Tag Archives: money saving tips

Make the Most of Your Air Conditioner

In these ever-hotter days, many families look to invest in an air conditioner of one sort or another to help keep temperatures inside the house at a comfortable level. These appliances range from window sill units to built-in cooling systems. Regardless of which one you choose, there are a few things you can do to maximize the cooling effects on your home and keep your utility bills reasonably low throughout the summer months.

  1. Keep the doors open!

    Air Conditioning

    Keep doors open to maximize the effects of your air conditioning unit.

While it may seem like the obvious choice to close off a bedroom door while the air conditioner is running to keep the cold air in, this practice is actually causing hot air to come into your house! The principles of cooling and heating air are based on air flow. As cooler air is pushed into the room it pushes out the stagnant, hotter air. If this process is hindered by closed doors and windows, the room becomes pressurized. The air will find a way out somehow- usually by drawing air in from the outside. This air, in most cases, is warm and can contain higher levels of humidity and carbon monoxide.

Obviously you won’t want to keep all doors and windows open while you run your air conditioner, but keeping the inside doors open to enable easy air flow will get more cold air circulating through the house at a much faster rate.

  1. Practice Manual Habits to Lower the Impact

    Air Conditioning

    Close blinds and drapes against the sun’s strongest rays.

Even with the use of an air conditioner, there are simple things you can do in your home to lower the impact of the appliance on your utility bills. Keeping blinds and drapes closed when the sun comes through them, and opening windows at night to let cool air in are two easy things to incorporate into your daily summer routine.

  1. Find the Right Sized Unit for the Room

Make sure you are not straining your air conditioner by asking it to cool a much larger room than it is equipped for. Information on the packaging will help you determine how big of a space each unit is equipped to handle. An over-worked air conditioner can be, at best, ineffective and, at worst, dangerous.

  1. Choose “Energy Star” Rated Appliances

    Air Conditioning

    Look for the Energy Star logo to denote efficient appliances.

The Energy Star rating was created by the EPA in 1992 to label appliances with high energy efficiency. These ratings are now widespread and can help you find the most efficient air conditioner for your particular space.

  1. Manage Humidity

So often the unbearable feeling of an overheated house has more to do with accumulated humidity than it does merely temperature alone. Air conditioners will often profess to manage both humidity and temperature, but these happen simultaneously. By using exhaust fans when you engage in humidity-producing activities like bathing, washing dishes, and cooking, you can help significantly lower the water levels in your air, making the air conditioner work more effectively and efficiently.

Proper installation and maintenance are equally important as you bring these new appliances into your home this summer. But with a high-quality machine and a few daily practices you can easily enjoy the summer months in cooled-air comfort.

Click here to browse our selection of house plans; we’re confident you’ll find an option that’s perfect for you!

Save Money With Solar Panels

Save Money with Solar Panels

Building a home can be an expensive endeavor, and most people preparing to embark on this project are on the lookout for ways to save money- both in the construction phase and in the future years of living in your dream house. The decision to go with alternative energy sources is one that is best made early-on as you browse for floor plans, as the house plan you choose to build from will impact your options for alternative energy sources.

Solar panels have been on the commercial market now since the 1950’s and recent developments in technology have greatly improved the efficiency and storage capacity of solar panels. Versions of this technology are available in hundreds of smaller products, in everything from landscaping lighting options to solar cell phone and tablet chargers. But solar panels on the roof of your new home can save you hundreds of dollars each year in utilities and reduce your dependence on traditional sources of electricity.

Forbes magazine estimates that installing solar panels of your roof can reduce your family’s carbon footprint by as much as 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide each year, doing the work of 88 trees. For those interested in green structures and efficient houses, this is an impressive statistic. And with so many people interested in this option, there are now several ways to go about it.

Many companies will lease solar panels and include installation in the overall cost of the agreement. The benefit of this arrangement is mostly financial, as the company who leases the equipment stores the electricity and sells it back to the consumer, often at a lower rate than the electrical company.

For some, installing permanent solar panels will be the best option. There is an initial cost investment in the materials and the skilled labor required to install them, but you can expect to begin recouping that investment right away. Electricity can be harnessed to power lights, heat, hot water heaters, swimming pools and hot tubs, and any other electricity-based appliance. Solar panels are also estimated to increase the resale value of your home by as much as 20%, so for many home builders it is a worthy venture.

Window Treatments Complete the Look of Your Dream Home—and Save You Money

If your chosen house plan offers lots of windows for light this also means the potential for high heat gains and losses as the seasons change. But worry not—there are several options for window treatments to save you money that can complete the look of your home at the same time.

 Awnings

custom house plans/ window treatments

Awnings are versatile structures built onto the outside of your home above the windows. These days they are typically made of synthetic fabrics which are treated for water and mildew resistance, which greatly extends the life of your awning material.

It is also possible to have awnings built with solar panels, thus maximizing the energy efficiency of the construction. These tend to offer a more seamless look with the outside of the home, as opposed to having a few solar panels mounted to the roof. They serve the same purpose as fabric awnings, in that they block and redirect sunlight from entering into the home through the windows. However, they are storing energy at the same time for use elsewhere in your home. It is a very efficient, if sometimes costly, option.

Blinds

Custom House Plan- Window treatments

Inside blinds are affixed to the tops of windows and can be raised and lowered to adjust sunlight entering the room. Exterior blinds are usually made out of steel, aluminum, wood, or vinyl. These are also mounted atop the windows and are lowered into tracks; when the blinds are fully lowered, the slats come together to block the light. If partially raised or lowered they can help with air ventilation and indirect light levels.

As a general rule, blinds are more successful at blocking heat in the summer months than they are at keeping it in in the winter.

Drapes

Custom Home- Window Treatments

While most people will consider draperies in their decorating schemes, they often do not realize that material and aesthetic choices have a big impact on the heat levels in the room. Simply sewing a light-blocking panel to the back of each curtain can make a huge difference in summer heat reduction and winter heat retention. For maximum efficiency, drapes should be allowed to hang down to the window sill or the floor, and should be affixed to the wall at the top, thus sealing in the air between the window and the fabric.

Overhangs

Custom Home- Window treatments

If built properly, overhangs can be one of the very best heat solutions your house can have, especially if you are working with a large southern exposure. Overhangs can direct sunlight away in summer and allow light to enter in winter, but use caution: well-designed overhangs are usually built in during the home construction process, as they require a high degree of expert knowledge to place them appropriately.

Some of the elements to consider when adding overhangs are the latitude of the property, illuminance levels, window size and type, and regional climate. When you choose a house plan that can be customized your architect can include overhangs that meet the placement requirements for energy efficiency and aesthetic appeal.

 

6 Ways to Save Money Building Your Dream House

Building your own dream house can be a daunting task. There are many details to see to and countless decisions to make and the whole thing can become overwhelming quickly without a good plan to guide you through the process. And when it comes to staying within your budget here are a few tips to keep your plan on track:

  1. Choose your builder carefully. This may be the most important decision you make after you purchase your house plan. This relationship will be very important through the building process and a good builder will be able to advise you on many elements of the project.
  2. Work with your architect to ensure efficient building proportions. Plywood and drywall come in sheets 4 ’ x 8’, and structural lumber often comes in 2’ increments. Consider this and other standard material measurements when fine-tuning the design of your house plan. Odd shapes and lengths have the potential to create a considerable amount of scrap- and thus wasted- materials.
  3. Utilize any discounts you can. Be savvy when it comes to purchasing supplies. See if you can use your builder’s discount. Look into remnants and left over supplies for things like flooring and countertops; a previous construction project might have created loads of left-over materials that could be perfect for your space and design.
  4. Keep the roof pitch to a maximum of the standard 8/12. The more dramatic the pitch of the roof, the higher the labor cost a construction team will be able to charge. Or, if a steeper roof is desirable, consider using more than one pitch to minimize the amount of time and materials used on these more decorative elements.
  5. Design your home for low maintenance. Consider that skimping on some materials now will cost you more in the future. Things like windows, doors, roofing materials, and foundations are places where it is advisable to choose quality over low-cost. The process of repairing or replacing these elements in the future can be prohibitively expensive; better to build your structure with quality from the start.
  6. Use fancy materials where it counts. A stonework façade is a stunning improvement to the curb appeal of any home, but can be quite costly to create. Consider that perhaps the back and sides of the house are not in quite as much need for the dressy stonework as the front. Utilize high-quality materials where they will be appreciated.

The key to a successful home building project is to stay organized and keep your visions in mind as you move forward. Taking things one step at a time and utilizing all of your resources can keep you well within your budget and minimize unexpected set-backs.

 

 

Rain Water Collection for Landscaping

When it comes to life in your dream home, your family’s experience reaches beyond the walls of your house. Thinking about the sustainability of your landscaping and outside areas is one way to expand your living space—and save money in the process.

No matter which region of the country you live in, building systems that harvest naturally occurring resources is one of the best ways to save money each month—without sacrificing a beautiful yard.

Collecting rainwater for landscaping use is one of the oldest and simplest ways to keep your utilities bill down and maintain a stunning yard. There are some things to keep in mind as you are building to ensure that these systems can easily be implemented but, beyond that, this may be the simplest way to stretch your resources for maximum benefit.

To collect rain water you will first of all need a good collection barrel. Look around before you buy one: there are many opportunities to get these at a discount or for free from industrial companies with no further use for them.  A good gutter system is also important. You will need to have some version of a gutter filter system in place to keep the rain water separate from leaves, moss, and other debris so your water is clean and filtered.

Most people will simply run a piece of gutter material down from a drain point on the roof into a rain barrel to collect the water as it falls. Having a barrel with a spigot towards the bottom will make harvesting this collected water easy, as you can simply affix a garden hose to the opening at the base and use the collected water to hydrate your garden or lawn.

Maintaining an outside space that is both beautiful and functional for your family’s activities does not need to be expensive or taxing. By utilizing some of our naturally occurring resources you can maintain even the most complex landscaping and save money at the same time.

Here at Monster House Plans, we offer a wide selection of house plans. We know you will find one you’ll be excited about.

Check out these links for further information and how-to’s:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/build-a-rainwater-collection-system-zb0z1307zsal.aspx

http://www.clean-water-for-laymen.com/collecting-rain-water.html