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Home buyers should consider their dream houses' energy costs

Home buyers should consider their dream houses’ energy costs

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When prospective homebuyers set out to find the house of their dreams, they determine how much they will need for a down payment, what they’ll be able to afford in monthly mortgage bills and annual property taxes.

New owners may not consider ongoing expenses in a house that looks great and fits their wish list, but can cost them more to maintain than they anticipated. Energy charges are among those additional expenses.

That’s why MSN Real Estate warned prospective homeowners about homes that have terrific curb appeal and the right price tag, but may also have heating and cooling expenses that can drain their monthly household budget.

As a first step in assessing whether that’s the situation with their dream home, MSN recommended that people ask to see the energy and water bills paid by the current owner over the previous year. An older furnace or air conditioning system is sure to cost more to run because they may not be as efficient as the newer, Energy Star-rated models.

Even if new owners are willing to buy the house with older heating and cooling appliances, there are ways they can compensate for energy losses. Relying more on electric fans in a variety of models – desktop, tower or window fans – can greatly reduce the use of air conditioning and meet the cooling needs of both small and large rooms.

Inspect the insulation
While homebuyers are looking at the size of rooms and how much light flows into a house they’re planning to bid on, they should also consider what’s hidden by the walls, roof and flooring. Insulation is an important element in whether a dwelling is as energy efficient as it can be.

Before moving ahead with their purchase, prudent homebuyers will have an inspection done of the premises and should make sure their inspector checks the depth and quality of the insulation installed in the house.

Insulation is given an “R” rating, which means “resistance to transferring heat.” In a well-insulated house, the R rating should be a minimum of R-30 for attics and R-13 for house walls. With these levels or better, a home heating and air conditioning system won’t have to work as hard, and that should cut down considerably on monthly energy bills.


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