Friday, November 4, 2016

Investing in home energy updates - By Nicole Foster up in a large farmhouse in Maine, I have many warm and cozy memories of the Crawford woodstove in the kitchen on snowy winter days and the wicked chill in the air upstairs where my bedroom was located. My parents and older siblings spent many summer afternoons gathered around the wood splitter preparing for cold months and in the winter when the coal truck would come to make it’s delivery I would press my face to the single pane glass spanning from floor to ceiling and listen to the ruckus of the coal tumbling down the chute into the cellar beneath me. 

For the past decade as a Realtor, I have visited many different style homes of all ages and unlike a typical visitor to a home, I have the unique privilege seeing areas which are often not seen including basements or crawlspaces, attics and unfinished areas.

When considering home improvement projects, it may make sense for you to place cosmetic upgrades on hold to make energy upgrade investments a priority. It does not matter if your home is relatively new or centuries old, rapid advances in money saving technologies has cultivated an entire industry whose focus is to improve the overall health and energy efficiency of buildings.

Financing, rebates and incentives may also be found locally or through Efficiency Maine’s Residential Programs. Having guidance through the process is the key to making sure that your money is being spent wisely, so don’t run out and replace all of your windows without first taking a closer look at the entire home. Integrate the kids on your energy saving journey by borrowing an easy to use electricity monitor from the Windham Public Library so everyone can see just how much electricity each appliance and device uses to help create a discussion on energy saving habits, as well!
The first important step is to hire an energy advisor to conduct an energy audit of your home. 

Through procedures and tests using door blowers, infrared cameras and combustibles safety testing, they will be able to identify opportunities for savings and point out areas where improvements addressing moisture, radon and mold may be made to improve overall air quality in the home. When selecting a company to work with be sure to ask them what they charge for different types of assessments, and if they provide a computer generated “model” of your home, a report or a checklist of suggestions. Buyers may request a seller to allow them to conduct this type of investigation during the contingency period as well, if energy consumption or having a clear plan of home improvements before purchasing is pertinent or of concern.

You may be surprised at the recommendations you receive from your energy advisor which can range from recommending new energy saving appliances or lighting fixtures to air sealing or adding or replacing insulation. Other recommendations could be weatherization, upgrades to the heating system or water heater, or how to convert to different types of fuel or install solar panels to produce electricity or hot water. To find a list of local resources to help you get started, or to learn more, visit

After having an energy audit on your home you will be in a better position to create a plan for the upgrades and home improvement projects which should be done first, to both protect your home and largest investment from the harsh elements of Mother Nature, but to also add value to your property and overall savings to your monthly household expenses. 

Now that’s wicked smart!

Nicole Foster is a Broker with ten years of experience working with buyers and sellers specializing in single family, residential and new construction at Regency Realty. She lives in Windham with her husband and four children. To learn more about Nicole visit or email her at .

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