Tips for New Home Owners in Southern California
Let’s face it; we all want the latest and greatest in things for around our home. Oftentimes it’s the small things that help save money, so we can get the things we need when we need them. Some of the easiest ways to trim California housing costs are to look at our energy costs. Luckily we live in a society that is putting ideas to work when it comes to energy efficiency. That could not be truer here in southern California.
1. Check the insulation in your attic.
In many areas of the United States it is critical to ensure your insulation is up to snuff. This is no different in here in the South Bay of California. While dizzying cold ensures it’s done elsewhere it is a great cost savings idea whether you are trying to protect against cold or the heat. If you have an attic it’s worth taking a look up there from time to time to make sure nothing crawled in but more importantly you may want to see if there is enough insulation. Most general contractors will recommend 3-6 inches and this is an easy DIY project. The guys at home depot are sure to put you on the right track.
2. Regulate the heat on your water heater!
It’s worth spending a little time making sure the water heater is configured appropriately. This can be an outlet for energy and can make an impact costs. I run mine at about 110-115°F. Side note, you ever look for the ° key on a keyboard? That’s the sort of diligence I bring to keeping you guys informed. It is of course important to make sure that the water comes out hot but make sure that it’s not an over usage. If you can take your normal shower without any disruptions you likely have it perfect. Now that you are a homeowner you will likely be paying for it for quite some time.
3. Insulate the water heater
Most modern water heaters are well insulated but it is noteworthy that heat leaves water heaters through dispersion from the air outside of them being cooler. Insulation kits can be found at local hardware stores or online and
4. Install ceiling fans in most rooms.
This one is a heavy hitter for us. At night in So Cal it really cools off and I like to be cool when I sleep. Installation of ceiling fans is enough to keep it comfortable while not needing to run the ac most days. Our loft has many windows and it can quickly become a sun room. If it was a Single family residence I would put one in every room. The cost savings on the energy bill were outrageous.
5. Wrap exposed water pipes with insulation.
Water pipes like water heaters leak heat and it’s worth spending a little time making sure they are wrapped well. Insulation is cheap and easy to install. Most heat, if it is leaving, is leaving closer to the water heater.
6. Nest or some other “smart thermostat”
One of my favorite new inventions is NEST. You can pick one up on Amazon for a few hundred bucks. It is essentially a smart thermostat than can be controlled from iPhone or android smartphone or tablet that has the ability to learn your behaviors and adjust accordingly. They can set the ac to kick on a little before you get home.
7. Take care of your AC
Air conditioning maintenance is a breeze. You likely can hear the air “kick on” and follow it to a panel in the ceiling. There are usually a couple screws that allow for removal of the panel. Underneath you will see a cardboard looking filter. Remove and take with you to your local hardware store. I recommend getting a few for future use and it’s a good idea to change when moving into a new home. If nothing else, it gets the dust and junk out of the air.
8. Make sure the vents in all rooms are clear of dust and obstructions.
I see a good amount of floor heaters at the Torrance Open Houses. When you move in make sure not to cover them. The extra effort the ac needs to make to get the rooms filled with cool air could result in long term savings. It likely results in the room being less comfortable. Adjusting the vents to close off unused rooms on routing a new one to a common area can help. If you can do drywall you likely can handle installation of most ventilation ducts. Always ensure a tight seal on the joint if you undertake this project. No sense air conditioning the attic.
9. Solar panels
An old co-worker of mine went solar and has not looked back since. When he installed solar he said there was no up-front cost and the energy company is buying back the surplus when they go on vacations. In fact, he has enough that he is looking to cut out gas for his car and get a hybrid vehicle instead.
Get a clothesline. If you have a private back yard, why not use it? Dryers for clothing can be a real sinkhole for energy. I for one love the smell of out to dry clothes. Fresh and light as an alternative the almost rubber smell you get from cooking clothes in a heat drum. Nothing gets me going like the smell of a half burnt nylon running suit. Many items don’t dry well in dryers anyway.
11. Check all toilets and under-sink plumbing for leaks or constant running – and check faucets, too.
Check the plumbing in your home before you buy a house. If you find a toilet is running constantly have a plumber check it out. It likely is a result of the mechanism in the tank of the toilet. This can be a relatively simple fix.
It’s likely worthwhile to check the sinks while you’re at it. A drippy sink can add up.
12. Install LED or CFL light bulbs.
I made the transition to LED lights in the house this year. It has paid off in the green benefits but the major plus is many designs don’t require light bulb replacement. You likely will outgrow the fixtures appearance before finding “change the light bulb” on your honey-do list.
13. Choose energy efficient appliances, even if you have to pay more up front.
Consider energy efficient items when making upgrades around the house. Now that you are a homeowner you likely will have some appliances to get. Making sure to buy energy efficient can be a big savings.
Trees can offer a nice amount of shade for you home. Be careful that they don’t interfere with power lines. Near the home can offer a nice reprieve from too much sun and it is pleasant to go grab a fresh lemon off a tree in the backyard. They do well here in your southern California Home.
15. Air-seal your home.
Take some time to check for leaks around windowsills and doors. An easy way to do this is to hold up a lighter around places where air could be passing through. Many times energy efficient windows can offer sound savings as well. I have seen triple pane windows that block sound on the busiest of streets such as Crenshaw Blvd. in Torrance California.
16. Take advantage of tax benefits and other incentives.
When you do your taxes make sure to let them know that you are a homeowner. It will likely come up butanyway but they can steer you in the direction of any tax incentives for the year. Solar, windows, etc. could be the move you need to make to keep the IRS at bay.
If you are looking to buy a home in Rolling Hills, Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Torrance or any of the surrounding areas feel free to reach out with any questions you might have. I’d be happy to help. This and many more resources for buying a home can be found on www.Joshuawatters.com.
Mortgage Loan Consultant
Kinecta Federal Credit Union