Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Extreme heat leads to higher utility bills

Here is were considering in investing in buying an Energy Star labeled product which also includes an Energy Star labeled home is worth the extra initial price. Some new homeowners buying large square footage homes may not mind paying the utility companies for their homes utility bills usage but can be certain that eventually it will affect their pockets.

By Stephen Abel

Extreme heat leads to higher utility bills - Live, Local, Late Breaking news, weather, and sports: "THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Over the next few days folks will be opening their utility bills, and they may not like what they find.
The extreme summer heat is causing bills to be $50 to $100 more than last month for some customers. 'We've had higher than normal temperatures this summer, we've set some new records. The units simply aren't designed to take care of those temperatures. They're going to run longer,' said Waller Store Manager Ted Aimes.
There are some low cost steps people can take to lower their energy costs. 'If people are conscious of a few things they can do just to save a little bit of energy than it helps them out in the long run,' said Customer Care Supervisor Mark Parillo.
Ted Aimes from Waller Heating and Air says the first thing you should do is check the insulation of the home. 'The house will also loosen up as it gets a little bit older just keeping the windows tight, doorways caulked and sealed helps a lot. Keep the cool inside where it's supposed to be.'
One woman we spoke with said whenever she leaves the house she completely turns off her air. Aimes says the most efficient thing to do is just turn up the thermostat a few degrees.
Aimes says sometimes saving money starts with a new unit. 'So the unit that may have been properly sized for that house when it was put in now is struggling to keep up which means the unit runs more, the utility bill gets higher.'
Other things you can do to save money are turning off lights when you leave a room, turning down your hot water heater, and unplugging appliances when not in use.

Copyright 2011 WALB. All rights reserved."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Small Home Savings Benefits | Benefits Of A Small Home | HouseLogic

Small Home Savings Benefits Benefits Of A Small Home HouseLogic:

By: Terry Sheridan
Published: January 21, 2011
Living in a small home has the benefits of lower insurance rates, less hassle, and less overall cost to own.ProgressK

"There's plenty to love about small homes--they're easier to maintain, and the price tag is generally lower. Image: Ross Chapin Architects/www.rosschapin.comA small home packs plenty of perks, and generally means a lower asking price. But entry price is only one factor—they’re easier on the pocketbook in a host of ways."

Can You Afford to Go Green? The Cost and Savings of Residential Renewable Energy Systems

Can You Afford to Go Green? The Cost and Savings of Residential Renewable Energy Systems:

If your home already has good insulation and efficient windows and doors, alternative energy may be the way to go.

By Deborah Huso
January/February 2011

If your home has consistent wind from 6 to 40 miles per hour, it may be prime for home wind power.

" The economy, rising utility rates and growing concerns about carbon emissions are causing more homeowners to consider alternative energy sources to power their homes. James Quazi, energy efficiency operations director with SolarCity, which rents photovoltaic panels to more than 1,000 communities in California, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Texas, says he always advises clients to “start with the easiest things first.” But if your home already has good insulation and efficient windows and doors, alternative energy may be the way to go. Companies are increasingly finding ways to offer lower-cost options such as the photovoltaic leasing option that SolarCity offers." READ MORE

Live Well in Less than 1,000 Square Feet: Living in Small Homes

Live Well in Less than 1,000 Square Feet: Living in Small Homes:

Meet your needs, emphasize quality and delight, and discover how less stuff leads to true wealth. Three very different houses show how.
By Carol Venolia
November/December 2010

This 450-square-foot British Columbia cabin is so comfortable its owners decided to make it their full-time home rather than a vacation retreat.
Photo By Stuart Bish

"During the past 60 years, the size of American homes has exploded, but the trend is now moving in the opposite direction, proving once more that bigger isn’t always better. In 1950 the average American home size was 983 square feet; by 2009 the average home was 2,343 square feet—even as family size shrank. Finally, it appears people are rethinking housing size. In 2010, average home size is down 9 percent, and many communities—such as California’s Marin County and Georgia’s DeKalbe County—have enacted laws limiting new home size." READ MORE

Homeowners Go Green Now, Pay Later

February 22, 2010
By Julie Schmit

Putting solar or other green upgrades on homes and businesses is getting less painful in more cities that are rapidly launching programs to enable owners to pay back upfront costs over years.

The programs let property owners borrow money for upgrades, then pay it back over up to 20 years as a special assessment on property tax bills.

The long payback removes a hurdle to going green: big initial costs, especially for solar panels, that can take years to recoup in lower energy bills.

The idea “seems to be catching on like wildfire,” says Ann Livingston of Boulder County, Colo., which started its program last year.


Pipe Dreams: The Basics of Graywater Systems

Pipe Dreams: The Basics of Graywater Systems:

Use nutrient-rich graywater to irrigate your yard and take advantage of nature's ready-made wastewater filtration system.
By Carol Venolia
March/April 2011

A gray water system reuses water from sinks, showers, tubs, dishwashers and washing machines to water gardens and landscaping.

"Though 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water, only about 1 percent of that is suitable for human use—and we are gulping this precious resource at ever-expanding rates. As world population grows steadily, our water use doubles every 20 years. Water tables are falling and pollution renders more water unusable."


Monday, July 18, 2011

Dual agency disclosures fail homebuyers

Dual agency disclosure fail homebuyers

"A look at some of the worst-offending states"

By Steve Bergsman
Inman News™

Although some states ban the practice, called dual agency, in which the same real estate broker represents the buyer and seller in a real estate transaction, most states have settled for a kind of disclosure Band-Aid that doesn't work well for consumers.
It's a little like the warnings on cigarette packets about the dangers of tobacco that really don't make much difference to those who really want to smoke.
I'm told that more states used to ban dual agency, but real estate associations lobbied hard for the passage of regulations that permit this 'double-ending' as it is also referred to, in some form. So what we have ended up with is a kind of cigarette packet of regulations: 'Yes, you can have dual agency (or some variation of it), but here's your warning' -- which is most often ignored." READ MORE

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Green on the Greens: Sustainable Suburban Living in the Texas Hill Country

Green on the Greens: Sustainable Suburban Living in the Texas Hill Country

Through my weekly readings, I wanted to share this article simply because in my local market there are some agents that consider sustainable homes to be comparable to bare minimum code homes. This only shows the lack of knowledge these agents have. This article proofs that a homeowner that implements high performance features into their homes would ultimately determine their home selling price. I believe for a real estate agent to blur out the words" overpriced" without analyzing why the difference in price is mind boggling to me.  Everybody loves a bargain but consumers have to question themselves with this: What such a bargain in comparison to other homes on the market that actually tell you what the difference is. Remember this "If it sounds to good to be true guess what it is not" there is always a hidden because. Food for knowledge.

Local limestone and reclaimed wood beams helped the home earn points for LEED Platinum certification.
Photo By Paul Bardagjy

Natural Home's Show House in Boerne, Texas, is a shining example of just how sustainable suburban housing can be.

By Kim Wallace
July/August 2010

Karen and Griz Adams’ Craftsman-inspired stucco and limestone home fits right into its golf-course community outside San Antonio—with a few exceptions. Designed by Boerne, Texas, architect Ben Adam, the 3,526-square-foot home takes full advantage of its site, with natural ventilation and south-facing windows overlooking long Hill Country views.

The roof sports a solar hot water heater, and a detached three-car garage is equipped for future photovoltaic panels. Hidden underground, a vertical, closed-loop geothermal system quietly heats and cools the home, while two buried 20,000-gallon rainwater harvesting tanks keep it completely off the water grid.

The home’s many forward-thinking features have it on track to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification, the highest award given—a first for this Texas town. “It’s not the place where you would look for something like this,” Adam says of the home’s very traditional surroundings. “But we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if we did this another way?’”

Putting the pieces together

Living in a small town made finding talented local contractors easy. “There is a great cabinet maker, a standout concrete guy, and many local craftspeople,” Karen says. Once they assembled their team, Adam and the Adamses conducted a pre-construction charrette—an intense period of design collaboration—to devise an efficient homebuilding plan that considered every discipline involved. “The most important lesson we learned was that collaborating with other professionals during the planning phase is essential,” Karen says.

The Adamses’ builders used advanced-framing techniques, such as two-stud corners and wider spacing for studs and rafters, which saved wood and allowed for additional insulation. Instead of traditional plywood, the Adamses chose commercial-grade exterior gypsum and fiberglass sheathing. “It’s a wood-sparing approach and is used extensively in commercial buildings,” Griz says. They chose native reclaimed limestone from a nearby quarry for the house’s façade, backyard retaining walls and indoor fireplace.

When their budget allows, the Adamses plan to install photovoltaic panels over the pre-wired garage. For now, their solar water heater and ground source heat pump, which warms and cools the house efficiently, keep their utility bills low. “The electric bill here consistently runs around $200 per month, so it’s significantly cheaper to operate,” says Griz, who was paying $450 per month for utilities at a much smaller rental before he and his family moved in. “It’s one of the huge advantages of green construction.”
Read more: