes better and it’s kinder to the earth. Thirty percent of the fossil fuel used on farms goes into the making of fertilizers.

Get greener by buying items grown or produced within 100 miles and you’ll reduce the amount of diesel fuel needed to ship food. You can get fresher food and help small-scale agriculture by shopping at neighborhood farmers’ markets.

Think Before you drive…

Save energy by carpooling, taking public transportation, riding a bike, or walking. Another way to reduce your carbon emissions is to combine errands when you do drive.

Cars & Renewable Fuels

Before buying a new or used vehicle, check out the EPA green buying guide: http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/. Highly fuel efficient cars, hybrids, and vehicles that use cleaner alternative fuels help reduce greenhouse gases emissions. Reduce pollution from your current vehicle by getting regular tune-ups and making sure your tires are properly inflated to achieve your vehicle’s optimal gas mileage.

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

Recycle cans, bottles, plastic bags, and newspapers. Support recycling by purchasing items that are reusable and/or recyclable. When you recycle, you send less trash to the landfill and you help save resources that would be used in manufacturing non-recycled products.

Spread The Word!

Talk with your family and friends about climate change. Let them know the ways you’re changing your lifestyle to help prevent more climate changes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How the Stimulus Benefits “Green”

(And How You Can Position Yourself to Benefit as Well)By Ryan Moehring

You may think there is too much “pork” in the recently signed stimulus bill. Or perhaps too much spending or too many tax cuts. Its passage may offend your Keynesian or Monetarist economic views, and may, you believe, lead to the very demise of capitalism itself. (OK, that may be going too far.) You may not think we need a stimulus at all—that we should let the free market recover on its own. Whatever your political and economic viewpoint, if you believe our country's energy policy needs a fundamental change, and that energy efficiency and renewable energy can simultaneously stimulate the economy and help the planet, chances are you are excited about the green provisions of the bill.To say the stimulus is big is an understatement. It is huge, colossal, gargantuan even. It is the largest spending bill the world has ever seen, which is a frightening proposition to say the least. However, if you can get past the staggering debt created by the bill, you'll find unprecedented subsidies for the energy sector. Here is an abbreviated summary of some of the energy-related provisions that can impact your real estate business:$6.3 billion for energy efficiency in multifamily housing getting federal assistance, such as HUD-sponsored low-income housing$5 billion to weatherize more than 1 million homes owned by "modest-income" families.$4.5 billion to increase the energy efficiency of federal buildings$4 billion to repair and modernize public housing units$2 billion to increase the tax credit for hybrid cars to $7,500$1.4 billion for bonds to carry out state and local renewable energy and conservation projects$510 million to repair and modernize more than 4,000 Native American housing units$500 million to train workers for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy$300 million for consumer rebates for energy-efficient appliances$268 million to remove caps on a 30 percent residential credit for solar, wind, and geothermal$250 million to HUD to improve the efficiency of government-subsidized apartmentsThe New York Times released a detailed breakdown of the energy provisions here.Interesting Facts About the $5 Billion Dedicated to Weatherization AssistanceThis amount could weatherize 1 million homes and, directly and indirectly, create 375,000 jobs.Low-income families will save an average of $350 annually from weatherization.Every investment of $1 billion in clean energy programs creates nearly 5,000 more jobs than traditional infrastructure spending.As a real estate professional, you may be wondering how you can benefit from all of this spending. Here are a few suggestions:You can always contact your state energy office and obtain information about their weatherization program. Once you have this information, how can you apply it?Do you know someone on your lead list, or perhaps a past client, who could use some free insulation or some caulking around their windows? Why wouldn't you take the time to connect a potential client with free weatherization money for home improvements that will actually improve their comfort and quality of life? When the time comes to sell their home, who do you think they are going to call? Mr. Big Shot REALTOR® with the huge advertising budget? Or the considerate agent who thoughtfully took the time to help make their winter a little more comfortable?Maybe you've already helped a family move into a green home, or have helped them retrofit it. You already know that green topics are important to them, so why wouldn't you tell them about the $7,500 tax credit for purchasing a plug-in hybrid vehicle?Do they already have a hybrid? Tell them about the rebates for energy-efficient appliances.Even better, how about informing them about the removal of the 30 percent cap on residential solar systems? Combine this credit with local incentives currently offered by a number of states and your clients can start producing their own energy for around one-fourth of the sticker price. Now that's exciting!Whatever the scenario, you should know that your competition will be putting the stimulus to good use. How will your business benefit? Start planning today.*********************Discover more about the growing interest in all things "green" in this issue of the EcoBroker Green Outlook.Want to know more about green issues in real estate? If you would like to receive information from us more often, just send us an email with your name, company name, address, and phone number, and we will keep you up to date on timely green industry news and opportunities. Join EcoBroker today to gain the tools to stay on top and address the needs of this changing market. With EcoBroker® designation training, you can help clients save money, live comfortably, and reduce their carbon footprint!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Conduct Your Own Energy Audit by Jane Hodges

Self-starters don’t necessarily need a pro to assess their home’s energy deficiencies. With a little elbow grease and one of several free do-it-yourself guides to home energy auditing, you can get a good sense of where your home is leaking hot and cool air, and how your choice of appliances and your energy use contributes to energy loss.

What you’ll save on fixes
By following up on problems, you can lower energy bills by 5% to 30% annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. With annual energy bills averaging $2,200, according to Energy Star, investing in fixes or energy-efficient replacement products could save you up to $660 within a year.

And self-audits can cost virtually nothing if you already own a flashlight, ladder, measuring stick, candles, eye protection, work clothes, dust mask, and a screwdriver—or roughly $150 if you’re starting from scratch. As for time commitment, expect to spend two to four hours to investigate home systems, refer to utility bills, and conduct research about local norms for products, such as insulation, say experts.

Types of DIY audits
Since there are a variety of ways to conduct a do-it-yourself audit, you’ll need to know your tolerance for the tasks involved.

Some require you play home inspector, climbing into attics and crawlspaces on fact-finding missions and delving into unfinished portions of your home to look at duct work. Questionnaire-based audits rely the assumption that you can answer such questions as how many gallons of water your toilet tank holds to the R-value (thickness) of insulation in your home.

If you don’t have time to familiarize yourself with your home’s systems or confidence about diagnosing problems, are disabled, are squeamish on ladders and in crawlspaces, or are already planning to invest in a major remodel, you may benefit from hiring a pro.

Even homeowners who complete a self-audit often hire a professional to double-check their diagnoses. A self-audit may reveal drafts but not their exact source, such as ducts or insulation, for instance. Because the costs to address a draft can range from minor to major, investing in a paid audit may be justifiable.

What should you check?
All the home systems and appliances that contribute to energy costs. Here’s the breakdown of a typical home’s energy usage that Energy Star references:

Heating (29%)
Cooling (17%)
Water heating (14%)
Appliances (13%)
Lighting (12%)
Computers and electronics (4%)
Other (11%)
Self-audits hone in on details pros may not
While the pros use special equipment to focus on hard-to-research aspects of a home’s building envelope and indoor air circulation, DIY audits can teach you—based on the questions they ask—to identify and address the numerous small ways in which your home wastes energy.

Since lighting, electronics, and appliances collectively account for nearly 30% of the average home’s energy costs, you can make an impact on your bills by replacing old appliances with energy-efficient replacements and simple fixes—plugging appliances into power strips versus wall outlets, making sure refrigerator doors are properly sealed and don’t leak air, and opting for a programmable thermostat.

How to spot common energy leaks
1. Check your home’s exterior envelope—the windows, doors, walls, and roof exposed to outdoor air. Hold a candle or stick of incense near windows, doors, electrical outlets, range hoods, plumbing and ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and ceiling fans in bathrooms. When smoke blows, you’ve got a draft from a source that may need caulking, sealant, weather stripping, or insulation.

2. Check insulation R-value or thickness. Where insulation is exposed (in an attic, unfinished basement, or around ducts, water heaters, and appliances), use a ruler to measure, recommends the DOE. Compare your results against those suggested for your region via an insulation calculator.

Although examining in-wall insulation is difficult, you can remove electrical outlet covers, turn off electricity, and probe inside the wall, the DOE notes in its DIY audit guide. However, only a professional’s thermographic scan can reveal if insulation coverage is consistent within a wall. Insulation can settle or may not be uniformly installed.

3. Look for stains on insulation. These often indicate air leaks from a hole behind the insulation, such as a duct hole or crack in an exterior wall.

4. Inspect exposed ducts. They may not work efficiently if they’re dirty, have small holes, or if they pass through unfinished portions of the home and aren’t insulated. Look for obvious holes and whether intersections of duct pipe are joined correctly. Since ducts are typically made out of thin metal that easily conducts heat, uninsulated or poorly insulated ducts in unconditioned spaces can lose 10% to 30% of the energy used to heat and cool your home, says DOE.

When should a professional make repairs?
The DOE recommends calling a contractor before insulating ducts in basements or crawlspaces, as doing so will make these spaces cooler and could impact other home systems, such as water pipes. Plus, these ducts might release noxious air. DOE also recommends you hire professionals to clean ducts periodically. If you’ve noticed that some rooms get disproportionately hot or cold, bring that to a pro’s attention. It could be duct related.

In addition, some DIY audits—like the City of Seattle’s free online audit guide, suggest hiring a pro if you suspect asbestos materials have been used in insulation or around pipes, ducts, or heating equipment. Airborne or crumbling asbestos particles are a health hazard. And a pro might be the right choice when dealing with insulation around or near electrical or examining electrical systems with bare wires.

A self-audit, like a paid audit, serves as a jumping-off point to help you set priorities for making your home more efficient. Whether or not you choose to make repairs yourself, one thing’s for sure: You’ll come away knowing more about your home’s strengths and weaknesses than you did before.

Jane Hodges has written about real estate for more than half of her 16-year journalism career, for publications including MSNBC.com, Seattle Magazine, The Seattle Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2007 she won a Bivins Fellowship from the National Association of Real Estate Editors to pursue a book on women and real estate. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, CBS’s BNET, and Fortune. She lives in Seattle in a 1966 raised rancher with an excellent retro granite fireplace. Latest home project: remodeling a basement bathroom.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010



"The 30% tax credit, (and the 400% efficiency!) is driving everyone to Geothermal, are you missing out? United Air Temp is currently offering a free consultation to determine if Geothermal is right for your home. Simply call 800-890-4328 and one of our geothermal experts will come to your home with all the answers you need."

"With tax breaks, geothermal system promises deep cuts in heating, cooling costs." says Christopher J. Gearon with the Washington Post.-Click link for article: Geo-Thermal.

Virginia State Rebates:
VIRGINIA TAX REBATES! ACT NOW! Rebates will be distributed on a first-come, first served basis. Virginia now has rebates, the rebate program is providing up to $15 million in rebates for energy efficiency measures and equipment. There are several steps to apply for a rebate. Please see the VA State web site for all the details-Click link for VA Website- VA Tax Breaks

- Programmable thermostats. Amount of rebate is not to exceed $55. - Heating and cooling equipment: central air conditioners; air source heat pumps; natural gas or propane furnaces; oil furnaces; gas, propane, or oil hot water boiler; gas, oil, or propane tankless water heater; high efficiency gas storage (tank) water heater; electric heat pump water heater; geothermal heat pumps; The amount of the rebate for these items is 20% of the total cost of equipment and labor, not to exceed $2,000 for residential systems.

United Air Temp would like to give you $25.00! And they'll give $25.00 to any friend or relative you refer! In fact, they are so sure that your friends and relatives will benefit from our services that they will give you and anyone you send us a $25.00 value certificate! It is their way of saying thanks for your business and for every new customer you send them!

Call their toll free number for details.1-800-890-4328 extension 8300. "Yes, for every new United Air Temp customer you send us who purchases any UAT product or service, we give you a $25.00 value certificate good toward any UAT purchase! Our new customer will receive a $25.00 certificate too! Everybody wins!"

"This promotion is for customers you refer who have not used United Air Temp previously - and ONLY for geographical areas that we serve - not redeemable for cash."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eco - Friendly Projects in DC

From Earth Conservation Corp.

To empower our endangered youth to reclaim the Anacostia River, their communities and their lives.


Earth Conservation Corps Environmental Career Center
The Earth Conservation Corps Environmental Career Center is the home to our premier workforce readiness and training program. Twenty-four, out-of-school young adults (17-25 years old) participate in professional skill development training, including those requiring certifications. Training programs will focus on green industry jobs (e.g., construction safety training, basic energy efficiency audits and weatherization, meter installation). Transitioning corps members into jobs, pre-apprenticeships, and/or advanced level training are the core outcomes of the Career center programs.

Youth Advocate Program
The Youth Advocate Program is a school-based, adult mentoring program. A youth advocate meets with 25 ninth grade students, 2-3 times per week after school for the duration of the school year and part of the summer. Youth advocates provide the support students need to stay in school, and to succeed both at home and in their communities. Students (referred to as “Jr. Corps Members) participate in academic, career exploration, and environmental education activities to increase their academic, environmental, social and life skills.

Marina Program at Diamond Teague Park
The new Marina has been built by the District of Columbia around one of the ECC’s environmental centers, the Pump House. In partnership with Coastal Properties, the Marina program provides employment for corps members as managers of the Marina, and as dock hands to assist travelers off vessels to attend Nationals baseball games as well as other local activities. In addition, the PumpHouse and the Matthew Henson Center offer attractive venues for the community to hold special exhibits, events and meetings with a donation.

Environmental Education & Leadership Development Program
The ECC uses hands on, outdoor activities and its Raptors to teach Corps members the knowledge and skills necessary to become leaders and ambassadors of their environment. They learn about the impact pollution has on people, wildlife and the environment. Corps members lead volunteers during community service projects that clean and restore the Anacostia River and watersheds. Schools can also schedule environmental education activities at one of our education centers or at their school. Media arts training provide Corps members the basic skills to record and produce the footage of their activities, and an understanding of how media can be used as part of their civic engagement and outreach strategy. Recorded activities are then uploaded on our website and social media networks in order to increase awareness, educate the general public about environmental issues, and ways they too can get involved.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Easy Ways to Conserve Water in Your Home - Part 2

This post is courtesy of HWA Home Warranty.


Water is becoming more precious than gold! Droughts in our country and around the
world have people and nations fighting over it, and it’s getting more and more expensive.
We need to conserve it, and the payoffs are a lower water bill and enough of this precious
resource for everyone. Here are some good ideas to start your conservation program.
Teach everyone in the family.

• Place plastic bottles or float booster in your toilet tanks. You can put a couple of
inches of sand or pebbles in the bottles. Do not let them impede the operation of
the mechanisms. Make sure the toilet flushes properly (toilets generally require 3
gallons of water). You can save 10 gallons of water a day with this method.

• Insulating your water pipes is another good way to save water, and it’s easy and
inexpensive. Purchase pre-slit foam pipe insulation at your hardware store.
You’ll get hot water faster and eliminate wasting it while it heats up.

• Limit shower times. You can waste up to 10 gallons a minute. 2-3 minute
showers are enough to get in, soap up and rinse off. Do personal grooming
activities outside the shower.

• Install water-saving shower heads or restrictors which are easy to install.
You can fit all of your home’s faucets with aerators as well. These are big water
conservation methods, easy and inexpensive.

• Check out our other articles on Xeriscaping – What is it? and Rainwater
Harvesting. Ask your Realtor to send them to you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Water Conservation-Part 1

This post is courtesy of HWA Home Waranty.

Water is becoming more precious than gold! Droughts in our country and around the
world have people and nations fighting over it, and it’s getting more and more expensive.
We need to conserve it, and the payoffs are a lower water bill and enough of this precious
resource for everyone. Here are some good ideas to start your conservation program.
Teach everyone in the family.

• Instruct your entire family to turn the water off while brushing their teeth.

• Don’t let water run while washing dishes, fill the sinks for wash and rinse.

• Do not use your toilet as a garbage can for trash like tissues, cigarette butts, etc.

• Check for leaks. In your toilet’s tank, drop in a small amount of food coloring.
Wait 30 minutes or so and if some color appears in your toilet bowl, you have a
leak that needs to be repaired right away. Replacements parts are easy to install.

• When replacing toilets, buy low flush. You’ll save anywhere from 2-4 gallons of
water per flush. If your toilet was built before 1992, it is highly likely you have a
much less efficient toilet.

• Use water meter to check for water leaks. Check the meter and stop water use in
your home for two hours. Check the meter after. If there is no change, then you
have no leaks. If there is a change, look at toilets, sinks, and pipes for leaks to fix.
A small leak in a faucet can use up to 20 gallons of water a day!

• Replacing your clothes washer can save a lot of water. ENERGY STAR washers
use 35-50% less water and 50% less energy per load.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Going Native

This post is courtesy of HWA Home Warranty.

There are 20,000 plant species native to North America playing enormously important
roles in our ecosystems. Learning about and growing them in your yard can be fun and
educational for the whole family. And here are some benefits of going native:

• Decrease the amount of water and fertilizer you need to maintain your landscapes
• Reduce long-term landscape maintenance when native plants are properly planted
and established
• Protect water quality by controlling soil erosion and moderating floods and
• Add beauty to your landscape and preserve our natural heritage
• Provide food and habitat for native wildlife
• Help slow down the spread of fire because native plants stay greener longer
• Create a potentially important genetic resource for future food crops or other
plant-related products
• Create a natural balance keeping species in check, and allowing species to thrive,
preventing local imbalances.

What is a Native Plant?

These are plants that evolved naturally in a particular area before humans. They’ve
adapted well to the soil, moisture and weather conditions of that region.
Native plants have the most interesting flowers and foliage with shrubs and trees
providing many shapes, heights, and textures in your yard. Many of them even provide
beauty in the winter through their bark colors, textures and seed pods.
There are many resources on the Web and books written on this subject to get you and
your family started. Wow the neighbors with the beauty you create and the knowledge
you gain through going native!
You can source native plants through the North American Native Plant Society at
www.nanps.org and other great sites on the Web.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Clean Air with Decorative House Plants

This post is coutesy of HWA Home Warranty.

Called living air purifiers, houseplants remove toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and more, which many indoor air filters do not. The plant actually absorbs the toxic gases in your home’s air and exchanges carbon dioxide with oxygen, keeping the air from getting sick. Indoor air purifiers with an activated carbon filter do the same, but not HEPA or ionizing filters.

Formaldehyde is a common, but toxic gas, coming from many sources inside your home from carpeting to plastic items, wood furniture and more. Various common house plants will reduce formaldehyde gas.
These include fig trees, aloe vera, ficus, the spider plant, and more.
NASA did extensive studies on plants and which ones were better than others for removing certain pollutants; here is a good list of additional houseplants that you can use to help improve your home’s air quality:

Philodendrons, Gerbera Daisies, Chrysanthemums, Chinese Evergreen, Aloe Vera, Golden Pothos, Ficus, Common English Ivy, Mauna Loa, Cornstalk, Warneck and Red Edged Dracaena, Bamboo or Reed Palm.

Many houseplants are from tropical regions and normally grow in lower light under larger plants in that climate, so they need some light, but not always as much. You may have plenty of spots in your home to accommodate them.

Mix a variety of these and other houseplants to absorb varying degrees and types of pollutants. Some of the plants listed above are good, purifying houseplants but are poisonous to children and pets. Place them OUT of their reach.


Good Morning All,

Your Eco-Friendly Angel here wishing you many energy efficient days to come. This blog is the kick off of the GREEN section of the"All Things Real Estate" blog.

Subscribe to this blog and get tips on how to make your life GREEN and energy efficient, and to "All Things Real Estate" at http://angelsbrown.blogspot.com/ and get all the latest real estate news, tips, ideas, and information.