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Inflation Reduction Act has Substantial Tax Incentives for ENERGY STAR Certified Multifamily Buildings

The Inflation Reduction Act or IRA is expected to expand many career opportunities in the fields of energy efficiency, clean energy, electric vehicles, heat pump appliances and more.

Greatly increased tax incentives will be available for multifamily buildings that are qualified for ENERGY STAR certification by a certified home energy rater or HERS* rater who has passed the latest ENERGY STAR training. The EnergySmart Institute offers the latest EPA and RESNET* approved online on-demand ENERGY STAR courses for residences and multifamily buildings.

Check out this online article that explains more about the lucrative tax incentives and rebates available: https://www.einpresswire.com/article/589992380/new-energy-star-multifamily-online-on-demand-course-with-latest-epa-information

*HERS – Home Energy Rating Systems
*RESNET – Residential Energy Services Network

The Heat is On

The current high temperatures across the European continent are revealing that traditionally cool climate locations are not adequately prepared for the heatwave. Even countries like Mexico, areas that are used to having hot days, are breaking all-time high temperature records. Climate models indicate that the world will continue to get hotter, making survival on this planet difficult not just for humans but for all species on land and in the water.

It would be great to offer expedient answers in this blog article, but the reality is that all of us will have to learn how to adapt if we are to create livable conditions. This does not mean that dealing with increasingly hotter temperatures will be easy or inexpensive. Adaptation will take time and involve considerable monetary investment to improve infrastructure, housing, commercial buildings, and transportation of perishable items like food.

Crops and livestock are being negatively affected by the higher temperatures, which will influence the cost of groceries, feedstocks, and pretty much everything else involved in the food chain. Regions that were once ideal for growing grapes for wine or growing maple trees for syrup are experiencing declines in production, even to the point of losing entire seasonal harvests.

Monumental decisions will be required to determine how to navigate our quickly changing world into a hotter future. Certain food items may become unavailable or only be viable inside controlled environments such as greenhouses. The widespread use of plants that survive harsher environments with less water may become the norm.

Together, we all face a challenge that requires creative thinking and viable solutions. Hopefully we can join forces to deal with the challenges coming our way.

Is ‘Electrification of Everything’ Achievable?

Is ‘Electrification of Everything’ Achievable?

3D dollar house - isolated over a white background

All the world economies depend on energy provided by the fossil fuels. Power is provided by oil, natural gas, and coal, plus their derivatives of gasoline, diesel, plastics, and more. As these fuels are burned, there are pollutants being cast into the air, left to build up in the atmosphere and affect our health.

One solution to reduce and potentially eliminate the pollution created by the burning of fossil fuels is to use electricity to power everything – from transportation to the heating and cooling of buildings. Electricity can be produced by many non-polluting sources that include solar electric (Photovoltaic) systems, wind energy, hydroelectric dams, fuel cells, nuclear power, etc. By electrifying everything there is the possibility to wean ourselves from polluting sources of energy.

However, is it realistic to electrify everything that uses energy? From this author’s experience, it will be difficult to convert the poorer sections of many cities to electric power, primarily because of the expense to do so. Many homes in impoverished areas have little market value and therefore have limited ability to raise the funds necessary for upgrading their electric service and purchasing the requisite equipment.

The government may be able to offer financial assistance to convert homes to electric power, but the amount of funding needed to accomplish this task will no doubt be astronomical. This does not mean that converting to electric power is not possible, but there will be significant costs associated to do so.

Converting our transportation to be powered solely by electricity is another hurdle to cross for people who have little income. Electric vehicles (EVs) are pricey. Purchasing an older gas-powered automobile might not be cheap, but it’s certainly not as expensive as a new EV. So, the old gas-guzzling clunkers may be around longer than expected, which would delay the desired reduction of traffic-related pollutants.

Another factor to consider is the age and condition of the national electric grid. Many of the power lines were erected in the 1950s and 1960s and are near the end of their 50-year life span if they have not already exceeded it. The national grid will need to be upgraded in coordination with the electrification of everything to help ensure an adequate flow of power. Plus, new technologies will be required to monitor and control the influx and outflow of electricity.

Bottomline; this may be another situation where the people who have means can afford to make the adjustments and upgrades involved to switch to an all-electric lifestyle, but lower income households get left behind. The electrification of everything will require a national commitment and monetary resources to help bring everyone on board.

Time will tell if this major level of commitment materializes, and time appears to be another resource that is in short supply.

For more information regarding ‘Electrification of Everything’ please visit: https://www.rewiringamerica.org/

This article written by Ken Riead of the Save Energy Blog: https://saveenergyblog.info/

Spotlight on Home Energy (HERS) Raters

It is clear that President Biden is focusing on upgrading the energy efficiency of existing homes while also planning to build 1.5 million sustainable affordable homes. What remains unclear is that most people do not know the difference between a residential energy auditor and a certified home energy HERS* rater. This is very unfortunate and here are the reasons why:

If you are interested in getting federal residential tax credits for energy efficiency improvements or clean (renewable) energy installations you must use a HERS rater, not an energy auditor. HERS raters are recognized by the IRS as being qualified to analyze and offer residential tax credits, primarily because they are subject to several layers of quality assurance or QA for their work and reports.

If you are interested in getting the best financing available for improving the energy efficiency or adding clean energy systems to your existing or new home, you will likely want to use an energy mortgage. HERS raters can facilitate beneficial financing from private lenders and investors whereas an energy auditor cannot.

Perhaps you are interested in getting recognition for your energy efficient or green (sustainable) home. The programs listed below require the involvement of a certified HERS rater, and not an energy auditor, to perform testing and certification services:

  • ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes
  • LEED® for Homes Green Certifications by the US Green Building Council
  • Energy Mortgages that Improve the Market Value of Your Home
  • Energy Index Scores for Energy Code Compliance

Bottom Line: If you want to gain the most benefit from the dollars you spend on energy efficiency improvements and on clean energy system installations you want to enlist the services of a certified home energy HERS rater. Otherwise you might find that you are not able to get all the financing required for your project or obtain the desired benefits that include increased market value of your home after completion of your energy upgrades.

If you want to learn more about the programs that require the involvement of a certified HERS rater the author has included links for your use below. Just click on the link(s) of interest to you.

Certified home energy raters (HERS Raters)

ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes

LEED® for Homes Green Certifications by the US Green Building Council

Energy Mortgages that Improve the Market Value of Your Home

Energy Index Scores for Energy Code Compliance

*HERS: Home Energy Rating Systems — More information about HERS at: https://www.hersindex.com/hers-index/

Disaster Recovery Using Private Capital

No matter what people may happen to believe about climate change or global warming there is no denying that there are some very extreme events happening. Fires, flooding, droughts and mass migration appear to be increasing in size and ferocity. It seems prudent for those of us who have not experienced losses to prepare ourselves and our buildings to be resilient and efficient.

Governments around the world have difficulty securing funds for rebuilding destroyed communities so people are searching for alternatives instead of waiting for government help. Private lenders and investors do help by financing the restoration or construction of energy efficient, safe and durable buildings but this financing is much more widely available for larger projects than for small.

For owners of damaged or destroyed residences the process to rebuild can be both daunting and discouraging, especially where financing is needed to build better than before. One proven way to obtain financing for improved residential buildings is to use an energy mortgage, such as an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) or Energy Improvement Mortgage (EIM). Energy mortgages take into account the savings accrued from the installation of energy-saving and clean energy products and technologies. (For more information about energy mortgages please see end of article.)

Why are loans to improve, restore or completely rebuild a residence so hard to obtain?

The shortest answer is that private lenders and investors look at the chaotic nature of the residential construction and restoration industries and are reluctant to lend on what they perceive to be risky loans. The irony is that private lenders and investors do understand that energy efficient buildings and deep energy retrofits can generate significant savings for both the lender and the owner plus these savings often last for decades.

What can be done to help obtain financing to construct or rebuild residences?

With the help of a certified home energy rater, also known as a “HERS*” Rater, an owner of a residence to build or rebuild can determine the most energy and cost-efficient way to proceed with the project. A certified rater can develop a detailed energy model of the existing or proposed building and then employ a series of energy improvement measures, such as adding more insulation or a clean energy (Solar-Wind-Other) system.

Since a certified rater can help initiate an energy mortgage they already have access to the private sector lending marketplace. The key is finding the best combination of energy improvements and/or clean energy systems to provide a rapid, reliable payback or Return-On-Investment (ROI) for that particular project. Additional savings can often be found by conserving water or installing smart control technologies.

Certified raters are now recognized in international building and energy codes as qualified energy code compliance inspectors. This means that the energy ratings and raters are now accepted by national and international code officials. Private lenders and investors view this recognition by code inspectors as a good step forward.

What is now holding private lenders and investors back from lending is the inconsistent level of training and experience of many residential energy professionals, including raters. The information taken from the existing building or from the proposed plans must be input into the energy modeling software correctly and completely, otherwise the resulting reports, charts/graphs and projected energy savings may be incorrect.

If there was a field data collection app available that worked with all types of computers and mobile devices that would screen the incoming building and project data for inaccuracies, missing information, needed photos and more then the energy project information would become more reliable and consistent. Plus, if this app could connect to a software program that screened for hundreds more visual and computational inaccuracies then the project info would be even more robust. If this app could create a REM** file that could be opened by the largest energy software modeling program used in the USA then this combination of software and companion app could open the door to private sector financing.

This software and companion app actually does exist in the form of REMCheck software and REMCollect app. For more information on REMCheck and REMCollect please click on the following article link or click the logos:

https://hathmore.com/hathmore-introduces-remcheck-and-remcollect/

For more information about energy mortgages visit Energy Mortgage Network.com or read the following article:

https://www.motherearthnews.com/renewable-energy/energy-efficient-improvement-mortgage

*HERS – Home Energy Rating Systems *** More information about HERS available at: RESNET.us

**REM/Design® and REM/Rate® are residential energy modeling software programs by NORESCO – More information available here: http://remrate.com/

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Update to ‘Do Deep Green Energy Retrofits Make Economic Sense’ Article

Update to ‘Do Deep Green Energy Retrofits Make Economic Sense’ Article
Deep Green-Energy Efficient Upgrades

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In 2014 when the original article was written our current electronically connected world didn’t exist. One aspect missing from the original article was the vital need for reliably consistent and accurate information to base an energy project’s payback period or ROI* upon. There are many ways to present the findings of a residential energy audit or HERS** rating but it has not been possible to determine if the information taken from the residence is accurate… until now.

The introduction of REMCheck software at the 2019 RESNET conference makes reviewing the information contained in a residential energy audit or rating simple, with 176 instant data reviews performed by the software plus an additional 400+ visual checks organized and queued for easy quality assurance review. When the residential energy auditor or home energy rater also uses the companion hybrid app, REMCollect, in conjunction with REMCheck then the field data collection process is automated and accurate as well.

Why does accuracy and reliability in a home energy audit or rating matter? Here are just a few of the reasons:

  1. Many government and energy utility rebate programs pay monetary incentives for making a home, apartment or other residential building energy efficient but don’t have a ‘quality check’ system to determine if the field information and subsequent energy reports are even reasonably accurate.
  2. Lenders, private investors and crowd funding programs rely on the accuracy of the information contained in an energy audit or home energy rating report to base their loans, mortgages and investments upon. If the information is bad or incomplete then the predicted energy and monetary savings will likely fall short of expectations, thereby hurting the project and possibly even convincing the investors and programs to cease.
  3. A reliable degree of accuracy in a home energy audit or rating report also makes the inclusion of site-based energy systems, such as a solar or wind installation, much easier to calculate and include in a project. If the original information about the residence is inaccurate then all subsequent reports and calculations will also be inaccurate as well.

Many investors, especially institutional or national funds, have literally trillions of dollars to invest in worthy programs and funding deep energy upgrades for residences could and should provide a reliable ROI. However, the current chaotic state of the residential energy improvement industry has the larger investors waiting on the sidelines until they can have a reasonable expectation of accuracy in the findings and reports resulting from residential energy improvement projects.

REMCheck and REMCollect offer the added dimension of reliable accuracy contained both in the reports and in the projected energy savings to be produced by the residential energy efficiency and clean energy projects. As the larger institutional and government program administrators understand the higher level of accuracy available through the REMCheck/REMCollect screening programs then they will begin investing in them.

It is as simple as that! Reliable and predictable energy savings will lead to larger investments into residential energy improvement projects and help create much needed jobs plus more energy-efficient and comfortable housing stock. More and more people are realizing that there can be positive returns on properly implemented energy improvement projects, if the information used for that project is trustworthy.

If you are interested in learning more about how REMCheck and REMCollect will work for you and your projects then please visit: Hathmore.com

 

*Return on Investment

**HERS – Home Energy Rating System: For more information please visit https://www.hersindex.com/

 

Eco-Friendly Improvements Link from Bankrate:

https://www.bankrate.com/loans/home-improvement/eco-friendly-improvements/