Benefits of an Energy Efficient Home
After decades of building and consuming without a spare thought for the environment, forward-thinking home owners are beginning to turn an eye to environmentally-friendly options. The notion of "green" real estate likely brings new construction to mind, but even older homes can be retrofitted with systems that are eco-friendly.
Energy alternatives like solar and wind power are becoming increasingly available, but even if you don't live in an area where these alternatives are possible, there are plenty of steps you can take toward energy efficiency. Installing additional insulation can help cut down on heating and cooling costs. Energy-efficient appliances are readily available when your older appliances need to be replaced. And even something as simple as replacing windows or adding weather stripping can cut down on energy waste. Plenty of energy-saving fixtures can be installed as a weekend do-it-yourself project, like swapping out old light bulbs for newer, LED lights or trading older window shades for light-blocking blinds that can keep your home cooler in the summertime.
But what are some of the advantages of buying and living in an energy-efficient home?
• Cutting costs. Saving energy means saving money. Not only do home owners with energy-saving systems in place save on utility bills, energy-efficient homes have better resale value than more dated homes. Simply upgrading an old furnace and installing a programmable thermostat to automatically regulate your home temperature during different times of day can substantially lower monthly bills and make a home more desirable when it goes on the market.
• Tax incentives. For information on tax credits associated with ENERGY STAR appliances, you may need to look no further than the store where you buy that new washer and dryer. Certified energy-efficient appliances are labeled as such and a certain percentage of their cost can be claimed as a tax credit, saving you a bit of money on your annual return. For information regarding which ENERGY STAR appliances qualify for tax credits, visit http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index.
• Sustainability. The longevity of your home may be extended by installing environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient technologies. Low-flow faucets and toilets ease the burden on pipes, while added attic insulation can protect your roof. If you're ambitious enough to install solar panels on your property, you'll have a valuable resource for alternative energy, particularly as traditional energy sources become increasingly expensive.
• Environmental impact. It's a good bet that in the future, the cost of traditional energy sources will rise as fossil fuels approach their "expiration date." Fossil fuels are also tougher on the environment than newer alternatives. Cutting down on their use even incrementally can have a domino effect that ultimately benefits the environment.
If you aren't sure where to start saving energy in your current home – or for that matter, on a property you are thinking of purchasing, you might wish to consider an energy audit to determine some of your options for savings. Experts versed in identifying problem areas can help you determine the best areas in which to invest money to reap a longer-term savings. If hiring a professional isn't an option, there are plenty of online tools such as checklists and questionnaires available to help you evaluate the energy efficiency of your home.
If you're a homeowner or prospective homeowner, even small upgrades may end up paying dividends in the future, so take a little time now to examine your options in order to reap rewards in the future.
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