RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

Keep Winter Energy Bills in Check

October 9, 2014 1:32 am

(Family Features) As winter temperatures drop, the potential for higher utility bills goes up. Taking steps ahead of the cold season can help you trim costs and make your home more energy efficient, keeping those utility bills in check even as the winter weather rages.

"Many homeowners just assume the winter season means their bills will go up as systems work harder to keep their home regulated," said Francois Lebrasseur, marketing manager of water products for GE Appliances. "In reality, there are many steps one can take to improve energy efficiency and minimize the added expense that comes with extreme winter temperatures."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity costs are on the rise. Before winter weather sets in for your part of the country, take some time to assess your home for potential problem areas and improvements that can help lower your energy costs.

Lighting. Though turning off unneeded lights is a smart strategy any time of year, it's especially helpful during the winter months when utility expenses can add up. New technology lets you manage your lights away from home – handy if you're gone for the day and realize lights were left on, or if you’re away from home for an extended period. If you replace a 60-watt incandescent light bulb with a 12-watt GE Link LED bulb, you would save $132 over the life of the bulb at an electricity rate of $0.11 per kWh.

Water heaters. Heat isn't the only system that gets an extra workout come winter. Cooler house temperatures may require water heaters to work harder, so ensuring you have a model well-suited to your family's year-round needs is key. In fact, heating water is the second source of energy use in the residential home after space heating and cooling, with standard electric water heaters costing the average homeowner $585 every year to operate. One energy-efficient option is a hybrid electric water heater, which can save the average household $365 every year (using 1514 kWh per year and national average electricity rate of 12 cents per kWh).

Thermostat. A programmable thermostat is easy to install and saves energy (and money) by automatically adjusting to pre-determined temperature settings. This allows you to drop the temperature during the day when no one is home, but have a comfortable environment ready when you arrive home from work each day. Depending on the model you choose, you can select numerous settings to adjust your indoor climate for various days to fit your lifestyle patterns. According to ENERGY STAR®, when used properly, a programmable thermostat can save as much as $150 a year in energy costs.

Air leaks. An airtight house is critical to managing your heat-related expenses. You take time to close windows and doors to prevent heat from escaping, but that's only half the battle. Sealing cracks around those windows and doors, and other leak-prone areas such as the basement and attic, will help keep heat inside and costs down.

Source: GE Lighting

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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U.S. Consumer Housing Optimism Rebounds

October 9, 2014 1:32 am

Following a recent dip in consumer housing optimism, most indicators have rebounded to the modestly positive trend seen throughout 2014, according to results from Fannie Mae's September 2014 National Housing Survey. Turbulent geo-political factors likely weighed on Americans' attitudes toward the housing market during the past couple of months. In September, the share of consumers who say now is a good time to buy a home is back up to 68 percent, a four-percentage-point increase from August. Additionally, the share saying they would prefer to buy a home on their next move ticked back up to 66 percent after a three-point drop. The results also show a notable jump in consumers’ views toward the economy, with 40 percent of those surveyed saying it is now on the right track – a five percentage point increase from last month.

"The September National Housing Survey shows a slight recovery in consumer housing sentiment after a two-month setback, bringing us back to the modestly positive trend we've seen over the last year," said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.

Key findings include:
  • The average 12-month home price change expectation rose to 2.2 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months rose to 45 percent. The share who say home prices will go down decreased to 8 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months fell by five percentage points to 45 percent.
  • Those who say it is a good time to buy a house rose to 68 percent. Those who say it is a good time to sell also increased—to 39 percent.
  • The average 12-month rental price change expectation fell to 3.2 percent.
  • The percentage of respondents who expect home rental prices to go up in the next 12 months increased to 55 percent.
  • The share of respondents who think it would be difficult to get a home mortgage today decreased by one percentage point.
  • The share who say they would buy if they were going to move rose to 66 percent, while the share who would rent decreased to 28 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track jumped by five percentage points from last month to 40 percent.
  • The percentage of respondents who expect their personal financial situation to get better over the next 12 months fell to 41 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago increased by two percentage points to 25 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say their household expenses are significantly higher than they were 12 months ago increased slightly to 37 percent.
Source: Fannie Mae

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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