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11 ways you might not have thought of to save energy

Posted On: Filed Under: Home energy audit 4 Comments on 11 ways you might not have thought of to save energy

 

1. Biking to work year-round

People who bike to work in sleet or shine may seem crazy, especially if their bike commute lasts more than 30 minutes. But the decision to bike daily and leave the car at home can save you as much as $1,000 a year. Plus, the reduction in car use will significantly shrink your carbon footprint, and you can enjoy the good health and fitness that comes with the exercise.

2. Updating appliances every few years

Maybe you’ve heard your grandmother say: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” It’s a good motto for many things, but when it comes to appliances, that may not be so true.

Every few years the EPA comes out with a new set of standards for Energy Star-rated appliances because as the technology continues to progress, appliances become ever more energy-efficient by the year. People who buy new appliances as they improve will continue to save, especially if they’re smart and sell the used appliance to help pay for the new one.

3. Covering windows with plastic

Have you ever visited someone’s house and noticed there’s plastic over their windows? It may not look very lovely, but it’s a pretty smart way to save energy, at least as a temporary fix.

Outside air can leak into your home through old window caulking, so you have to run your heat and air conditioning more constantly. The plastic helps to keep air outside where it belongs.

That being said, it should be treated only as a temporary solution. If there’s air coming in through your windows, you probably need new insulation, windows, caulking, or all three.

4. Requesting an energy audit

The word audit never sounds like good news, so if a friend tells you he’s having an energy audit done, you might think he’s crazy. Actually, an energy audit is a very smart move.

An energy auditor will examine your home to understand and diagnose your comfort, energy use and health issues. Things like rooms that are too cold or stale air and high utility costs. They perform testing of your house, insulation, structure, ventilation, air leakage, utility bills and more, seeing how your house uses and loses energy. Then they provide prioritized list of what you can do to change that.

5. Replacing all windows and doors

Windows and doors have a single purpose in the home, and they last forever, right? Wrong. Old windows and doors can let in so much air that they cause your energy use to skyrocket.

New windows and doors are among the best changes you can make to your home if you wish to improve its overall value. You’ll also see a nice investment return at an average of $300 per year on utilities for window replacements alone.

6. Moving lamps away from the thermostat

Has a friend ever suggested that you should move your television and lamps away from your room air conditioning unit or thermostat? Heat sources such as lamps, if placed near your thermostat (for central air) or AC unit. , can significantly increase the demand for air conditioning, which raises your energy waste. In the winter it can create the opposite effect, telling the thermostat that your house is already warmed up, when you are still freezing.

7. Setting air conditioning at 78 degrees

It may feel a touch on the warm side at your friend’s home, but it may be worth the relative discomfort. If you set your air conditioning at 78 degrees instead of 72, you can enjoy an average savings of 10 percent on your utility bill.

There other affordable ways to keep it cool, such as running a ceiling fan or drinking ice water. You can save money and stay cool at the same time if you use your imagination.

8. Microwaving meals

It might be true that baked potatoes don’t taste quite as good when they’re cooked in the microwave as opposed to in a regular oven, but your lower utility bill may add to the taste.

Turning on the oven, especially during the summer not only costs you more in energy to power the oven, but also in your cooling bills, since the oven heats up the house. A microwave consumes far less energy and can save you hundreds when it’s hot outside.

9. Unplugging devices after each use

The cost of leaving a computer on can cost you $75 per year alone in utility charges. This doesn’t count the other appliances and electronics you leave plugged in all day long. It may feel like a hassle to have to unplug every electrical outlet in your home repeatedly, but you won’t regret it when the bills come rolling in.

10. Buying LED bulbs in bulk

Did your friend just put a giant box of LED light bulbs in her Costco cart? If you want to enjoy energy and cost savings on your lighting, just follow her lead.

Incandescent light bulbs are one of the biggest energy wasters on the planet. They use only 15 percent of the energy they consume, and the rest converts to heat, which is useless for you.

LED light bulbs not only direct most of their energy to lighting instead of heating, but they also have a much longer life span than incandescent bulbs, which means you can save on both your purchases and your utility bill.

11. Planting trees

Trees aren’t just meant outdoor decoration. They can also lower your heating and cooling costs.

A tree planted strategically to shade your window without blocking the view can help to reduce your utility bills, because it will reduce the amount of sunshine and wind that permeates the window. A well-placed tree can also help raise your property value.

Though some of these ideas may sound strange, they can save you big. And they aren’t the only moves that can help increase your energy efficiency. For more information on how you can save on your heating and cooling bill, contact us today.

 

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Home upgrades: before & after door transformations

Posted On: Filed Under: Doors, Windows No Comments on Home upgrades: before & after door transformations

 

French doors

french doors
french doors

The old aluminum single pane sliding doors were replaced with 2 sets of new french patio doors. The wall to the left was knocked down where there was a second slider door on the other side. (as shown below) These beautiful doors were manufactured from start to finish in the Northwest for Northwest homes.

Fun fact: French doors are technically a window meaning this “door” was made from our vinyl windows selection.

French doors are a great solution for an entrance onto a deck. The wide opening allows you to open up the space between your home and the outdoors to accommodate more people for summer BBQ’s and become a master host.

 


 

Front doors

edmonds front door
fujitsu seattle

This Codel front door adds curb appeal with it’s exquisite glass design and side panel. Plus the fiberglass door won’t crack, rot or warp like the old wood door. (Installed by Washington Energy Services)


 

Interior doors

seattle interior door installation
interior doors installation tacoma washington

The new interior doors are a Lynden product made by using the Trimtek system to ensure a superior installation with no sloppy nail holes. (Installed by Washington Energy Services)

Washington Energy Services provides tailored home comfort and energy saving solutions for all seasons. Call us today at 800-398-4663 for your doors, windows or other home products.

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Grow your resale value with the most valued home projects

Posted On: Filed Under: Doors, Windows No Comments on Grow your resale value with the most valued home projects

 

Interest.com website recently published an easy to use list of the best projects for 2014, and we wanted to share them with you. This list is based on a survey by Remodeling Magazine and the National Association of Realtors, using national averages. Always remember that potential buyers are comparing your home to ones like it in the same area, so check out what your neighbors are doing too.

They cite just how much of the cost of an upgrade you can expect to recoup when you sell. It varies from 70% to 96.6% for their number one choice. These projects will help your house compete favorably on the market, and you’ll get most of your investment back. Of course, if you can shop around get quality installations at a bargain, or do it yourself, there’s no reason you can’t get more than your money back.

Here are their top projects in order of return on investment plus our comments.

1. Entry door replacement. The front door of your house serves several functions in upping resale value: curb appeal, energy efficiency, and security. They estimate that you recover 96.6% of the cost. So it’s a great upgrade to do.

seattle front door

2. Adding a wooden deck of 16 x 20 ft. Wood has a better return than composite due to cost of materials. Plus, you can enjoy the deck now and still get resale value later.

3. Siding replacement with a composite vinyl or fiber cement siding. This upgrade transforms the look of your home, and in other surveys tops the list. A secondary benefit is the transferable siding warranty. When you sell your home and can transfer all or part of a siding warranty to a new buyer, that adds value.

siding roi

 

 

 

4. Convert an attic into a bedroom. The survey projects an 84% return but this can actually have positive ROI (more than 100%) if you keep costs low. In smaller, older homes in the Seattle and Tacoma metros, having an extra bedroom can substantially change the value of the home. Don’t forget to insulate or your new bedroom will be the coldest spot in the house.

5. Garage door replacement. They recommend a mid-range door that is un-insulated. It improves curb appeal and the price tag, typically under $1600, makes it easy on the remodeling budget.

6. Kitchen face lift. Doing a minor kitchen remodel can include new cabinet faces, hardware and even counter tops, flooring, paint, lighting appliances and modern faucets. This does not include changing out the cabinetry or structurally changing the layout. The article estimated a cost of $18,000 to create $15,000 in value, but it doesn’t have to cost that much. One of us sold a condo recently that needed a kitchen face lift. New granite counter tops from Pius Kitchen & Bath (in Sodo), a stainless steel under mounted sink, new stainless appliances, wood laminate flooring, new light fixture, plus modern hardware for the cabinets, cost all of $3800 and contributed to the successful sale.

modern plumbing

7. Window replacement with vinyl or wood windows (or wood clad) can add value to your home and create energy efficiency and greater comfort.

window roi

8. Finishing the basement. Popular ideas are creating a home theatre, multiple bedrooms and extra bathrooms in addition to laundry, storage and workshop areas. Due to our many hills, Seattle area homes often have daylight basements, where you already have above ground windows, even if the floor is dirt. This makes it easy to remodel into extra bedrooms (in short, a legal bedroom is defined as having a closet and window height that allows exit by window in case of emergency), adding resale value to the home.

9. Bathroom remodel. A basic bathroom remodel changes out fixtures such as vanities, countertops, mirrors, medicine cabinet, modern faucet and toilets or tub surround.

plumbing roi

10. Add a second story to the house. This is more for you than the resale, and as a major undertaking, something to research further. But it can double your square footage, and if you live in a neighborhood where houses tend to be larger, you may see great benefit. Check with a local realtor about prices if you are only considering this for resale value.

Washington Energy Services has been helping Puget Sound homeowners get their homes ready for sale or just for comfortable living since 1957. If you have questions about your next remodel, or want more information about the value of the listed products and services, visit us online at www.washingtonenergy.com or see us at the Seattle Home Show, February 15-23, 2014.

 

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