Energy Efficient Remodeling Ideas for Older Homes

Energy Efficient Remodeling Ideas for Older Homes

Energy efficiency is one of the largest topics for homeowners in recent years. Buyers want a property that will have predictable bills, and homeowners want to lower the monthly charges they’ve been seeing.

If you’re interested in finding energy-efficient remodeling ideas for your home: consider trying some of these tips!

Seal Your Home From Top to Bottom

Your home should be as sealed as possible. This means everything from the roof to the floor should be air-tight and capable of handling anything you throw at it. The most common areas people miss are their soffit, roof gaps, their HVAC system, and the exhaust from their washer and dryer, and stove. Make sure these allow for one-way flow only, stopping your home from filling with whatever temperature you’re avoiding.

Inspect Your Windows and Doors for Air Leaks

Windows and doors are the largest culprits for heating and cooling issues. Carry a lit candle near your windows and doors, and watch the flame carefully. If it suddenly pulls towards, or away from, any door or window: you have an air leak. There are a couple of options for what you can do next. You can either replace the windows and doors entirely, or you can go for something smaller like a window sash replacement and simply weatherstripping your door. Although eventually, you’ll want to replace them: this can be a fantastic fix in the meanwhile.
Check Your Insulation Levels
How well insulated is your home? Do you know the last time your insulation was checked? If you’re not sure, call a professional and ask for them to check out your property. Be aware that if your insulation hasn’t been checked in over forty years, the company you work with will probably charge extra in case of asbestos. This is a normal charge and will protect them from a potentially hazardous environment.
Know What Solar Can Do For You!

Solar can help both your home and the environment in one go. By absorbing solar rays and converting that power into electricity, it can lessen the amount of power your home needs to draw from the grid. Beyond that, this can also give you tax cuts that many homeowners are thankful to grab.

Although solar is expensive upfront, you’ll save enough money in the long term that this equipment will pay for itself over time. This isn’t a great fit for every home, depending on which direction it’s facing, but it’s a fantastic choice if you want to source your energy in a greener way.

Make the Switch to Energy Efficient Lighting

Your lighting could be doing more damage to your bills than you expect! Just like you wouldn’t expect roller skates to be useful on a crush-and-run driveway, you can’t expect the same old lightbulbs that haven’t been updated in sixty years to offer the amount of energy-efficient LED bulbs can. With brighter and clearer light, longer lifespans, and more energy efficiency, there’s no reason to avoid these bulbs. They’re very useful and offer everyone an affordable chance to have a greener home.

Replace Any Older Roof or Siding

Your old roof and siding could be holding you back. These both protect your home from the elements when they’re in good condition, but the second they’re older, you’ll realize they’re holding you back and leaking a lot of air (and possibly moisture!). Go for a roof that will last over fifty years and works great with solar, like slate shingles! For your siding, it’s vital that you pick something that’s both attractive and sturdy. Some types of siding can work well over thirty years, although they can be a little more expensive.

Check Your Foundation and Repair if Necessary

If you test your windows and doors, and over half of them are leaking, aren’t shutting correctly, and seem almost tilted despite being fine not long ago: it’s time to look at your foundation. One of the main reasons it’s vital to fill cracks in concrete is water can take a small issue and blow it out of proportion in no time. Keep an eye out for any foundational issues: and call a professional if you suspect something might be wrong.

Add Extra Shade On Your Home’s Windows

Although no tree should be anywhere near your roof: you can shade your home by using greenery that covers your windows to some degree. By planting shrubs and bushes along the exterior of your home, the light will be more filtered before it gets to your windows. This will allow less heat to come in and will protect your home. Beyond this, when paired with landscape drains, local shrubs can also help keep water out of your yard, an added bonus!

Every Property Can Be More Energy Efficient

Your property should be as energy efficient as possible. Take the time to follow these tips, and you’ll be amazed at how much your heating and cooling bills will drop!


Susan Holmes is a contributor to Innovative Building Materials. She is an editor and content writer for the environmental industry. Susan is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that increase property value, maximize energy savings, and turn houses into homes.

Chicago Announces Plan to Power City with 100% Renewable Energy

Chicago Announces Plan to Power City with 100% Renewable Energy

Chicago’s public buildings could all be powered by renewable energy under a plan announced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Aug. 8.

The mayor, along with Illinois Gov JB Pritzker, on Monday said the city has an agreement with Chicago utility Constellation Energy, along with Massachusetts-based Swift Current Energy, a renewable energy developer. The two spoke at a news conference at the Chicago Urban League. The deal would make Chicago one of the world’s largest cities to commit to using 100% renewable energy.

“I am incredibly proud to advance this commitment to transitioning all city operations to 100% renewable energy by 2025,” Lightfoot said. “The signing of this agreement demonstrates that the City of Chicago is leading by example and driving high-impact climate action, building the clean energy workforce of the future and equitably distributing meaningful benefits to foster the local clean energy economy for all.”

Climate Action Plan

Construction of projects related to the plan is set to begin by year-end. Lightfoot touted the plan’s job creation potential in addition to how it would reduce the city’s carbon footprint. “The 2022 climate action plan deepens our city’s longstanding commitment to climate action, and sets a goal of reducing emissions in Chicago by 62% by 2040,” Lightfoot said.

The mayor’s office said the agreement with Constellation will support the purchase of renewable energy for all city facilities and operations by 2025. An initial five-year energy supply agreement is expected to begin in January 2023.

“We are providing a clean energy solution that will help the City of Chicago,” said Jim McHugh, chief commercial officer for Constellation Energy.

Large Solar Farm Project

Lightfoot’s office said the agreement also will enable a supply of renewable energy for major organizations across Illinois. The city in 2025 will begin partly powering large facilities such as the city’s airports and other buildings with renewable energy from solar power, which will be generated from a Swift Current Energy solar farm—the 593-MW Double Black Diamond project—in Sangamon and Morgan counties in downstate Illinois.

The groups on Monday said construction and operation of the solar farm is expected to create hundreds of jobs, and would be among the state’s largest solar projects to date.

“We are thrilled to have the City of Chicago as a key customer for the Double Black Diamond Solar project,” said Matt Birchby, co-founder and president of Swift Current Energy, in a statement. “Double Black Diamond Solar has the capacity to create significant benefits for the State of Illinois. We commend the City of Chicago for their leadership in securing 100% clean, renewable energy for all city buildings and operations and Sangamon and Morgan counties for hosting this project.”

“Double Black Diamond makes Sangamon County a leading generator of clean solar power,” said Andy Van Meter, Sangamon County board chairman, in a statement. “We are pleased to host an infrastructure project of this magnitude that will create meaningful and long-lasting benefits for our area and the state. The project will employ hundreds of construction workers and directly create permanent, high paying positions. It will also create a significant, long-term source of tax revenue for our schools and community.”

The mayor’s office said the city also will purchase renewable energy credits from other sources for its remaining power uses, which could include the electricity supply for small- and medium-sized buildings, and street lights.

—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

California’s Net Energy Billing Plan, NEM 3.0, Explained.

California’s Net Energy Billing Plan, NEM 3.0, Explained.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is proposing to update the net energy metering policy for solar homeowners, commonly referred to as NEM.

The proposed billing plan, NEM 3.0, is complicated and confusing, not surprising. Maybe it was intended to confuse, so we don’t really focus on how unjust the proposed new plan is. But don’t fret. I have summarized the proposed changes for you here:

Historically the export compensation of solar in California is based off a Net Energy Metering (NEM) Policy. Both NEM1.0 and NEM2.0 were under this compensation mechanism. With NEM, when a system owner is generating more electricity than they are consuming, the excess energy is exported back to the utility grid and the customer receives a credit equal to or slightly less than the full-retail rate. This credit can then be applied to offset electricity consumption within the current billing cycle (i.e. monthly) or in future billing cycles before expiring annually at some specified month (known as the true-up period).

NEM has been the law of the land in California since 1995, covering all customers of the state’s three largest utilities—PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E. It’s currently on its second version, NEM 2.0. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is nearing the end of designing NEM 3.0, and the changes that have been proposed could greatly reduce the financial benefits people can get by owning solar panels or subscribing to community solar.

Under NEM 3.0, most of the homeowners savings are stripped away, ending up in the utility company’s pockets. Under NEM 2.0, current solar customers in California save an average of between 22 and 36 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity generated by their panels. Under the proposed NEM 3.0 plan, the credit for excess generation will go down to just 4.7 to 5.8 cents, on average. Let’s not forget that the utilities currently already make a good profit reselling excess solar power at peak energy rates.
Save $310 per month or save $10 per month. That is NEM 2.0 vs. NEM 3.0 in the simplest terms.
Example: In April, under the current NEM 2.0, my solar array produced 1.5MWh of energy. My home used .5MWh. The additional 1 MWh was sent to the grid and I receive a credit of $310 (1,000 kWh x $0.31 [$.34/kWh retail rate LESS ±$0.03/kWh grid fee] = $310). I will use this credit in any month where my use exceeds my solar energy generation, such as in July and August when I am running my air conditioner.

Running the same scenario under NEM 3.0, my solar array produces 1.5MWh of energy. My home used .5MWh. The additional 1 MWh was sent to the grid. But I only receive a credit of $0.05/kWh. In addition, I must also pay a “participation” fee of $40/mo. on average. My new monthly savings is just $10. Ten stinking dollars. Thanks, PG&E, for letting me keep a little sumpin’ sumpin’.

In May 2022, the CPUC commission delayed the decision “until further notice.” The solar energy industry, as well as the utility energy industry in California expect the issue to be revisited this year, possibly as soon as July 2022. If and when a final NEM 3.0 decision and policy is voted on and approved, NEM3.0 could be implemented as soon as Jan 2023.

Industry and consumer lobbying fighting for solar rights has taken place throughout the negotiating process. Unfortunately big utility has the power to get their way. It seems like the CPUC has forgotten the “Public” part of their name, and are siding with big utility companies and their control over energy and shareholder profit. You can still call your local representative, or the governor’s office to voice your support for solar rights.

The good news, if there is any, is that, folks who go solar before the NEM 3.0 deadline, possibly as soon as December 2022, MAY be locked into the NEM 2.0 rate structure for 10 years. Calculate your new solar savings by looking at 10-year return on investment, not 25 years. And being that the decision to go solar and lock into NEM 2.0 will have to happen before Dec, 2022, you will also qualify for the 26% solar tax credit before drops again.

Office of Governor Gavin Newsom :
California State Assemble:

California Utilities Looking To Kill Rooftop Solar.

“CPUC proposed a giveaway to investor-owned utilities that would boost utility profits at the expense of energy consumers, family-supporting jobs, and California’s clean energy future.” 

Sacramento, CA— Today, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released a proposed decision on net metering, the policy that is responsible for the growth of solar in California by making the state’s most abundant source of renewable energy affordable for consumers of all types.

The CPUC proposal would add a $57 per month solar penalty fee for the average residential solar system. A $15 per month credit for the first 10 years would only partially offset the fee, but California would still have the highest solar penalty fees in the country. Low-income ratepayers and commercial customers would not pay the monthly fee. In addition, the commission proposed slashing export credits to approximately 5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) on all solar users, including schools and churches. This is an 80% reduction from the 20-30 cents per kWh credited today for residential customers. Further, the commission reduced the protections for existing solar customers from the previously established 20-year grandfathering, down to 15 years.

The Save CA Solar coalition, which includes more than 600 diverse organizations, issued the following statement on today on the CPUC proposed decision:

Despite the overwhelming popularity of rooftop solar in California and more than 120,000 public comments submitted in support of net metering, the CPUC proposed a giveaway to investor-owned utilities that would boost utility profits at the expense of energy consumers, family-supporting jobs, and California’s clean energy future. 

Solar advocates around the state are disappointed the CPUC fell for the utility profit grab by proposing the highest solar penalty fees in the nation and drastically reducing the credit solar consumers receive for selling the excess energy they produce to their neighbors. 

The fight is not over for solar advocates. Consumers, affordable housing advocates, faith leaders, environmentalists, conservationists, climate activists, and solar workers and small businesses will continue calling on the CPUC and Governor Newsom to stop the utility profit grab and keep solar growing in California.   

The CPUC will hold a final vote on the future of net metering following a 25-day public comment period on the proposed decision and alternative proposals. The proposed changes to net metering would go into effect this Spring.

Members of the Save California Solar coalition weighed in on the CPUC proposed decision: 

“California is on a path to 100% renewable energy, and that path requires a sustained commitment to growing rooftop solar. Instead the CPUC is proposing to put a drag on our transition away from fossil fuels. State regulators calculate that to get to 100% clean energy, California needs at least 28 gigawatts (GW) of customer-sited solar by 2045; that’s nearly three times as much as we have today. The momentum that rooftop solar has now would help us reach our goal – but to gut net metering is to gut that momentum. The CPUC needs to put California’s climate change efforts first, ahead of the financial interests of the big utilities.” 

– Laura Deehan, State Director at Environment California Research & Policy Center. 

“It is a story as old as this country: a new technology is developed, programs and policies are offered to help consumers to adopt the technology and bring down the costs over time, and just when people in Black and brown communities are beginning to be able to afford the technology and benefit from it – the programs and policies are often taken away. That is exactly what the CPUC did in their proposed decision. By accepting the utility profit grab, the CPUC would take California back to a time when solar was a luxury for the wealthy and out of reach for our communities.” 

– Pastor Pastor William D. Smart, Jr., President and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California

“Our diverse, grassroots coalition is disappointed in the CPUC’s proposed decision, but we are even more determined to keep up the fight to make sure California stays a solar state. In the coming weeks solar supporters will make our voices heard in creative ways online and in person so Governor Newsom understands just how unpopular the utility profit grab is among voters.” 

– Dave Rosenfeld, Director of the Solar Rights Alliance 

“This is a clean energy and jobs disaster. With this proposal, California would abandon its long-held position as a clean energy leader, threatening the jobs of tens of thousands of hard working men and women who provide clean, reliable energy for millions of consumers today. Governor Newsom needs to clean this mess up and get California back on track as a solar leader.”

– Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director of California Solar & Storage Association

“This is really a debate between energy democracy vs. energy monopoly. The big utilities want to protect their control over energy delivery to protect their billions in profit. The environmental justice community wants energy equity where people are free to generate and distribute their own energy in ways that are cleaner and more affordable.” 

– Esperanza Vielma, Executive Director, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water


About Save California Solar

Save California Solar is a coalition founded by the Solar Rights Alliance, California’s association of solar users, to help ensure that rooftop solar continues to grow and benefit every Californian. Learn more at

Composting Is Way Easier Than You Think. Here’s How.

Composting Is Way Easier Than You Think. Here’s How.

Julian Mackenzie, –

With minimal effort, you can turn those banana peels and apple cores into gold. Let us break it down.


If you’re going to ask an environmentalist why you should compost, make sure you have a minute. Darby Hoover, NRDC’s senior resource specialist in the Food and Agriculture program—and master of the household compost heap—can reel off a long list of reasons for keeping your food scraps and other household waste out of the trash can. “Compost adds nutrients and organic matter back to soil, which benefits agriculture, reduces our reliance on synthetic fertilizers, diverts methane-producing organic materials from landfills, and improves soil’s water retention capacity so you don’t need to water as much,” she says.

Read More.

North County Businesses are Going Green.

North County Businesses are Going Green.

Atascadero, CA – Two north county businesses, Gathering Thrift and Solarponics, are the first two businesses in the north county to get Green Certified through the California Green Business Network (CAGBN). The CAGBN has stepped up its effort to certify more businesses in an attempt to build a greener, more vibrant economy.

Being a Certified Green Business is the clearest way for a business to prove to the community and customers that you care about sustainability. It shows them that you are committed to taking action to conserve resources and prevent pollution in both the facility and operations. It means that your business complies with environmental regulations in the areas of waste, energy, water, pollution prevention, and air quality.

The California Green Business Network leads the state and nation in working with small to medium sized businesses to create a vibrant green economy. Led by a coalition of cities and counties, the CAGBN contribute by helping to make our communities healthier and more livable while also conserving resources and saving money.

Companies throughout the central coast have become Green Certified through the CAGBN. Those select few Certified Green Innovators have met the highest verifiable standards of sustainability. They represent the spirit of our work better than any words could describe. And they are leading the movement of businesses in California making a positive impact on people and the planet. So far, only two north county businesses are Green Certified; Gatherings Thrift, and Solarponics.[1]

“I don’t know why a business wouldn’t want to get green certified. It’s a good thing all the way around,” says Frank Scotti, solar advocate at Solarponics in Atascadero. “It is a thorough process to go through, and well worth the effort”, Scotti said.

Some benefits of being a green certified business include cost savings, differentiate from competitors, become part of a larger community, and marketing and public awareness. But perhaps the biggest uncelebrated benefit to being green certified is the internal achievement. Companies that are green certified often operate more efficiently and employees are happier.



The California Green Business Network is a nonprofit organization that oversees programs operated by Chambers of Commerce, cities and counties throughout California. Businesses that apply receive personal attention from the public agencies and the utilities that serve them. The counties and cities that offer the Program are listed below. County programs are generally available to businesses located in all cities within that county. 

Frank Scotti is a renewable energy advocate and director at Solarponics, the Central Coast’s premiere solar energy installer. Solarponics installs solar electric, battery storage and backup, thermal heating and cooling, solar water heating systems, wind energy, and solar pool heating systems. Established in 1975, Solarponics is the longest continuously owned and operated solar company in California. For more information, visit, or like them on Facebook.