Energy Efficient Mortgage, Home Improvement & a Bagged Vacuum Cleaner
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Energy Efficient Mortgage stands for comfort and savings. When you're buying, selling, refinancing, and remodeling your home you can increase comfort and actually save money by using the Energy Efficient Mortgage or EEM.
This program is easy to use and federally recognized and can be applied to most home mortgages. EEM's provide the borrower with special benefits when purchasing a home that's energy efficient or can be made efficient by making energy saving improvements.
Energy efficient mortgages aren't second mortgages. They are created separately from the primary loan, but they are ultimately rolled into the primary mortgage, so you're only making one payment each month.
How It Works
The EEM is a type of home loan that's designed to help with energy efficiency. It's not directly related to saving the environment; however, it is designed to improve home efficiency. It provides a one time allowance that enables the buyer to upgrade the property to a much more economical one.
It pays for window replacements, New HVAC units with ducts, insulation, weatherizing, energy efficient cooling and heating systems, fixing or replacing the chimney, installing active or passive solar technologies and whole list of other upgrades.
There are three kinds of EEM's: conventional, FHA, and VA. All the plans vary; however, the concept is the same. It's easy to obtain one of these loans. Basically, if you qualify for regular mortgage, then you can probably receive an EEM.
The only catch is that the actual energy improvements must be cost effective. Which means that the total cost of the upgrades have to be less than the energy saved over the operative life of the improvement. In other words, if a double-paned window costs $300, it needs to save you $300 in energy costs over the course of its life.
In order to get one of these home loans, the home you're buying must need improvements. A HERS inspection determines if home improvements are needed and what types. The HERS report stands for Home Energy Rating System.A qualified professional performs the inspection. The HERS report includes thefollowing:
- Overall rating for the house
- Recommendations for cost effective upgrades
- Cost estimates of the price, saving, and life of upgrades
- Estimate of home rating after upgrades
- Before and after estimates of annual energy costs
The HERS report can range from $300-$800. Occasionally the cost of the report can be added to the financing of the home; however, this depends on the seller, lender, or real estate agent.
The Best Improvements for Your Dollar
Overall, there are lots of ways to make a home more energy efficient. Below are a few examples.
- Upgrade your heating and cooling unit. This system accounts for 50-70% of the total home energy used.
- Insulate or improve already existing insulation. 60% of homes are not properly insulated.
- Outdated windows account for nearly 25% of annual heating and cooling costs, so updating these with double-paned window is a benefit.
- In homes with faulty central air and heating duct work,there's a 20% energy loss. Save money by making improvements.
- Upgrade appliances. An Energy Star dishwasher can save you 13% in energy costs.
- Programmable thermostats can save you 2% on heating and 3% on cooling each year, amounting to nearly $180.00 in savings.
Obviously, your new home can benefit from cost effective heating and cooling. Appliances are also a great way to reduce energy costs, but once all of the EEM upgrades are made there are other ways to increase the value of your home in an eco-friendly way. Consider flooring, fixtures, and paint.
Choose items that can make your home "greener." Below area few examples.
Benjamin Moore offers a whole line of eco-friendly paint that manages levels of VOC's. They even offer paint with the lowest total VOC's than any other national paint. Their Natura paint is virtually odorless and is designed with a unique waterborne colorant system that helps maintain zero VOC levels even after the paint is tinted.
There's a federal program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency called WaterSense, whose label indicates the fixture has been tested and certified to save water. These fixtures must meet strict water-saving requirements. According to the EPA the average American uses 100 gallons of water each day. For the year 2013, 36 states anticipate water shortages.
Toilets account for 30-40% of residential water use. Investing in new toilets with the dual flush system, faucets that reduce the gpm to 2 gallons, and showerheads models with a 1.6 gpm are great ways to "go green" and limit water usage.
Invest in all natural flooring. The most popular options today are cork, bamboo, and white oak barrel. Wood flooring certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or FSC comes from forests that are managed with strict standards of sustainability and environmental responsibility. Beautiful woods like tigerwood and Brazilian cherry are available in engineered planks at reasonable prices.
Nontoxic cork is taken from the bark of the cork oak tree. Cork is sustainable, meaning that the bark on the tree grows back and can be harvested repeatedly.
Also, consider the Vintage Barrel Collection from Fontenay. They offer a reclaimed flooring product made from white oak wine barrels. Some wood flooring manufacturers are combining wood pulp with stone dust to create wood flooring that's composed of 75% recycled material.
If you're hooked on carpet invest in a type that's made from corn sugar instead of nylon.
To maintain your finished home utilize eco-friendly cleaners to extend the life of your newly painted walls and fixtures. Make sure they're free of toxins and VOC's. Consider home cleaning remedies like baking soda, borax, soap, washing soda, white vinegar or lemon juice. Then use a bagged vacuum cleaner and a stick mop with bare floor options to keep your floors looking great.