In general, I’m a glass-mostly-empty kind of guy — like many, I fear the crushing blow of putting my faith behind something and then having it not work out to my liking — but when contemplating how things on the green “home front” will pan out in the year ahead, I’m filled with a hearty dose of eco-optimism.

I’m looking forward to tracking and reporting on various items for MNN — the continued acceptance of sustainable home design and residential architecture, eco-friendly household products, and, umm, the urban composting movement — but one thing in particular that I can’t wait to see unfold is the proposed “cash for caulkers” or Home Star program,  a government-funded rebate scheme that’s similar to “cash for clunkers” but focuses on energy-saving home improvement projects instead of cars.

Submitting to a home energy audit and then making recommended changes around the home is understandably daunting, especially when often large and expensive undertakings are involved like buying new appliances, doors, windows, insulation, etc. (for cheap, DIY fix-its, check out my series of “Weatherize this” posts). But as we move into 2010 and the Home Star program is ironed out, it helps to acknowledge a bit of excellent, encouraging news.

A couple months back I wrote about Next Step Living, a Massachusetts-based energy efficiency firm that teamed up with the city of Boston for a remarkable weatherization pilot program, the Renew Boston Energy Efficiency Program, that targeted 150 working poor and middle-class households in the Boston area who couldn't afford the initial investment involved with weatherization rebate or incentive programs or do not qualify for federal weatherization assistance. 

Well, the results of the pilot program are just in: through state-funded home energy audits and on-the-spot efficiency upgrades, each household will be saving an average of $200 to $300 in utility costs annually. And remember, these figures, a collective $40,000, are just after the first round of audits and improvements, so there’s more saving to come.

Says Boston Mayor Thomas Menino:

Residences account for 35 percent of all wasted energy and the city of Boston is taking advantage of this opportunity to show the country that through committed partnerships, we can make major strides in energy savings, community building and green job creation.
Although the pilot run of the Renew Boston Energy Efficiency Program operated differently than the proposed Home Star program will (a state-funded pilot program vs. a federally funded stimulus scheme) the above results are certainly a harbinger of good things to come in 2010. And I imagine things will only get better further down the line.

So, as I’ve waxed on about, my eco-optimism is firmly rooted behind increased money savings and decreased carbon footprints via energy-centric home improvement projects of all stripes. Is there anything in particular you’re optimistic about in terms of green homes in 2010? Do you have any green resolutions you'd like to share? 

Photo: hallock35

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Why I'm optimistic about 2010: Saving and going green at home
This New Years Eve, I'll be raising my glass of biodynamic champers to the success of energy and money-saving home improvement projects.