How to reduce expenses by going green at home

How to reduce expenses by going green at home.

Going green isn’t just for environmentalists anymore … it’s for all homeowners who want to save thousands when building a new home or updating their current residence.

There are a variety of ways to make your home more energy efficient, from simply switching to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (saving about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb’s lifetime), to installing solar panels (saving up to $2,500 on an average home’s annual utility bill).

According to the Appraisal Institute, for every dollar saved on a property’s utility bill, a home’s appraised value increases about $20.

The following are green suggestions, along with the savings homeowners may incur in the process:

Lower utility bills. Appliances, insulation, windows and heating systems all have the ability to be energy efficient. By upgrading everyday appliances to energy efficient models, such as Energy Star, homeowners can expect a minimum of 10-15 percent savings on their electricity bills right away. What’s more, tax credits are available at 30 percent of the cost, up to a $1,500 lifetime limit, for installation of these products in 2010 – for existing homes only: windows and doors, insulation, roofs (metal and asphalt), HVAC, water heaters (non-solar), and biomass stoves. Installation costs may even be included as part of the tax credit calculation for certain HVAC, water heater, and biomass stove installations.

Materials matter. Outside the home, recycled plastic lumber and wood composite materials reduce reliance on chemically treated lumber and durable hardwood for decks, porches, trim and fencing. Inside the home, when it comes to flooring, next to natural wood, greener flooring choices include low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) carpets for better indoor air quality, laminates that successfully mimic scarce hardwood, and linoleum, a natural product making a design comeback.

Control your environment. Install a programmable thermostat to set your heating and cooling equipment to automatically turn on or off to match your schedule and create a comfortable and energy-efficient living environment. These units typically offer savings of 10 to 15 percent and cost anywhere between $40 and $100.

Think outside of the box. Not all greening is done within the walls of the home. Thanks to the Wind, Solar, Geothermal and Fuel Cell Tax Credit (Tax Code Section 25D), tax credits are available at 30 percent of the cost, with no cap through 2016 (for existing homes and new construction) for Geothermal Heat Pumps (use the earth as a source of heat in the winter, or as a coolant in the summer), Solar Panels (use light energy from the sun to generate electricity), Solar Water Heaters, Small Wind Energy Systems, and Fuel Cells. More detailed information on Solar Energy can be found at the American Solar Energy Society

Conserve Water. This includes both inside and outside. Toilets, showers and faucets account for 60 percent of water usage in the home, according to the EPA. Green efficiency experts recommend that homeowners install low-flow showerheads, for example, which will save on water heating and use. Repair water leaks in tubs, showers and sinks. Replacing household appliances like dishwashers with more efficient models can save 11,000 gallons of water per year.

Lastly, when looking to upgrade your home, keep an eye out for the Manufacturer’s Certification. This is a signed statement from the manufacturer certifying that the product or component qualifies for the tax credit. The IRS encourages manufacturers to provide these certifications on their website to facilitate identification of qualified products. Tax payers must keep a copy of the certification statement for their records, however, they do not have to submit a copy with their tax return.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

West Virginia’s 150th Birthday

wvepbig We are celebrating West Virginia’s 150th Birthday. Join Harpers Ferry and Charles Town, WV as they unite to celebrate the birthday of the Mountain State! Historic tours and events will thrill every member of your family! The merchants are getting into the “Blue and Gold” fever too with their own special celebrations!

June 20

5:00—8:00 p.m.— 3rd Thursday in Charles Town—”Mountaineer Mania!” presented by Discover Downtown Charles Town

June 21


11:00 a.m.—Harpers Ferry History Tour

4:00 p.m.—Historical Songs and Stories Concert Show

8:00 p.m.—The Harpers Ferry Ghost Tour

June 22


8:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m.—Charles Town Farmers Market—100 S. Samuel Street

10:00 a.m.—Black History Presentation at Fisherman’s Hall—S. West Street (Free to Public)

10:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m.—Guided tours of the Jefferson County Courthouse

11:00 a.m.—1:00 p.m.—Black History Event by Jim Taylor—The Webb House, North Street

(Free to Public)

11:00 a.m.—4:00 p.m.—Jefferson County Museum open to the public

1:00 p.m.— History and Architectural Tour by Mark Reinhart—118 N. Lawrence St. (Free to Public)

3:00 p.m.—Civil War History Tour by Kevin Breeden at Edgehill Cemetery—427 E. Congress St.

June 22 (continued)

5:00 p.m.—Charles Town “Farm to Fork” – Music begins at 5:00 p.m. Dinner at 6:00 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Charles Town Farmers Market

5:00 p.m.—Charles Town History Tour by Jim Surkamp—Jefferson County Courthouse (Free to Public)

8:00 p.m.—Charles Town Ghost Tour begins at the Jefferson County Courthouse

June 23

The Harpers Ferry National Park will be offering events throughout the day! For more information on park events, please call (304) 535-6029 or visit

Between events, be sure to visit our local restaurants and the many unique shops and boutiques to celebrate with our wonderful local merchants!

For more information on all events and tours, and for a list of merchant special events, please contact Ann Khiel Fern at (304) 724-6741

Please join us to celebrate West Virginia’s 150th Birthday


When Is the Best Time to Refinance my Shepherdstown WV Home?

  sheppic When is the best time to refinance my Shepherdstown WV home? Many people flock to refinance while mortgage interest rates are low, particularly when rates are about two percentage points below their existing home loans.

Other factors, like when to finance, will depend on how long you plan to hold on to your home and whether you have to pay considerable fees to refinance. It also will depend on how far along you are in paying off your current mortgage.

If you expect to sell your home relatively soon, you are not likely to recoup the costs you incurred to refinance. And if you are more than halfway through paying your current mortgage, you probably will gain little by refinancing. However, if you are going to own your home for at least another five years, that is probably long enough to recoup any refinancing costs and realize real savings as a result of lowering your monthly payment.

In fact, if it costs you nothing to refinance, you can gain even more. Many lenders will let you roll the costs of the refinancing into the new note and still reduce the amount of the monthly payment. Plus, there are no-cost refinancing deals available.

Contact your lender, and its competitors, before you refinance. If you need help deciding when is the best time to refinance your Shepherdstown, WV home ERA-Liberty Realty will help you find lenders that can help.