Northside SF
Real Estate Update
Green homes and the dividends of sustainability
Green houses” were once where we grew plants; however, they now have a whole new meaning. California is taking the lead in renewable energy for our homes: Green homes incorporate solar electricity, solar heat, geothermal heat, wind turbines, energy-efficient building materials and systems, recycled materials, and much more. With the ultimate goal to be as sustainable as possible, green homes are designed or retrofitted using resources efficiently and wisely. An easy way to begin greening your home is with new Energy Star appliances, which are designed to be more energy efficient than older appliances.

Other than the obvious energy savings, more and more buyers are aware of the energy costs associated with owning a home. They are enticed by those more energy-efficient, offering long-term savings. I am beginning to see energy-efficient systems touted as amenities in sales listings. Just a few years ago we did not see San Francisco home listings with, for example, solar systems, but now more are starting to emerge, and my guess is we’ll see more of them. Employing these systems and techniques to make your home more energy efficient and sustainable could very well give you a competitive advantage when selling your home.

The San Francisco Department of Energy is currently offering rebates of up to $11,000 for a customized energy upgrade of your San Francisco home. Energy Upgrade California has created the San Francisco Home Improvement and Performance program to incentivize homeowners. You can make your home more comfortable, quieter and more energy efficient, while getting a sizable rebate on the work required to make it that way.

The first step is to have your home assessed by a program partner, all of which have been certified by the Building Performance Institute. The cost of the assessment is $100–$200. You will receive a full report outlining measures you can take to improve the health, safety and energy efficiency of your home. Then you and a contractor can work together to create a customized plan that will provide you with enhanced energy efficiencies and earn you the highest possible rebates. Please note: Projects must be completed by June 30, 2012, and the program will only last as long as allotted funds are available.

For more information, visit Also the San Francisco Department of Energy has authorized me to offer clients a voucher for an additional $500 discount. If you are interested in obtaining one, please feel free to contact me.

In addition to this San Francisco program, there is a regionwide program that covers the greater Bay Area and offers $1,000–$4,000 in energy rebates. For more information on this program, visit

This is exciting! If we all work together to make our homes energy efficient – or better still, energy generators – the world will be a better place. Green homes are definitely a thing of the future. Why wait? Let’s get started now.
Stephanie Saunders Ahlberg has been a real estate agent for over 30 years and joined Hill & Co. in 1983, where she has consistently been among the top 10 salespeople. She can be reached at 

March 2012
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