According to Freddie Mac, a typical U.S. family spends over $2,200 per year on energy bills. As a homeowner, it’s important to keep your home running efficiently, not only to save money, but also to help the environment thrive. But what about when you’re thinking about buying a new (or maybe your first) home? How do you know what to look for? This is a question I get asked often by clients. The perfect time to assess the energy efficiency (or lack thereof), is during the home tour with your Realtor.
Here in West Chester, we have a beautiful downtown with many historic homes. While these older homes are charming and highly desirable, generally speaking, older homes are drafty, have less insulation, and (some) have very old heating systems. Whether or
not your search has lead you to towards historic homes or new builds, the tips below will help you determine the energy pitfalls or potentials in your new home.
The first thing I suggest is to have your Realtor call PECO (assuming PECO is the home’s energy provider.) A little known tip is that PECO will provide the average monthly bill for any residential property they service (average of the last 12 months usage.) This average gives a you, as the potential future homeowner, a baseline to work with. A high average bill indicates you likely have to consider the following tips to improve the energy efficiency of your potential new home.
Seal The Leaks
Keep your eye out for areas that may need caulking such as windows, doors, chimneys and even recessed lighting. Use your hand to feel around these areas for
drafts. Sealing all the leaky airways in the home is equivalent to closing a 3ft by 3ft window! This simple act can save you up to 20% on your heating and cooling bills.
Smart Heating and Cooling
How old is the HVAC system? Ask your agent to give you a copy of the Seller Property Disclosure Statement which will list the ages of the heater and major systems in the home. On average, half of your energy usage is spent heating and cooling your home. If your HVAC is old, it can make sense to invest in an energy efficient electric heating and cooling source from the start. Then, you can save over the time you live in the home, and enjoy living with greater comfort! The good news is that replacing an old HVAC increases the value of your home. Another tip is to install a programable thermostat. Just a couple of degrees change to heating/cooling while you’re sleeping or at work can save a ton of energy and money over time.
One you’ve upgraded the HVAC and sealed those leaky areas, you’ll want to keep as much of the heat or cooling in your house as possible. Make sure to take a look in the attic while you’re touring the home. If there isn’t about 10-14” of blown-in insulation in the attic, you’ll want to budget to add more. Increasing the amount of insulation you have in your attic will keep the home comfortable and more energy efficient.
Whether the potential home you tour is old or new, one thing to take notice of is the light bulbs. A simple and easy change is to switch out all the standard light bulbs for LEDs. LEDs use 90% LESS electricity than incandescent bulbs and last at least 25 times as long.
These simple steps I’ve outlined above will help you be much more informed before you buy. One you’ve decided on your home and settle in, make a few of these key upgrades. You’ll save on your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home. And, when you’re ready to sell your house, these features will make it even more attractive to potential buyers!
Alison Maguire, Realtor
The Moore Maguire Real Estate Team
Keller Williams Realty
610-436-6500 Main Office