House Shopping? Learn 4 Ways to Spot a Home that can Save Money on Utilities

When shopping for your next home, it’s not all about location, room sizes, or granite countertops. Yes, those items can be important, but so is finding a home that has long term money saving potential. Some homes will save you more money over others because they cost less to heat and cool. Do you know how to spot them? You will with our list, a digital camera, and a notepad to take good notes. Here’s our list of 4 tips that will point you towards a home where you can save money on utilities.

1. What color is the roof?

Along with noticing the condition of the roof, its important to note its color. Tests have shown that a dark colored roof on a hot, sunny day in the south can reach a temperature of 190 degrees Fahrenheit, while a more reflective, light colored roof will be around 110 degrees F. A recent study compared both a light and dark colored roof on the same home in Florida. The results indicate that a light colored roof, which reflects more of the suns heat, can save homeowners up to 20-25% on their annual cooling costs.

2. What’s in the attic?

One of the most important things to look for in a home is proper insulation and ventilation in the attic. An attic that is properly insulated and ventilated will be cooler in summer than one which is not. A cooler attic radiates less heat to the homes interior, which helps to reduce your energy bill in summer. In winter the reverse is true. Insulation prevents heat from escaping to the attic, keeping your nice warm air where you want it to be, in your home. Look for at least R-19 (6 inches of fiberglass) in moderate climates, with up to R-38 (12 inches of fiberglass) in cold climates.

3. Does the property have trees?

How many trees are on the property, and do they shade the home? Trees are not only beautiful, but they can help reduce your energy bill by shading your home in the summer, preventing the sun’s rays from heating the roof, walls and windows. According to the Dept. of Energy, homes with trees in the right locations, can save $100 - $250 annually. Look for trees on the west side of the home, followed by the east side. If trees are planted in these locations, you can save money on utility bills.

4. How many stories high?

Is the home a one or two story? A two story home with one AC system or zone can be a heating and cooling challenge. We know from science that heat rises. If the thermostat is located upstairs, where the heat is, the thermostat will register the hot air temperature, and turn on the air conditioning frequently in summer. The reverse occurs in winter, where the cool air is downstairs and warmer air up, again providing a challenge for the energy system. A two story home makes it tough to manage both levels to the same interior temperature. What does this mean to you? Well, it may mean that you end up with increased energy bills. You can eliminate this challenge by buying a one story home. You will be rid of the extreme temperature differences upstairs versus down, have smaller utility bills and not have to climb the stairs!