GOING FOR THE GOLD
by Linda Tozer
Determination. Preparation. Vision. Performance. And,
the ability to marshal (conserve) resources to outpace
the competition. Fueled by more than 75 years
of building tradition on Florida's Gulf Coast – River
Ridge Homes committed to achieving Gold just as the
fourth generation of their legacy takes its place.
up the challenge of building to SunBuilt Gold and Energy
Star standards, Mike Boyce, President of River Ridge
Homes spoke philosophically. "Our mission
at River Ridge is to make solar and energy efficiency
as convenient as any other product, providing customers
with the long-term environmental and economic benefits
of those choices."
With the River Ridge motto "Close to Nature. Close
to Perfect." you sense that their commitment is
more than academic. "I believe in building
each home as if my own family were going to live in it,"
Boyce stated. "My grandfather, father and now my
sons are a part of this building tradition. Living
and working in the community makes client satisfaction
more important than anything we do. We want our
homes to be beautiful and comfortable to live in. And,
we want to help our homeowners use their financial resources
best. So, we are constantly refining our floor
plans and incorporating new features to enhance life
for our residents. Solar technologies and energy efficiency
deliver more comfortable homes and put money in our homeowners'
pockets every month. What could be better?"
The significance of River Ridge's energy innovations
becomes apparent as, across Florida, shocked consumers
opened utility bills this summer that were often twice
the norm, sometimes more. Record-breaking heat,
combined with last fall's electricity rate hikes and
higher energy costs, fueled the increase. But consumers
buoyed by federal tax credits and state rebates are not
entirely up a creek without a paddle.
Federal Tax Credits
Homeowners are eligible for tax credits on qualified
solar water heating and photovoltaic systems. Treated
like a payment already made toward the taxes you owe,
a tax credit provides a bigger financial reward than
a tax deduction. You claim the credit when filing
your tax return for the year the system is installed.
The tax credit is for 30% of the cost of the system – with
a cap of $2,000 per technology.
Builders can claim a tax credit of $2,000 for new homes
completed in 2006 and 2007 – if those homes meet
the new Department of Energy (DOE) standards for energy
efficiency. Required to reduce energy use for heating
and cooling by 50% when compared to the national model
code, homes must be qualified using DOE-approved software
and verified by a third-party inspector, certified according
to DOE rules.
State of Florida Solar Rebates.
In Florida, the Department of Environmental Protection's
(DEP) Florida Energy Office oversees the solar rebate
program. For consumers who install solar water
heating the rebate is $500. A $100 rebate is available
for pool heating systems and a rebate of $4.00 per watt
(up to $20,000) is available for solar electric systems.
SunBuilt Builder Program
SunBuilt rewards Florida homebuilders with a $500 rebate
for each solar water heater they install in a new home.
SunBuilt Gold Builders – whose homes meet the qualifying
standards – can also receive a free solar water
heater for their model or Parade home.
Links to rebates, tax credits and a list of SunBuilt
Builders are available at www.sunbuilt.org.