Friday, November 21, 2014

A More Efficient Home This Thanksgiving


A More Efficient Home This Thanksgiving

Consumer home ownership site HouseLogic has a whole list of ways you and your clients can avoid gobbling up more energy than necessary this Thanksgiving. They've mapped out ways to save on energy before Turkey day as well as during the cooking and cleanup processes. Keep these tips in mind, and consider sending them to homeowners and clients who are concerned about the high energy costs of entertaining.
MXM for HouseLogic
  • Install a dimmer switches. Every time you dim a bulb’s brightness by 10 percent, you’ll double its lifespan.
  • Plan side dishes that can cook simultaneously with the turkey. If you cook dishes at the same temperature at the same time, you’ll reduce the amount of time the oven has to be running.
During cook-time:
  • The oven will keep your home cozy, so you can lower your house thermostat a few degrees.
  • If you use your oven’s convection feature, you'll reduce the required temperature and cooking time and cut your energy use by about 20 percent.
  • Use microwaves and slow cookers whenever possible, as they both use less energy than ovens overall.
After the meal:
  • Scrape plates instead of rinsing. Then, use your dishwasher (on the air-dry setting) on whatever dishes you can, as it saves both energy and water.
  • Compost your non-meat food waste.
Houselogic doesn't just dole out energy tips; they also have a separate piece all about how to clean up after thanksgiving in half the time. Cheers!
Source: "9 Ways to Avoid Gobbling Up Energy on Thanksgiving," Houselogic (Nov. 12, 2012)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

GREENing Your Home in Maryland - Do it for a discount!!

 Did you know that the state of Maryland, by way of the Maryland Energy Administration has been charged with the task to reduce energy consumption by 15% by the year 2015?  Yes, that's right.  Our Governor has enacted an EmPOWER Maryland initiative to help make the plan a reality.  
What does this mean for you?  
Free stuff, discounts, and rebates on energy saving measures for your home.

What do you need to do?  
1st - Sign up with Elysian Energy to receive your Quick Home Energy Check Up (QHEC).  This is a service that is already included in your utility bill so if you don't take advantage of it you are really missing an opportunity to use what you've already paid for and also an opportunity to save money on your utility bills with this service.  You will receive a call from Elysian Energy to schedule your QHEC.  There is, again, no additional cost.  They will come to your home and provide CFL light bulbs, faucet aerators, low flow shower heads, power strips and pipe wrap for your hot water tank.  This small step toward living GREEN can save you hundreds of dollars per year off of your utility bills!  (Currently servicing Pepco and BGE customers)

Here is the Quick Home Energy Check-up link:  Put your agent's name at the bottom and if you don't have one put my name Angel Brown.
2nd -  The next level up would be to have an Energy Audit.  This is the more comprehensive way to tell where your home is losing energy/money.  There is a monetary cost to the audit.  They are $400; however, the utility companies will subsidize $300 of that so you only pay $100!  The intrinsic value of having this audit done however is priceless.  In addition to energy findings your home will be tested for health and safety issues.  Once you know how your home performs you can take steps to remedy any deficiencies.  Plus, having this audit unlocks the rebates up to $3,800 offered by the Home Performance with Energy Star (HPwES) program when you get the recommended work done on your home by an approved contractor.
3rd - If you've been considering updating and/or improving your home and comfort we would suggest making GREEN choices on the work you do.  Fact: there are Energy Efficient Mortgages to help you finance the improvements to your home.  Fact: GREEN improvements add value to your home. Fact: There is increasing buyer demand for energy efficient homes.  Fact: Some of our clients have been able to secure solar panels at no cost!
Winter is on its way.  Why continue to shovel unnecessary money into the utility company?  Listen out for that call from Elysian Energy to get your QHEC done and take the steps necessary to put money back into your pocket.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What To Talk About At The Water Cooler

Real estate has always been the number 1 hot topic in a business and social setting.  Most would agree that even when the conversation doesn’t start there it naturally flows there at some point.  So what is the 2nd hottest topic in a business and social setting that everyone is expected to be able to intelligently discuss?  It is sustainability; or as you may know it, energy efficiency and going GREEN.  So how do we link the two?
When talking real estate what is the first item on the list?  Value.  There are countless third party websites that estimate the value of a home.  If you ask any real estate professional; however, they will tell you that 99% of the time those estimates are way off.  They only take into account one thing; the other sales in the surrounding area, not the style home, size home, or improvements to the home.  Energy efficient improvements are a smart way to help your home's value catch up with the inflated values on the world wide web.

Let's look at the facts:

 Homes that have energy efficient improvements can gain a higher value for the upgrades in an official appraisal. 
The Appraisal Institute has a specific certification program that instructs appraisers on how to recognize and valuate GREEN features siting it as a "specialized topic" that should be valued accurately.

The National Association of Realtors has encouraged the use of and developed a GREEN MLS Implementation Guide to help multi-listing service companies implement GREEN fields and search criteria in the MLS siting that "the demand for GREEN is growing."

The National Association of Realtors has a GREEN Designation that educates realtors specifically on consulting, marketing, and selling GREEN homes.

New home builders must build all homes to a certain energy standard and many new home builders opt to specialize in Energy Star and LEED building.

Mortgage lenders offer energy efficient mortgages so that homeowners in existing homes can make energy efficiency improvements which help them compete in the housing market.

Multi-listing services like, Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc., track trends in home buying and consumer wants and expectations on energy efficiency. Andrew Strauch, Vice President of Product Innovation and Marketing stated that “With higher energy costs and an overall concern for the environment, more homebuyers increasingly factor in environmental efficiency when searching for a new home.”

Utility companies are part of the movement to reduce energy consumption in Maryland and offer discounts and rebates to homeowners that take advantage of energy efficient improvements to their homes.

We've made our case for being educated in GREEN real estate talk so what's next?  Use the programs that the State, County, City, and utility companies have put in place to make the improvements that will create a more sustainable lifestyle for you.

Angel S.
The Eco-Friendly Angel

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


DataBay: "Reclaim the Bay" Challenge
Are you up to the Challenge? RSVP HERE.
The Challenge, created by Governor O'Malley and DataBay partners, invites programmers, scientists and other "civic hackers" to create data-driven applications that increase public engagement and aid in Chesapeake Bay restoration. 

Over one weekend, the Challenge will bring participants together with prominent environmental "futurists" who will describe some of the Chesapeake Bay's challenges and needs. These futurists will provide guidance, inspiration and knowledge to participants. In addition, environmental scientists from SERC and the EPA will be on hand throughout the weekend to offer their expertise. 

Participants will have access to a broad variety of robust data about the Chesapeake Bay, including decades of water samples from hundreds of locations describing everything from what fish to eat, to where to swim safely and what water bodies are under pollution restrictions.

Stay connected and learn more at  or @databay_md
Friday - Sunday 
August 1 - 3, 2014
The Challenge
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)
647 Contees Wharf Rd, Edgewater, MD 21037

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
By Invitation Only
Maryland State House
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401
Harnessing the power of new technologies, open data and innovation has the potential to reverse hundreds of years of Chesapeake Bay decline by fostering an unprecedented strengthening of public engagement and interest in restoring the Bay. 
Stay connected and learn more at  or @databay_md




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Maryland Department of the Environment | 1800 Washington Boulevard | Baltimore | MD | 21230

Friday, May 16, 2014

Maryland's Draft Zero Waste Plan - Only one week left to comment! - From MDE

Don't Delay - Comment Period Closes Friday, May 23


Dear Colleagues,

The Maryland Department of the Environment hasdrafted an ambitious policy framework to nearly eliminate the inefficient disposal of solid waste and wastewater in Maryland. 

The O'Malley-Brown Administration's proposed Zero Waste plan centers on a number of progressive waste reduction, reuse, recycling and energy recovery goals, and policy reforms and initiatives. It calls for establishing long-term 2040 recycling and waste diversion goals of 80 percent and 85 percent respectively - along with interim targets. 

Proposed actions include: enhanced waste management reporting; new source reduction requirements; expanded composting, recycling and water use guidance and mandates; clean energy recovery incentives; expanded materials bans; numerous government lead-by-example initiatives; and market and job creation inducements.

Please review the draft plan and email your comments to byFriday, May 23

We look forward to your input.


Robert M. Summers
Secretary, Maryland Department of the Environment
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Maryland Department of the Environment | 1800 Washington Boulevard | Baltimore | MD | 21230

Monday, April 14, 2014

Field Guide to Solar & Renewable Energy Features & Tax Credits - NAR

Field Guide to Solar & Renewable Energy Features & Tax Credits

(Updated April 2014)
As energy prices continue to rise, solar and other renewable sources are becoming more affordable options for not only large utility-grade users, but also consumers. States help make the switch even more affordable with tax credits and other benefits currently on tap through at least 2016. This new field guide explores the basics of solar energy, how to get in the game, as well as current credits available both from federal and local authorities. (D. Shumaker, Senior Library Information Specialist)
Solar Panel

Green Designation 

Looking for more formal training in renewable energy and green building practices? NAR's Green designation provides real estate professionals with the knowledge and awareness of green building principles applied in residences, commercial properties, developments, and communities so that they can list, market, and manage green properties as well as guide buyer-clients in purchasing green homes and buildings.
For more information, visit the Green Resource Council page. 

The Basics

Solar subsidies help against financing headwinds, (Research Technology Management, Mar./Apr. 2014). Q
The far-reaching benefits of the energy property tax credit, (Houselogic, Feb. 18, 2014). — This tax season is the last you can claim it, unless Congress renews it for 2014, which is possible but not certain.
Solar Energy Technologies, (U.S. Department of Energy, May 2011). — Solar energy technologies produce electricity from the energy of the sun.
Using Solar Energy,(, 2011). — Find out how the technology can be used, learn about the common types of systems and discover how quickly a solar system will pay for itself.
Tracking the Sun III: The Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the U.S. from 1998-2009, (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Dec. 2010). — A new report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that the average cost of going solar in the U.S. decreased significantly in 2010 following global module price declines in 2009. These latest reductions are part of a downward solar cost trend that is due in part to federal, state and local policies that build American demand for renewable energy.

Adding Solar & Renewable Energy

Are solar panels worth the investment? (Washington Post, Mar. 26, 2014). — You’ll have to judge for yourself.
How to lease your own home solar power system, (Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, July 2012) — The big news in solar is the rise of leasing, which makes home systems more affordable and can save you money right away on your electric bill.
A Bright Spot for Solar, (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Apr. 21, 2011) — U.S. Department of Energy's Berkeley Lab study finds that photovoltaic systems boost the sales price of California homes.
Capturing the Sun, (Journal of Property Management, Jan./Feb. 2010) — Solar power investments can offer long-term savings in energy costs. Q
Is Solar-thermal Hot Water for You?, (, Oct. 7, 2010) — Roof-top solar panels that create hot water with sunshine significantly reduce energy bills and are relatively easy to install and maintain.

Solar/Renewable Energy Tax Credits

Please note: While accurate at time of publication, tax credit information can change. Please check with Federal, State & Local authorities for the most up-to-date information.
Energy Tax Credits, (, 2014) — A frequently updated resource of articles from HouseLogic.
Federal Tax Credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency, (, 2013) — Available federal tax credits for various energy efficiencies are detailed with information on requirements, deadlines, and how to get the credit.
State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiencies, (DSIRE, 2013) — DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995 and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the N.C. Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. There is a separate website detailingincentives just for solar.
Tax Incentives for Going Green, (CPA Journal, Nov. 2010) — A summary of the tax incentives available for green projects and guidance for maximizing the available tax benefits, five of which apply to businesses, one that applies to both businesses and individuals, and two that apply only to individuals. Q

eBooks & Other Resources

The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.