Energy Efficiency at Home

Tim Ford

April is the month we celebrate Earth Day, and with spring weather approaching, it’s a great time to try to improve a home’s energy efficiency. This not only helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it also helps to reduce monthly and annual bills.  

Heating and cooling usually make up the largest consumption of energy in a home. Programmable thermostats can help reduce energy use at night or when no one is home, and there’s a lot of great new options with smart thermostats. Make it easier for your heating and cooling system and extend their life expectancy by cleaning or replacing the filters regularly and consider an annual servicing so the systems are running at peak performance.

Many people do not realize how effective sealing up cracks and air leaks can be. Even in a well insulated home, air leaks can release as much heat as an open window! Consider having an energy audit completed. NorthWestern Energy offers energy audits for NorthWestern Energy customers in homes that are at least 5 years old if they have not had a previous energy audit. Additional qualifications may apply, call 1-800-823-5995 for more information.    

According to, water heating can account for 14% to 25% of the energy consumed in a home. The simple task of insulating the water heater can greatly cut energy use. If your water heater is in need of replacement, look for energy efficient models that may be eligible for tax credits.

Behavior is often cited as the easiest and least expensive change to make. Turning off lights, computers and other appliances when not in use doesn’t cost anything and can help decrease energy consumption. Also consider adding power strips with on/off switches or actually unplugging electronic devices when not in use. Many electronic devices continue to use electricity even when they are turned off.  

To help reduce your carbon footprint and increase your homes curb appeal, planting trees that block Southern sunlight into windows can help reduce the need for cooling in the summertime. Using deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the winter will allow sunlight through when it’s needed for passive solar heat. This also increases your homes appeal and offsets other carbon emissions.

Whether you decide to take small steps or large leaps, make April the month you increase the energy efficiency of your home. Not only will you decrease your monthly and annual bills, you will also help to decrease carbon emissions.

As usual, I have included data for the number of homes sold during the first 3 months of 2017. In addition to the 115 homes sold during this time period, another 156 homes are currently pending, or under contract, as of the date of writing this article.

The included data reflects sales of homes in the greater Bozeman area, including Four Corners, Gallatin Gateway, Bridger Canyon, and Bozeman city limits. The data includes home sales reported through the local Southwest Montana MLS, and does not include private party sales, Condominiums, or Townhouses.  

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