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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Daybreak Energy Star = Money & Green

If you live in Daybreak take a moment and look at some of your appliances. See that little blue energy star logo? That little logo equals green. All homes that have been built in Daybreak are energy star qualified. Most home owners look at this as a bonus, but don't really see the whole picture. Obviously it saves you money on your utility bills, but energy star qualified homes can do much more than that. For starters, did you know that you can apply for an energy-efficient mortgage? FHA energy-efficient mortgages allow lenders to add the additional cost of energy efficiency improvements to an already approved mortgage loan (as long as the additional costs do not exceed $4000 or 5% of the value of the home, up to a maximum of $8000, whichever is greater). This won't help you qualify for a loan, but may help you put some of those nice upgrades that you want with no additional down payment.

Being able to advertise that your home is energy-star qualified also makes your home more competitive in the market, especially a buyer's market. The trend is catching on too. The EPA predicts that over two million homes will be constructed to energy star standards before 2010. Not bad when you calculate that each home will save up to 30% on utility bills and use that much less energy. Multiply those two figures together with the average utility bill and you get millions of dollars saved. Maybe less fossil fuel power plants as well. Considering that the energy that homes use account for 20% of carbon dioxide emissions, this is a big step in the right direction. In fact, the energy you use at home pollutes the environment more than your car.

But how does a home become energy star qualified? When I first noticed the energy star designation I thought a few windows, some good insulation, efficient appliances - that's good. I thought that the builder just used certain materials for construction, but there is a little more to it than that. When Gold Medallion Homes builds a row house in Daybreak an independent inspector comes by and inspects the work. This inspector conducts on site testing and inspections to verify the energy efficiency measures, as well as insulation, air tightness, and duct sealing details. They point an infrared camera at a window to see how well it is insulating among other things. The home builders know that they will be inspected so they have to make sure the work is quality or it will not get certified, but builders benefit too. They can get up to $2000 as a tax credit for energy star qualified homes.

The biggest perk is your month to month savings. The gas bill for January in my old house ran as high as $250. Yes, the house was old. My current bill is not even close. I save at least 80$ a month over what I paid previously in utilities (Covers the HOA fee). The energy star compliance is also part of the sustainability principle of new urbanism. In fact, Daybreak has an almost 20% market share on energy star homes in Utah. So when you see the energy star logo think green.

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