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Would you like a warmer home??

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Posted 01-28-2011 at 04:46 PM by Roy Sanborn

Ok, it’s colder than holy bejezus outside and the snow is well over the roof of a Mini Cooper. Welcome to the Lakes Region in January. This kind of weather really makes you think about energy costs especially if the oil truck just stays parked in your driveway all day. If you feel a draft coming from around your windows or doors , if your furnace rumbles and bangs every time it starts, or if you don’t ever have to shovel your roof because the snow melts right off, your home is probably not very energy efficient to say the least.

We obviously have a lot of large older homes in the area that were built long before modern energy efficient construction techniques. Today most homes are built with much better insulation and heating systems and can be very economical to heat and cool. But there are also homes that have been constructed to a higher standard and have been certified as an Energy Star rated home by a third party inspector who follows guidelines developed by the EPA. These guidelines establish higher insulation R values, the creation of an air tight “thermal envelope” in the home thereby eliminating drafts, the utilization of high-performance windows and doors, the use of hi-tech, energy efficient heating and cooling systems, and the use of highly efficient appliances and lighting. Homes that have been given an Energy Star rating will not only be easier to heat and cool (they are at least 15% more energy efficient than the homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code), they will also be much more comfortable to live in.

As the thermometer nudged up to three degrees below zero, I cranked up the MLS system to search for the Energy Star rated homes in the Lakes Region. There is a search field box that agents can check off for an Energy Star designated home and I was curious to see what and how many homes with this rating were available. Any guess? Just five show up in the MLS. Prices range from $232,900 for a to-be-built three bedroom colonial to $2.2 million for a 5,196 square foot waterfront in Meredith.

In between those two extremes, there is a 2,400 square foot cape built in 2005 on a .69 acre lot at 39 Greenleaf Trail in Gilford that is being offered for $239,000. This high quality home has three bedrooms, three baths, hardwood and tile floors throughout, an open floor plan, a family room, and a large master suite. According to the seller’s property disclosure this home can be heated with 500-600 gallons of oil per year which sounds like a bargain compared to fuel I use at my house.

Priced at $354,900, there is an Energy Star rated 3,772 square foot colonial with four bedrooms and four baths located at 1 Maplewood Circle in Meredith. Built n 2005, this was the model home for Crestwood Estates so it is billed as having every upgrade imaginable. I can imagine a lot, but it says it has hardwood floors, upgraded kitchen cabinets and countertops, a gas fireplace, cathedral ceilings, master suite with whirlpool tub, central vac, and a finished basement.

Another Energy Star home can be found at 160 Soleil Mountain in the gated community of Meredith Bay in Laconia. This new custom home has 2,844 square feet of living space, four bedrooms, and four baths. The home features cherry cabinets and flooring, stainless steel appliances and granite counters, a first floor master suite, a living room with cathedral ceilings and a cultured stone gas fireplace, plus a bonus room over the garage. Meredith Bay residents also have access to community amenities that include a marina, hiking trails, play ground, and pool. This great home is offered at $649,900.

I also searched for energy saving homes by typing “energy efficient” or “high efficiency” into the public remarks section of the property description. I came up with a few more homes that would definitely be worth a look if low energy costs are high on your home buying check list. Often, builders follow some, or all, of the guidelines but just don’t bother to get the home certified so it is worth asking questions about the construction and systems in the home.

Check out www.energystar.gov for detailed information about energy efficient homes. A couple of good websites that will help you to get a handle on fuel cost comparisons are www.nhclimateaudit.org and www.staywarmnh.org which both have fuel cost calculators.

Putting energy efficiency high on your home buying checklist will pay you immediate dividends. While a high efficiency boiler or extra thick insulation might not be as exciting and glamorous as granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, a fuel bill that is one half of your neighbors would be a wonderful thing to gloat about at the next neighborhood Super Bowl party (you’ve got time, the Patriots aren’t there this year).

Or maybe you just like splitting that extra cord or two of wood every year…

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