Las Vegas, Nevada — Las Vegas is a beautiful place to live; however, it’s no secret that the desert gets “a little hot” between May and October. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see consecutive triple digit temperatures for many months in a row. One of the biggest mistakes Las Vegas homebuyers make is underestimating how expensive their utility bills and home maintenance costs will be. The desert heat is brutal and utility bills can quickly spiral out of control. Additionally, the intense weather can lower the life expectancy of items such as roofs, central air conditioning units, exterior doors, paint and landscape. What can you do to maximize the life expectancy of your home and keep costs down?
The first thing to do is reevaluate what’s important when searching for a home to buy. Most people tend to focus on location and cosmetic issues such as the color of the carpet or paint. Additionally, Buyers look at kitchen countertops, the type of flooring, appliances, etc. This is completely normal; (and understandable) however, choosing a non-energy efficient home could cost you an additional $200 to $800 per month (average) in maintenance and utility expenses.
For example, a client of ours named Jerry called us to sell his two story, 2500 sq. ft. Green Valley home. He bought it new from the builder, back in 2002. At the time, his home was nicely upgraded and maintained beautifully over the years, however, Jerry’s monthly utility bill averaged close to $600 during the summer months. Jerry wanted to upgrade to a more energy efficient home, so we sold his house and helped him buy a brand new two story, 2500 sq. ft. energy efficient home in Summerlin. To date, his utility bill has not exceeded $200 per month. While his mortgage payment went up by $100 per month; Jerry is saving almost $400 per month in utility costs. Additionally, when you buy a brand new home, it is covered under the builder warranty for up to 10 years. While the money Jerry saved in utility costs is impressive, it’s difficult to measure how much money he saved in maintenance expenses. Water heaters and air conditioning units in Las Vegas may need to be replaced every 10-15 years.
If you’re interested in keeping your monthly bills under control, then you should choose the most energy efficient home available. The older the home, the less energy efficient it will be (and more expensive to maintain.) Additionally, no two homes are the same. While the majority of today’s new homes are energy efficient, this hasn’t always been the case. Not long ago, Buyers had to pay extra for things like energy efficient vinyl windows, upgraded or blown-in attic insulation and radiant barriers on the inside of the roof. If you’re looking to buy a home, is your Real Estate Agent helping you determine which homes are upgraded with energy efficient features and which are not? Two identical homes on the same street might be for sale, and Buyers are quick to haggle over the sales price, however, there are other things to consider. If one of the homes has energy efficient upgrades and the other does not, the non-upgraded home could cost the Buyer up to $500 each month in additional utility expenses. Wouldn’t you like to know these things before writing an offer? I’ve seen Buyers walk away from homes because they didn’t like the paint color, yet the home came equipped with every energy efficient upgrade imaginable. How does this make sense? The home can be repainted for as little as $2000, however, if you’re saving almost $400 to $500 per month in utility fees, isn’t this something worth considering?
Additionally, many of today’s builders are installing air conditioning units with a SEER rating of 15. This is now standard with Pulte and other builders; however, the SEER rating on older homes can be 10 or less. Some homes from the 1970’s and 1980’s even have units with SEER ratings as low as 6. The higher the SEER rating, the less expensive it is to make cold air…which is important to almost every Las Vegas homeowner.
The good news is there are some very simple improvements that can be done which should reduce monthly expenses and improve the energy efficiency of your home. The number one improvement is to increase the R-value of the insulation in the attic. Many older homes have R-13 to R-30 insulation. Many experts recommended increasing this R-value to somewhere between R-44 to R 48. Insulation is rather inexpensive so this improvement is typically well worth the money. Also placing a radiant barrier inside of the roof will help keep the attic cool. Most companies are able to spray a radiant barrier to the inside of your roof. Lastly, placing solar fans in the attic can help keep it cooler and reduce costs. Changing out equipment, (such as AC units) is probably the most costly upgrade but absolutely helps to improve a home’s energy efficiency. Always consult with a reputable and licensed contractor before pursuing any home improvement projects.
Bill and Francoise Myers, owners of The Myers Team with Simply Vegas Real Estate are not contractors or qualified to offer construction or home improvement advice, however, they are nationally recognized as Las Vegas Top Real Estate Agents. If you’re thinking about upgrading to an energy efficient home, give them at call.
Contact The Myers Team: 702-677-4343
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