When I first began considering building an eco-friendly home, one of the first things I did was do some research on the cost of adding energy-saving features into our new home. The bottom line is important for any homebuilding project, because many times your budget dictates what type of features you will be able to add. I plan on putting photovoltaic solar panels on the roof to help us reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. A four-pack of 265-watt polycrystalline PV solar panels costs $1,399 at Home Depot – that's a cost that not every homebuilder includes in their budget, but there are some important things to know before you make a final decision about what eco-friendly features to include.
The costs of some features, like solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling, can appear to be fairly high at first glance. I learned through doing my homework, however, that there are lots of ways to save money during the homebuilding process and still build the eco-friendly home that I want.
One of the biggest ways to save money on an eco-friendly homebuilding project is to take advantage of the myriad of financial incentives that are available to home builders like myself. Those incentives come in the form of tax breaks, rebates, and subsidies, from utility companies, states, and the Federal government. It's definitely worth reading up well before you break ground on your new home, because it could make a big difference in your home's ultimate energy-efficiency, and your wallet.
While I was doing my research, I discovered that learning about these incentives is easier than ever. I met with Jennifer Parsons of the Conecticut Green Building Council, who explained to me in this episode how it all works, and some of the incentives that are available. One of the first things I learned is that there's a national database available that will match you up with the right resources to save some money on your homebuilding project.
The DSIRE database lets you view incentives by state, and breaks them down by number and type of incentives. DSIRE stands for “Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency”. I encourage everyone who reads this blog to take a look at it – even if you're not building an eco-friendly home, someone you know may be able to benefit from the information contained within.
Another go-to resource for calculating the energy-efficiency, and thus the viability of your eco-friendly homebuilding project, is RESNET. Jennifer explained to me that on this website, you can learn about the HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Index and try it out for yourself. Generally, a lower score means a more energy efficient home – definitely worth a look.
If there are any particular incentives that you took advantage of for your homebuilding project, I'd like to hear about it. Leave us a comment and let us know so that my wife and I can make the best decisions possible when it comes to our project.