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Reduce Your Energy Bills

As we are all suffering through the swealtering heat of summer in Washington DC, many are also opening their electric bills with trepidation. The  energy costs to heat and cool homes is costs US home owners billions of dollars per year. As alternative energies mature, many are turning to solar, geothermal, and other systems to try to slow the cash bleeding out of their homes. However, these systems are still very expensive, especially when retrofitting an existing home, so it can take years to recoup the investment, even with state and federal tax incentives to help offset some of the costs. And of course, urban living in condos and townhouses may also limit your ability to convert to renewable energy sources.

The good news is that there are some steps you can take to help increase the energy efficiency of your home, and lower your energy bills, without spending tens of thousands of dollars to install new systems. You can be green on a budget!

Insulate Against Energy Loss

Did you know that as much as 60% of the heated or cooled air in your home escapes due to inadequate insulation, leaky doors and windows, and through roof? This energy loss drives up your energy bills, because your system has to work harder and longer to maintain the desired temperature in the home. An added layer of insulation in the attic can do a lot to prevent heat loss through the roof. If you have an older home, you may also want to consider blowing insulation into the exterior walls.

In addition, seal leaky windows with fresh caulk, and make sure the windows are in good repair. Caulk around exterior door frames, and install weather stripping around the door to ensure a good seal.

Installing new, double-paned windows and patio doors with a high r-value can also help, especially if you have older windows. However, this is an expensive project. For the budget minded, thermal drapes can help prevent intense sunlight from over-heating south or west-facing rooms. Awnings can shade windows and patio doors from direct sun, while also letting in the natural light.

Water Heating

We all love a good, hot shower, right? Well, keeping water hot and on-demand for showers and other needs is a major contributor to high gas or electric bills. So controlling your energy usage must include interventions to reduce consumption of heated water and help your water heater work more efficiently. Install low-water shower heads, so that you use less heated water. As long as you have sufficient water pressure in your home, the low-flow shower head should not impact your overall shower experience.

In addition to reducing hot water usage, you can also help your water heater run more efficiently. Lowering the temperature at which the water heater maintains the water will save energy (plus it can reduce accidental burns, if you have children in the home). Using an insulating blanket around the hot water heater can also help your water heater maintain temps by keeping the heat in the tank.

Use Energy Wisely

Nothing beats coming home to nice cool house in the summer, and a comfortably warm house in the winter. Using a programmable thermostat can help you reduce your energy costs by adjusting the temps when you aren’t home or when you are asleep to use less energy. You can program the thermostat to raise or lower the temps for when you will be home and awake.

However, programmable thermostats can only go so far. If you have a very large home, the costs of heating and cooling all that space can go up significantly. If you don’t use all the rooms, you may be able to save on your energy costs by only heating or cooling the rooms you use. If you have a forced-air system, you can close the vents in the unused rooms. If you aren’t able to close the vents, or if you have a different type of system (such as radiant heat), you can run the system at 50 degrees in the winter (you don’t want to go lower than that, to avoid frozen water pipes) or 80 degrees in the summer, then use space heaters or window air conditions to keep the rooms you use more comfortable.

Replacing all the light bulbs in your home with LED bulbs will also go a long way to reducing electricity costs, as well as unplugging electric devices and appliances when not in use.

You don’t have to break your piggy bank to reduce your energy bills and your carbon footprint. It just takes some no-how and a bit of elbow grease.  When it is time to sell or buy a home, having a local team you can rely on will make the process a smooth one. Call the Realtors® who love where they live and understand the local real estate market. ADMC Realty Group happily serves the communities in and around the Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia areas. From start to finish, we’re here to help with all your Real estate needs. Give us a call at (202)596-8101 or email us at [email protected].

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