Archive for February, 2009

Go Solar! Renewable Energy Credits

So much is changing on the green energy front that it seems impossible to keep up at times.   Jami and I are fortunate to have friends in green places… we’ll stay on top of the eco wave as best we can and keep passing it along.   In response to strong client interest as well as our own instatiable curiosity, we have recently spent time with John Fanselow of Third Sun Solar and Wind as well as Gerald Checco, Cincinnati Park Board Superintendent, discussing solar applications for private residences.

We speak with homeowners on a weekly basis who are interested in learning more about solar energy, and those that have already done their homework understand that the costs are not insignificant.   When considering alternative energy for our Cincinnati homes,  there are several key factors to understand.   Wind doesn’t work here, sad but true.  Geothermal is always our top recommendation for HVAC.  For your best electric alternative, go solar.  The investment is not as scary as you think given the Renewable Energy Credits available – AND your solar installation can have an average return on investment of just over 8 years.

Thanks to both Gerald and John, here’s a quick example of the cost-benefit analysis:

Installation of 5 kw system:                         $40,000

State Grant:                                                     -$17,500

Net:                                                                     $22,500

Federal Tax Rebate (30%)                              -$6,750 

 Your cost:                                                      $15,750

But wait!  It gets better:

Annual Production of Electricity:               6,000 kwh

Distribution and Generation Charges:        $.07/kwh

Renewable Energy Credit (REC):                 $.25/kwh

Total Value:                                                 $.32/kwh

Return/Year:                                                    $1,920

Return on Investment:                                 8.2 years

(kw – kilowatt; kwh – kilowatt hours)

According to John, a 5 kilowatt system will supply approximately half the electricity needed for an average-size home in our area.  In order to be eligible for the REC program, there are some requirements, such as a minimum 2kw system.  As he is quick to point out, a national study showed a $20 increase in property value for every $1 in energy upgrades from renewable sources, making it a true benefit when it comes time to sell.   For more details on the tax incentives, call us. 

Duke Energy does not want to build any more coal-burning power plants, but energy consumption continues to grow and supply must meet demand.   As consumers, it’s in our hands to demonstrate our commitment to the environment and make the most responsible choices possible.   We understand that a $15,000 investment is not within reach for most homeowners today, but it will become more and more attainable.  Let us know your thoughts…


February 23, 2009 at 8:51 pm 4 comments

Stimulus Package Home Buyer Credit

Jami and I find ourselves troubled by something.  Many of our dear buyers are still on the fence, waiting for the deals to get even juicier…  so listen up.  Tempted to take the Market-Hasn’t-Yet-Hit-Bottom skeptics (gently) by the (proverbial) throat and throttle them, yelling:  “Interest rates are at an all-time low!  You could get an $8,000 tax credit!  Average sale prices are down 12%!”, we instead choose to say: “We know you just love working with us so much that you don’t want to buy yet and put an end to these fabulous all-day house-hunting parties we have…”  And buyers, we luv you too.  No, seriously, we mean it.  But we want you to understand something.  This could very well be the most opportune time to buy for a long, long time:  Carpe Diem!  Oops, I mean Carpe Domus!

 On to the exciting home buyer tax credit.  We are getting lots of calls this week about details, so we’d like to pass along some quick highlights from our good pal and in-house loan officer extrordinaire, Ann Lafferty:

  • For first time homebuyers only (defined as people who have not owned a home before or have not owned a home within the last three years)
  • Does not have to be repaid
  • Is equal to 10% of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000
  • Available for homes purchased on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009
  • Single taxpayers with incomes up to $75,000 and married couples with incomes up to $150,000 qualify for the full tax credit
  • Participating in the program is easy!  Buyers claim the tax credit on their federal income tax return – there isn’t an “application” process
  • Unlike the previous program, buyers who used bond money programs to finance their home can claim the tax credit

And, if you are still on the fence about who to call when you do finally decide to put your house on the market or look to buy that first home, chew on this:  58% of Cincinnati realtors did 3 or less transactions in 2008.  We did 46, even in this crazy market.  Call now!  Operators are standing by…

February 19, 2009 at 3:45 am

Obama’s Stimulus & Clean Energy

We’ve got the housing part of the bill that we are intersted in see my other post regarding the 8000k tax credit.

Well, what about the clean energy portion of it?  This will also effect homeowners in the coming months/years.  Especially when it comes to making energy upgrades to their homes.  Here is the scoop:

Major energy portions include:

  • A three-year extension to the tax credit for wind, which would have expired at the end of this year, and an extension until the end of 2013 for geothermal and biomass renewable-energy projects. The credit has been increased to 30 percent of the investment.
  • $4.5 billion in direct spending to modernize the electricity grid with smart-grid technologies.
  • $6.3 billion in state energy-efficient and clean-energy grants and $4.5 billion to make federal buildings more energy efficient.
  • $6 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy systems, biofuel projects, and electric-power transmission facilities.
  • $2 billion in loans to manufacture advanced batteries and components for applications such as plug-in electric cars.
  • $5 billion to weatherize homes of up to 1 million low-income people.
  • $3.4 billion appropriated to the Department of Energy for fossil energy research and development, such as storing carbon dioxide underground at coal power plants.
  • A tax credit of between $2,500 and $5,000 for purchase of plug-in electric vehicles, available for the first 200,000 placed into service.

This is good news for all of us looking to upgrade our homes to more energy efficient ones in the future!  For the full report go here.

February 18, 2009 at 3:31 pm Leave a comment

Urban Farms are Coming to Cincinnati!

I blogged about it months ago.  A few of you even commented that if I bought the land you’d till the soil.  Well it turns out that City Council last week finally passed a plan for mini-farms.  What is a mini farm or an urban farm?  Well, its exactly what it sounds like: a small farm in an urban setting.  Why you ask?  Well, there is always a question of what to do with some of the vacant unusable city plots of land.  Most of them are unbuildable plots and just sit vacant and uncared for. Many major cities have started using these plats as small gardens and farms for city dwellers.  The exact details will be worked out in the next month.  City officials must decide how to lease the plots, and whether to charge anything. Lets hope they don’t.  Bring back the victory gardens of WWI & WWII.

How soon can we expect these little gardens of nutrition to start springing up?  Well, council expect 10 to 15 plots to be ready for growing this spring as a pilot project.  Yippee! Local food is where its at.  Lets help beautify the city.

I wonder if Norwood would be interested in something like this??

To read the full article in today’s enquirer click here.

February 17, 2009 at 9:56 pm 1 comment

8 things to do to start GREENing your LIFE

There are always we can change our lifestyles and habits to help us save the environment and save money at the same time.  There are some difficult things you can do and some easy things you can do.  For most people out there they don’t know where to begin.  Just google it and a million different things pop up.

Here are some easy things you can do and if you’re already doing the basics, I’ve added some practical ways you can step it up.

1. Recycle – Its fee and it reduces household consumption and increases energy efficiency.

Here is what we can recycle in Cincinnati:

  • Newspaper
  • Plastic bottles #1 (PET)
  • Plastic bottles #2 (HDPE)
  • Steel food cans
  • Aluminum cans
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Residential mixed paper, including: envelopes with an without windows, cereal boxes, construction paper, school papers, office paper, brown paper grocery bags.
  • Cardboard boxes (broken down into 3 feet by 3 feet sections.

If you already recycle these items, start recycling all of your electronic waste and hazardous waste.  Start becoming more conscious of what you  buy and the packaging it comes in.  Buy items from local stores whenever and wherever possible.

2. Save Water – Install low-flow shower heads and faucets to cut back on water flow.  Or maybe learn to shorten your shower times.  Already do this?  Add a rain barrel or plant a rain garden this summer.  Water your plants with this water instead of water from the tap.

3. Reduce Electricity – Remember to turn off the light when you leave the room and to unplug your computer and other electronics when they’re not in use.  Remember even when plugged in your electronics are sucking power (vampire power).

4. Replace Light Bulbs – Replace your current light bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting.  They will last longer and use less energy.  Just remember to recycle them properly when they’re dead.

5. Adjust your refrigerator temperature – Refrigerators use the most electricity in your house.  Adjust your fridge to the average temperature of 37 degrees F and your freezer to 0 degrees F.  Also, be sure to clean the coils in the back of your fridge so you get optimum performance out of it.  And remember a full refrigerator uses less energy than an empty one.

6. Add a Hot Water Jacket – You can add a hot water heater jacket for less than 20$ and it will save you much more in the future.  Also be sure to check the temperature.  Most of us run our hot water heaters so hot that we have to mix cold water in to get the right temperature.  Adjust it so that the hottest setting isn’t at scalding.

7. Dry your clothes outside – Hang dry your cloths.  Not using your dryer will reduce the amount of energy you use in your home.  Remeber to wash your clothes in cold water.  This will save on hot water.

8.  Install a programmable thermostat – this will allow you to program your furnace/AC to work during the hours you are actually at home and work less when you’re not there.  Its definitely worth it and fun to use!

These items are just the beginning. Once you start seeing your savings, you’ll be hooked and wondering if your house is suitable for solar panels.

Happy Greening!

February 17, 2009 at 4:28 pm Leave a comment

The Green Side of Northside

11597841Let’s get something cleared away first.  The Cincinnati Northside Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation, more effortlessly referred to as “CNCURC, ” is pronounced – how?  “Kirk,” “Churk,” or “Cin-kirk” – take your pick, the jury is still out on that one. Whatever you may call them, this dynamic group continues to improve upon their extraordinary demonstration of civic capacity.  Founded in 2006 to eradicate blight in targeted Northside neighborhoods, this CDC (Community Development Corporation) continues to make a huge impact with their latest success story, 4154 Mad Anthony.

CNCURC purchased the home in early 2008 and, securing the combination of public and private and funding needed for the proposed redevelopment, architect Tim Jeckering’s plans were set in motion.  Under the direction of Project Manager Michael Berry and the board of directors headed by President and long-time neighborhood activist, Stefanie Sunderland, 4154 Mad Anthony has unfolded into a prime example of sustainable reclaimation.  Working with the solid, double-brick exterior, the interior has undergone a total overhaul:  new drywall, oak flooring, all new HVAC system, elctrical wiring, PEX plumbing, roof, gutters and downspouts, windows, spray foam insulation, fixtures, lighting and cabinetry.  

Having made a firm commitment to greening the housing stock they control, CNCURC made the most energy efficient choices that the budget would allow, paying attention to indoor air quality as well.  The icynene (foam) insulation will reduce air infiltration dramatically, to about 1/6th of fiberglass batting.  Insulated windows and a high-efficiency heating and cooling system will significantly improve the building’s thermal envelope.  Mature trees on this beautiful double lot will help  keep the home cool in the summer.

 The home’s modern updates,  two generous bedrooms, 2 baths, large open living area on the first floor, second floor laundry, modern kitchen with conrete countertops, stainless steel appliances and ample lighting, blend well with the original charm of the house, preserved in features such as the two original mirrored oak and tile fireplaces and restored banister.   The large front porch and rear deck provide plenty of room for outdoor entertaining, with off-street parking in the back and plenty of yard for children, dogs, or gardening.  Located just two blocks from CNCURC’s first two LEED-certified projects at the corner of Chase and Fergus, 4154 Mad Anthony is within easy walking distance to Northside’s Entertainment District, local greenspace and is just steps from Bloomfield + Schon’s proposed Factory Square project. 

The home is represented by Libby Hunter and Jami Stutzman of Comey and Shepherd Realtors, listed at $154,900.  (513) 260-9632 or (513) 515-0689.   Stay tuned for details of the grand opening event in early March!

February 14, 2009 at 2:40 am Leave a comment

In the News…

Check out the latest from Sian Bitner at the Enquirer:

“Real Estate Life is Greener on the Other Side”


Jami and I just finished up a tour of Gateway Quarter’s new LEED-certified condo project, Mottainai (VERY cool – call for details!).mottainailogo1

February 7, 2009 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

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Who Are We?

Libby Hunter and Jami Stutzman are local Cincinnati Realtors and members of the U.S. Green Building Council who have a passion for sustainable living. Environmental responsibility lies at the core of our business practice - let us show you how we can help with ecologically-minded real estate needs. Please browse our blog, visit our local green vendors' websites and if you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let us show you how green features can make all the difference in your experience!

Contact Us

Jami Stutzman: 513-515-0689
Libby Hunter: 513-260-9632

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