How Energy Efficient Homes Save You Money
By Michael Knox
Special to the Independent Tribune
Now, more than ever, home sellers should consider making their homes more energy efficient to appeal to potential buyers.
“I would say probably 60 percent of the time that we have people showing our properties and they are interested and they think they may be making an offer they call and ask for the utility bills,” said Diane Honeycutt, with Team Honeycutt. “That way they have an idea of what they are running. Now, my thinking on that is no two families usually live the same … but it still gives people an idea for the size house and what a family’s utility bills were.”
And a homeowner doesn’t have to make major investments to improve their energy efficiency to make the home more attractive to a potential buyer. It could be as simple as adding window tinting or using specialized curtains or changing out the light bulbs for LED units. Minor modifications can add to the overall improvement of a home’s energy efficiency and help reduce utility bills. And the bottom line would make the home more attractive to buyers when the owner is ready to sell.
“We are always on the lookout for ways to fight utility bills and one of the best ways to do so is by boosting the efficiency of a home’s windows,” said Darrell Smith, executive director of the nonprofit organization international Window Film Association. “Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to completely replace their windows.”
But a simple fix could be using window film, which is a thin sheet of coating that is professionally and permanently installed on existing windows. The cost on these window films can range in price from $4.75 to $15 per square foot installed, according to the TintIndustry.com website. Remember these are estimated costs and will vary depending on where you live in the country and the type of installation you have.
- The installation offers consumers several benefits, including:
- Reducing home energy costs up to 30 percent, according to Smith.
- Helping regulate inconsistent home temperatures.
- Reducing glare, whether from the sun or snow.
- Providing an extra layer of security by helping to keep shattered glass in place if the window is struck.
- Window film can also offer added protection for interiors and heirlooms. Typical windows only block about 25 percent of UV rays, according to Smith. But he said professionally installed window film may block up to 99 percent of UV Rays.
Another low cost improvement could be Eclipse Curtains. Eclipse Curtains have thermal properties, including blackout fibers and foam technology that keep the heat in during the cooler months as well as keep in the cool during the warmer months, according to a press release.
Eclipse Curtains block out more than 99 percent of intrusive light, save up to 25 percent on home heating costs during the cooler months and block out unwanted noise, according to the press release. Eclipse Curtains can be found at local stores and start out at about $18.
Windows and curtains can be a place for a homeowner to start at to make energy efficient improvements, but they can also help reduce their utility bills, just by changing the type of light bulbs they use.
Switching out fluorescent light bulbs for LED. ENERGY STAR-qualified LED bulbs can use 80 percent less energy than an incandescent light bulb and last 25,000 hours. Also, lighting accounts for about 15 percent of energy used in a home, so after switching, users will see an immediate decrease in energy consumption.
A standard 60 Watt replacement with A19 LED light bulb is under $3 and a BR30 LED flood light is $7.99. Bulbs can be purchased at Home Improvement stores or off of Amazon.
While these tips can help make a home more energy efficient and appear more attractive to potential buyers, the Consumer Technology Association also had tips to just reduce energy waste in order to help consumers save money and energy.
Here are just a few tips they had to offer:
- Use smart home technology to maximize your home’s energy efficiency. The Internet of Things technology connects everyday objects – thermostats, refrigerators, lights – to the internet, providing personal, economic and environmental benefits. The Internet of Things refers to the ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems.Consumer Technology Association projects sales of smart home products to reach 29 million units in 2017. Using The Internet of Things and home automation technology has the potential to reduce energy consumption in U.S. households by as much as 10 percent, according to a recent Consumer Technology Association study.
- Purchase energy efficient tech products. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to help find energy efficient devices. These products provide the same functionality as other devices but use less energy. Also, consumers shopping for TVs in stores or online can reference the EnergyGuide disclosure for information about energy use. Consumer Technology Association research shows that powering your TV for one year costs $20.12 on average – that’s 39 cents a week.
- Recycle your old electronics. Recycling your consumer tech devices has never been easier. GreenerGadgets.org helps you find your nearest recycling location simply by entering your ZIP code. Or consider reselling or donating your older tech products to a family member, nonprofit, school or local community organization. The Environmental Protection Agency found consumer electronics have the fastest growing recycling rate of any product category in the U.S.
- Don’t forget to recycle packaging from online orders. Much of the packaging protecting your new tech product can be recycled. Innovations in consumer tech packaging is helping to reduce costs, the use of natural resources, emissions and overall waste while still fully protecting the product.
“Across the consumer technology industry, innovators and manufacturers are diligently working to make our devices more efficient – from using better and fewer materials in the actual tech products to making our devices more energy efficient,” said Walter Alcorn, VP, environmental affairs and industry sustainability for the Consumer Technology Association CTA. “And we want to make recycling your older tech products – or ‘ecycling’ – as easy as buying new ones. In fact, more than 8,000 responsible recycling locations are now available to consumers throughout the United States.”
Scott Noel, with the Solarize Cabarrus NC campaign to get more homes using solar energy, also had a few tips. Noel also serves as the co-chair, for the Mt. Pleasant High School Academy of Energy & Sustainability Advisory Board.
His tips included the following:
NO COSTS IMPROVEMENT — These are based more about behavioral changes.
- Only turning on lights as needed
- Remembering to turn lights off when you leave a room
- Taking short showers saves energy and money because your hot water heater won’t need to run as long.
LOW COST IMPROVEMENTS — These are small fixes or changes that add up.
- Ensuring doors and windows are well sealed by replacing or adding caulk or weather stripping
- Plant trees or bushes near windows to help provide a extra shade during the hotter months to help keep your house a little cooler naturally.
HIGHER COST IMPROVEMENTS — These are larger fixes or updates that you will likely want to calculate the return on investment for based on your situation.
- Replacing older, inefficient doors and windows, HVAC units, and appliances (preferably Energy Star rated ones for greater efficiency).
- Consider alternate sources of efficient energy like geothermal or solar.
“You can make changes in each of these categories,” Noel said. “It’s the longevity and significance of the changes that really add up to reduced energy consumption and subsequent increased dollar savings.”
The Housing Affordability Index is in great shape and should not be seen as a challenge to the real estate market’s continued recovery.
Looking to buy a home?
We know just where to look.