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Cost of utilities deciding factor in buying

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

More times than you might think, the cost of heating and lighting a home are an important deciding factor in a purchase. This is especially true when first-time buyers are shopping for a home.

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

Let’s 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 closed in the summer and open in the winter will do the same. Both tips use Mother Nature to aid in heating and cooling.

Look in your attic. Adequate insulation will reduce heating bills and reduce you 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.

Basic 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. Lighting timers on lamps, door lights and post lamps 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.

Monitoring usage is only one aspect of saving energy costs, obviously other aspects are improving windows, or investigating the cost of upgrading your furnace, A/C unit or hot water tank. Old refrigerators and freezers or ranges will use much more electricity than newer appliances. Each of these will save you money, but only a professional can help you determine how long it will take to “pack back the expense with your yearly savings.” Many homeowners find that putting the furnace thermostat fan in the “on” position, circulates air 24/7; reducing cold / warm spots throughout the house for a more comfortable home.

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 and plan on spending a few dollars to make it much more efficient. Utility costs reduction tips are available everywhere, even from the electric and gas companies. The more you understand, the more you can save.

This article was provided by the Warren Area Board of Realtors.

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