Rising Energy Costs and Your Home's Value
During this winter's freeze I had an exceptionally high electric bill that made me question the energy efficiency of my home. All across the country, the brutal winter left homeowners thinking of ways to save money on their heating costs. As we face the summer months, air conditioning expenses will be in focus. In the Charleston area, about 50% of our monthly energy costs are dedicated to heating and air conditioning. It's rare that our systems aren't running... ever. Even when the temperatures are mild, we are battling humidity and still need to condition the air coming into our homes.
This is going to become a hot topic in the near future and will likely affect re-sale value for older homes. Economists predict fossil fuel costs will rise again by the fall as the heating season kicks in, so expect to pay more for natural gas. As more electrical generating capacity switches to gas, electric rates may rise also. So prepare to see your electric bills increase even if your usage does not change.
There are tons of articles out there and advice on how to reduce energy costs. Personally, I decided to have an energy audit done at my home. There are quite a few local companies who offer this service. For $300, I had an energy expert spend half a day at my home conducting tests to see where I was using the most energy and suggest ways to reduce consumption. The local power companies, like SCEG, even offer rebates and incentives if you implement the suggestions of the energy auditor.
I came away with a long list of recommendations, but they were prioritized based on the potential savings. I decided to invest in the top recommendation, which was to encapsulate my attic. Bringing the temperatures in the attic down with spray foam insulation on the roof decking will decrease the workload of my HVAC system. We are expecting to save around $50 per month. It will take a long time for the savings to outweigh the expense. But I am looking at the bigger picture. I have a 40 year old home that will be competing with newly constructed, green, energy efficient homes if I decide to sell it. A savvy buyer is going to ask to see my average utility bills. By reducing those bills, I am protecting the re-sale value of the home.
We often think of cosmetic upgrades like granite countertops and hardwood floors, but investing in your home's energy efficiency can be just as valuable... with a side effect of being green and feeling better about the carbon footprint you're leaving on the world!