Energy costs can deplete a significant portion of a homeowner’s budget. In fact, they account for almost half of a typical U.S. home’s utility costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. With energy bills rising steadily, REALTORS® can play an important role in helping their clients manage their energy costs. These tips can help you get started.
1. Schedule a professional home energy audit. A professional will assess the home from top-to-bottom, using the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index, the industry standard by which a home’s energy efficiency is measured. Often they’ll perform a “blower door test,” which shows thermographic imaging to pinpoint exactly where energy is escaping from. As part of the assessment, they’ll also offer suggestions on which upgrades to consider for maximum benefit.
2. Check the insulation. A properly insulated home can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs. Not sure where to start? A significant amount of heat loss – up to 40 percent – is due to poorly insulated attics. It’s simple to determine whether the insulation is adequate. If you can see the wood joists of the attic floor, you may want to consider adding more insulation – a simple DIY project.
3. Install a programmable thermostat. Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats are automatically adjusted, and can be controlled with a broad choice of phone apps. You are able to leave the heat or air conditioning at a lower setting during the day to keep your energy bills in check, and still come home to a comfortable house by changing the thermostat before you leave work.
4. Conduct routine maintenance. Everyday tasks, like replacing a furnace filter, can make appliances run more efficiently and last longer. One often-overlooked chore is the draining of sediment from the water heater. Over time, sediment and mineral deposits can accumulate, reducing the water heater’s efficiency.
5. Know your numbers. The U. S. Department of Energy has issued new mandatory energy efficiency standards that affect residential central air conditioners, heat pumps and water heaters. For instance, water heaters larger than 55 gallons may require additional equipment, thereby increasing the size of some units.
6. Check the dates. The new standards for air conditioners and heat pumps went into effect Jan. 1, and the new water heater standards began April 16. However, an 18-month grace period is in place for installing non-compliant central air conditioners that were manufactured before the new standards went into effect. This grace period will expire June 30, 2016, pending existing inventory availability.
7. Utilize a home warranty contract. Some home warranty companies may help clients meet their energy efficiency goals by helping with situations that include refrigerant recapture, reclaim, and disposal; removal of defective equipment; mismatched systems; undetectable preexisting conditions; improper installations, repairs or modifications; and permits and code violations within stated limits. For more information on home warranties, services or coverage questions, contact me via phone, email or text. There are several companies that I have worked with over the years that will provide you with the plan that makes the most sense for you and your home.
Saving money through increased energy efficiency is a win-win for your wallet and the environment.