Numbers Count: Don’t touch that thermostat!

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Numbers count. They matter to bankers and to prospective homebuyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. Here’s my take on the key numbers on the housing market this week.

Young couple looking out their windows in a new house.The numbers: Walk-in closets, laundry rooms, and great rooms are the most likely features to be included in new homes in 2016, according to a new survey of home builders. On a least-likely to most-likely scale of 1-5, walk-in closets in the master bedroom scored 4.9, laundry room scored 4.8, and great rooms and low-e (low-emissivity) windows scored 4.8, according to the study by the National Association of Homebuilders released February 2.

What counts: The high today in Denver where I live and work was 26 degrees, so I was particularly interested in three energy-saving picks that were among the top 10 home features in this report: programmable thermostats, low-e windows, and ENERGY STAR-rated windows. Whether you’re in the market to buy a home or own a home and want to lower heating and cooling costs and lower your carbon footprint, it’s worth understanding these home features.

Programmable thermostats: You can save money on your heating and cooling bills by simply resetting your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home. The federal government estimates you can reduce your heating bill 10% by lowering your home’s temperature 10-15 degrees for eight hours a day. A programmable thermostat will do this for you automatically without sacrificing comfort.

Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings, which you can manually override if needed without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program.

Low-e windows: Windows emit heat depending on their temperature, so a lot of research has gone into trying to reduce the rate at which windows emit heat, which can improve their insulating properties. Low-e, or low emissivity, windows do this by coating glass so that it reflects radiant heat and increases energy efficiency. Low-e windows can reduce a home’s heating and cooling costs by 10-35%, according to the federal government.

ENERGY STAR-rated windows: The federal Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency use an ENERGY STAR designation program for products, including windows, that meet energy performance criteria. Using ENERGY STAR-certified windows in place of conventional windows lowers household energy bills by an average of 12% nationwide, according to the government’s ENERGY STAR program. These windows reduce a home or building’s heat loss during the winter and can keep the heat out during the summer.

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