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Green Living in Tiny Houses

tiny house woodIf you are planning to buy an existing small home and modify it with energy-saving improvements, you can avail of Energy Efficient Mortgages. Homeowners who seek to boost the energy efficiency of their home can apply specifically for an Energy Improvement Mortgage (EIM). This is a loan that gives borrowers the chance to include energy-improvement costs in the mortgage while not increasing the amount of down payment. It lets the buyer apply the funds saved in their gas, electric and water bills to the cost of the modifications.

The buyer must first submit a home energy rating to their mortgage company to qualify. This rating includes the estimated cost of the intended improvements and the monthly utility savings.

There are several ways to increase a tiny home’s energy-efficiency rating. Here are some tips on what do.

Insulate the attic and walls

Adding insulation decreases the amount of heat that is lost from the house in the winter and the amount of heat that comes in during the summer. Insulation blown into the attic and walls of an under-insulated home will increase your comfort and boost your energy savings. Cellulose, fiberglass or foam insulation will all reduce the heat conductivity of the attic and walls, but they must be properly installed to achieve maximum efficiency.

Repair or replace the windows

Older windows usually have gaps that allow air to leak in and out. You can boost their efficiency by using weatherstripping or caulk to fill the gaps. If your old windows are single-glazed models, you will probably want to replace them Energy Star-rated versions. Besides increasing the comfort level of the home, replacing them could increase your energy-efficiency by almost 25 percent.

Replace an older heating system

Any gas furnace installed before 1992 should be replaced. Assuming it is working perfectly, a 20-year old furnace has an annual fuel efficiency rating of around 65 percent. A new condensing furnace with an efficiency rating of at least 90 percent should be used instead. A model, which wastes only 10 percent of your natural gas, will save you up to 27 percent on your gas bill.

For homes with older hot-water heating systems using baseboards or radiators, a new condensing boiler can increase energy-efficiency substantially.

Modify your hot water system

A few simple changes to your hot water system can increase your home’s energy efficiency. First, install insulation around your hot water pipes to retain the heat between uses. Second, make sure the water temperature of the unit is set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Third, replace any standard shower and bath fixtures with low-flow models.

To further increase efficiency, install an on-demand circulating loop to your hot water system. This modification uses a small pump to push hot water to distant hot water fixtures and works well with low-flow faucets and shower heads.

Use only compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

These bulbs can save you up to 75 percent on your electricity bill. A 60-watt incandescent retails for less than one dollar and has a lifespan of approximately 2,000 hours. You would need to buy five of them to last 10,000 hours. In this amount of time, they will consume more than 600 kilowatts of power and cost you almost $67 at $0.11 per KWh. A 15-watt CFL costs about two dollars and gives as much light as a 60-watt incandescent. During its lifespan of about 10,000 hours, it uses approximately $17 in electrical power. Its final cost is about $19.

[About the author: Hollie Downes is a real estate and freelance topic staff writer for mortgageloan.com, an informative knowledge and news guide on all types of mortgages, as well as finance tools for home and building finance. A frustrated domestic goddess, she likes cooking and watching man vs. food during her free time. Image: nicolas.boullosa]

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