How to Prepare your Home to Save on Summer Utility Bills

Posted on September 26, 2018 by shawn_manwaring

Summer is right around the corner! When the temperatures heat up, you may notice that your utility bills slowly begin to increase as well. But don’t worry, there’s still time to prepare your home to save on utility bills this summer and in this article we introduce how to prepare your home to save on summer utility bills.

Start with these simple tips:

Install a programmable thermostat.

Newer thermostat models allow you to set different temperatures for various times throughout the day. For example, you could set your thermostat to turn off while you’re at work and then cool down right around the time you’re on your way home. These programmable thermostats allow you to cut back the energy used by your air conditioner and therefore save on utility bills.

Apply window film.

You may have heard that installing drapes or blinds on your windows will help you cut down on the heat that flows into your home, which is true. However, some homeowners are hesitant about blocking their beautiful views with thick drapes or opaque blinds. A great option for homeowners to use that will allow them to see out their windows while also blocking heat from entering the home is window film. The best part? Many window films are designed for an easy install. Just measure the size of your window, cut the film, and stick it on to start your journey to save on utility bills.

Clean your air filters.

What’s one thing that could be standing between you and your ability to save on utility bills? Dirty air filters. Regardless of what kind of heating and cooling unit you have, cleaning the air filters on a regular basis is important, especially before the hot summer months. When filters get dirty, the heating and cooling system has to work harder and consume more energy to do its job. With clean filters, the system can cool your home more efficiently and help you save on utility bills.

Collect rainwater.

Are you living in an area that experiences heavy rainfall during summer? If so, consider using rain barrels this summer to collect rainwater and use it to water your garden. Rain barrels, typically made of plastic or wood, sit at the end of your gutter downspout and collect the rainwater as it flows out. When the storm is over, you’ll have a good amount of water that you can recycle on your garden during drier times. Using a rain barrel will help you cut down on your water use and therefore save on utility bills.

Add mulch to your garden.

Do you feel like you have to water your garden over and over to keep plants alive? Try laying down mulch throughout your garden. Mulch helps prevent evaporation so water will stay on the ground longer, giving your plants more time to absorb it. Now that your plants will be more hydrated, you won’t have to water them as frequently and will be able to save on utility bills.

Learn new recipes.

Many popular recipes require the use of an oven or stove, however these appliances can seriously heat up your home and cause you to crank down the thermostat to cool off. Before summer rolls around, think of meals you can make without these hot appliances, such as salads, sandwiches, or even recipes in a slow cooker, since these appliances don’t emit as much heat.

Remember, although these tips are for summer, they can be used year-round. It’s always a good time to reduce your energy consumption and save on utility bills! Next time a friend asks how they can lower their utility bills you can share how to prepare your home to save on summer utility bills.

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Categories: Clean Energy

Will Zero Energy Homes change the Future of Real Estate

Posted on September 26, 2018 by shawn_manwaring

While trends typically come and go, one that’s been getting a lot of attention lately is the concept surrounding the zero-energy home. A space that relies on exceptional energy conservation and on-site renewable energy to meet heating, cooling and energy needs. As the movement continues to push itself into the limelight hoping for full-fledged adoption it’s worth exploring.  The ultimate question being raised is Will Zero Energy Homes change the Future of Real Estate?

For those who may not be entirely up-to-speed with the zero-energy building concept, a lot of that may have to do with where you live.  Since zero-energy projects are typically concentrated on the East and West coasts. It’s also important to note that zero-energy construction is thriving in specific states and regions due to local policies, mandates and codes.  But as cities and states throughout the country continue to adopt zero-energy policies (we’re looking at you, California) and solar costs continue to fall, the landscape may change dramatically over the next few years.

A lofty goal indeed California has pledged to build all new residential buildings to zero-net-energy specifications by 2020. Taking green home building to a whole new level these high-performance homes will produce as much energy as they consume by incorporating a photovoltaic system (a linked collection of solar panels)—or other renewables—into the mix. With the majority of these homes still connected to the grid any excess energy that’s accumulated throughout the day is fed back to the grid so that it can be used at night or on cloudy days.

Not only are zero-energy homes designed and built as energy-efficiently as possible but residents can look forward to zero energy bills other than the monthly fee required to connect to the grid and zero carbon emissions. While zero-energy homes look like any other home from the outside, their exterior walls tend to be thicker than those found in traditional homes. They also incorporate heating and cooling systems that are a lot more efficient than typical systems affording homeowners the luxuries they would expect in a home today.

“The design and green features are what draw people in, and they stay because of the energy and cost savings,” says Ed Gorman, founder of Modus Development, the company behind MZ Townhomes—the first zero-energy housing project in Arizona. “It’s unfathomable to most people to have a home that doesn’t have an electric bill, not to mention it being eco-friendly and modern in its design.”

To get a sense as to where we stand today, according to a recent report released by the Net-Zero Energy Coalition (NZEC), nearly 6,200 housing units in the United States and Canada have been classified as zero-energy ready (a home that can supply at least 90 percent of its annual energy demand) or better. Zeroing in even further just nine percent of the total residential units inventoried in NZEC’s report are classified as zero-energy (supplying 100 percent or more of the home’s annual energy demand). Net producers which are capable of supplying 110 percent or more of a home’s energy demand make up just four percent of the units in NZEC’s report.

As with any new movement that’s looking to catch on and alter the real estate landscape as we know it all we can do is wait and see what the future brings. But according to Gorman the future looks bright.

“We’ll see more and more builders moving into this space,” concludes Gorman. “People are tired of spending money on rising energy costs, and as a country we’re trying to shed our dependence on foreign oil.  Ironically gas and oil prices have dropped over the past few years but it hasn’t stopped the utilities from getting rate increases every year.”

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Categories: Clean Energy
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