Starting At Home: Stabilizing And Nourishing Our Environment

by arlene on April 16, 2021

Did you know buildings produce as much smog as all of the light-duty vehicles in California? That’s about 40% of all of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year, Berkeley was the first city in the country to adopt an electrification mandate for new construction and major rehabilitation. More than 30 California cities have followed similar ordinances, and this year we may also see efforts to increase electrification for existing buildings. A complete transition is taking place in our energ y system – so investing in the electrification of your home is investing in the future.

To get a great over-view, and learn the experiences of numerous other home owners, check out the East Bay Green Home Tour. Click Here to register. It’s free, and covers two Sundays, June 6 and 13 from 10 am until 1 pm. On the first Sunday I am helping moderate the session with Chef Rachelle on induction cooktops!

Why make your house green?

“Greening” your home isn’t just best for the planet. Renewable energy has proven to be increasingly more economic than fossil fuels and better for your health. For example, gas appliances leak methane from gas extraction and transmission, and if not vented outside the house, they can seep into your lungs. Studies show that gas stoves alone increase the risk of a child developing asthma by over 40%.

Homeowners spend an average of $2,000 a year on utilities. By making your home more efficient, you can cut your utility bills by about half. If you are looking to sell sometime in the future, making your house green increases its value. If you want to sell your home fast, studies show that homes with solar panels and other green features are on the market for significantly less time than those homes without. Agent surveys also show that 26% of their buyers find renewable energy systems “important” when purchasing a home.

As California transitions to more sustainable energy, homeowners can cash in using rebates. Come tax season you can even claim a credit on your taxes for some qualified energy efficiency improvements on your home.

Where to start? With some human behavior changes, and the less expensive modifications:

  • Audit your energy use, and cut out obvious waste of power, or water
  • Swap your incandescent light bulbs for LED lights
  • Check your faucets and showerheads for leaks
  • Make sure walls, attics, basements, chimneys and air ducts are properly insulated and sealed

Then when it’s a time for a change, choose energy-certified appliances:

  • Change your water heater and space heaters to electric heat pump models (this can also result in free air conditioning) or other electric solutions
  • Replace your gas appliances such as your stove to induction cooktop and induction oven, and fireplace insert and gas dryer with electric models

As your budget allows, consider the larger-ticket items:

  • Upgrade to renewable energy by installing solar panels or investing in wind power. But don’t wait too long on this one: through 2022 you get a 26% ITC (investment tax credit) for installing solar. Need a new roof too: do it at the same time. If the roof under those panels had to be replaced, that cost should be deductible too. Consult your tax advisor!
  • Switch out your vehicle for a plug-in electric vehicle
  • Install high-efficiency windows

By electrifying your home and vehicle, your carbon footprint can decrease by 60% or more.

Moving your property to all-electric not only allows you to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, but you’re also helping to build a sustainable future while helping out your checkbook, too. And you will provide your family with much cleaner indoor air quality!

Reach out if you need any advice getting started on making this transition. I’ve just completed the solar process, after doing (too much?) research! And I’m proud that the Climate Action Committee I chair is one of the sponsors of the Green Home Tour. Hoping it will be both educational and enjoyable!


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