Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Homeowners Battle Rising Utility Costs

Homeowners Battle Rising Utility Costs

Savvy homeowners are battling all-time-high energy costs by incorporating building techniques to make their homes more energy efficient. As more people begin to struggle to meet rising utility costs, these practices are expected to grow in popularity.

Just as current owners are renovating with energy savings in mind, new home builders are seeing increased demand for green buildings and energy-efficient homes.

Here are some ideas for how you can reduce your energy consumption – and costs – by selecting building materials and appliances that promise to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Use Highly Rated Energy-Star Appliances: This is not a new idea, but as costs rise, buyers are looking at the yellow energy-consumption tags on new appliances more seriously. Retailers know that buyers are paying more attention to the higher-rated appliances, and this could lead to more advertising and discounts for such products.

Consider How You Heat Your Water: Most homes have a traditional tank-style water heater. However, with rising heating costs, this practice may change. Other options for heating water in your home include solar heating and tankless water heaters.

Solar water heating requires a significant upfront investment, but once it is installed you no longer need to pay for heating the water. Installation includes a pump, plumbing through which the water circulates for exposure to the sun, and possibly large glass tanks for storing the hot water.

A tankless water heater has no storage tank and the water is heated as you need it. Heating water on demand is much less expensive than heating water and storing it until it is needed.

Supplement Your Electricity: Installing photovoltaic roof shingles instead of standard asphalt shingles lets you use the sun’s energy to generate supplemental electricity for your home. A wire is pulled from each shingle and connected to the home’s power grid. You might not be able to generate enough electricity to meet all your needs, but with rising costs, every bit of savings can be a huge help to homeowners.

If you are considering a new roof or you are building a home, consider using this roofing material to decrease your utility bills.

Consider Your Home’s Placement: If your home was built 50 or more years ago, it probably is already more energy efficient than most new homes. This is because central air-conditioning was not prevalent in the past. To keep homes cool in the summer, windows were located strategically for cross-drafts. Also, the largest windows were designed to receive the morning sun, thereby helping to heat the home.

As energy prices declined, many homes were built without these considerations. However, today’s builders are beginning to return to traditional building practices in order to have more energy-efficient homes.

Consider Your Window Treatments: Whether you live in a new or old home, or are building your home, you can control your window treatments. What you put on your windows can make a serious different in your home’s heating and cooling costs. Light- and heat-filtering blinds and heavy draperies may significantly reduce the need for continuous air-conditioning.

Hopefully, this information has given you some ideas for countering rising energy costs. By using one or more of these suggestions, you can make your home more energy efficient. If you decide to sell your home in the future, these updates may make your home more attractive to buyers.
This is an excellent window cleaner that costs about a quarter per bottle. Use it with newspaper for a clean you won’t believe!
Window Cleaner Recipe (Compliments of Heloise)
12 to 16 ounces water
1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (70%)
1-2 drops blue or green food coloring, if desired
1-2 drops lavender, cinnamon, clove or orange essential oil. Combine the ingredients and pour into a labeled spray bottle.

1. Spray the newspaper.
2. Wipe down the window to avoid drips.
3. Wipe one side of the window vertically, and the other horizontally, so you will know which side a streak is on!
This bottle of nice-smelling window cleaner can cost as little as 25 cents. The solution also works well on mirrors and glass shower doors.