Articles Tagged "energy efficient homes"

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National Tune-Up Day is September 25 - Get Your Home Ready for Cold Weather Ahead

Get your home ready for fall

The start of fall offers many things to look forward to, with warm days, cool, crisp nights, and beautiful foliage to enjoy. It's also the perfect time to make sure your HVAC system is ready for the winter, which is why National Tune-Up Day is observed on September 25th. National Tune-Up Day is a reminder to have your heating system serviced by the pros, to maximize efficiency and address any issues before the cold weather arrives. Our real estate agents have the details on five local HVAC companies that can service your system.

Why It's So Important to Have Your HVAC System Serviced
Whether you've just moved in after shopping for West Virginia real estate or have lived in your home for a long time, your HVAC system is key to comfort during the winter. Regular maintenance ensures your system is working at maximum efficiency and helps identify small issues before they become big ones. Having your system serviced by the pros before the cold weather arrives will make life much easier, which is why National Tune-Up Day happens every year at the start of fall.

Local HVAC Companies

  1. Mountain Valley Home Comfort – 260 Charles St., Harrisonburg, VA 22802
    With more than 30 years of experience providing service for homeowners and Virginia homes for sale, you can count on Mountain Valley Home Comfort to keep your heating system in great shape. In addition to conventional HVAC systems, Mountain Valley Home Comfort also services ductless and geothermal heating systems so you can expect great service no matter how you heat your home.
  2. Excel Heating & Cooling – 1030 Greystone St., Harrisonburg, VA 22802
    offers a full range of HVAC services for both residential and commercial customers in the Harrisonburg area. You can count on Excel Heating & Cooling to keep your system running at its best, and the team is also available 24/7 if you run into a heating issue that needs to be addressed right away.
  3. Virginia Service Pro – 1537 Jefferson Hwy., Fishersville, VA 22939
    National Tune-Up Day isn't just for your home! It's also a reminder to have the HVAC system at your business serviced too. The team at Virginia Service Pro specializes in commercial HVAC systems. Keep your heating system working great, for the benefit of your customers and employees. Virginia Service Pro can also handle refrigeration systems, boilers, and a wide range of mechanical work.
  4. Valley Comfort Systems – 924 S High St., Harrisonburg, VA 22801
    Have a busy schedule, and need to arrange your heating system tune-up for a night or weekend? That's no problem for the team at Valley Comfort Systems, which is happy to schedule an appointment at any time that works for you. A fall tune-up from Valley Comfort Systems can help you save money on heating costs and stay comfortable this winter.
  5. Morris Heating & Cooling – 1044 W Market St., Harrisonburg, VA 2280
    Family-owned and operated since its foundation in 2005, Morris Heating & Cooling has the experience and knowledge to get your job done right the first time. The licensed, certified pros at Morris Heating & Cooling provide a full range of HVAC services, including the annual maintenance that's so important at this time of year.

Are you still searching for the perfect home to call your own this fall? Our team is here to help. Contact us to buy and sell homes in Virginia's Central Shenandoah Valley and Eastern West Virginia.


10 Ways to Slash Your Energy Bills

Cut Your Energy Costs Day

Celebrate National Cut Your Energy Costs Day on January 10 in West Virginia and Virginia.

January 10 is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day.  In our last blog, we discovered ways Staunton home buyers use to save energy and money in their living spaces.  Ahead, our REALTORS® explore how homeowners throughout West Virginia and Virginia save energy in their homes too.

  1. Install a programmable thermostat
    A programmable thermostat allows you to set your heater or air conditioner to operate less when you're away from home or asleep and to run more when you're headed home or close to waking up. This helps make your home more comfortable while not wasting energy.
  2. Use a ceiling fan
    A ceiling fan can help lower energy costs in both summer and winter, but it should only be left running if someone's in the room because it doesn't heat or cool the room itself but instead makes the people in it feel cooler or warmer. Switch it to run clockwise in the winter at its lowest speed so it pulls cool air toward the ceiling and pushes the warm air down toward the floor. The fan should run counterclockwise in the summer so it pushes cooler air downward.
  3. Replace your furnace filter
    A furnace filter becomes dirty over time, making your HVAC unit work harder and driving up your energy costs. Replacing your furnace filter every three months or so is inexpensive and can help it run more efficiently.
  4. Choose energy-efficient light bulbs
    Replace your incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED lights, which last longer and also use less electricity. They may be more expensive to buy, but they're much more energy-efficient.
  5. Use cold water for most laundry
    Most laundry can be easily cleaned using your washer's cold water cycle. This saves electricity since the water used for a cold cycle doesn't have to be heated.
  6. Install a low-flow showerhead
    A standard showerhead uses about five to eight gallons of water per minute, while low-flow showerheads can use as few as 1.6 gallons a minute. By installing a low-flow showerhead, you won't have to pay to heat as much water, and you'll also save on your water bill.
  7. Caulk and weatherstrip to seal gaps
    Seal gaps around your doors and windows. This keeps your warmed air inside in the winter and cold air outside and keeps cooled air inside in the summer and hot air outside.
  8. Turn off "phantom" power
    Some of our electronic devices use power – which is often referred to as phantom or vampire power – even when they're turned off or are on standby mode. Plug these devices into a power strip that you can turn off when they aren't being used. If you buy a newer strip, it may have an automatic shut-off feature to make it even more convenient.
  9. Add or replace insulation if needed
    Make sure your home has adequate insulation in the attic. If sections are missing, you don't have enough insulation, or it doesn't have a high-enough R-value (which determines its insulating power), you should add what's needed to help reduce your heating and cooling costs.
  10. Let the sun in or block it out
    Open your blinds or other window coverings to let the sun in to warm your home in the winter, and close them to keep the sun from shining in and making your home too hot in the summer.

Cutting energy costs is important, especially during the winter cold and summer heat in Virginia and West Virginia. Contact us at Old Dominion Realty when it comes time to buy or sell in our area.


6 Ways to Make Your Staunton Home More Energy Efficient

Staunton Energy Efficient Homes
Whether you've fallen in love with one of our sprawling single-family homes or a quaint residential condo, there's one thing every buyer looking at Staunton homes for sale can agree on — low utility bills are a must. Even in the largest homes, it's possible to significantly reduce your monthly electrical bill with a few simple decisions. Our REALTORS® have found that many homeowners in the area use these six tips to decrease their utility bills and run a more energy-efficient home.  

  1. Purchase Energy-Efficient Appliances
    Regardless if you've just purchased your home or if you're considering selling in the near future, purchasing energy-efficient appliances is an effective way to curb energy consumption. Refrigerators, ovens, washers, and dryers are all available but don't feel like you're limited to the kitchen and laundry room. Smart technology has integrated into nearly every room of the home, with many products also enhancing energy efficiency. Smart HVAC systems can learn your heating and cooling patterns, smart faucets can control water flow and smart exterior lighting can keep your property safe without draining energy.

  2. Invest in Insulation & Air Sealing
    Another great investment in your home is to air seal and insulate spaces where heat transfers. Attics are an especially significant area where heat transfer causes your HVAC usage to skyrocket during every season of the year. Along with those found in your windows and doors, there are many other small cracks and holes throughout your interior and exterior that allow air to flow freely. By air sealing and insulating your home, you can keep your home comfortable without overtaxing your HVAC systems.

  3. Limit Electricity Use
    This may sound obvious, but most homeowners don't realize that even leaving phone chargers or monitor chords plugged in throughout the day draws a lot of power. Get in the habit of unplugging items that aren't in use and limiting which lights you keep on throughout the house. If possible, use daylight as much as you can and make a point to unplug small appliances throughout the house before you go to bed.

  4. Replace Your Bulbs
    You can lower your energy consumption without turning off your lights, too. In fact, simply switching your old lightbulbs for energy-efficient LED lighting can dramatically decrease your energy bill and limit the amount of heat these light sources produce.

  5. Consider Solar Panels
    Solar panels are rising in popularity. These resources convert the sun's rays to energy that you can use to power systems such as your hot water tanks. Solar panels can be a pricey investment, however, they may be a practical tool that helps you save money now and increases your home's value during a future sale.

  6. Perform an Energy Audit
    Do you know where your home is wasting energy? A professional energy audit will tell you exactly which areas of your home are consuming the most energy. We recommend that all Staunton homeowners who are serious about energy efficiency schedule an audit before taking any other steps. Based on your results, you'll know whether or not you need to invest in new appliances, replace your windows, or tend to other aspects of your home.

For assistance buying and selling homes in Staunton, contact us today!


Cooling Down AC Costs in Your Staunton Home

5 Tips for Staying Cool in Staunton without Breaking the Budget

Cooling Down A/C Costs

Summer is just around the corner in Staunton and your A/C system will soon be working overtime. There's nothing like stepping through the door of your comfortable, air-conditioned home after a day in the summer sun--the good news is that keeping your home cool doesn't have to break the bank. Our REALTORS® have created these simple, money-saving, home cooling tips so you don't have to sacrifice air-conditioned comfort this summer.

Start by understanding how much energy you're using and where that energy is going. Running the A/C all day long naturally costs more than running it in shorter intervals, but the efficiency of your cooling system also plays a big role in costs. Once you have an idea of how much you're paying, you can get to work on lowering those costs.

  1. A/C, As Needed
    Running the air-conditioning while nobody's home is an easy way to rack up high cooling bills. You don't have to run the system all day for your home to be cool when your return. Consider picking up a smart thermostat, so that you can set your home to be a comfortable temperature when you arrive without wasting energy and money. When you're home, set the thermostat to the highest temperature where you still feel comfortable.

  2. Ceiling Fans
    Ceiling fans are an excellent way to keep cool during the evening and on those summer days that aren't total scorchers. Running a fan won't really cool the air in the room, but it moves the air around and the wind-chill factor makes the air feel cooler than it actually is. Ceiling, box and window fans can all be efficient sources of cooling during the summer. The extra cooling from a fan may also allow you to set the A/C a few degrees warmer to save on energy. 

  3. A/C Maintenance
    Central air-conditioning is a beautiful thing in the summer. Keeping up with regular maintenance is one of the most important steps to lowering cooling costs. Be sure to check your filters regularly based on the manufacturer's instructions. Call in an HVAC pro at the start of each summer to make sure your system is ready to operate at maximum efficiency.

  4. Efficient Appliances
    Buying new A/C equipment is a significant investment, but opting for a more efficient heating and cooling system may save you money in the long run. Look for the EnergySTAR label when shopping for a new A/C system paying close attention to those efficiency ratings. While it doesn't apply directly to cooling costs, shopping for more efficient kitchen, laundry and electronic appliances is also a great way to save on costs year-round.

  5. Seal Drafts
    Sealing drafts is a common project in the winter to keep cool air out of homes in Staunton and doing the same in the summer will help you keep the cool air inside. Silicone caulk works wonders around the doors, windows and vents where drafts most commonly develop and sealing is an easy DIY project to tackle.

Still searching for the perfect place to keep cool this summer in Staunton, VA? Our team is here to help you find the right home, for the right price. Contact Old Dominion Realty to buy and sell homes in Staunton, VA.

Contact Old Dominion Realty



Wintertime Home Energy Savings Tips

8 Awesome Ideas to Save Money on Your Heating Bills

Wintertime Home Energy Saving Tips
Wintertime brings a whole host of issues to homeowners. If you're not dealing with shoveling snow or insulating your pipes, you're probably agonizing over your recent energy bills.  Nothing affects the budget like costly heating during a cold, wet winter.  The good news is your energy bill doesn't have to create such a large impact. Here are some energy saving tips to get you through another Winter Storm Jonas or any additional Snowmageddons without breaking the bank.

1. Prevent Drafts

When the weather is below freezing outside a draft can quickly work against your heating system. If you didn't take time in late fall to go around the house and find any spots where air is getting in, it's not too late. Check windows, doors, plumbing vents, furnace ducts, recessed lights, attic openings, basements, and wiring holes. Any place you feel the breeze, seal it with the correct materials, like caulk, spray foam, and weatherstripping. Remember sealing from the inside is more effective. Also add heavy curtains over your windows if you can't afford to replace older, drafty panes quite yet.

2. Alternative Heating

It's hard to turn down the thermostat when your home feels so good toasty warm. Just remember, the Department of Energy tells you for every degree you lower your thermostat your bill will be one percent less. Find other ways to stay warm while taking down the heat a couple notches. Try things like:

  • Using a space heater in the room you spend the most time in, and turn it off when you leave.
  • Wearing extra layers.
  • Investing in a good pair of socks or slippers.
  • Use your fireplace.
  • Pull out the cozy sweaters and blankets, especially for when you're relaxing on the couch with a good movie.

3. Conserve Hot Water

Heating water can cost a pretty penny. Make a challenge to everyone in the family to shorten their showers by a few minutes each. If you want to add to your savings, invest in a low flow showerhead.

4. Get Routine Maintenance

Your annual budget should always include routine maintenance for your house systems. When systems, like your HVAC or furnace, are working well, it can save you a bundle in energy costs.

5. Go Hi-Tech

Some of the newest thermostats on the market allow you to control the heat of your home from your phone. If you know you're going to be a few hours late, reprogram the thermostat to save energy until you're on the way home.

6. Work with Sunny Days

On sunny winter days open the curtains or blinds over windows with direct sun exposure to let the light in. The sun's natural heat will warm the room, and as the light dims you can close the curtains to hold it in.

7. Insulate your Attic

It's not the most fun project in the world, but an insulated attic will cut unnecessary heat loss. Talk to the local building department to see what insulation they recommend for your area and the age of your house.

8. Avoid Fireplace Heat Loss

If your fireplace draws cold air from outside, you're going to want to get a pair of airtight doors for your modern insert. Older fireplaces can be reworked as well, but the doors will need vents. Just remember to only keep the vents open when the fireplace is in use. Another solution is a chimney-top damper that stops heat loss.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

Making little changes can be an effective way to add up the energy savings. If you're looking for a new house this winter, make sure to contact the team at Old Dominion Realty.


Great Green Living Ideas for Your Home

Kermit Was Wrong After All... It Is Easy Being Green!

Kermit for green living
Green living is a popular topic these days, and for good reason. We're better equipped than ever to see the benefits that environmentally friendly habits have on our surroundings, and there's a real public push toward greater efficiency at home. The real secret to the popularity of going green, however, is that it will also save you money. Ahead, we'll cover why that's the case, along with how you can take advantage of the environmental and financial benefits of green living.

Going green is really about improving efficiency, so you can make the biggest early gains by targeting the home systems that are traditionally less efficient. Your heating and cooling system is the perfect place to start, because there are a few simple fixes that apply to nearly every home. The best part? Most of our green living tips are inexpensive to implement, and will be a boon to your budget long-term.

Seal and Caulk

  • Feel a draft? Seal it up. Check areas in your home where outside air slips inside, and seal them with caulk or weather-stripping to prevent heat loss. Windows, doors, and vents are prime places to check.

  • When it's time to replace an old appliance – including your furnace, A/C unit, and water heater – make sure your new model is EnergyStar certified. Certified appliances are more efficient, and will save you money on energy bills.

Compost for your garden

  • Look for creative ways to reuse items that you'd otherwise throw out. Food scraps make great compost for your garden, and old clothes turn into new rags. Using rags to clean will also help you limit paper towel use.

  • When shopping for furniture, look for gently used items instead of brand new. If you take the perfectly reasonable position of preferring new furniture, opt for brands with eco-friendly production standards.

  • We've all got a ton of gadgets, and all of those gadgets consume energy. When you're done using something, turn it off before you leave the room. Unplug your phone when it is fully charged, and don't plug it in again until you need to recharge.

  • Check your plumbing, and have any leaky items fixed as soon as possible. Save even more by choosing a low-flow shower head, which delivers the same cleaning power as a traditional shower head while using less water.

Turn off lights

  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room, and choose energy efficient CFL bulbs instead of the less efficient incandescent models. Switching bulbs is an easy way to start going green, and many people choose it as a first step.

Even just a few short years ago, it would have been hard to imagine saving the environment and saving money at the same time. Green living is more than a passing trend. It's here to stay, and you won't have to change your lifestyle to feel the benefits.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

Are you searching for the perfect home to create your own green-living oasis? Old Dominion Realty, serving Virginia and West Virginia, offers everything you need for a seamless home-buying experience. Contact our experienced REALTORS® for answers to all of your big questions, and begin the journey to your dream home.


7 Tips for Summertime Energy Savings

Simple ways to save energy and money this summer

Summertime Energy Savings Tips ODR

Summer officially arrives this weekend on Sunday, June 21.  Just because temperatures will be on the rise doesn't mean your electric bill needs to increase also.  If you are looking for ways to reduce the costs of using your air conditioning system this summer, consider these tips from us at Old Dominion Realty. With a few small changes, you can enjoy energy savings all summer long.

#1  Have a Cook Out

Dining out may not be cost effective, but cooking out can help prevent heat gain by using your oven or stove.  Grill outside as much as possible or use the microwave and crock pot to cook your food without heating up your home. Using the oven during hot days will cause your air conditioner to work overtime.

Energy Savings Tips Close the Blinds

#2  Close the Blinds

The summer sun beating through your window can cause quite a bit of heat gain.  Eliminate this by closing the blinds to block out the warm rays especially when you are not home to enjoy the light.  Your air conditioner won't have to work as hard and you will enjoy energy savings with one simple step.

#3 Clean the Filters

The air moving through your air conditioning system is dirty and grimy.  Unfortunately, much of that grit ends up in the air conditioning filter.  Over time, a dirty filter can lessen the efficiency of your system overall.  For simple energy savings, keep the filter clean . US News and World Report recommends cleaning the air conditioning or replacing the filter once a month.

ODR Programmable Thermostat

#4 Use a Programmable Thermostat

It's easy to forget to increase the temperature in your home at night or when you leave for the day.  Use a programmable thermostat.  You can save up to 30 percent on energy savings every year by increasing the temperature when you leave for the day during the summer so the air conditioner works less.  Raising the temperature by as little as five degrees for the eight hours you are at work can lower cooling costs by three to five percent.

#5 Unplug Electronics

If you leave your electronics, including your TV and radio, plugged in when not in use, you are using up electricity unnecessarily. Electricity still flows to these items, and then when they do not use it, back through the cord, and this causes some electricity to be lost. Either learn to unplug these items when they are turned off, or use a Smart Strip that will cut power to them.

#6 Have Your System Inspected

Unless you are an HVAC professional, you have no way of knowing if your system is working efficiently.  Have your air conditioning system inspected at the start to the summer to rule out any problems that may be increasing your energy costs.

#7 Use Fans

Fans cost less energy to run than the air conditioner and create a cooling effect in rooms.  To make the most out of your fans, only run them in rooms you are using. The wind effect does not actually lower the temperature of the room, but only how comfortable you feel, so turn the fans off when you leave a room.

Old Dominion Realty Contact US

Old Dominion Realty Serving Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta & Rockingham Counties

Everyone needs to pay attention to energy savings especially when the temperatures in Virigina and West Virginia start to soar.  If your summer plans include buying or selling a house in the area, contact Old Dominion Realty.


Five Tips For Home Energy Conservation

Conserving energy in a home is important for a number of reasons. Not only will home energy conservation keep a residence adequately cooled or heated, it will also reduce utility bills. Homeowners should follow some important steps to make sure that their residence is efficiently using energy:

Use An Efficient Air Conditioning System

Air conditioning machines should have a good EER (energy efficiency ratio). The United States Department of Energy advises that homeowners use an air conditioning system with an EER of at least 10. Also, be sure to keep air conditioning devices and filters clean so that they can work to their fullest capability.

Improve Windows And Screens

High-performance windows are designed to ensure that cold and hot air is not lost. Once these windows are in place, it is important to periodically make sure that they are in good condition. High-performance windows and screens often contribute so much to home energy conservation that they could reduce the amount of strength that is necessary from a home heating or air conditioning system.

Use CFL Bulbs That Are Appropriate Sizes

Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs give off the same amount of light as regular bulbs but use less power. Also, be sure that bulbs are the right size and wattage. The proper size and wattage for the bulbs in a home is determined by what kind of socket the bulbs are placed in.

Wash Clothes In Cold Water

Because of the increase in the efficiency of modern laundry detergents, cold water is usually just as effective as hot water is for cleaning clothes, except for heavily soiled clothing. Much of the energy used from doing laundry comes from heating up water used in hot water loads. For this reason, most clothes should be washed in cold water to save on energy costs.

Purchase Appliances That Are Energy Star Certified

The EPA's energy conservation standard, Energy Star, certifies consumer appliances for energy efficiency. Most Energy Star products use between 20 and 30% less energy than federal standards require them to. Buying appliances and electronics that are Energy Star certified will help homeowners meet home energy conservation goals.

Using less energy will reduce homeowner costs and protect environmental resources. In today's age of technology, there are more devices than ever that use some form of energy. Follow these home energy conservation tips to keep your home as efficient as possible. Are you looking for an energy efficient home? Let the experts at Old Dominion Realty assist you, visit: www.ODRVA.com

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