No matter how savvy or sophisticated we fancy ourselves, it never hurts to bone up every once in a while on our knowledge. After all, information is not static. It’s forever evolving and improving.
When it comes to environmental issues, a good tool it in your arsenal of green tricks is to know a thing or two about the Energy Star program. For those of you who think Energy Star are those annoying blue-and-white appliance labels that are so difficult to remove, think again. This symbol for premium energy efficiency has become a nationally recognized emblem in the ten years since it was introduced in Canada in 2001. Today, the Energy Star endorsement symbol and program is used by 1,400 organizations and 800 builders across the country.
Seeing a label affixed to a product means you’re getting a stamp-of-approval that the product meets or exceeds government-set standards in terms of its energy efficiency.
If your appliances are over the hill, they could be costing an unreasonable amount of money to operate annually. This is something you’ll want to share with clients. An Energy Star labelled appliance uses 10 to 50 per cent less energy. Keep in mind that there are many appliance-recycling programs available for you to get rid of old washers and stoves. Call your municipality to find out what programs exist and how appliances are collected. There is even an energy-cost calculator offered on the Natural Resources Canada website (www.nrcan.gc.ca) that will figure out the long-term cost of operating your new appliance.
But the Energy Star program is about so much more than just energy-hogging refrigerators and dishwashers. The Energy Star label is displayed on 50 product categories, including home electronics, lighting, windows and doors, office equipment and residential heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment and, of course, major appliances.
If you have an older home, chances are good that it needs to made more energy efficient. Are the windows well insulated and sealed? How about the attic? How old are the appliances? Is its heat source an energy hog? Energy Star products can help.
In fact, the federal government is currently making it much more attractive to help homeowners improve the energy efficiency in their home with its ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program, which provides grants for up to $5,000. The government renewed the program until March 31, 2012 so there’s still time to apply.
Know that you may also be eligible for complementary or matching funds from provincial, territorial and municipal governments, as well as from certain energy utilities and non-government organizations that use the EnerGuide Rating System. Suggest that your clients consult with these regional organizations to ensure they’re meeting guidelines and deadlines.
If your client is interested instead in new homes, recommend that they take a look at those endorsed by the Energy Star program. While the majority of new homes are not labelled Energy Star, interest among builders is growing. In 2009, about one in five new housing starts in Ontario were labelled Energy Star.
Letting your clients know about this valuable program will save them money and build your reputation as a smart realtor who understands the value of going green. Tell clients they don’t have to sacrifice style or comfort by making energy-efficient choices. In fact, by doing so, they stand to save up to one third on their energy bill while helping reduce green house gas emissions. Who can argue with that?
The National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) provides a Greenbroker and Greenagent certification program to Realtors across Canada. To get more information or to sign up for a course, visit www.nagab.org. Elden Freeman M.E.S., AGB, broker is the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization. 1-877-524-9494 Email firstname.lastname@example.org.