« back to article: Are We Ready for change?

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I have lived in an off-grid home since 1981. There are pros and cons to everything, and an alternate energy house is no exception. Did you know that lending institutes do not place any monetary value on super insulation, let alone an energy independent home? Furthermore, did you know that if you put in a high efficiency furnace, as well as do a good job insulating a “fixer-upper” that the appraiser will give it no monetary value.

“Those kinds if things are just a personal preference,” was what the RCU Loan Officer stated when we asked why there was no inclusion of it in appraising a home we had just remodeled. Why wouldn’t a financial institution consider the fact that lower utility bills might mean more money to pay the mortgage?

So if we want to encourage people into doing a good job of insulating and improving their energy footprint, why don’t we give it value in the property appraisal. As this same loan officer quipped, “It’s just like when my husband and I spent thousands of dollars putting in a new kitchen and we didn’t get our money out of it when we sold the house.” Is it really the same?

Our alternate energy home has also been a real problem in the resale market. Most realtors don’t know how to market it. Some even suggested they could probably sell it for more WITHOUT the energy system.

My favorite rejection came from Green Homes for Sale … we were too big. Never mind that we use the same amount of fuel as a house one third our size, and that we produce 95 percent of all our electrical power with wind and sun. That’s the sour grapes part. We’re in a catch 22. We thought if people want to be more energy independent that our house would be ideal. I think it’s just an urban legend, a myth.

To propose that we as a nation should strive for energy independence, but to tell us we don’t have to change the status quo of how we think about and interact with energy is a disservice ... lip service.

What if we didn’t subsidize any of the energy industries? Would that change even the bean counters minds about what makes sense? What if we included whole life cycling when we considered the “best” appliances, or any energy user for that matter.

We are not stupid people; we just need to start looking at things with a different perspective. The bottom line is a consideration, but it should not be the only one. Let’s not just throw money at the market and hope for the best. If we’re going to use tax dollars to help solve our energy problems, let’s get the biggest bang for the buck. Let’s assess, prioritize and consider the life cycle and payback for what we do. No more status quo, business as usual … real change. There is no one answer, but a combination of things. We can do this.