The summer heat is nearly upon us here in beautiful Sarasota and with it comes higher utility costs. These monthly recurring expenses can be a strain on the wallet, no matter the size of your home. Here in the Sunshine State, air conditioning is a forced amenity, every household relies on it to escape the many balmy days. Homeowners tend to use a lot of energy in the summer months, which stretch for a longer period than in the midwest, northeast, and northwest.
During those many, many weeks, homes depend on a number of appliances and devices to keep occupants comfortable. From the air conditioner, to the many entertainment electronics, the utilities can easily skyrocket out of control, making just opening the monthly statement a stressful situation. The good news is, even here, where temperatures routinely rise into the 90's on a daily basis, there are steps you can take to ensure you're not wasting energy (read: money) unnecessarily.
Fortunately, technology and better materials work wonders. Though they may have an upfront cost, often times, these are usually well worth the price as the return on investment lasts several years into the future. The average monthly electric utility cost in Sarasota comes-in at about $95 per month, according to Florida Power and Light, approximately $35 less than the countrywide average. Water and sewer rates average between $55 and $75, depending on where you live and how many gallons you use. These, along with cable, internet, and phone, can add-up quickly; but, these aren't the only things that cost your home to lose value.
Things that Decrease Your Home's Value
Homes that aren't energy efficient won't sell for what comparable homes will simply because of the fact the residence requires more use of energy. Even if you're not thinking about selling now, you're probably interested in upping your home's market value. There are several things which cause the value of a home to drop and over time, have a larger, more negative impact. First and foremost is appearance. Though this doesn't have anything to do with energy consumption, it has a lot to do with perception.
"The average U.S. household pays $1,900 annually in utility bills, according to the Department of Energy. And the typical two-car family pays nearly $5,000 a year at the gas pump -- after factoring in price spikes over the past year that have added about $800 to the annual tab." --Kiplinger.com
A fresh coat of paint inside and out, along with a deep cleaning of all interior space, and purging of clutter will do a lot to bring up your home's value. Something that's rather small, so small that many homeowners don't think about is the doorbell. Here again, it doesn't impact energy use, but it is a strong sign you care enough to take care of every aspect of your home. Bad lighting, squeaky hinges, torn or worn out window screens, and boring landscaping are all things which bring down your house's value.
How to Save on Summer Utility Bills
What really has the largest impact on your home's value, ultimately, is it's energy efficiency. If you do list your home for sale, potential buyers will quickly move past the aesthetics and put a lot of emphasis on energy efficiency and use. Savvy home shoppers will put much stock in their home inspection report and any sign of energy waste won't go unnoticed. Here are some ways to save on utilities:
- Upgrade the windows. Your home's windows account for 10 percent to 20 percent of your monthly cooling and heating costs. New insulated windows which block heat and provide a more comfortable environment are a great investment and will help to reduce your monthly electric bill.
- Replace weatherstripping. Weatherstripping isn't something that's high on the priority list, but it too can have a significant impact on your monthly energy cost. What's more, weatherstripping not only helps to improve efficiency, it acts as a barrier to prevent pests from getting into your home.
- Check the insulation. The insulation in your attic might be well past its prime and that will cost you quite a bit each month. Replacing insulation will do much to keep your home more comfortable and to lower your electric bill. Florida Power and Light also offers rebates for insulation replacement.
- Replace the thermostat. Old thermostats are not nearly as accurate as the newest models. You don't have to buy the top of the line, but one that's programmable and doesn't rely on the outdated analog technology. In addition, set your air conditioner up to about 80 degrees while away because turning the system on will consume more energy.
- Fix small leaks. If you have any leaks, whether in the bathroom, under the kitchen sink, or out in the sprinkler system, those cost a lot of money over a very long period of time. If your water bill is high, chances are there's an undetected leak somewhere--fix it and save well into the future.