It’s Summer Time Miami!

A summer-time PSA from the folks over at Is it time for a new EnergyStar pool pump?

ENERGY STAR certified pool pumps save money, save energy, and protect the climate. See how much your pool pump could be costing you in energy bills, learn when it might be time for new pool pump, and get the benefit of all the available savings when you choose ENERGY STAR.

Make a Savings Splash with a New Pool Pump

Pools of Our Lives

Today is the first day of summer, and here in South Florida that means our swimming pools will be in especially heavy demand. As any pool owner knows, the energy needed to run the pool filtration pump can add some serious dollars to our electric bills – an average of $460 per year according to!

Their studies also show that replacing your old pool pump with an EnergyStar rated pump could save you up to $340 per year in electric bills, and pay for itself in less than two years. Best of all, many manufacturers are offering rebates on new EnergyStar pool pumps:

Pool pump manufacturers offering rebates on EnergyStar products 2016


If all pool pumps sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified, the energy cost savings would grow to about $155 million each year and 2.5 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented, equivalent to the emission from more than 260,000 vehicles.

Here’s to a Happy & Enery Efficient Summer Everyone!

Microwave, electric oven or slow cooker – Which uses the least energy?

I received this as an email from the Florida Power & Light blog, and had to share because the answer was surprising:

Question: What uses the least amount of energy when cooking: a microwave, electric oven or slow cooker?

Answer: That’s an easy one. A microwave oven is typically your best cooking option if you’re looking to save energy. Let’s take a look at how microwaves compare to other cooking appliances.

Of course, to that I will add: For additional energy savings, make sure all of your appliances are Energy Star qualified.

Green Building 101: Debunking Myths of Green Building and Remodeling

Green Building 101: Debunking Myths of Green Building and Remodeling (via Green Building Elements)

  As Green Building Elements take on the project of green building from the ground up, we focused on consideration of space in week 1 and the use of Bioclimatic design on week two. This week, let’s take a closer look at some of the myths behind green building and renovation. We debunk false…

Post-Katrina New Orleans Experiments With Largest Solar Power Neighborhood In Southeast

Back in early 2008, I wrote about Brad Pitt’s “Make It Right” foundation.  “When Brad Pitt visited New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward two years after Hurricane Katrina, he was shocked by the lack of rebuilding progress in this historic, working class community. Many worried the plight of the neighborhood would be forgotten. In a bold move, Pitt committed to help rebuild in the hardest hit area of the city.” To date in New Orleans, “Make It Right” has built 87 of the planned 150 homes with green features such as no-VOC paints and flooring and ENERGY STAR® appliances. Many of the homes also have solar panels. Now, New Orleans is the location of another solar powered housing development experiement:

Largest Solar Power Neighborhood In Southwest Built In New Orleans(via Clean Technica)

  The St. Thomas Housing Project had been a somewhat rundown low-income housing project before Hurricane Katrina hit, known primarily for its high crime rate. But now, the area has become the focus of several government agencies working to revitalize it through sustainable and renewable technologies…

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Financing Sources To Help You Build or Renovate Green

Guest Post: Funding a Greener Home by author Jonah Trenton (via

Melanie Dawn Miami LEED Platinum Coconut Grove
Standing-seam metal roof & solar panels

Improving a home’s energy efficiency or adding alternative green energy sources is a smart way to help the environment, reduce monthly utility expenses and enhance occupant health and comfort. However, the initial cost of “going green” can put a financial strain on the homeowner, especially in a down economy. How can individuals fund their “green” home improvement projects? Consider the following tips.

Apply for a Grant

Homeowners do not directly receive federal assistance for green home improvement projects. However, the United States government allocates grant money through the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Veterans’ Affairs Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development. These organizations make the funds available through grants distributed by state organizations to qualifying homeowners.

Depending on the particular grant, funding may cover all or part of the green project. Qualifications vary depending on the organization. Common parameters include low to moderate income, age, veteran’s status, disability status or family dynamic, such as being a single mother. The Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington maintains a list of all grant opportunities, including government and private resources. is another valuable resource to see what grants you may qualify to receive.

Ask Your Utility Company

On a local level, many utility companies partner with local governments to provide grants that encourage customers to utilize greener resources weatherize their homes or install energy efficient appliances. Power companies may also use grant money to provide energy audits and education for customers. Homeowners can check the website of their local municipality or utility company to see what opportunities are available in their area.

Get Help from Private Organizations

Many foundations and nonprofit organizations give back to the community by offering green grants. The Home Depot Foundation funds nonprofit organizations that provide green assistance to low to moderate income families. United Way also offers funding based on household income. Check with housing organizations in your area to find out what is offered.

Apply for an Energy Efficient Mortgage

Banks have made it easier for borrowers to include the cost of energy efficiency in their mortgage as opposed to having large out-of-pocket expenses after the purchase of a home. Energy Efficient Mortgages are typically used for new homes. The buyer is credited for the home’s energy efficiency, allowing the bank to be flexible regarding the debt-to-income qualifying ratio. Thus, the buyer is able to qualify for a larger loan and purchase a more energy-efficient home. Similarly, Energy Improvement Mortgages are used when purchasing a pre-existing home that needs green improvements. Buyers are able to borrow a larger amount without increasing their down payment.

Utilize Income Tax Credits

Homeowners that install qualifying renewable energy or energy efficient systems in their home are able to deduct a certain amount from their income tax. Tax-payers can claim 30 percent of the cost of labor and installation and up to $1,500 spent on equipment, including energy efficient air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters or construction materials.

Research Local Tax Credits

Many states and municipalities offer incentives to encourage homeowners to upgrade to renewable energy sources. For example, California will allow individuals to deduct the entire cost of installing a solar energy system from their property taxes. Dual-use systems receive a 75 percent deduction.

Making a home greener is an ecologically smart choice. Taking the time to research available funding sources for your demographic can make it a financially smart choice as well.

Other options

If none of the above options work out, there’s still an abundance of home improvement or renovation loans, taking out equity in your house or various other mortgage types that might work for you even if they aren’t directly catered to greener living. Speak with your mortgage professional to find a solution created to fit your particular situation.

Guest Post: Funding a Greener Home by author Jonah Trenton (via reposted with permission

The Energy Savings of Low Hanging Fruit

Check out this interesting “infographic” from WellHome home energy auditors. A home energy auditor will evaluate your home to determine how much energy it uses and make recommendations to improve efficiency. Some companies, like Well home, will also perform the energy-efficient installations you choose and provide an energy savings guarantee. WellPoint does not have an affiliate in the Miami-Dade area yet, but if you are interested having a Home Energy Audit done, call me for a local recommendation.
In the meantime, WellHome’s blog is packed with great information on all aspects of energy and the enviroment, and more great infographic’s like this one.

In honor of Earth Day and Tax Day 2011, a Reminder to Claim Your 2010 Residential Green Tax Credits

Did you install a qualifying EnergyStar product (not all EnergyStar products qualify for a tax credit) from one of the following categories in your primary residence on or before December 31, 2010:

  • Non-solar Water Heater
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Metal or asphalt roof
  • Insulation
  • Heating/Air conditioning
  • Biomass stoves
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Residential wind turbines
  • Solar energy systems
  • Residential fuel cells 
If so, you may be eligible for a tax creditof up to 30% of the cost. You will need your purchase receipt and the “Manufacturer’s Certification Statement” from the manufacturer certifying that the product qualifies for the tax credit. (You need to keep these for your records but you do not need to submit them with your tax return). You will also need IRS form 5695. Visit for more detailed information.

If you did not install EnergyStar products in 2010 or you have not exceeded the new lifetime limits, don’t worry. Many of the green tax credits have been extended until the end of 2011 or 2016.


And in Florida, qualifying solar water heaters, solar space heaters, photovoltaics, and solar pool heating equipment are all sales tax exempt under Florida HB805. For more details about what products qualify, Florida Solar Energy Center’s White Paper and Tax Information Publication TIP # 05A01-05 will help.

Realtors(R) Help Consumers Understand the Value of Green

As a member of the US Green Building Council and one of the few designated Eco-Brokers in the South Florida area, I have been an advocate for “green building” for many years. And while I wear my “tree-hugger” label proudly, for most of us our first priorities when buying a home or leasing an office space are cost and comfort. For too many years, “green building” was viewed as an expensive, slightly quirky, niche market. I am glad to see the growing awareness that green saves green.

Increasingly, green building practices are associated with cutting energy costs and saving money, and a growing number of home buyers are looking for these features. According to the 2010 National Association of Realtors® Home Buyer and Seller Profile, 88 percent of recent home buyers considered a home’s heating and cooling costs important in their home search.

“Many of today’s consumers want homes and communities that are sensitive to the larger environment, but in today’s economy, they’re also cost-conscious, and energy-efficient home features appeal to these buyers,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz. “As green building issues become more important to buyers, sellers and businesses, more and more Realtors® are bringing value to the real estate transaction by developing green business practices.”

Realtors(R) Help Consumers Understand the Value of Green