Is one of your goals for the year to move? While movers typically consider and calculate costs associated with mortgage or rent, insurance, taxes and homeowners association fees, energy costs can sometimes get lost in the comparison. Whether you are moving from one rental apartment to another, upgrading from apartment to house, or taking the plunge and buying a new home, calculating energy costs is a crucial step in understanding your total monthly costs. Be sure to ask these six questions when evaluating energy costs of a potential home.
How old are the appliances and what kind of shape are they in?
Finding out the background on your appliances is a worthwhile endeavor in the moving process. For home buyers, it is critical to know what appliances the home is being sold with, and what you may need to buy. Additionally, older appliances run a higher risk of both energy inefficiency and the need to be replaced. In rental apartment communities, where appliances were purchased for quantity versus quality, it could be worth it to run a quick search on the big appliances in the rental (i.e. refrigerator, washer, dryer, hot water heater, etc.) to see if there are reports of issues. Even if maintenance is handled by your landlord, leaks or electrical problems could lead to spikes in your costs of utilities.
What’s the history and setup of the HVAC system?
Not all HVAC systems are created equal. Understanding the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) setup in a house or apartment can help you not only anticipate energy costs, but also find workarounds to improve the comfort of your home. For example, for homes with oil heat, it is important to factor the cost of the oil into your overall costs for heating your home. Additionally, because oil heat tends to dry out the air in your home, most people have to run humidifiers to keep their house or apartment comfortable. The energy used to run a humidifier should also be considered in the total costs. Each of the different types of HVAC systems have different considerations, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into.
When were the doors and windows installed, and what are they made of?
Fresh paint and new carpet can be nice touches in a home, but when shopping for a new residence, you’re better off evaluating the doors, windows and roof. While not the most fun detail of a home, these three items have a huge impact on the comfort of your home. With the race to “go green”, door and window manufacturers have improved their products over the past decade to offer greater energy efficiency and decrease draftiness. Additionally, windows have more options than you may realize – the frames come in wood, plastic and fiberglass, and each material has a different impact on window performance. Additionally, the types of glass used, and whether a window is single- or double-paned plays a part as well. The same is true for doors. Although there are tons of options, there are lots of online resources available to help evaluate which door and window options you should look for.
How much natural light does the home get?
The amount of natural light a home gets can significantly impact the amount of energy used throughout the day. If a house or apartment is flooded with natural light throughout the day, chances are there will be little need to keep overhead lights and lamps on while the sun is up. Additionally, on colder days, the sunlight can help keep your space warm. If your air conditioning bill is high in the summer, curtains or blinds are good ways to help mitigate the heat created from the sunlight, while still allowing the natural light to shine through.
Is the home in a deregulated city?
Your electricity options are often dictated by the city or municipality that your home is located in. For example, even though the state of Texas is a deregulated energy state, it does not mean that the county or city you want to move to has voted in favor of deregulation. In regulated areas, local governments limit the number of energy providers allowed within an area, meaning there is less competition for your business, but deregulated zones give consumers greater choice in service providers and options, and generally lead to more competitive prices for consumer (for more on the differences between regulated and deregulated power, check out this blog post from EnergySmart). If you want to keep Payless Power as your electricity provider, it is important to know that it is only available in deregulated cities. To find out if the home you’re looking at is within Payless Power’s service area, check out the full list of Texas’ deregulated cities.