Dream Home, Green Home

Thermostats: Installing a programmable thermostat to keep air conditioning at 78°F when it’s hot outside and your heating system at 68°F when it’s cold can help save up to 20% in heating and cooling costs–or $100 a year on your energy bill. If every family in the United States did this, we would reduce carbon dioxide by more than 90 billion pounds.

Water Heaters: Water heating accounts for about 13% of home energy costs, so turn your water heater down to 120° or the “Normal” setting when home and to the lowest setting when away. Also consider wrapping your water heater in an insulated blanket. You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Light Bulbs: According to climatecrisis.org, energy-saving compact florescent light bulbs (CFL) last 10 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs, use 60% less energy and can save 75% of lighting costs. If every American home replaced five incandescent bulbs with five CFL bulbs, we would save as much as $6.5 billion a year in electricity costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that from more than eight million cars.

Sprinklers: Use a sprinkler timer. Timers will automatically shut off your sprinkler system after a set period so you don’t have to remember. Also, use sprinklers that emit large drops of water, low and close to the ground (not the sidewalk or street), and water early in the morning. This will ensure that the water soaks into soil instead of evaporating.

Green Energy: The decision to switch to green energy (wind or solar-powered) should be made on a cost-by-cost, region-by-region basis. CIBC World Markets reports that buying a solar system can yield homeowners a 6% return on their investment and take 16 years to pay off. Depending on the state you live in, you also may be eligible for a refund or other incentive when you use solar energy.

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Things You Should Know…

Former Federal Reserve Chief Alan Greenspan Tuesday said he expects the drop in U.S. home prices will probably end early in 2009 as housing inventory is reduced, and added that “…it is very likely that home prices will stabilize well before that.” He noted that the damage from the subprime crisis won’t be fully apparent for months but called the current credit crisis the worst in 50 years. Greenspan was speaking at a banking conference in Tokyo.

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Things You Should Know…

Buyers waiting for the recession to pass before getting into the market might not want to wait too long: Clive Granger, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Economics and professor emeritus at UC San Diego, says the U.S. economy has been in a recession for about four months. He expects the current recession to last an additional 2-6 months, depending on what occurs in the housing
and financial markets.

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