winterizing a home http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12589/all en-US Energy Efficient Mortgages: Borrowing More to Save http://www.wisebread.com/energy-efficient-mortgages-borrowing-more-to-save <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/energy-efficient-mortgages-borrowing-more-to-save" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/winter_house_chris.jpg" alt="House in snow" title="House in snow" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As deep, dreary winter sets in, bone-rattling cold is whistling into the cracks and crevices of homes across the country.&nbsp;</p> <p>We've been taping sheets of plastic to the windows in our Midwestern abode. The time of year, coupled with the fact that home-loan interest rates continue to sag at record lows, has spurred renewed consideration of a growing trend: the energy efficient mortgage, or EEM.</p> <p>These unique home mortgages are helping consumers combat runaway energy prices. They're also providing significant savings over the life of a home purchase.</p> <h3>What Is an Energy Efficient Mortgage?</h3> <p>Energy efficient mortgages are available for both existing homeowners who want to make changes to their properties and for consumers looking to purchase and upgrade a home.</p> <p>With an EEM, consumers can install tankless water heaters, newer HVAC units, insulation, thermal windows, and other key upgrades and finance the costs into their overall mortgage.</p> <p>Unlike a second mortgage, an energy efficient mortgage is a separate loan that is ultimately rolled into overall cost of the home mortgage. These are available on conventional loans as well as on government-backed options like FHA and VA loans.</p> <h3>How They Work</h3> <p>Homeowners first need to determine whether their home qualifies for an energy efficient mortgage. The same is true for prospective homebuyers.</p> <p>The process typically begins with a specialized report conducted by a home energy rating company. This document, known as a Home Energy Rating System report, or a HERS report, examines a property's current energy efficiency. Energy raters look at things like appliances, windows, insulation, utility usage, and other factors.</p> <p>The professional rater will ultimately generate a rating regarding the home's energy efficiency, as well as recommendations for efficiency upgrades and how the improvements will likely affect the home's energy rating and energy utilization.</p> <p>This is key information for mortgage lenders. There are different limits and allowable amounts for energy efficiency improvements depending on the loan type. Here's a quick breakdown:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Conventional mortgages: </strong>Consumers with <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=mortgages.energy_efficient_mortgages">conventional financing</a> can borrow up to 15% of the home's value for energy improvements. An EEM also allows you to buy more house, as lenders can increase the borrower's stated income based on the energy savings they'll reap.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>FHA loans:</strong> <a href="http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/eem/eemhog96.cfm">FHA borrowers</a> can borrow up to 5% of the home value, capped at $8,000.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>VA loans:</strong> Veterans, service members, and surviving spouses who qualify for a VA loan can tack on $3,000 to the loan amount provided they can verify the cost of <a href="http://www.vamortgagecenter.com/energy-efficient-mortgage.html">energy efficiency improvements</a>. Veterans can borrow up to $6,000 for improvements provided those upgrades generate enough savings to offset the new, higher monthly mortgage payment.</li> </ul> <h3>Is an Energy Efficient Mortgage Right for You?</h3> <p>Deciding whether to upgrade your existing home or make improvements to one you plan to purchase can be a difficult decision. Adding a couple thousand dollars to your mortgage loan will equate to higher payments each month.</p> <p>No one likes spending more money up front. But carefully consider the potential long-term benefits of those new thermal windows or that high-efficiency HVAC system.</p> <p>Do some simple calculations and determine how much those energy efficiency improvements will save you each month and over the course of months and years. There's little sense in paying an additional $150 in your mortgage bill each month if those improvements aren't generating real energy savings.</p> <p>But over the life of your mortgage, as the cold winters and blazing summers roll by, those energy improvements could easily translate to significant dollars saved. Crunch the numbers and consult a trusted lender.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chris-birk">Chris Birk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/energy-efficient-mortgages-borrowing-more-to-save">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-a-home-energy-audit-will-save-you-money">4 Ways a Home Energy Audit Will Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-ways-to-keep-your-home-warm-this-winter">10 Frugal Ways to Keep Your Home Warm This Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/boost-your-homes-value-with-these-5-projects">Boost Your Home&#039;s Value With These 5 Projects</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-costly-things-new-homeowners-dont-prepare-for">9 Costly Things New Homeowners Don&#039;t Prepare For</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Real Estate and Housing home improvement home mortgage winterizing a home Thu, 20 Jan 2011 13:00:10 +0000 Chris Birk 458088 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Winterize Your Home for Maximum Savings http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-winterize-your-home-for-maximum-savings <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-winterize-your-home-for-maximum-savings" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/winter home.jpg" alt="winter home" title="winter home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="240" height="180" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The heat of summer is fading fast and fall temps may be prompting some around the country to start turning up the thermostat. With the rising costs of living already hampering many families, the added costs of heating oil and electricity will prove to be a real burden over the long, cold winter months.</p> <p>In order to save money on winter heating costs, it is essential you start preparing your home to battle to cold before it takes hold. Most of the winterizing steps you need to take are relatively easy, do-it-yourself tasks that will not cost you as much as heating your home will. With initiative and some time, you can ensure big savings.</p> <h2>Low Cost/Simple Tasks</h2> <p>Here are some cheap and easy tips for winterizing against Old Man Winter:</p> <h3>Check windows and doors</h3> <p>Check the weather-stripping around all of your doors and windows, including those in the basement and attic, as they may deteriorate over time and due to the elements. Replacements are not expensive and can make a big difference in your heating bills. Make a draft catcher pillow out of old clothing or keep a rolled blanket at the base of all doors.</p> <h3>Check pipes and utility holes</h3> <p>Any areas where piping or cable leads to the outside of your home should be checked for drafts. Use a color-coordinated caulking or expandable foam insulation spray to fill in holes and gaps.</p> <h3>Cover permanent AC units</h3> <p>If you have a window unit air conditioner mounted into the wall, purchase a specialized cover or use a quality tarp to cover the outside of the unit. Inside the home, the air conditioner frame should be sealed off with foam insulation.</p> <h3>Inspect storm windows</h3> <p>When the weather is no longer warm enough to keep the windows open, check all glass storm windows for cracks or other damage and make sure they are tightly closed.</p> <h3>Shut off unused rooms</h3> <p>If you can control heat in rooms you do not use, turn heat on low and make sure all doors remain shut to prevent wasting heat.</p> <h3>Adjust the thermometer</h3> <p>During the day when no one is in and the sun is heating the exterior of your home, keep the thermostat low; only turn it up during the evening hours to keep the dampness and chill out of the air. Wear layered clothing and use blankets when hanging out at home. Leave blinds and curtains open during the sunlight hours and close them tight at night.</p> <h3>Hire professional cleaning</h3> <p>Having your furnace checked by a professional is not optional. For the safety of your family, you need to check your heating system before the start of each fall/winter season. Also have chimneys, fireplaces, and other supplemental heat sources checked for problems. A professional cleaning will cost a few hundred dollars but if you take the initiative to learn how to do it yourself, you can save the cash for something else. Ask a relative who is handy with home repairs or hang out with the pro on the next visit and learn what you have to do. Home improvement stores like Lowe's often sponsor <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/diy-home-improvement-10-free-options-for-training-and-advice">classes in home improvement</a>, so check in with your local store to find out more.</p> <h2>Bigger Jobs to Start Saving For</h2> <p>You may not have the cash to do a total home makeover before winter hits, but it is smart to be aware of the bigger jobs that need attention and start saving now. Over time, homes will all need more attention and simple tasks will no longer be enough to make your home heat efficient.</p> <p>Here are some of the bigger things you need to consider:</p> <h3>Replace drafty windows</h3> <p>If most of your home's windows are old and drafty, it would be smart to invest the cash to replace them all at the same time. If you can't afford to redo all windows, start with those located in the most frequently used rooms like bedrooms, living room, and kitchen. Check with your local government offices and ask if there are any rebate programs or assistance for replacing windows and making your home more energy efficient. Also, check in with the IRS to learn more about <a href="http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=214873,00.html">energy-efficient tax credits</a>.</p> <h3>Upgrade insulation</h3> <p>If you have an older home, you may have some insulation but not enough to sufficiently keep the heat inside. Fully insulating your home will not only save you money over the long haul, it will also improve the value of your home if you choose to sell down the road. Contact several home improvement contractors now and request a free estimate. Compare prices and work being completed. You'll have a financial goal to work towards during the next year and it will help you make the work a priority.</p> <h3>Invest in solar panels</h3> <p>Go a little green by investing in some solar panels which uses the sun as a heat source. Find a reputable contractor that works with solar panels and request free estimates so you'll know if it's financially an option for your home.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tisha-tolar">Tisha Tolar</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-winterize-your-home-for-maximum-savings">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/19-frugal-and-easy-ways-to-update-an-old-home">19 Frugal (And Easy) Ways to Update an Old Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-diy-tips-to-winterize-your-home-for-cheap">7 DIY Tips to Winterize Your Home for Cheap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/like-diy-avoid-these-ten-costly-mistakes">Like DIY? Avoid These 10 Costly Mistakes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-household-fixes-you-should-stop-paying-others-for">5 Household Fixes You Should Stop Paying Others For</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home home improvement home maintenence Home repair homeowners winter cleaning winterizing a home Mon, 11 Oct 2010 13:00:13 +0000 Tisha Tolar 258591 at http://www.wisebread.com