Cost of utilities makes a difference

As a buyer looks at a home a second or third time, they will invariably ask: “What are the utility costs?”

More times than not, the cost of heating and lighting a home are important deciding factors in a purchase. This is especially true when first-time buyers are shopping for a home.

Utility costs are far more controllable than most people imagine. By paying attention to the costs of your utilities, you can make your home more enjoyable while you own it, and a bit more desirable and valuable when you sell it.

Look at heating and cooling. If there are shade trees on the south side of a home, it will shield the hot sun in the summer, and let the warm sun in during the winter. Leaving drapes on the south windows closed in the summer and open in the winter will do the same. Use Mother Nature to aid in heating and cooling. In your attic, proper insulation will reduce heating and cooling costs.

A heat activated attic fan will dramatically reduce air conditioning costs. If you walk outside after a light snow, look at your roof. If the snow is melting shortly after falling, that is a good sign you need attic insulation.

Lighting costs can be greatly reduced by purchasing LED light bulbs and installing motion detectors on flood lights will ensure they are on only when someone is walking around your home.

Timers on lamps, door lights and lamp posts will make sure they are only on when needed. The cost of purchasing and changing these items are generally recaptured after just a couple years; LED lights are far more efficient than any other type of lighting.

Ohioans also have the benefit of shopping for the lowest gas and electricity rates; information is on your monthly utility bills.

Monitoring usage is only one aspect of saving energy costs; other ways to save might be replacing old windows, or upgrading your furnace, A/C unit or hot water tank. Old appliances will use much more electricity than new appliances. Replacing each of these will save you money, but only a professional can help you determine how long it will take to “pay back the expense with your yearly savings.”

My husband and I have found that putting the furnace thermostat fan in the “on” position circulates air throughout our house 24/7.

It has reduced cold / warm spots in different rooms and the basement, and has cut our utility costs while making our home far more comfortable.

If you are selling, give your Realtor a summary of your monthly utility bills; if you are buying, ask for them. Home inspectors will give you a very detailed inspection that will help you make decisions. You may choose to buy a poorly insulated home anticipating spending a few dollars to make it much more efficient.

Utility cost reduction tips are available everywhere, even from the electric and gas companies. The more you understand, the more you can save.

Mink-Crouse is the 2018 president of the Warren Area Board of Realtors.