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How to Green Your Home Without Going Broke
Posted By E.B. Boyd On August 5, 2009 @ 11:21 am In Green Living, Healthy Home | 2 Comments
Berkeley, however, has come up with an innovative program to help homeowners afford solar systems —and it’s one that is starting to make it possible for homeowners around the country to finally afford renewable energy systems and other energy efficiency improvements .
Today, if you want to install solar panels, you either pay the hefty sum out of your pocket, or you go to a bank to get a loan. Either way, you might worry that you’ll never recoup the investment if you ended up selling your house. The Berkeley program eliminates both of those hurdles.
It works like this: the city itself gives you the loan (from a special bond it issues) and provides it to you at a fixed, low interest rate for 20 years. And then, instead of repaying it the way you would a typical loan, your repayments get assessed as a special tax on your particular property. That way, if you sell the house, the special tax continues to get assessed on the property, and the new homeowner picks up the cost of the “loan.” And in the meantime, you get to write off the cost of the interest on the loan on your income taxes , the way you do your mortgage interest.
The idea proved so revolutionary, a statewide program was created to help other cities in California implement it. This spring, San Francisco not only jumped on the bandwagon, but it expanded the program to include any number of renewable energy projects or energy efficiency improvements, like installing a tankless water heater or a geothermal heating system. And now a number of other states have also given the program the green light, including Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Best of all, this program doesn’t preclude you from taking advantage of government rebates or other incentives. Plus it’s a win for cities, who have been setting climate change goals to move their citizens toward energy efficiency and renewable energy, but have struggled with the fact that many residents didn’t want to take the financial plunge.
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URLs in this post:
 solar panels: http://life.gaiam.com/gaiam/p/SunlighttoElectricityHowSolarPanelsWork.html
 tankless water heater: http://life.gaiam.com/gaiam/p/GoTanklessHotWateronDemand.html
 cost: http://life.gaiam.com/gaiam/p/Whatsitgoingtocostmetogosolar.html
 solar systems: http://life.gaiam.com/gaiam/p/SolarizingCanPayOffinMoreWaysthanOne.html
 energy efficiency improvements: http://life.gaiam.com/gaiam/p/3-Easy-Ways-to-Be-Energy-Efficient.html
 income taxes: http://life.gaiam.com/gaiam/p/Going-Green-Pays-Tax-Incentives-for-Eco-Choices.html
 Berkeley FIRST: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=26580
 City FIRST: http://www.renewfund.com/cityfirst/cityfirst-overview
 1BOG: http://solarfinancing.1bog.org/municipal-solar-financing/
 DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency): http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/index.cfm?EE=1&RE=1&SPV=0&ST=0&searchtype=PTFAuth&sh=1
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