Idea Notebook - Atlanta Home Improvement Blog

Get Cash Back on EarthCraft Renovation

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By Carl Seville, LEED AP Homes, Seville Consulting

If you are planning to remodel or add on to your home, you should consider making your project an EarthCraft Renovation. EarthCraft Renovation is part of the EarthCraft House green-building program that has been certifying new and existing homes in the Southeast since 1999. When your project is a certified EarthCraft Renovation, you can be confident that it will be more efficient, more comfortable, have healthier indoor air and even higher resale value than the average renovation. You get these benefits when your contractor follows the EarthCraft guidelines for insulation, air sealing, heating and cooling system design and installation, and they are inspected by a trained Technical Advisor. On top of this, Georgia Power customers are eligible for up to $2,200 in rebates to help offset the costs of the improvements and certification. City of Atlanta residents, and, very soon, City of Decatur residents can get an additional $2,000 for a total of up to $4,200 in potential rebates for making your home better.

Blower Door Small

Georgia code now requires all new homes and whole-house renovations to be tested with a blower door for air leakage at completion, a key component of the EarthCraft program.

What You Get from an EarthCraft Renovation

People who live in EarthCraft Renovations consistently report lower energy bills, better comfort in both hot and cold weather (none of those pesky hot spots and drafts), reduced allergy symptoms and less dusting. One early EarthCraft renovation project was the expansion and renovation of a historic 1918 home that was expanded from 2,500 square-feet to 5,000 square-feet that ended up with lower energy bills for twice the space. A homeowner reported that after her EarthCraft Renovation, her allergist informed her she no longer had to receive regular treatments and another stopped buying tissues and no longer had to dust her furniture as often. Personally, I have lived in EarthCraft Renovations that don’t get cold inside when the temperature drops suddenly and stay cool with less air conditioning when it’s brutally hot outside.

How to Make Your Renovation EarthCraft

  • Hire a contractor who has been trained and approved as an EarthCraft Renovator or Builder.
  • If your contractor has not taken the training, ask them to become certified before your project starts.
  • Your contractor must hire a Technical Advisor, or TA, who will review the plans, inspect and test the house before the work starts, make recommendations for improvements, then inspect once during construction and again when the work is complete, including additional testing to make sure that everything is done correctly. To get the rebates, the TA must also be approved to work under the Georgia Power Home Energy Improvement Program.
  • While there is no guarantee that your house will qualify for rebates, most EarthCraft Renovations will meet these criteria.

But Doesn’t It Cost More?

Many people, including contractors, think that it costs more to do an EarthCraft Renovation, but this is not necessarily the case. Many of the techniques used in the EarthCraft program are now required by the new Georgia energy code, so they will need to be included in your project whether or not it is certified as EarthCraft. If you are doing a whole-house remodel, the code now requires house air-leakage and duct-leakage testing, services that are included with EarthCraft certification. When your contractor’s work meets code, you are well on your way to an EarthCraft Renovation project already, so why not have it certified and pick up some rebates in the process?

Duct Blaster Small

Georgia code now requires all new duct systems to be tested for leakage, another key part of EarthCraft.

What green-building upgrades are you considering for your home? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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