While shopping for appliances, you’ve likely come across Energy Star products, but do you know how to save money with their items? The white star and writing on a blue background often catch people’s eyes, but what does Energy Star mean, and should you care about it?
Below we will answer questions such as:
What is Energy Star? What does the designation mean? How an appliance qualifies, and more! Let’s understand how much it will save you in energy use and money.
Here’s everything to know about how to save money with energy star appliances-
What is Energy Star?
Established in 1992 by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star is a government-backed program for identifying products and devices that meet energy efficiency standards.
Energy Star applies to many products, from light bulbs to computers, windows, buildings, and everyday appliances. It is typically seen as a number that lets consumers know how much energy and money can be saved.
What does the Energy Star designation mean?
The Energy Protection Agency (EPA) works with the Department of Energy to determine which products receive an Energy Star designation. Products and appliances are graded across 75 categories and must meet some guiding principles.
Products must be in a classification that could contribute to substantial energy savings.
They must meet the features and performance that consumers are looking for.
Energy-efficiency technology must be able to be achieved by competing manufacturers.
Savings need to be able to be confirmed through testing.
Certified products that cost more than less efficient alternatives must provide savings in energy costs within a reasonable period of time.
For example, refrigerators must be at least 15% more efficient than the minimum federal efficiency standard. Office equipment must automatically enter a low-power sleep mode after a period of inactivity. TVs should consume 3 watts or less when switched off, which is about 50% less than a standard TV (yes, electronics still pull energy when turned off).
What types of appliances are eligible to receive an Energy Star rating?
A wide range of appliances and products can receive an Energy Star Rating. Some examples are:
When determining the energy efficiency of a product, check the EnergyGuide label. The tag tells buyers how much energy the item consumes and how it compares to other products in the same category.
Before going shopping, check out Energy Star’s most efficient list. This distinction recognizes products that deliver cutting-edge energy and the latest technological innovation.
How can Energy Star Appliances save money?
Energy-efficient items save consumers money over the long run by lowering their bills. Energy Star products and appliances may cost more upon purchase, but long term, they should save money and lower the carbon footprint.
On average major home appliances such as washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, etc., account for 20% of your home’s total electric bill. These items typically last an average of 10-20 years, which means energy costs can add up over time. Energy Star-certified items use anywhere from 10-50 percent less energy each year than non-certified items.
Tip: Some regions charge more money for energy consumed during peak hours. If your utility company operates on a “time of use system,” you may pay more for your appliances when energy demand is higher.
How does Energy Star help save money with taxes?
Cities, states, and the federal government offer tax incentives to encourage consumers to buy energy-efficient products.
The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August of 2022, is aimed to help reduce the country’s carbon emissions. The Act seeks to cut the cost of home energy use through energy-efficient appliances and winterizing upgrades.
Providing up to $14,000 for homeowners who make improvements to their houses by replacing windows, upgrading appliances, and upgrading to solar, the Act aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.
How do you find out what rebates are available?
Once you’ve determined that an Energy Star appliance or product is right for you, the next step will be to visit the Rebate Finder.
How to use the Rebate Finder:
Enter your zip code, and any federal government offers in your area will pull up, listing the rebate details. To apply for a tax credit, you’ll need to claim using specific forms (found here) and submit them with your IRS tax return.
Energy Star Appliances: Pros
There is a lot of hype around Energy Star appliances, with good reason. Saving homeowners billions of dollars and reducing fossil fuel emissions makes it a worthy cause for most.
Here are some pros of installing an Energy Star appliance in your home-
Reduced Energy Costs – Energy Star appliances can reduce usage by as much as 50%. The National Resource Defense Council estimates that energy efficiency standards have saved homeowners about $2,000 per household.
Environmentally Friendly – Energy Star appliances are an excellent option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and our reliance on fossil fuel resources and foreign oil.
Convenience – Purchasing an Energy Star washer and dryer usually means you can wash more laundry per load and dry clothes more quickly! Who doesn’t want to save time?
Energy Star Appliances: Cons
One con of Energy Star appliances is the initial investment is higher than a standard product. That said, in the long term, consumers will experience lower utility bills.
Does a tiny home automatically mean energy efficient?
Simply purchasing a tiny home does not mean it will be energy efficient.
One area that a shopper will want to ask questions to their builder when buying a tiny house. There should be agreement on what appliances get installed in the home, along with lighting and heating.
Overall, it is worth the money to invest a little more when purchasing an appliance for long-term savings. Turn Key Fabrication knows it is crucial to create the most energy-efficient, climate-friendly homes on the market. Contact us today, and let’s make your dream home with the most negligible environmental impact possible!
One term you may come across when discussing a home build or the Inflation Reduction Act is ‘Insulation R-Value’ – but what does that mean? If you want to keep utility bills low and reduce the carbon footprint of your tiny home, this is something you’ll want to understand.
Here, we’ve broken down what R-Value is, the necessary ranges for a tiny or modular house, and the pros and cons.
Here is everything you need to know about R-Value-
What is R-Value?
R-Value is the “capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow. The higher the number, the greater the insulating power.”
A greater R-Value means better insulation, which will help maintain the home’s internal temperature. Builders use different insulation levels for various areas, such as a lower R-Value for flooring and a higher value for an attic.
Insulation levels range from R10 to R60. For purchasing purposes, a builder may get all the insulation with the same R-Value, doubling it up in certain areas of the home can create a higher R-Value.
Why is Insulation R-Value important?
Keeping your home warm and energy down is a big priority for many people. Knowing the insulation R-Value in the home will help ensure the home is energy efficient. The correct insulation can make or break a build, yet another reason to trust expert builders instead of a Home Depot tiny house kit.
Not only does insulation keep your home warm during the winter months, but it also reduces strain on HVAC systems. Without adequately insulating a home, the thermostat will need to run constantly, leaving the HVAC system on overdrive.
What is the right amount of Insulation R-Value?
The level of R-Value installed in a home will depend on where you live. If you live in a cooler climate, a higher insulation value is necessary vs. a warmer climate. The United States Department of Energy has created a great resource map recommending the R-value levels by region (shown below).
As you can see in the above table, homeowners living in the Texas area would want an attic insulated from R30 to R60, while the floor should be insulated between R13 to R 25, depending on which part of the state you live in.
How do R-Values compare for types of insulation?
When building a new home, there are decisions about which level of insulation to use for floors, walls, and the roof. If you are purchasing a tiny home on wheels (THOW), you’ll want to make sure that you are also considering additional insulation underneath the house. With the THOW being off the ground, there is ample opportunity for air to escape out the bottom of the home.
There are many types of insulation on the market today:
Loose-Fill/Blown-In Insulation – Low R-Value per inch
Batt Insulation – Low R-Value per inch
Spray Foam Insulation – Medium R-Value per inch
Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) – High R-Value per inch
Rigid Insulation Boards – High-R-Value per inch
Each type of insulation comes with its pros and cons. If you are building a new house, you have more options than adding on to a current home.
What are Structural Insulated Panels?
SIP panels are made by laminating styrofoam insulation with sheet goods. Using styrofoam makes the product extremely lightweight, a considerable benefit for a tiny house.
There are considerable benefits to using SIP panels-
Lightweight – these panels create up to 30% weight reduction in framing from traditional houses.
SIPs are earthquake and hurricane-resistant, standing the test of time.
Cost-effective – the high R-Value means the place is temperature controlled.
There are no studs when using SIP panels, so you are free to hang items anywhere on the walls!
At Turn Key Fabrication, we build our homes with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). They are the best option in the insulation market and are worth the upgrade.
How do you increase R-Value?
There are a variety of ways to increase the R-Value of your home:
Insulate – The best place to add additional insulation in your attic/roof.
High Standards – Make sure your builder knows the code standards for your municipality. Adding more insulation is an option, but your R-Value should always stay within the building code requirements.
Beyond R-Value – Some other ways you can help your home maintain heat are to stop leaks and replace windows.
A single layer of our SIP panels is R25. Since we make them in-house, we can use thicker styrofoam to increase the R-Value and match the recommended amount per region. With a heat flow reduction above 96%, you can rest assured that the tiny or modular home will maintain the temperature inside.
Can you have too much insulation?
Although you can’t necessarily over-insulate your home, there are a few areas to consider when adding more insulation. There is the possibility of a diminishing return, environmental impacts, and the potential for mold.
Each time you add a layer of insulation, the newest layer is doing less work because there isn’t as much availability for heat flow between layers. At some point, there will be little impact on the home while costing more money.
While adequately insulating a home has a positive environmental impact by reducing the amount of energy consumed each month, there can be an ecological downfall. Manufacturing insulation requires energy, natural resources, and the emission of greenhouse gases.
Another downfall of stacking up too much insulation is that moisture can get trapped between the layers, creating a perfect environment for mold. The home needs to be able to breathe through all the insulation. Poor ventilation is a common problem with tiny homes that aren’t built correctly.
How can Turn Key Fabrication help?
Insulation is often overlooked by homeowners, leaving that decision up to the builders, but this is one area you should make a point to ask about. Adding insulation with the right amount of R-Value and sealing air leaks can create a 10% savings on yearly utility bills.
Turn Key Fabrication takes pride in using SIP panels for all areas of our homes. We can create any R-Value panel level, allowing us to use them for flooring, walls, and ceilings. Not only do we use these on homes we build, we happily construct them for other tiny home builders as well! If you are in the market for a tiny house or needing SIP panels, contact us today!
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is a legislative package passed in August 2022 by Congress and signed into law by the President. The Act aims to fight economic inflation, lower the deficit, reduce the prices of prescription drugs for seniors, and lower the country’s carbon emissions.
How does this impact homeowners, you may ask?
Below we’ve highlighted the Act’s effects and the rebates and tax breaks that homeowners may take advantage of.
Why is the IRA important to homeowners?
This new anti-inflation Act provides a benefit of up to $14,000 for homeowners who make improvements to their houses. 2022’s IRA Act aims to cut the cost of home energy use through upgrades of energy-efficient appliances and weatherizing. If all goes as planned with the Inflation Reduction Act, we can expect to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.
Here are a few ways to improve energy and cost savings in your home.
Weathering the home to stop leaks is the biggest payoff for saving money and reducing emissions. A significant contributor to high energy bills is gaps along baseboards, windows, doors, pipes, fireplaces, and electrical outlets. These areas can cause heat to leak out of your home in the winter and air conditioning to escape during the summer. Poor insulation typically leads to cranking up the heat or AC to keep the temperature more comfortable.
To see where your home may leak, do a self-inspection of common areas like windows and doors. If a leak is found, apply caulk or weatherstripping to help reduce places for air to escape.
Key Takeaway: The IRA provides 30% tax credits with a maximum of $1,200 yearly for weatherization work.
Here are clues that it may be time to replace your windows:
Your home feels too cold in the winter try upgrading to a double panel.
Frames are rotting, sagging, warped, or leaking around the window.
It’s challenging to open or closIf the windows are single pane – it’s time to upgrade to double panel windows.
Key Takeaway: The Inflation Reduction Act offers $600 for window replacement and $250 for exterior door replacement.
Electrifying a house means swapping out fossil fuel-burning appliances for ones that run on electricity.
Two benefits of making homes more energy efficient and running on electricity: help combat climate change and can save money in the long run.
Heating and cooling are typically the prominent energy suckers- here’s how to reduce those costs:
Upgrade air conditioners and clothes dryers to electric options.
Install new HVAC systems (although this does come with the highest upfront costs, it’ll save money in the long run).
Use electric heat pumps to heat and cool the home.
Upgrade the breaker box to prepare for an all-electric home.
Invest in an energy-efficient heat pump water heater.
Change to an electric stove, cooktop range, or oven.
Key Takeaway: All of the above changes are eligible for tax breaks.
There is a 30% tax credit for up to $2,000 to purchase and install a heat pump and rebates up to $8,000 for low to moderate-income households earning less than 150% of the local median income. A new breaker box can get you up to $4,000, and new kitchen appliances qualify for up to $840.
Other Ways to Save Money
If purchasing new items is not in the cards for you at this time, there are other things you can do to cut energy costs.
Here are other ways to cut energy costs:
Turning out lights when not using them, especially when not home.
Replace old light bulbs with LED lights (this does cost more upfront but saves money over time).
Unplug appliances and electronics that are not being used. “Energy vampires guilty of using a lot of power even when not in use are TVs, cable boxes, computers, and smart appliances.
Lower the water heater temperature, even by a couple of degrees.
Line dry clothing when it’s a nice warm day out.
Adjust your thermostat a degree or two during sleeping hours.
Change the air filters in the furnace, HVAC system, and dryer vents.
Close the blinds, especially when not home. This keeps the air from escaping through the windows.
Inflation Reduction Act for Solar
Motivation to go solar has never been higher, as the IRA has a 30% tax credit for installing solar roof panels. A solar system can run $20,000 on average, which is a significant expense up front, but it will save quite a bit in the long run.
How does this impact new homes?
NAHB (National Associate of House Builders) opposed the bill stating that it would impact the taxation of real estate and new building and energy code requirements. They are concerned the bill will “disincentivize multifamily construction, increase the cost of new homes through higher energy code requirements, and inflate labor costs.”
New housing costs are already relatively high, so the NAHB is concerned about future expenses if the states implement the new codes.
How can I get Help?
Turn Key Fabrication uses the highest quality materials to build our homes. With a focus on energy-efficient products and SIP panels, our tiny houses are already meeting many of the codes and guidelines this new Act is implementing. Contact us to get started on building your carbon footprint-friendly home today.
Many people in Texas are lovers of the outdoors but don’t want to sleep in a tent on the hard ground, which is where glamping comes in.
What is glamping, you may ask?
Glamping is enjoying all the adventure traditional camping has to offer, but with the amenities and comfort of home. Imagine sleeping under the stars, listening to nature’s sounds from a king-size mattress and feather topped pillows, with a kitchen and bathroom included.
Below we have rounded up 12 great places to go glamping in Texas.
The Palo Duro Canyon State Park has historic cabins overlooking the nation’s second-largest canyon- AKA the Grand Canyon of Texas. The cabins include all the amenities to make camping feel more comfortable while keeping the rustic flair. This Texas glamping location also has tents with two large beds and a rustic front porch to sit and enjoy your cup of coffee or relax after a day of exploring the canyon.
Pro-Tip: Book ASAP. Cabins fill up fast in the summer, with reservations booked months in advance.
Ditch the technological world and escape to El Cosmico in Marfa. This 21-acre nomadic campground keeps with the belief that life should be a balance of adventure and do-nothingness. El Cosmico is a communal retreat offering learning, and art-making opportunities, with a hammock grove, outdoor kitchen, community lounge, mercantile, and outdoor stage. Choose from a variety of places to stay, such as renovated vintage trailers, safari tents, Sioux-style tepees, and Mongolian yurts.
Green Acres ATX is known for its renovated campers, eco-lodges, and yurts on a beautiful 25-acre space. Each unit has access to a private firepit, modern bathhouses, and a communal Vintage barn for cooking and dining. Enjoy walking trails, picnic tables, outdoor games, hammocks, and friendly farm animals.
This is a Water lover’s dream stay! Geronimo Creek Retreat has a private river where guests can enjoy complimentary kayaking, paddle boarding, and rope swinging. When you need a rest from the water, Geronimo has more activities like ping pong tables, hammocks, games, and firepits. Getaway cabins, tepees, and treehouses are available, each including air-controlled rooms, a kitchenette, a large porch with scenic views, and a private restroom.
Son’s Geronimo is situated on the gorgeous and peaceful Geronimo Creek. These birdhouse cabins are uniquely designed to give guests the joys of beauty and nature while feeling the comforts of home. What makes Son’s Geronimo unique is that the whole back wall of the cabins opens up, creating indoor/outdoor living space! Enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming, fishing, or listen to the birds chirping from your place for a fun-filled getaway.
If you are looking for a romantic glamping experience, look no further than Sinya on Lone Man Creek! Above the Texas hill country, guests will enjoy the ultimate place for relaxation. Relish in a cozy bath, rest on the private deck in a hammock listening to the bird’s chirp, and cook in your kitchen with all the necessary amenities. Nearby, take a hike on trails, cool off in local swimming holes, or drive to Wimberley to check out some of the boutique shops in town.
Sleep in the trees at Cypress Valley! Take a walk across a suspended wooden bridge 40 feet up in the air to access your luxury tree house adventure. Uncover that playfulness you experienced as a child as you sleep in the tree house, go ziplining, or take a step back and relax at the property by reading in a hammock or listening to the bubbling sounds of the pond. If you prefer to sleep on the ground, check out one of their yurts!
Located near the west entrance of Big Bend National Park, The Local Chapter is a unique glamping experience in Texas. Hike during the day exploring all Big Bend National Park has to offer, and then wind down inside your private yurt wrapped in a cozy blanket, viewing the milky way, or look through the telescope provided with each unit.
Skybox Cabins is located across 50 acres of native live oaks and cedars. Choose from a variety of ways to stay, such as cabins, tree houses, or “The Glamp,” which is a cozy bell tent. Enjoy relaxing in your private space, visiting with the horses and dogs on the property, or head to nearby Big Rocks Park, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, and grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants in Glen Rose.
Looking for some Texas magic? Head to Rancho Pillow. This retreat-style ranch is a whimsical wonderland of a glamping spot. Stay in a tepee designed with the Four Elements on the sheetrock walls, and head to the bathhouse to enjoy a bath in the open-air privacy pedestal tub. Take a midnight dip in the heated saltwater wading pool, or walk to the poetry library and grab a book to read in a hammock.
Clear your mind with a transformative and immersive experience at Collective Hill Country. With superb views, delicious cuisine, and a top-notch wellness program, you will leave feeling like a whole new person. Your experience at Collective Hill Country includes farm-to-table dinners and activities such as yoga, pilates, meditation sessions, horseback riding, and hiking.
Located right off the Guadalupe River, Mystic Quarry Resort has some beautiful places to glamp. With a focus on native primal structures, the Quarry has tepees, cabins, and tiny houses available for rent. During your stay, enjoy the swimming pool, hot tub, hiking and biking trails, a game room, and more.
Ready to Create Your Own Glamping Oasis in Texas?
All of these are excellent options for glamping in Texas. If you are interested in creating your own glamping paradise, Turn Key Fabrication would love to help you get started. Using our Tiny Houses or Rooms, you can create a profitable business and experience financial freedom.
Property management companies vary widely for short-term and long-term rentals in their services and what they charge. A good property management company should be able to keep your property booked out, maximize profits, and handle most of the responsibilities of managing the property.
The world of property management and the threat of hidden fees can be overwhelming. Let us make it easy for you.
Here’s Property Management made easy:
Property Management Fees Explained
When researching property management companies for any rental investment, it’s essential to understand the details of their services.
Different management companies are available depending on the property owner’s needs. Understanding if the company focuses on long-term or short-term rentals will be the first thing to look for. Then learning what services they offer and how they collect fees will be a significant deciding factor on who the property owner uses.
How do Property Management Fees Work for Annual Rentals?
A property management company can structure fees on annual leases in two ways: Either by taking a percentage of the monthly payment or charging a flat rate for the year.
This is the most commonly used option. Paying a percentage fee means that when the rent is paid each month, the property management company takes a cut off the top before paying out the investor.
Percentage fees range between 8%-10% of the total monthly amount. For example, if the property rents for $2,000 a month, the investor can expect to pay the property management company $200 monthly at a 10% average fee.
As with all things in life, a flat fee service model has pros and cons.
Investors can expect to pay $100 monthly for a flat rate contract. This may be more affordable than a percentage fee depending on the monthly rent; however, some property management companies may not put forth as much work to get top dollar for the rental if the cost is the same either way.
Management Fees for Short Term Rentals
Short-term rentals, such as Airbnb or vacation rentals, have a wide range of fees that can be collected.
An investor can expect to pay between 10% – 50% for short-term rentals, depending on what the property management company is tasked with. A full-service property management company will charge more than a company that manages a few aspects of the home.
There are three different models for short-term or vacation rentals:
The property manager pays the rental owner a fixed monthly rate with a guaranteed income. This rate is paid whether there are bookings or not.
A benefit of this model is that the property owner receives a consistent passive income all year.
The downfall of the guaranteed income model is that the payout will not change during peak season rentals when the nightly fee may be higher.
Similar to annual rentals, the fix-rate model will charge the owners a flat fee for a certain number of services.
The property manager and property owner will determine what services are needed, and then a flat fee will be calculated. Any additional services throughout the year will be treated as an add-on and cost more money.
A commission-based model means that the property manager is entitled to a percentage of the monthly rental rate.
Depending on the services performed and the rental location, fees can range between 15% – 40%. The average commission fee is 28%, with a lower percentage for urban vacation rentals and a higher percentage for mountain rentals.
What Services does the Management Fee Cover?
There is no one-size-fits-all for the services that property management companies cover. When looking into a company, it’s essential to ask questions about what problems are covered, what structure they use, and to understand the fees if the owner needs the management company to do an additional service at any time.
One benefit of hiring a property management company is staying up-to-date on the rental trends in specific areas.
Count on local property management companies to know what to charge per night/month, where to advertise, and how to get guests into the property. Marketing might be included in your property management fees or an additional charge, so make sure to ask!
After each guest leaves, the property must be cleaned before the next one arrives. Some companies have the cleaning fees already worked into their rates, while others charge an additional cost.
Maintenance and Repairs
Upkeep and repairs are essential to maintaining any structure. Additionally, sometimes emergencies happen that aren’t converted by insurance or warranties.
Extensive repairs such as a leak or something breaking have to be addressed immediately, especially if a renter is in the home at the time. Many property owners don’t have the time or ability to rush to the house if something arises.
Additional Fees for Rental Owners
Many other fees can come up, so reading through the contract and understanding what is included is essential. Here is a list of additional services that can come up when renting a home.
Setup fee – this is usually a one-time fee that is charged when creating an account with a property management company.
New tenant fee – when it comes time for the property management company to find a renter, they may charge up to 100% of the first month’s rent. The company is expected to do tenant screening, deal with application processes, etc.
Booking management – The site will charge a booking fee if the home is a short-term rental or an Airbnb.
Vacancy fees – some companies don’t charge for vacancies; others charge an average of $50 a month for a vacant property.
Eviction fee – there is typically an hourly rate charged if a company has to present an eviction notice, work with attorneys, and potentially attend court.
The First Step
Hiring a property management company can save time and undue stress. It provides a barrier between the property owner and the renter and a sense of security that the renters will be screened correctly and the unit will be adequately cared for.
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