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Old 05-08-2008, 10:11 PM
 
4,710 posts, read 7,099,830 times
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We are thinking of buying a house in SW Austin soon, but have a long time line in terms of remodeling and making it our "dream home". Our biggest priority is making sure that any home is highly energy efficient, well insulated, probably with a water collection system, and eventually solar energy. We would love to make it as close to 0 energy as we can, and use sustainable building materials. Does anyone have suggestions on how to get a home evaluated for energy efficiency before buying, and suggestions on contractors who do this sort of work after buying?

Thanks!
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:40 PM
 
Location: Dallas, Texas
485 posts, read 1,958,952 times
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Go to the Austin Energy website. They have tons of info about this and offer many rebates to upgrade. We've received rebates to have our attic insulation reblown and put in a new A/C. We've received rebates to buy a front loading clothes washer. They offer so many more and tell you how to go about making your home energy efficient.
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Old 05-09-2008, 07:12 AM
 
Location: Jollyville, TX
5,865 posts, read 11,921,592 times
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Ditto what MJ said - the City of Austin website is the best place to start:

Programs

They will refer you to local businesses that partner with them to provide energy efficient upgrades with the city rebate deducted from the price.
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Old 05-09-2008, 08:03 AM
 
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What if I end up just outside the city, like Spicewood or Dripping Springs?
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Old 05-09-2008, 08:51 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,958 posts, read 45,392,902 times
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The Energy Star program has a list of Texas energy raters/auditors (plus lots of other information) here. It's a place to start. Are you using an EcoBrokerĀ® to find your home?
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Old 05-09-2008, 01:36 PM
 
Location: Dallas, Texas
485 posts, read 1,958,952 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G Grasshopper View Post
What if I end up just outside the city, like Spicewood or Dripping Springs?
Hmm...I don't know anything about that. I know that the City of Austin does A LOT with energy efficient education and support, but I also know that the smaller cities north do not -- heck, they aren't even good at recycling -- but I'm sure that has to do with budgets, etc. The smaller towns (Cedar Park, Dripping Spgs) are spending all their money on infrastructure b/c there's so much residential building they are having to upgrade roads and build new schools, etc. Since Austin is more established, I guess they have more of a budget and a concern to increase the energy efficiency of the city.
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Old 05-09-2008, 02:09 PM
 
31 posts, read 149,757 times
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Some HOAs (like the one I live in) will not allow solar panels to be installed on a roof. That's lame.
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Old 05-09-2008, 04:08 PM
 
10,130 posts, read 19,875,751 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G Grasshopper View Post
What if I end up just outside the city, like Spicewood or Dripping Springs?
Depends on your utility company. If you are still Austin Energy (like many areas outside the city are), you'll still get the Austin rebates. If you are Pedernales Electric Co-op or other utility provider, there may be different incentives/rebates... but I doubt they are as good as Austin Energy. They have some of the best rebates I've seen, and they pay promptly. I've gotten about $600 back for a higher-efficiency A/C, and $300 or so back on solar screens (about 1/3 the total cost). They offer thousands towards a solar panel system... they just started a program where you can get a discount on your utility bill if you install a special thermostat (provided by them) that allows them to cycle your A/C compressor during peak demand periods.

The city also sometimes provides free water-saving devices, like showerheads, sprinklers, and water timers.
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Old 05-09-2008, 05:20 PM
 
4,710 posts, read 7,099,830 times
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Are you using an EcoBrokerĀ® to find your home?[/quote]

TexasHorseLady: I don't believe the broker we have been talking to is an EcoBroker, but I also don't know really what that means. Do you have to be certified to have knowledge of sustainable products, etc.? Is there a test? What can an EcoBroker do for me that a regular broker can't?
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Old 05-09-2008, 07:50 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,958 posts, read 45,392,902 times
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Probably you'd best find the answer to that question at EcoBroker.com. There are several in the Austin area (34, last I heard, but more taking the course and becoming certified all the time).

Basically, the training is in the various environmentally friendly ("green" being a term that is played fast and loose with these days that has no official definition) ways of building, using energy raters, resources available local, state, and federal, etc.
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