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Home ownership guide: Watch out for hidden monthly costs PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 10 February 2011 10:14

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Building or buying a home is probably one of the most important decisions an individual or family will make in their lifetime.

Careful consideration is given to the purchase price and whether you can afford the monthly mortgage payment. But many miss the little differences between homes that can add up to large additional expenses each month — electricity and water consumption, maintenance and upkeep costs, landscaping expenses and home insurance costs, to name just a few.

According to real estate experts, these types of monthly expenses should be on the top of the list of considerations when planning a home purchase or selecting a rental.

Given the price of energy and the warm climate in the Turks and Caicos Islands, all aspects surrounding the insulation and cooling of your future home can easily mean hundreds of dollars every month. A home that is engineered thoroughly and equipped with efficient technology can save you a tremendous amount of money.

Construction materials such as walls, insulation, windows and roofs are all contributing factors to monthly energy costs. Selecting the right ones can keep help you keep your cool when paying monthly bills.

Choosing the wrong ones can have you hot under the collar when you can’t afford to turn on the air conditioning during summer months. These items are very costly, if not impossible, to replace, so you are well advised to choose wisely from the beginning.

The same applies to the water bills a homeowner will have to pay for comfort and to maintain a pristine landscape. Measures like using low-flow fixtures and installing a water treatment system can make home ownership the pleasure you were hoping for rather than the headache you were not thinking about.

For example, having Energy Star rated windows can save $125 to $450 on energy costs annually, which can be a savings of up to $37 per month based on U.S. energy costs. In the TCI, these savings would be far greater.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, green homes have the potential to use 20-30 percent less energy — and some even up to 60 percent less — than a home built to the less efficient International Energy Code. Less energy use means lower utility bills every month throughout the life of the house.

Taking the time and knowing what to look for can save you thousands of dollars over the time you live in a home, as well as increase your home’s resale value when the time comes.

But even for current homeowners, there are plenty of possibilities to save every month without making a large investment or changing your habits much.

In the coming weeks, we will be featuring a series of articles focused on how residents can make owning and maintaining a home more affordable.

Energy efficiency and environment friendliness are not just the buzz words of the day — they can mean a difference of hundreds of dollars in monthly energy costs and protect the islands for the future.

Surprising Home Energy Hogs

1. Plasma TV
Plasma TVs are hot items--literally. While they are popular, they also consume a lot energy, giving off lots of heat in the process. A typical 27-inch CRT TV uses about 110 to 120 watts and a 42-inch LCD TV uses around 200 watts. Plasmas easily gobble the most: a 42-inch plasma TV uses up to 325 watts.

2. Set-Top Boxes
Set-top boxes like cable and converter boxes seem like relatively innocent appliances: They typically only draw about 30 watts of energy. But because these boxes are always on, one box over the course of a year can use up to 265 kilowatt-hours, equivalent to the annual energy consumption of a 28-inch CRT television.

3. Always-On Devices
A surprising 75% of the energy used by home electronics is consumed when they’re turned off. These “phantom” users include: televisions, VCRs, stereos, computers and many kitchen appliances--basically anything that holds a time or other settings. A simple solution? Plug all of these items into power strips, and then get in the habit of turning off the strips between uses.

4. External Power Adapters
External power adapters for laptops and computers haven’t always been very energy-efficient. As recently as 2005 many were only 65% efficient in converting electricity to energy that the device could use, according to the Electric Power Research Institute. Look for current-generation laptops and computers with the Energy Star label, which signifies the power conversion in these adapters is at least 80% efficient.

5. Coffee Makers
Coffee makers also consume a lot of power, and usually run on 900 to 1,200 watts. Refraining from making more coffee than necessary or leaving the warmer on for long periods are good ways to ensure minimal energy usage.


Last Updated on Thursday, 17 March 2011 11:07

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