Real Estate Report: Planning a remodel?

Real Estate Report: Planning a remodel?

Pat Colburn

If you’re planning a remodel to your home, why not look at all the ways you can improve the overall comfort and health of your home at the same time? Studies show that if you’re selling your home, you can get up to 9 percent more on the sales price with a green label like GreenPoint Rated. Based on the average California home price of $400,000, that’s $34,800 more in your pocket! And a recent National Association of Realtors survey found that buyers valued updated kitchen appliances over granite counter tops.

Here's a list of energy saving measures and the rebates and special loan programs you can use to integrate them into your home.


GreenPoint Rated: The GreenPoint Rated label is the mark of quality for green home construction. It is a recognizable, independent seal of approval that verifies a home has been built or remodeled according to proven green standards and includes five categories: Energy efficiency, resource conservation, indoor air quality, water conservation and community.

The GreenPoint rater has two labels depending on the size of your project. Each must meet certain prerequisites and achieve a minimum point requirement in each of the five environmental categories. The Elements label recognizes green building best practices for a small remodel or addition. It's a great stepping stone for homeowners making small improvements over time. The Whole House label recognizes green building best practices for a large renovation, gut remodel, or cumulative improvements made over time. A home with this label has significantly better energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact compared to homes of a similar vintage.

You can download the Single Family Checklist here to see the requirements.


None of these rebate programs are retroactive, so apply before you buy! Click on the utility name, for a complete list of rebates and details.

Alameda Municipal Power
$100 rebate for replacing your refrigerator (in conjunction with PG&E)
Trade three incandescent light bulbs for three compact fluorescent lamps
Pays up to 70 percent of the materials cost for weatherization (must use electric heat)

$50 – High-efficiency clothes washer
$50 – High-efficiency refrigerator
$50 – Room air conditioning unit
$200 – High-efficiency gas storage water heater

East Bay Municipal Utility District
Free – Water-saving devices
Up to $100 – High-efficiency toilet
Up to $100 – High-efficiency clothes washer (in conjunction with PG&E)
Up to $2,500 – Lawn conversion and irrigation upgrade
WaterSmart home survey kit
On-site home water surveys
Mulch discount coupons

To ensure integrity, the following statewide programs require use of a participating contractor; a list of contractors is on the program’s website. These contractors have been through rigorous training to help you decide what you can afford for the best value.

Flex Package
$1,500 Rebate – Choose two (out of 16) or more measures to total 100 points.
No test in/out required.
For instance: Get a new central forced air furnace (55 points) and insulate your crawlspace (50 points) and you get $1,500 back! You chose what you need, work with a participating contractor and sit back and enjoy the comfort.

Energy Upgrade California
Energy Upgrade provides two rebate programs:
$1,000 - The Basic Upgrade is a great way to take care of basic energy problems and improve your home’s comfort and efficiency. Your participating contractor will install a set of required measures that will result in about a 10 percent energy savings.
Up to $4,500 - An Advanced Upgrade is customized for your home and your needs. The more energy you save, the bigger your rebates and incentives!

Starting with an energy assessment of your home, your participating contractor or whole-house home energy rater will work with you to identify ways to save the most energy. Your rebates and incentives depend on the energy savings of your project — up to $4,500 from your utility for a 45 percent increase in efficiency.


The following are unsecured financing. Unsecured debt is debt that is not guaranteed or “backed” by any collateral. Interest rates may to be higher on unsecured debt because there is no collateral for the creditor to seize.

Power Saver Loans
The loans are backed by the FHA to help homeowners make energy-efficient retrofits.
Borrow up to $25,000 for energy-saving home improvements
Terms up to 15 and 20 years
Currently 6.125% - 6.750%

Fund energy efficiency improvements
Single-family one- to four-unit residential property
6.5% fixed interest rate loan
15-year fully amortized

Matadors Community Credit Union
Funds energy efficiency and solar projects
Terms of five to 15 years
Requires: 10 percent or more in energy savings from proposed energy efficiency measures. Solar can be done concurrently or after energy efficiency measures.

The following are secured financing. Secured debt is debt that is backed by some type of collateral such as assets or revenue from the borrower. Mortgages and vehicle loans are two examples of secured debts. Because there are assets the lender can use to recoup their loss in the event of a loan default, interest rates may be lower on secured loans.

Energy Efficiency Mortgages (EEMs)
Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs)
Home Equity Loan (HELs)
HUD Title 1 Home Improvement Loans

Pat Colburn is an Alameda Realtor who specializes in helping clients create an energy efficient, comfortable and healthy home. Her credentials include: EcoBroker, HERS Rater, Green Point Rater (Advisor), Certified Green Building Professional, Certified Green Real Estate Professional, Certified Alameda County Green Business. She can be reached via e-mail at