Friday, February 26, 2010

Hidden Upgrades

When walking through a home, the eye-catching higher end details often stand out. Great hardwood floors. Solid surface counter tops. Wonderful paint colors. Garden tubs. Six panel, solid wood doors.

Don't forget to ask about the things that are not as easy to see. Look for higher end upgrades in energy efficient features. These upgrades in a home will not only improve your comfort, but they also will save you money, making a home more affordable in the long run.

Take a good look at the windows. Are they a basic builder's grade window, or has the homeowner splurged with low e glass and argon fill? Windows can be a source of enormous heat loss in a home, and quality windows are a huge money saver in the long run. There are many different types of windows, and The Efficient Window Collaborative has an informative website explaining some of the differences.

What is the r-value of the insulation? This one is not easy to see, so ask the seller for documentation if they can provide it. Higher r-values make a home less expensive to both heat and cool.

Have the ducts been sealed? Heating and cooling combined account for about 46% of a home's energy cost on average. With a forced air system, ducts that have been sealed and insulated can prevent energy loss significantly.

Check out the efficiency rating for the heating and cooling system. An Energy Star system is one upgrade that will save you a lot of money over the years.

Those stainless steel appliances might look pretty, but will they cost you a pretty penny to operate? Even low end, inefficient appliances are available in very modern and appealing finishes. Look on the sides of the doors for efficiency ratings or write down the model numbers and check them out online after you take a look at a home.

Ask for copies of the seller's utility bills for the previous twelve months. Yes, there are lifestyle differences the can affect energy usage, but at least you will have a ballpark idea of how much your utility costs would be.

If you buy a highly efficient home, you may be able pay for the cosmetic upgrades you want with the money you are saving on your utility bills. The hidden upgrades can save you big money as the years go by!

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