Earth Day At Home
Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated by many Americans on April 22nd. Here in Bozeman, there are opportunities to help with cleanup activities around town, and many use it as a time to reflect on ways to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. As green grass begins to peek out, April can also be a great month to look around your home for some energy efficient upgrades. Not only will these upgrades help the Earth, but they can also add value to the home and decrease monthly utility costs.
NorthWestern Energy has been offering home energy audits for years, and now they’ve rolled out a new program offering the audits virtually. Called the E+ HomeEnergy Check, it starts with a free packet and includes a live video chat with an energy expert. A personalized report will include detailed tips on how to improve your home’s energy efficiency. For more details and an informational video, do an online search for NorthWestern Energy E+ HomeEnergy Check, or call 800-823-5995.
Depending on the age of your home, it may be worth adding insulation to the attic. When adding insulation to an attic, it’s also worth ensuring 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.
Check for gaps or air leaks around exterior windows and doors, and use spray foam, caulk, and weather stripping to seal up any openings. Not only will it help eliminate drafts and air leaks, it will also prevent moisture intrusions.
In addition to having the heating system serviced regularly to ensure it is operating at peak efficiency, consider installing a programable thermostat. 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.
As old lightbulbs burn out, there are a lot of new lightbulb styles, including LEDs, that use considerably less electricity than older types.
For those wanting to make some big changes, consider solar panels. Some experts believe they can be paid off in seven years or less, based on the money saved on electric bills. Depending on the future costs of energy, this timeframe could actually be shorter, and it 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. The most recent information I could find is that for systems installed during 2020-2022, taxpayers can deduct 26 percent of the cost, with no maximum. That number decreases to 22 percent in 2023. It is currently set to expire in 2024, unless Congress renews it. There are also loan programs available where you might be able to line up payments with the amount you’re currently paying for electricity, which could effectively add solar with no change to monthly expenditures.
Whether you make small or large changes, it’s likely you can increase your home’s value, decrease your monthly expenditures and live in a more Earth-friendly manner.
As usual, I have included home sales data: In addition to the 91 homes sold during the first two months of this year, as of this writing another 87 homes are currently pending, or are under contract. This compares to 73 pending sales at this same time last year.
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.