Energy efficiency – the new decision factor when buying or renting in Colorado
by Brian Burke
on Friday, November 8th, 2013 at 9:57pm.
Home energy efficiency – the new decision factor when buying or renting in Denver
Deciding on buying, selling or renting houses or condominiums is always a complicated process. Establishing the value of the home is usually not a straightforward calculation, although it is often largely based on simple factors such as location, square footage, number of Bedrooms and bathrooms or the year when the house was built. The price of the home or condominium should reflect its current condition, which is often the result of upgrades of the house’s interior design or amenities. However, when viewing a house they’re thinking of buying or renting, few people investigate the hidden facts of the building - the condition of the services system and whether or not they have been replaced with energy-efficient solutions. Clearly, energy consumption determines the long-term cost of living inside the house, and, as the prices for electricity and gas continue to go up each year, it is becoming more important than ever to reduce it as much as possible.
Comparing bills to determine cost-efficiency of provider
The first step towards managing any situation is analyzing its current condition and main facts. When it comes to a house’s consumption, that condition is best described by recent utility bills. Many people may not have a clear understanding of what a Kilowatt/hour is or does – apart from the fact that it’s a unit of energy – but we all understand costs. For instance, when looking at the “Electric Power Monthly” report released October 24th by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), we can easily understand that the overall average electricity prices (cents per Kilowatt/hour) for the residential sector have increased since last year. When looking at a house you’re thinking of buying (or renting) or when you’re deciding to improve your home, the first step is to look at the energy costs. However, bills just indicate the monthly or yearly energy cost of your house, not the average gas and electricity cost for the area where the house is located. To determine the cost-efficiency of the provider, there are a lot of energy comparison services available, most of them free of charge.
Switching to a new energy provider
After discovering the most cost-efficient energy provider for the area, tenants or owners may want to switch the energy supplier. Again, this needn’t be as complicated and time-consuming as most people fear. Most of the times, the new chosen supplier will help you with all the necessary paperwork and efforts will be minimum for the end-user. In fact, the transition will only affect the final costs that you pay, not the actual cables, pipes or ducts, so switching to a more cost-effective energy supplier doesn’t mean you need to renovate the house or change your lifestyle in any way. In fact, as this is the era of the internet, end-users may get discounts if they opt for online billing and direct debit payments. For energy providers, it is easier, as it reduces the paperwork load. For consumers, it is also easier to have the monthly payments taken from their account automatically. Skipping all the unnecessary paperwork is also an environmentally friendly option.
Saving even more by thinking green
Switching to the most cost-efficient supplier is obviously great, but even under the lowest possible energy pricing schemes, unlimited consumption will lead to considerable bills. In order to turn our house into an energy-efficient home, we must be ready to embrace environmentally-responsible thinking. This doesn’t mean giving up any of the modern standards of comfort. We don’t need to replace our home’s light bulbs with candles, but changing them with energy-efficient ones will make a difference on the bills. Speaking of light bulbs, switching them off when we’re leaving the room also helps, and that applies for all the things that silently add up to our energy bill. Great saving can be achieved by asking ourselves simple, logical questions. Does the heating (or cooling) need to be turned on for all of the house’s spaces, when there’s a single room occupied? Isn’t it simpler (and cheaper) to just put on a sweater or when it’s cold or open a window early in the morning or late at night to produce natural cooling? Why consume –and pay for – energy that nobody actually uses?
If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Fighting phantom loads by metering
In fact, most unpleasant surprises come from silent appliances and devices that constantly consume energy, even when not in use. Energy.gov presents a simple yet eloquent example of that: an average combined fax machine/photocopier/printer consumes seven watts of power, day in and day out, just by being plugged in. It might not seem much, but combined with all of the other common energetic vampires that we are unaware of, the overall effect is not at all negligible. The article recommends the use of digital electric meters that can alert us about what is really consuming unnecessary energy inside the house. Phantom loads (or leaking electricity) are common in all buildings using electricity, and the only way to fight them is by breaking them down to simple elements that we can identify and control. Digital metering is an easy, straightforward process: “Plug the meter into the wall outlet, and then plug in an electrical device into the meter. Push one button to display power in watts, or another button to display energy in watt-hours over a certain time period”, energy expert John Lippert indicates. After the vampire loads have been identified, home energy management becomes an easy task: just unplug the appliances or devices that are not in use.
Learn from tradition and make the most of the present day
In the end, reducing our energy bills is not rocket science. It’s a combination of both traditional, reasonable thinking – like the zoning principle of lighting and heating – and the advantages of contemporary living, from comparing energy providers and detailed electric metering. Whether we’re buying or renting a house or condominium, we do not need to pay more that we’re actually using. With energy prices going up, it is now crucial to make the most of every opportunity the digital online era is offering us. Credit Melissa Flanagan
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Brian Burke | Broker | ePRO | Expert | 303.955.4220 Office | 303.710.2609 Direct | Brian@kennarealestate.com