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As temperatures around the nation rise, so do utility bills, because every year energy resources become scarcer and the cost to cool homes gets more expensive. Also many LGBT homeowners are not just concerned about how to lower their monthly overhead. In addition to that, they want to make significant strides toward reducing their carbon footprint. Fortunately there are lots of practical ways to accomplish both goals simultaneously in 2011 so that LGBT homes can be greener, more comfortable, and more affordable..
Lucrative Incentives to Save Energy.
Fannie Mae and the FHA now offer some exceptional energy-saving incentives, for example, that will appeal to those LGBT homeowners who may be considering home improvements. .
The FHA's PowerSaver program provides fixed-rate loans of up to 20 years at rates between five and seven percent, and the size of these home improvement loans goes as high as $25,000. By contrast, most loans available from conventional banks and lenders have less favorable rates and a shorter payback period, which increase the monthly payments..
PowerSaver is a pilot program, but the FHA expects to fund at least 30,000 of the unique loans over the next year or two. Almost 20 different lenders around the country are authorized to make these FHA-insured loans, and they should be available in the majority of states..
PowerSaver loans can only be used to improve a property that is the borrower’s principal residence, and in order to qualify borrowers need to have decent credit, a manageable debt-to-income ratio, and at least some equity in the home. The money can be used for energy upgrades and retrofits including such things as high-efficiency windows and doors, solar panels, geothermal systems, insulation and duct sealing, and heating and ventilating systems..
Fannie Mae also offers financing for energy improvements through a special mortgage add-on program. Instead of using a separate second loan, in other words, Fannie Mae rolls the loan into the mortgage. Loans are capped at 10 percent of the estimated market value of the home, but that’s based on what the property will be worth after the energy efficiency enhancements are done. So with this program a LGBT buyer can purchase an existing home, perform a green retrofit, and pay for everything in one affordable loan. .
Natural Ways to Save.
But there are other highly effective and super attractive ways to conserve energy while cooling down a sweltering home to cut the cost of summertime utilities. When strategically placed, trees and plants will filter the rays of the summer sun without blocking desirable solar warmth in winter. .
At the same time, landscaping with shade trees and plants not only protects a property from the searing impact of direct solar heat, but it also promotes atmospheric cooling. The leaves of trees absorb sunlight, organically consuming light and heat. To stay healthy they simultaneously wick water up from the ground through their roots. The moisture gets released back into the atmosphere through a process that botanists call evapotranspiration. .
According to academic research published by the Forest Service, shade trees in urban areas reduce the amount of solar heat absorbed by homes so well that cooling costs can drop as much as 30 percent. Ambient temperatures in the immediate proximity of shade trees also fall by as much as 10 degrees, while the temperature directly beneath a shade tree canopy can be reduced by 25 degrees. .
Another way to cleverly leverage hot weather landscaping and help chill-out is to plant using garden trellises erected as solar barriers outside sun-baked windows. Climbing flowers like jasmine are aromatic and lovely, while vegetables that grow on vines generate fresh produce. Cut down on trips to the florist with homegrown roses, for instance, and spend less cash at the grocery store while enhancing summer dishes with the homegrown flavor of squash and beans cultivated right outside the kitchen window..
Outdoor central air conditioning units can also benefit from shade, because when they are kept relatively cool it boosts efficiency and performance. The easiest way to protect equipment is by enclosing it behind a fence or wall tall enough to provide shade, but situating it under the shade of a tree or surrounding it with shrubbery gives the added advantage of evapotranspiration..
But perhaps the easiest and most value-adding way to ensure that A/C units get the job done without heating up the household budget is to regularly replace the air filters. This is one of the easiest “do-it-yourself” home maintenance tasks of all. It only takes about 90 seconds to complete the task so it definitely won’t detract from vacation time. Filters need to be replaced every few months or whenever they get clogged with dust and dirt. Clean new air filters that breathe properly improve air conditioner efficiency and air quality, and replacement filters found at virtually any home improvement store typically cost just a few dollars each..
For expert help with all your real estate needs contact www.GayRealEstate.com. Or call toll free at 1-888-420-MOVE (6683). The members of this network are dedicated to active support of the global LGBT community. .