An Energy Efficient Home Is a Happy One
You’re probably aware that making energy-efficient home improvements will reduce the amount you owe the power company. But did you know that making your home energy efficient increases its value? According to a return-on-investment study, making some no cost/low cost changes can boost the value of your home by $18,000. In some states, investments in energy efficiency can earn a higher rate of return than stocks! Research shows that energy efficiency often increases home value relative to otherwise comparable homes. A sharp increase in fuel prices may, in part, result in higher market values for efficient homes.
Although the jury is still out as to hard facts, you have nothing to lose but high electric bills. Why not implement some of the following suggestions to make your home more energy efficient?
1. Turn down the thermostat on your water heater. Don’t pay to heat water that won’t be used. If your tap water is too hot to touch without adding cold water, try adjusting the temperature a few degrees lower.
2. Check for air leaking around doors. You might be surprised to learn how much of the air you are paying to heat or cool escapes through unsealed doors. To remedy the problem, install or replace worn weather stripping. In older homes, it may be necessary to replace broken or missing storm doors.
3. Close the air vents in rooms not in use. Why pay to cool or heat air you aren’t using?
4. Keep heat producers far from your thermostat in summer. Although you can’t control where your thermostat was originally installed, you can control what you place near it. Floor lamps and televisions can significantly raise the temperature in the immediate area, turning on your air conditioner too often.
5. Clean your furnace and air conditioner filters. For less than five dollars, replace existing dirty air conditioner or furnace filter. During heavy use periods, replacement is recommended every 30 days. Regular filter replacement can greatly aid the efficiency of your heater or air conditioning unit.
6. Operate large appliances during low-use periods in summer. Use your washer and dryer and other large, heat-producing appliances early in the morning or late at night. Whenever possible, use the air-dry method on your dishwasher to save energy.
7. Request an free energy audit from your local utility company. As a community service, most electric and gas companies will send representatives to your home to check for proper insulation, find cracks in the eaves or roof that could potentially leak energy, and make recommendations for improvements such as the replacement of old windows in favor of energy-efficient models. Additionally, some electric companies offer low-cost financing for such improvements.
8. Replace existing insulation. If you can afford to implement only one of these energy savers, consider your home’s insulation. A properly installed insulating barrier in the walls, floors, ceilings and attic keeps excess heat and cold from penetrating your home’s exterior. The Environmental Protection Agency recently reported that proper ceiling insulation in place of old, ineffective material can reduce electric bills by 20%.
9. Replace existing appliances. If money is no object, then, by all means, replace old energy-sucking appliances with Energy Star appliances, a brand specifically created for the sole purpose of optimizing energy consumption. If your budget limits you to replacing one appliance, buy a new refrigerator even if your 7-10 year old model is still in working order. Half of all household use goes toward running the refrigerator, so replacing your existing old model could knock off 25% of your electric bill.
10. Buy new light bulbs. Replace incandescent lamps and fixtures with fluorescent. Although fluorescent bulbs cost more up front, they quickly pay for themselves in energy conservation.
11. Look into EEM Mortgages. If you plan to buy, sell, refinance, or remodel your home, you can increase your comfort and actually save money by using the Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM). EEMs are federally recognized and provide specific benefits to a borrower purchasing a home that is energy efficient, or can be made efficient through the installation of energy-saving improvements. For more information about EEMs, contact the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).