A New Perspective: It’s not easy being green | Real Estate Insights

How to stay in the black when making your home less energy dependent and reducing your carbon footprint.

The personal stories of one Realtor’s battles and triumphs in the highly-competitive Bay Area Real Estate Market, seeking to illuminate and humanize the very real ups-and-downs of homeownership.

No sooner does the new year begin, then we’re hit with estimated quarterly taxes. (Ugh.) As self-employed individuals, Cliff and I need to squirrel away enough “green” to keep us in the black, and that certainly puts a big hole in our savings account. Moreover, “estimating” what we’re going to make in the coming year can be a total crap shoot. As independent contractors, it’s impossible to know exactly how much work is going to surface. Not that that matters; Uncle Sam demands to be paid. (Please keep those referrals coming, they’re most appreciated.)

However, being “green” when it comes to real estate, means making your house less energy dependent while reducing its carbon footprint, and that comes in the form of solar panels, battery walls, dual-pane windows, water-conserving fixtures, insulated walls, floors, and ceilings, LED lighting, captured water, and energy “smart” appliances, just to name a few . . . .

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently found that 71% of respondents said promoting efficiency in listings is “very or somewhat valuable,” and over half of their members reported that their clients are interested in sustainability. According to the Demand Institute,energy efficiency is the most significant unmet demand in the housing market. Consequently, providing green upgrades can make a home more appealing and available to a wider pool of potential buyers. In our experience, even incredibly well-heeled buyers want to know “How much is the PG&E bill?” on multi-million dollar homes.

Not surprisingly, unless your property has undergone major renovations, it’s unlikely that your 100+-year-old home enjoys many – if any – “green” components and upgrades. But even if that’s the case, understand that when Sarah and I sell a home, many jurisdictions legally require a “Home Energy Score” (HES) as part of the disclosure process. (BTW, your application for “Design Review” during the renovation process may also trigger HES testing if the impending improvements impact the building’s energy usage.)

What is an HES test?

It’s a measurement of your home’s energy consumption . . . ergo, a bigger floor plan (which is where many of our larger Piedmont homes trip up) means that your property is already using more energy than the average bear, or should I say the average frog. And while Piedmont isn’t currently requiring Homeowners to improve their home energy score before selling, they’re definitely mapping the community’s energy consumption and moving in that direction.

To quote Kermit: “It’s not that easy being green.”

That being said, making “green choices” is getting easier all the time and that’s both good news, AND good for the planet as well. Moreover, homeowners are being rewarded for going “green” with green.

Here are a few resources:

Did you know the City of Piedmont offers an electrification rebate program? (It does.) An electric water heater will yield $800, a central air source heat pump – $1500, mini-split pumps – $750, and a service panel upgrade – $500. To find out more, click here.

  • Energy Upgrade California is a statewide initiative dedicated to helping Californias utilize more sustainable natural resources.
  • The Bay Area Regional Network (BayREN) provides energy-efficiency programs and services to reduce carbon emissions and promote healthy, energy-efficient buildings and homes.
  • Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) offers energy-saving programs, energy-incentive programs, and rebates for a range of equipment.
  • The Switch is On is a collaborative campaign founded in 2019 by the Building Decarbonization Coalition to support home electrification.
  • The Piedmont Climate Challenge offers Piedmont residents the information they need to get started on saving resources and money while reducing their impact on climate change.

Have your eye on an electric car in 2024? You may qualify for a credit of up to $7500 under Internal Revenue Code Section 30D if you buy a new, qualified plug-in EV or fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCV). The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 changed the rules for this credit for vehicles purchased from 2023 to 2032. This credit is available to both individuals and their businesses.

Finally, what is the Federal Solar Tax Credit?

The Federal Residential Solar Energy Credit The federal solar tax credit might be more valuable than any of the state and local incentives currently offered in California. It gives you 30% back in the form of a tax credit for expenses related to installing solar panels and batteries.

So, when making changes to your home, think green. Your planet will thank you, and as it turns out, so will your pocketbook! Turns out “green” comes in many favorable shades.

How can we help you?

Julie Gardner & Sarah Abel | Compass Realty

Not just Realtors, but consultants in all things house and home, we’re here to educate, explore, examine and refer . . . In short, you may count on us to take care of your home as if it were our own and anyone who knows us, knows we take pretty darn good care of our homes.

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