As a homeowner, Realtor ®, and green home fan, my test site is our town home, located in the Andersonville neighborhood, in the Edgewater community of Chicago.   My personal mission is to learn everything I can about green home technology as it exists today, and as new technologies emerge.   As a Realtor, I want to share practical tips with home sellers and buyers, based on my direct experience.   And of course, I want to collect on those energy tax credits every year.

Each year we incorporate a few more elements of green technology in our townhome, with the goal of saving energy, reducing our energy costs, and making our home more comfortable.   Our work has paid off as our energy usage has dropped by about 15-20% in the four years we have owned our home, and we collected about $1,000 in tax credits along the way.

I first wrote about the topic in blog about the Smart Home at the Museum of Science and Industry.   Then I picked up a few tips along the way in my Realtor Magazine and from Dwell Magazine.

OK, I have to admit that we started with the easy and boring stuff.   A fellow realtor who is a member of the Chicago Conservation Corps gave me a green home kit that included CFL light bulbs.   Easy fix, relatively inexpensive, all you need are bulbs and a ladder.    Andersonville and Lincoln Square’s local neighborhood chamber of commerce booths provide the bulbs free of charge.   Had we purchased them for our home the total cost would have been $84.

Along the way, we installed storm doors, replaced leaky windows with energy star ones, and insulated our garage ceiling. This was as much about making our home comfortable as about saving energy.   When the dryer conked out, and the washer started tearing up our clothes, we replaced both with energy star appliances.

What is in the future for us? Energy Monitoring and Solar Shingles. A recent article in Dwell Magazine inspired me to look into home energy monitoring and smart technology systems.   The systems let you automate and easily control via your personal computer or phone, how much lighting, air conditioning and heating used, and provide data so you can make behavioral changes based on the system’s feedback.

A recent survey regarding smart homes shows that 80 to 85 percent of households are willing to make a onetime investment of $100 in software that can save them 10 to 30% on their electric bills. I haven’t taken this step yet but have begun to look into it. And Dow Chemical Company will soon release the PowerHouse Solar Shingle that will cost less than solar panels and be easier to install.

As with any project of this nature, taking the steps you’d like in small does minimizes your costs and will in turn maximize your return on investment.

Maggie Finegan, Move with Maggie Team

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