Detroit Housing Market
The Motor City has long been saddled with a reputation for decay, since its population has continued to drop from 2 million in the 1950s to less than a million today. The housing market continues to struggle, and must also contend with cold winter weather. But by going green, homeowners may find some bright spots.
Update Those Light Bulbs
Literally as easy as screwing in a light bulb, swapping out regular incandescent bulbs for CFLs (compact fluorescents) is a good idea, because it means noticeably lower electricity bills. In a city with a struggling economy, such as Detroit, every dollar can count. CFLs use a quarter of the electricity of regular bulbs, and lighting accounts for 20% of home energy use.
Homeowners in northern latitudes are also generally less able to take advantage of natural light, so savings with efficient lighting may accrue faster than in other parts of the country.
Beef Up That Insulation
Insulation can make a big difference in how much heat your home loses, and that translates into big money in cold regions. So do a quick check to make sure the floor of your attic, including the hatch, is insulated and that the material isn't crumbling or compacted. You don't want any potential buyers to think your insulation isn't effective.
Similarly, your basement ceiling should have insulation, as should any exposed hot water pipes and furnace ducts. You can even do the 'snow test': if snow melts from your roof faster than from neighbors' roofs, you are less insulated.
If you find any problems or need help, call in a professional. If you make upgrades in enough time, you will be able to demonstrate to buyers the real money savings and give yourself another positive talking point.
Upgrade to an Energy Star Furnace
The EPA's blue and white Energy Star label designates energy efficiency, and when it comes to heating equipment, that translates to serious money savings. Oil and gas furnaces that qualify for Energy Star (like this Trane) have annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 83% and 90% or higher, making them up to 15% more efficient than standard models.
If you have a furnace that is a few decades old, which is common, you may have an AFUE as low as 50%, meaning half of every dollar you spend on fuel literally goes up in smoke. That's hundreds of dollars a season!
Hepa Air Filter Detroit
Put in a Powerful Air Filter
With allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities on the rise -- as well as burgeoning awareness of the importance of good air quality -- homeowners can impress potential buyers with the best in filter technology.
Whole-house filters are definitely the way to go in terms of power, value and ease of use. Electrostatic models fit on HVAC equipment and collect particles with static electricity. They require no disposable parts. A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles. HEPA filters are made of randomly arranged fibers and are based on Department of Energy standards.
Beware of so-called 'HEPA type' or 'high efficiency' filters, which can actually be up to 55% lower in efficiency than true HEPAs. It's also probably a good idea to avoid ozone-generating air purifiers, which are controversial.
Home Security Alarm
Stay Safe and Secure
It's no small secret that crime continues to be a problem in Detroit, as well as in many other American cities. That's why it's not a bad idea to install a monitored security system. You can also usually get a discount from your insurance provider, which will help pay for it.
Rinnai Tankless Water Heater
Get a Tankless Water Heater
The cost of heating water is about 13% of a typical energy bill. Unfortunately there's a lot of waste built in with conventional water heaters, since so much of the time water just sits in the tank unused, slowly losing heat.
A smarter device is a 'tankless water heater,' or 'demand water heater,' such as this one from Rinnai, which heats water as you need it. This also means you won't run out of warmth in the middle of a shower. Typical energy savings are therefore 24 to 34% versus standard tank heaters, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Note that experts recommend gas-fired tankless heaters over electric models, which require a substantial amount of juice to run.