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Maximizing Your Home Utility Expenses

BY contributor | Tue Jun 04, 2013


Guest post by Dean Brady.

Home improvements that enhance the energy-efficiency of a house offer tremendous value and a permanent reduction in utility costs. Not only will such upgrades reduce monthly bills for a home owner, but the value of the home may even increase through such changes. Energy efficient improvements and changes are available all around the home, and certain improvements may even qualify a home owner to receive certain tax breaks or benefits.

Getting an Inspection

No matter the age of a home, any residence may benefit from an inspection by an expert regarding the efficiency of the home and what might be the best options for improvements and replacement. Such professionals are often general contractors or companies that specialize in energy efficient designs or installations. Knowing what to replace and what to update will help a home owner make the best use of his home improvement loan or the funds put aside for the project.

Efficient Home Improvements

A home may be changed in several ways to accommodate energy efficient design, and changing the actual architecture and physical design of the home is one of the costliest types of home improvement projects. Different options for energy efficient home refurbishment include the following options:

1. Window replacement

By replacing the windows in the home with versions that are positively rated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a home owner will reap tremendous savings on utility bills. The most energy efficient types of windows will usually be double-paned and may be composed of advanced glass that offers better insulation.

Home owners who may not be able to afford the replacement of the entire home’s allotment of windows may want to consider an energy efficient coating. This may reduce the amount of heat allowed into the home by the sun. A home owner may also benefit from being able to replace the windows on one particular side of the house, such as on the western side of the home where the midday sun is at its hottest.

2. Home insulation changes

A large source of heating or cooling loss in the home comes from bad insulation and replacement of this home element will help the home to maintain a consistent temperature. When the temperature of the home doesn’t change dramatically on a regular basis, other systems in the home such as the air conditioner don’t have to work as hard to do their job. This means less energy spent on heating and cooling and a lower workload on the air conditioner.

3. Air conditioning and heating systems

Although it can be costly, upgrading the air conditioning system is a valuable project for many reasons. Newer air conditioning and heating systems are particularly energy efficient, and any system that is over ten years old will benefit from replacement. Not only do the newest air conditioning models offer just as much cooling power and sometimes more, they also perform their job at a rate that uses far less energy.

Efficient Home Appliances

Just about every appliance or machine in use in the home today comes in an energy-efficient model. For home owners who have particularly old appliances, choosing to upgrade those devices is one of the easiest ways to improve efficiency within the home. Replacing an appliance may require nothing more than removing the old appliance and replacing it with an energy efficient model, although some replacements may require some changes to the electrical systems within the home. Efficient home appliance replacement may include:

1. Toilets

The commodes all around the home may be replaced with versions that use far less water. The Environmental Protection Agency has provided consumers with ratings on the water-saving level of various appliances and installations within the home, and a good toilet will have a “WaterSense” rating indicating that it uses less water.

2. Water heaters

A low-flow water heater uses less water than a traditional or older water heater and also runs more efficiently, lowering energy costs. Old water heaters are a huge source of energy waste in many homes and are a prime replacement option.

3. Dishwashers

The best dishwashers for saving energy will not only be more efficient at reducing water usage, but these appliances will also have an air dry option that allows for power-saving.

4. Refrigerators

The “Energy Star” label from the Environmental Protection Agency has long been applied to refrigerators, and these behemoths will use a ton of energy when they’re old and out of shape. Replacement of old refrigerators should be a priority for efficiency improvements.

Small Accessories and Energy Efficient Objects

Small changes around the home may also result in big energy savings, and one of the simplest improvements that a home owner may begin immediately is the replacement of all the light bulbs in the home. Every time an incandescent bulb burns out, it’s a good idea to replace it with a compact fluorescent bulb. It’s also possible to save energy over the course of the year by unplugging unneeded appliances since most devices use energy when they’re plugged in, even if they’re not in operation.

Financing Improvement Projects

Taking out a line of credit against the equity in the home or applying for home improvement loans are common methods used to finance the installation of energy-efficient upgrades. Because such improvements often provide tax credit opportunities and will provide continuous reductions of utility costs, the cost is very nearly always worth it.

The price paid for such projects will be even more valuable when the home owner lists the home for sale, and its value increases dramatically due to the houses’s high efficiency rating. A full home makeover where the home owner focuses on energy-efficient design will offer years of lower utility bills, sleek updated appliances, and the peace of mind that comes from an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Author: Dean Brady, Green Housing Business Developer. Senior writer from with experiences in sustainable financing, real estate and home improvisation. Advocates green living is the way in achieving a better life. Physically, Mentally, and Financially.

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