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Making It Easier for Homeowners to Adopt a Greener Lifestyle

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By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, July 14, 2008-With the cost of oil through the roof, and fuel and energy bills looking only upward these days, consumers are looking for more financial relief and a bit more energy efficiency. Energy-cost concerns, paired with the tumultuous market, can make for even harder sales.

To help aid in this dilemma, Illinois-based Home Warranty of AmericaTM (HWATM) has introduced two new options, both geared toward helping a buyer’s transition into their new home-OrangePlus and GreenPlus.

“When people have the option to replace their old appliances with more energy efficient products, that’s appealing to them,” says Jay Robbins, broker/owner, Robbins Real Estate Group in Richardson, Texas. “More and more people each day are becoming more environmentally conscious. It’s amazing that HWA has responded to those demands. They’ve created a plan that will make a huge difference in the everyday energy efficiency in many homes.”

The GreenPlus option provides replacement of a number of appliances and systems with ENERGY STAR-rated products, if the unit cannot be repaired. Products include: dishwashers, refrigerators, clothes washers, heating systems (with 90% efficiency) and water heaters (with a tankless water heater). The OrangePlus option covers or increases: unknown or pre-existing conditions, improperly matched or installed systems, removal of defective equipment, professional series appliances to $2,500, toilet replacement to $600 and/or code violations/permits to $350. Coverages vary by region.

“I like the fact that if my water heater goes out, I’m replacing it with something that not only saves on energy consumption, but saves me a bit in the wallet too,” says Wendy Hulkowich, team leader of The Hulkowich Group, Ebby Halliday Realtors, also in Texas. “The GreenPlus and OrangePlus options are phenomenal add-ons. Every little bit helps. I look at it as a win-win.”

In fact, Hulkowich tells the story of a client who had recently purchased a home and then soon after, realized she had a major plumbing leak: “Essentially, her plumbing was installed improperly,” Hulkowich explains. “However, in order to find the problem, the plumber had to cut a hole in the dry wall and then charged her to fix it. By adding the OrangePlus option to a policy, something like this would be covered. It wasn’t the homeowner’s fault. It was a pre-existing condition and not up to code.

“A year ago, you couldn’t do that,” continues Hulkowich. “HWA has really started to listen to what the complaints have been and is implementing various options to strengthen both their own company as well as the business of the real estate agent.”

With the summer months now upon us-and the fall and winter months to follow shortly thereafter-home warranty options such as these are more important than ever.

“Whether you’re in Dallas like us, or anywhere else in the U.S. right now, it’s hot, and air-conditioning systems, for example, break often,” says Robbins. “If something should happen to a homeowner’s AC, what a great feeling to know that your policy covers a high-efficiency AC unit-and a tankless hot water heater.”

And while both Hulkowich and Robbins agree that the options are still a bit new to report back on, they say the two add-ons are already gaining admiration and raving responses from homeowners.

“The response has been very positive,” says Robbins. “And why wouldn’t it be? These options appeal to both the desire to help the environment and the wallet. Every little bit helps.”

For more information, please visit www.hwahomewarranty.com.

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