5 Home Expenses That Really Pay Off – Irvine Real Estate – Irvine Homes and Condos for Sale

by Robert Mack on January 24, 2011

in Buyers, Latest News, Sellers

Installing ceiling fans and replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs are small expenditures compared with the savings you will see on your energy bills. Installing ceiling fans and replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs are small expenditures compared with the savings you will see on your energy bills.

Sometimes, spending on home improvement can put money back into your wallet.

During iffy economic times, it might feel hard to justify any purchase that doesn’t seem absolutely necessary. But consider how much money you could save on heating and air conditioning bills if you replace a 15-year-old system with one that’s more energy efficient and sized right for your home (up to 20 percent, according to Energy Star), or if you replace your drafty, single-pane windows with double-pane models ($146 to $501).

They also could increase the value of your home when you sell it.

Here are five other ways you can save money by spending some on home improvements:

1. When you’re ready to replace your old water heater, choose a solar-powered model. Don’t let the price tag—several thousand dollars compared with several hundred for a conventional water heater—scare you off. By the time you claim your federal and state tax credits and get your utility rebate as an incentive for installing such an energy-efficient device, you’ll pay as little as $1,000 out of pocket for your fancy new system if your water use is average. Once it’s installed, you could save up to 80 percent on your water heating bill right away.

2. Replace all of your light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).
They cost more than incandescent—around $3 or so compared with $1 or less for a traditional bulb—but utility companies figure you can save $30 over the lifetime of each CFL that you use in place of a traditional incandescent bulb. CFLs last for 6,000 or more hours before they burn out.

A bonus: A CFL doesn’t put off much heat when it burns, unlike the incandescent light bulbs you’re probably using now. The result: The CFL doesn’t add heat to the air in a room that you’re trying to cool off when it’s hot outside. Less added heat means your air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard. That can save you even more.

3. Automate your thermostat. Nearly half of the $2,000-plus that the average household spends on energy every year goes to cooling and heating. You could save about $180 a year by installing and properly using a programmable thermostat.

The trick is to program the thermostat to increase (when you’re running the air conditioning) by at least eight degrees or drop (when the heat is on) by at least eight degrees—and leave it at that setting for at least eight hours.

For even more “automatic” savings on your air conditioning and heating bills, consider installing an energy management system. It costs around $3,500, and it can whittle your energy bills by 25 percent or more. The device keeps tabs on your thermostat and automatically raises it—just slightly, and never higher than you want—when the high “peak” rates kick in every day.

Likewise, it lowers it again when the “off-peak” rates take effect.

4. Install ceiling fans. Ceiling fans move the air around so a room feels cooler. That means you can inch the thermostat up by three to four degrees without noticing a difference in your comfort. And for every degree you turn your thermostat up during air conditioning season, you’ll save about 2 percent on your cooling costs.

When it’s cold outside, the ceiling fan recirculates the heat from near the ceiling so it flows back into the room. So you can turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees and still feel warm and toasty.

Another option: Get a whole-house fan, which will suck warm air up and out of the house during the summer and reduce the indoor temperature. Run it with the windows open to create a refreshing cross-breeze on warm days, and you won’t have to turn the air conditioner on to stay comfortable inside.

5. Cover the windows. When the outdoor temperature is 102 degrees and climbing, just looking out a window can make you sweat. Install an awning, and you can reduce the amount of heat that comes through that too-warm window by up to 77 percent.

The U.S. Department of Energy says can reduce solar heat gain on the hottest days by up to 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on west-facing windows by covering them with awnings.

Awnings between $400 and $1,500 per window, depending on whether they are retractable or stationary, and the fabric part of the awning should last at least seven years. The metal frame will last longer.

Posted on Irvine Orange County Real Estate Market News

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Post by Robert Mack

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