energy efficiency

Seattle Real Estate Market – Meeting Buyer’s Demands

Your Seattle, Washington home inspection company, The Home Detective, is happy to share with you how to meet the buyer’s demands in any real estate market.
With many real estate industry watchers predicting 2014 will be a seller’s market, you may think you won’t need to do much to sell your home this spring. Not so fast – while more buyers are likely to be competing for homes, that doesn’t mean they’re willing to settle for less than perfect. In fact, coming out of the real estate crash of a few years ago, buyers have learned the importance of getting the maximum value for their home investment.
While home prices are expected to rise in 2014, buyers continue to have high expectations. Homes that meet buyers’ lists of “must-haves” and “would-love-to-have” features will be positioned to sell more quickly and closer to – or above – list price, experts say. So what are homebuyers looking for in 2014?
Whole-home, beautiful energy efficient features
In the earliest days of the efficiency trend, many buyers would have settled for a house that reduced heating and cooling costs through good insulation, or cut electricity bills with energy-sipping appliances. Modern buyers, however, are interested in homes that take a holistic approach to energy efficiency. That means supplementing energy savings with more thoughtful features like daylighting and natural ventilation through energy-efficient skylights, using solar-powered water heaters, and employing intelligent controls for skylights, other lighting and heating/cooling systems.
Buyers want energy-efficient upgrades that also offer high aesthetic appeal in addition to functionality, making features like ENERGY STAR-qualified skylights particularly popular. In fact, 55 percent of homebuyers in a National Association of Home Builder’s survey said skylights are desirable or essential. Skylight manufacturer VELUX America notes that installing no-leak, solar-powered fresh air (venting) skylights not only enhances indoor air quality, but can boost energy efficiency, working in concert with windows. Add remote-controlled, solar-powered blinds and skylight energy performance ratings can improve as much as 45 percent. And solar powered skylights and blinds, as well as the installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent Federal tax credit.
Smarter size and space
While buyers will always look to get the most bang for their buck, many are deciding that “bang” does not necessarily mean “bigger.” The great recession saw many families downsize into smaller homes – with more manageable mortgages. Even with the economy moving again, many homeowners have found they like the efficiency and utility of smaller, more purposeful spaces.
The functionality of a room is now as important as its size. Buyers will continue to embrace rooms that make the most of the space available, such as compact kitchens that maximize storage, smaller bathrooms that optimize lighting efficiency and privacy, while saving wall space through use of skylights, and open rooms that serve multiple purposes. To see how skylights would look in any room in your home, get a skylight planner app, take pictures in your home, and overlay skylights and blinds on the images with a few clicks.
Aging-in-place potential
As more baby boomers approach and enter their golden years, homebuyers are looking toward the future and seeking homes that offer the potential of allowing them to age in place. In demand are home features that not only look good now (such as an open floor plan or larger bathroom) but that can be easily adapted for older occupants who may face challenges with mobility, vision and other age-related issues.
A range of home features fit the bill, including ground-floor bedrooms, ample natural lighting to enhance vision, open floor plans that minimize obstacles to mobility, larger bathrooms that can easily be fitted with grab bars, kitchens with age-friendly features such as touch faucets, and smaller yards with lower maintenance requirements.
While higher demand and less inventory are likely to make 2014 a better year for sellers than buyers, if you’re selling your home, knowing what buyers are looking for can help ensure a faster, more rewarding sale – in any market.
Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Seattle, Washington home inspection company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

Get Rid Of Household Drafts

With the onset of cooler weather, now is the ideal time for homeowners to consider the efficiency of their heating systems. Drafts, gaps and poor insulation throughout the building envelope can significantly contribute to the efficiency of a home’s heating system, the comfort of occupants and the household budget.
The United States Department of Energy says that household heating and cooling accounts for around 54 percent of the average American’s utility bill. Although some savings can be achieved through proper equipment maintenance and upgrades, the United States Department of Energy explains that an energy efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on energy bills as using a whole-house approach.
With heating and cooling taking up a large chunk of the household budget, understanding where your home is hemorrhaging money and how to effectively stop it can make a considerable difference to your comfort and your wallet. Building specialists say that any cold or drafty areas within a home are typically caused by air leaks within the building envelope. Air leaks can make rooms uncomfortable and allow the air to escape, forcing heating equipment to work continually to compensate. According to InsulationSmart.com, floors, walls and ceilings alone can account for up to 31 percent of air leakage in a home.
Consulting a home inspector or home energy rater, who can assess your home from roof to basement; will give you a better sense of where your home is leaking money and what cost-effective measures are available. While stop-gap solutions such as caulking and sealing visible cracks can help alleviate some of the air leakage, a home inspector will make recommendations that consider the whole wall infrastructure. For instance, a home with traditional batt or blown-in insulation is typically less energy efficient than a home with modern insulation material such as spray foam, because of the gaps these traditional insulation types leave behind.
Unlike the traditional insulation materials, spray foam insulation such as Icynene both insulates and air seals the home’s envelope in one step to provide a cost-saving option that not only stops drafts from occurring but reduces energy waste and cuts the monthly heating and cooling bill. Over the long-term, the savings quickly add up.
Spray foam insulation performs for the life of the property, ensuring that homeowners can enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures all year round without overrunning their heating and cooling equipment. Spray foam insulation can noticeably reduce heating and cooling costs, in some cases by up to 50 percent, easing the strain on the household budget.
Additionally, spray foam insulation helps minimize random airborne moisture and pollutants from entering the home, ideal for allergy sufferers particularly once the cold weather passes and spring arrives. Homeowners can learn the five easy steps of selecting the right insulation for their home on www.icynene.com.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

Buying A Garage Door? Think Insulation

There are seemingly endless options through which homeowners must navigate when buying a new garage door: the style, materials and accessories, just to name a few. But perhaps the most important feature that should top the garage door consumer’s list is energy efficiency.
Why? Because the garage door is generally the largest moving object in your home and offers the greatest exposure to the elements. An insulated garage door will maintain the temperature in your garage in the winter and in the summer and likely decrease your heating and cooling costs. Insulated garage doors not only make the garage itself more comfortable to be in, but also the rooms adjacent to or above the garage. A well-insulated garage also helps keep moisture out, and its sturdy construction offers a greater noise-reducing sound barrier.
What should consumers look for in an energy efficient garage door? For starters, check out the R-value. R-value is a measure of thermal resistance to heat flow and is how most manufacturers show the energy efficiency of their product. The higher the R-value of a door, the more insulation you’ll get. Second, look at the door’s construction. Well-insulated doors will have a “triple-layer” construction, consisting of environmentally safe polystyrene or polyurethane thermal insulation between two layers of heavy-duty steel. Some insulated garage doors also include a thermal break which is a nonconductive material within the door that keeps thermal energy from passing through, resulting in improved energy efficiency for the home.
Well-insulated garage doors should be able to stand up to the most extreme of conditions while simultaneously protecting your garage and the rest of your home. For example, the Heritage 3000 door by Amarr was installed at Mawson Station, a science facility in Antarctica, in 2007. The garage door continues to withstand years of exposure to 100 mph blasts of wind and snow. With protection like that, imagine what an energy efficient door like the Amarr Heritage 3000 can do for your home.
Whether your garage door withstands heat, wind, snow, rain, or all of the above, it’s the largest line of defense for your home. Make sure that it’s working hard for you by reducing your home’s energy consumption and providing strong, durable protection from the outside. Your utility bills – and the rest of your (climate-controlled) house will thank you.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!