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Information for Frederick home owners and home buyers about green innovations for the home.

Going Greener in the Home

Going Greener in the Home

Part 2

3. All over the House: [Continued from Going Green in the Home]

aWasher and Dryer:  Energy-efficient washers have multiple options in water levels and temperatures.  Front loaders use the least water and electricity.  Energy Star washing machines can save over $550 in energy and water costs over the appliance’s lifetime.

The best energy-efficiency feature on a dryer is a moisture sensor that shuts off the machine when the clothes are dry.

b. Windows:  Replacing windows is one of the most expensive home improvements, but with today’s many options, you can reduce your energy bill by up to 15%, and add to the value of your home.  Look for double or even triple panes of glass, sometimes filled with argon gas, which acts as insulation, or low-E glass (low emissivity), or warm edge spacers that reduce heat flow and prevent condensation.  (Federal tax credits for energy-efficient windows expired at the end of 2007, but many states offer rebates. Your local energy company may also offer rebates. )

c. Heating and Air conditioning:  When your furnace or air conditioner enters hvac servicing tipsthe 12 to 15 year age range, Energy Star guidelines recommend replacement with a new, more efficient unit.  If temperatures are moderate, a geothermal heat pump is a great choice.  see  Any system that is Energy star certified can save 20 to 30% on heating and cooling costs.  Sometimes a more efficient system will make a smaller-size unit possible, saving on initial cost as well as future bills.

Zoned Heating Systems: A zoned heating system allows you to only turn up the heat where you need it, resulting in significant savings. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, zoning the heating system can save homeowners up to 30 percent on a typical heating and cooling bill. Because heating and cooling accounts for more than 40 percent of an average household’s utility costs, the savings from a zoned system can really add up.

d.  Water Heater:  the third largest home energy expense.  A tankless heater Tankless Water Heaters(this blog post) costs about $800 – $1200 uninstalled, and will save you 50% in operating costs.  A solar water heating system will cost $2500 to $3500 installed and will save 50 – 80%. Think of how this can insulate you from any rise in energy prices. see for a comparison fact sheet.

TIP:  The most environmentally friendly way to dispose of your old appliances is to donate them.  In our area, you can donate to Frederick Building Supply, or to Peace and Plenty, on South Street.  Or, you can join Freecycle at  Reliable Junk, now on 8005 Reichs Ford Road is also a great resource to recycle.

With many stores, hauling off the old appliance is part of the service, so be sure to ask.

For more ideas on making your house more green, go to The Daily Green.


Life Expectancy of Appliances

  • Faucet – 20+ years
  • Toilet – Unlimited with 10-year maintenance on working parts
  • Showerhead – Unlimited
  • Refrigerator/Freezer — 13 years
  • Cooktop – Gas, 15 years; electric, 13 years; magnetic induction, 10 years (estimate-they are very new)
  • Dishwasher – 9 years
  • Washer – 10 years
  • Dryer – 13 years
  • Water Heater – Electric, 11 years; Gas, 10 years; Tankless, 20+ years
  • Windows – Aluminum, 15-20 years; Wood, 30+ years
  • Heating and Air Conditioning – Warm-air electric, 15 years; Warm-air gas, 18 years; Warm-air oil, 20 years; Heat pump, 16 years; Central air conditioning, 15 years
Thanks so much to David Goldberg, our favorite home inspector, for this super informative collaborative post about going greener in the home, for energy savings as well as savings on money.For all of David’s posts, read our Home Maintenance Category

David Goldberg –  Home Inspector

phone: 301-913-9213 
fax:  301-774-4554 
Reliable Home Services, Inc.

PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

Going Green in the Home

Going Green in the Home

Environmentally friendly living is very much in the news these days. Ideas for a greener home can range from daily energy-saving steps, to major renovations.  As appliances and fixtures wear out, its a great time to replace them with modern designs that have conservation in mind.going green in the home

According to NAR studies, buyers will pay 4 to 11% more for a green friendly home. (National averages).  There is even a listing service dedicated to green homes,  When the ratio of sellers to buyers is uneven, buyers are either looking for extra low price, or extra value.  A seller needs to make their house stand out from the rest to get it sold.  If kitchens and baths need to be updated, or flooring, hot water heaters, or other appliances, why not make them more green while your at it!

Lets take a tour through the house and see what ideas we can come up with.

1. Bathrooms.  (In our area of the country, kitchens and baths sell homes.)

a.  Bath and Sink Faucets:  A faucet dripping once per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water a year.  Replacing the washer is a solution, but if its older than 1994, replacing it is better.  Newer faucets are required by law to have a flow rate no greater than 2.2 gallons per minute; older onces can flow at a rate of 3 to 7 gallons per minute.

TIP: Look for the EPA’s WaterSense label, which signifies high-efficiency faucets that reduce flow by more than 30%.

b. Showerhead:  Current low-flow showerheads have improved a lot from the earlier models.  Newer ones send down larger droplets at a higher velocity.  Water use is cut in half.

TIP: Choose a showerhead that lets you adjust the flow, further increasing your savings.

Highland tip: Get a shower head cut off, a lever which shuts off the flow of water temporarily, for taking a “ship-board shower”.  Our water bill was cut by a third after installing these!

c. Toilets:  Before the federal mandate in 1994, toilets used as much as 7 gallons per flush.  Ther earlier low-flow toilets got many complaints, but recently, the redesigned versions function very well, using 1.6 gallons per flush.  Dual systems allow for the choice of a .9 gallon or a 1.6 gallon flush.

TIP: WaterSense Label = 20% less water used than the current national standard.

2. Kitchens:

a.  Refrigerator/Freezer:  The refrigerator is the largest energy user in the kitchen.  When replacing your refrigerator, look for a high-efficiency compressor, thick insulation, and precise temperature controls.  The Energy Star label insures these features, and on average, these refrigerators use less than half the energy used by pre-1993 models.

TIP: Top and bottom freezer units are generally more efficient than side-by-side models, and units with ice-despensers on the door use more energy than those without.  But it is still important to compare individual models.

b. Dishwasher:  Choose a water-conserving model; the less water used, the less it will cost to heat.  Energy savings can be up to $65 a year, so spreading the higher cost over the average 9-year lifespan of a dishwasher, buying a more expensive but efficient model can save you $ in the long run

TIP:  Choose a model with a quick-wash cycle to same time, energy and water.  Other energy-saving features include a no-heat drying option and a delay-start control.  Today’s models do a great job, so rinsing dishes before you load them is a waste of water, most of the time.

c. Cooktops:  Gas ranges have the longest life expectancy, but the lowest efficiency, only 55% of the energy used goes directly toward cooking the food.  Electric ranges are 80% efficient. But, given that gas cooking is usually faster, it’s a draw. Cooking doesn’t make a huge impact on your energy bill, so the choice between gas and electric is more about preference.

It makes no difference, in terms of energy, if you choose a separate cooktop, or an oven with a range. Be sure to purchase an energy-efficient range hood that vents cooking products up from the cooktop and directly outside (avoid down-draft vents).

d. Ovens: Convection ovens are usually more energy efficient than conventional ovens because the heated air is continuously circulated around the food being cooked, reducing required temperature and cooking times. On average, you’ll cut energy use by about 20%.

With conventional gas or electric ovens, self-cleaning models are more energy-efficient because they have more insulation. But if you use the self-cleaning feature more than about once a month, you’ll end up using more energy with the feature than you save from the extra insulation.

Ranges, ovens, cooktops and microwaves currently don’t have an “Enegy Star” designation, but the latest in cooking is the magnetic induction cooktop.  It creates an electromagnetic field of energy that heats only iron or steel and has no exposed coil, open flame, or heated surface.  It’s 90% efficient and produces almost instant heat only to the pan: convenient, and easy to control.  The only extra expense:  if you don’t have iron or steel cookware, you’ll have to purchase that too.

TIP: Gas burners with standing pilots, rather than electric ignition, can more than double the annual energy consumption of your cooktop.

e. Microwave: The microwave actually uses more energy than an oven, but because the cooking time is so much less, the cost is cut by two-thirds. It also saves during the summer by not heating up the surrounding area in the kitchen.

for more tips, visit

More Green Home Tips to Come! Part Two: Going Greener in the Home


The Highland Group
Chris & Karen Highland *    * * *
eXp Realty – 410-777-5714
email us: Text Us: 301-401-5119

Energy Saving Tips for Frederick Homeowners

Energy Saving Tips for Frederick Homeowners

Energy Saving Tips for Frederick Homeowners

Energy efficiency is more timely than ever during these challenging economic times, so here are some tips gleaned from several websites, most of which are easy to accomplish, and add up to savings that might just offset the rise in costs:
  • Heating the Home
    • The easiest to accomplish:  Turn down the thermostat by just 1 degree. In Maryland, that can save up to 5%, between $45 and $75, depending on the fuel used.
    • Only heat the areas where people and pets are, which can be as little as 20% of your space.  Keep the doors shut and close the vents in unoccupied rooms.
    • A programmable thermostat costs about $100, but can save up to $110 to $190 a year depending on fuel.
    • A dirty furnace is less efficient, an annual inspection and cleaning will not only save money on your energy bill, it will probably maximize the life of your furnace. Additionally, a dirty furnace can emit fumes that can cause watery eyes, headaches and runny nose, or could even be dangerous.
    • Changing your air filters regularly will help your furnace run more effectively, saving energy.
    • Open curtains and other window treatments on your west- and south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night.
    • Wear a sweater, turn down the thermostat.
  • Hot Water
    • I know you’ve probably heard this one, but its worth repeating, set the hot water heater at 130 degrees.  Put some insulation around it too.
  • Stop Leaks 
    • Cheap and easy to do:  caulk any leaks around the house, windows, cracks, seals and weatherstripping.  Maryland homeowners can save up to $215 to $375 depending on fuel used.  Sealing and insulating heating and AC ducts increases efficiency and lowers home energy bills.  Up to 20% of air can escape through leaks in ducts.
    • Consider replacing old windows that aren’t efficient. The savings in energy costs may be worth it if you will remain in the house for a while. If you end up moving, the modern, energy efficient windows could very likely be a selling point for today’s buyers.
    • If you can’t replace windows, install or re-install storm windows, especially in the attic, to stop warmer air from escaping. You can also put insulation film over windows to reduce drafts.
    • Remember to close the fireplace flue when you’re not using it.
  • Lighting Do’s and Don’ts
    • Replace your four most used incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs which use only three quarters of the energy of incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.
    • Use dimmers, timers and motion detectors.
    • Turn off the lights!  (like no one’s ever heard that before;-)
    • Open the curtains and let the sunshine do its lighting work.
  • In the Kitchen
    • When you’re cooking, keep the lids on.
    • Use the microwave more, it costs a fraction what gas and electric do, about $14 – $20 a year.
  • Miscellaneous
    • Consolidate your trips, it saves on gas and keeps you from opening and closing the front door so much.
    • Clean out gutters to prevent rainwater freezing and causing damage.
    • Put your computer and appliances to sleep at night.

If you are doing some renovating, or buying new appliances, look for Energy Star appliances, electronics and lighting. If you are updating your HVAC system,  Energy Star qualified heating and cooling equipment, when installed 

energy saving tipscorrectly, can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs. Certain highly efficient models may quality for a tax credit or rebate. Energy efficient windows can cut heating costs by as much as 30%.

Maryland Homeowners

Maryland homeowners will see a jump in energy costs this winter, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.  About 45% of the average Maryland homeowner’s energy bill goes to home heating.  The average cost to homeowners who heat with natural gas will increase this year over last year by about $90, and by about $140 for those who use electric heating.

There is good news for those who use heating oil and propane, their costs will decrease by an average of $130 and $90 respectively. If you can afford the bulk price, consider pre-purchase heating oil to take advantage of lower rates. Be sure to research heating companies with the Better Business Bureau.

More energy saving tips for Maryland Homeowners. 

Thanks to our favorite Home Inspector for these great energy saving tips!

David Goldberg –  Home Inspector

phone: 301-913-9213 
fax:  301-774-4554 
Reliable Home Services, Inc.

PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

With a View Towards Selling Your Home

Home buyers today are looking for more energy efficient homes. According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, researchers found that Energy Efficiency tops the list of items most desired by today’s home buyers. Nine out of 10 buyers would rather buy a home with energy-efficient features than a similar house without those features that costs less.

Home buyers also want high-end amenities, even if the home is smaller. Of those surveyed, 62% favored high-quality products over space, which includes double sinks, both tub and shower in the bath, smart storage and technology, like wireless home security systems and whole-house electronic control systems. Read more: Today’s buyers want smaller but smarter homes.

Making gradual improvements to your home with today’s buyers in mind will prove to be a great strategy when it’s time to sell your home.

Read more tips for homeowners:

Increase Your Home Value: Maintain and Repair 

Preparing for a Home Inspection

What Can A Buyer Expect a Seller to Repair?

Should I Get A Home Energy Audit Before Selling My Home?

Should I Get A Home Energy Audit Before Selling My Home?

If you are considering selling your home, you’ll want to consider all the possible ways to make sure your home stands out from the rest. Repairing damage or items that need maintenance is important, as well as staging and paying attention to curb appeal. Appealing to today’s home buyers should be a part of your plan. As home products as well as homes themselves are becoming increasingly more energy efficient, home buyers have increased their expectations. Have you considered a Home Energy Audit?

Should I Get A Home Energy Audit Before Selling My Home?

Get a home energy Audit before you market your homeIn a day where home buyers are concerned about the impact of energy consumption on the environment as well as on their wallets, getting a home energy audit is a great first step in finding ways to increase your home’s energy efficiency. 

The average household will spend approximately $3,756 on energy consumption in 2015, according to WalletHub. A home energy audit will show you how you can save money on your energy bill by pointing out the areas in your home that are lacking efficiency and wasting energy.

The cost of a professional energy audit is somewhere between $300 and $500. You can get a reference from the Alliance to Save Energy, or you can contact your electric company. If you can save $200 to $400 a year in energy costs, it’s well worth the money to have an audit. If you make the changes to your home to save energy, you’ll also find it worth the effort and money when your home stands out among the other homes on the market.

You can also do your own DIY Home Energy Audit. For about $100 to $200 you can purchase a home power monitor and connect it to your circuit breaker. The monitor records and calculates the cost of electricity. Another alternative is a kilowatt meter, ranging from $30 to $200, which measures the energy use of any device plugged into it.

Small Changes in Energy Efficiency Add Up

Whether or not you want to pay for an energy audit, there are several things you can do to save on your energy consumption.

Don’t forget, many energy-efficient upgrades and renovations are good for tax credits. Federal and state programs have specific guidelines as to what is acceptable for a tax credit. Be sure to check with their websites, as well as your electric company website.

Whether you decide to have a home energy audit or not, there are many things you can do to curb your home’s energy consumption.

  • A smart strip eliminates “vampire” energy your devices use when they are switched off. About $30, a smart strip plugs into the wall and works as a surge protector, but also cuts the power to devices when they are shut off.
  • Insulation around doors and windows can become worn and have gaps. Check them periodically and repair with caulk or replace.
  • Wrap pipes and water heaters with foam wrapping. Water heaters and exposed are usually in basements, where the air is cooler, so they have to work harder to maintain their high temperatures. Insulation around them will help them work less.
  • A programmable thermostat will regulate your use of air conditioning in summer and heating in winter.
  • You can save about 10% a year on energy bills by lowering your thermostat by 10% for a minimum of 8 hours a day.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs.
  • Install low-flow faucets with an aerator. Install low-flow toilets.
  • Dust off the coils under your refrigerator regularly to keep it from working so hard to stay cool.
  • Put thicker curtains around windows in summer to keep out the sun. 
  • For more tips, visit

Market Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

If you are considering putting you home on the market for sale, having a home energy audit with a good score is good news. It’s certainly something to add to your marketing efforts.

When marketing your home to buyers, be sure to publish your energy audit findings and any improvements you’ve made to your home. Also, you can proudly display your electric, gas, or water bills to prospective buyers. Don’t be surprised when a savvy buyer chooses your home over comparable homes because they like the savings in energy they’ll have in your home.

Where to Get An Energy Audit in Central Maryland

There are several companies that will do an energy audit for homeowners in central Maryland:

  • Comfortable Home Energy Audits, 4984 Tall Oaks Dr. Monrovia, MD  21770, 202-715-9333
  • Home Energy Savings Solutions, 5018 Canvasback Ct. Frederick, MD  21703, 240-422-8640
  • Home Energy Savings Solutions, 5208 Ernie Lane, Frederick, MD  21703, 240-422-8640
  • Atlas Home Energy Solutions, 5711 Industry Lane, Ste. 23, Frederick, MD  21704, 240-575-9104
  • Home Energy Savings Solutions, 5268 Nicholson Lane, Ste. 167, Rockville, MD  20852, 301-842-8818
  • Home Energy Rescue, 20506 Bordly Ct. Brookeville, MD  20833, 301-570-3626
  • Energy Homes Nexus, 620 N. Bentz St. Frederick, MD  21701
  • Exterior Concepts Tri-State Energy Inc. 11701 Winterset Ter., Potomac, MD  20854, 3010424-1122
  • Mesco Metropolitan Energy Savers Co. BBB Rating A+, 7905 Brethren Dr. Gaithersburg, MD  20879, 301-921-0708

Bathroom Remodeling Trends 2012

Bathroom Remodeling Trends 2012

From toilets that double as sound systems to water-conserving spa experiences, here’s what’s trendy for bathroom improvements for 2012.

Trend #1:  Conservation Rules

All around the country, water reserves are stressed. In response, regional governments are implementing conservation measures. As a result, there are likely to be new regulations that’ll affect your construction or remodeling plans. Here’s what to watch for:

Your new toilet will have a lower flush-per-gallon rating than the one that’s in there now. Consider a dual-flush version, or any low-flow toilet coming on the market that meets your style preferences. At the very least, your next commode is likely to feature a 1.28 gallon-per-flush rating — better than even the most-recent 1.6 GPF offerings.You’ll find them at home improvement centers from $100 to luxury showroom models for thousands more.

The WaterSense label, launched in 2006 by the Environmental Protection Agency to promote water conservation by plumbing manufacturers and home owners, will become as well-known as Energy Star. You’ll be shopping for low-flow shower heads and faucets with the WaterSense symbol on the box. Just as with Energy Star appliances, there is no cost premium associated with WaterSense savings — there are faucets in every price range. WaterSense shower heads are newer on the market, with a more limited selection today — mostly at more affordable prices.

You’ll start seeing more shower heads — especially rain shower models — using Venturi principles that deliver strong water pressure by adding air, not water, to the mix. They’re available in every price range, from ultra-affordable standard heads to luxury rain showers.

Trend #2: Technology advances

You may not think of your bathroom as a high-tech space, but that’s about to change. Here are some of the trends that can benefit your home:

You’ll be able to create a custom showering experience more affordably than ever. For $300 for simple controllers to $3,500 or more for a complete luxury installation, programmable showers let you digitally set your preferred water temperature, volume, and even massage settings before you step in. To achieve a personalized showering experience, you’ll need a 120-volt power source, and a thermostatic valve and controller in addition to your standard shower head or heads. Luxury models may include a steam system, a wi-fi source for music, multiple body spray outlets, tankless water heater, and a secondary controller to start the system from another room.

Dock your iPhone or MP3 player directly with your speaker-equipped, high-tech toilet so you can entertain yourself on the commode. While you’re not likely to invest $4,000 to $6,000 for a Kohler Numi toilet using this technology today, start looking for competitive models later in the year with lower prices.

Catch up on news and weather while you brush your teeth. Television screens are being integrated into medicine cabinets and vanity mirrors. Cost? Early entries to the market command a premium $2,200 to $2,400 price tag.

Plug your smart phone or MP3 player into your medicine cabinet so you won’t miss a call or song while getting ready for work or bed. A built-in jack keeps your unit charged (and away from wet countertops) and linked into a built-in speaker system.

Trend #3: Aging demographics emphasize safety

It’s not just high-tech that’s bringing an “experience” to the bathroom. Trends in universal design features add comfort, convenience, and safety. But that doesn’t mean your bathroom has to look institutional. Here are some universal design innovations that can factor helpfully (and stylishly) into your 2012 bath remodeling plans:

Sleek, low-profile linear drains are ideal for creating safe, zero-threshold shower designs. Unlike standard round drain covers that are typically mounted near the front end of a shower, these long, straight drains can be installed in different locations to minimize the slope of the shower floor. One popular location is at the outside edge of the shower, creating a wheelchair-friendly curbless shower. More offerings in more finishes — including nearly invisible tile-in channel models that are largely covered by shower floor tile — are becoming the standard for upscale spaces. You’ll spend $500 to $900 for a quality linear drain.

The rapidly-expanding selection of porcelain, glass, and ceramic tiles makes it easy to find slip-resistant, low-maintenance floors that don’t skimp on style. Expect to see faux wood, linen, and uniquely-textured looks for tiled bathroom floors and walls in 2012. The texture adds both visual impact and better traction for wet feet.

The accessible tub is no longer limited to the high-walled, narrow-door format that dominated the market in the last decade. Newer models, such as Kohler’s Elevance ($5,100), employ rising panels in front that give more of a traditional tub look with easier entry and exit. Others use standard hinged, sealed doors, but are increasing door width by several inches for better accessibility and appearance.

This post re-published with permission from RIS Media.

Contact Us for our Frederick Md Sellers Information Package.

The Highland Group
eXp Realty
Frederick, Md 21704
TEXT US: 301-401-5119

The Highland Group