Earth Day at Your House
Since April is the month of Earth Day, it’s also a great time of year to start planning some home improvement projects for the spring and summer. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by trying to make your home more energy efficient? Not only will you help relieve some of the strain on the planet, you’ll ease the strain on your pocket book as well.
A great place to start for NorthWestern Energy customers is with an on-site energy audit. A specialist can come to your home to look over items like insulation, plumbing fixtures, and appliances. According to their website, they offer education on how lifestyle and habits affect energy use. Additionally, they can offer tips on energy efficient practices along with recommendations on cost effective weatherization methods. In order to qualify, homes must be at least 5 years old and cannot have received an audit since September 25th, 1994. For more info, call 800-823-5995 or visit northwesternenergy.com/audit
Using spray foam, caulk, and weather stripping to seal around exterior doors, windows, and fireplaces is an inexpensive and simple task to complete. Not only will it help eliminate drafts and air leaks, it will also prevent moisture intrusions.
Depending on the age of your home, it may be worth adding additional insulation to the attic. When adding insulation to an attic, it’s also worth insuring there is adequate ventilation coming up from the soffits and exiting out through the ridge. This not only helps keep the home cooler in the summer, it can also prevent damaging ice dams in the winter.
Consider installing a programable thermostat for your furnace and have the furnace serviced regularly to insure its operating at its peak efficiency. Make a note on your calendar to change out filters at their recommended intervals. And if you own rental property, remember to have the heating system serviced there as well.
Insulating hot water pipes not only saves on energy, it can also increase your water’s temperature by a few degrees. This project could be completed in homes that have unfinished basements or crawlspaces to access pipes.
There are a lot of great energy efficient lighting and bulb options available. As old lightbulbs burn out, replace them with more efficient options.
For those wanting to make some big changes, consider solar panels. Some experts believe they can be paid off in 7 years or less based on the money saved on electric bills. This number could actually be lower depending on the future costs of energy and doesn’t take into account any added value in resale. There are still tax credits in place, but they are decreasing. Congress has been making changes to the credit, so be sure to check with your tax advisor, but the most recent info. I could find is that for systems installed in 2021, tax payers can deduct 26% of the cost, with no maximum. That number decreases to 22% in 2023 and then 10% after that.
Any level of commitment to energy efficiency is likely to pay off in multiple ways, including reducing home energy costs, increasing a home’s value, and decreasing the stress on the planet.
As usual, I have included data for the number of homes sold during the first 2 months of 2021. In addition to the 106 homes sold during this time period, another 73 homes are currently pending, or under contract, as of the date of writing this article.
The included data reflects sales of single-family 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 Big Sky Country MLS, and does not include private party sales, Condominiums, or Townhouses.