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Each month, we publish a series of articles of interest to homeowners -- money-saving tips, household safety checklists, home improvement advice, real estate insider secrets, etc. Whether you currently are in the market for a new home, or not, we hope that this information is of value to you. Please feel free to pass these articles on to your family and friends.

ISSUE #1168
FEATURE REPORT

Selecting a New Water Heater
Many homeowners wait until their water heater fails before shopping for a replacement.
Because they are in a hurry to regain their hot water supply, they are often unable to take the time to shop for the most energy efficient unit for their specific needs. This is unfortunate, because the cost of purchasing and operating a water heater can vary greatly, depending on the type, brand, and model selected, and on the quality of the installation.




Also This Month...
Homebuyers: How To Save Thousands of Dollars When You Buy
When you analyze successful homebuyers who have been able to purchase the home they want for thousands of dollars below a seller’s asking price, some common denominators emerge. Although your agents negotiating skills are important, there are three additional key factors that must come into play long before you ever submit an offer.


 
 

How To Protect Your Home While Away
With a steady increase of crime in North America, home safety is a big issue these days. When leaving your home, practice the following advice - it could pay big, big dividends.



Quick Links
Selecting a New Water Heater
Homebuyers: How To Save Thousands of Dollars When You Buy
How To Protect Your Home While Away
 

 

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Selecting a New Water Heater

Many homeowners wait until their water heater fails before shopping for a replacement. Because they are in a hurry to regain their hot water supply, they are often unable to take the time to shop for the most energy-efficient unit for their specific needs. This is unfortunate, because the cost of purchasing and operating a water heater can vary greatly, depending on the type, brand, and model selected and on the quality of the installation.

To avoid this scenario, you might want to do some research now--before you are faced with an emergency purchase. Familiarize yourself today with the options that will allow you to make an informed decision when the need to buy a new water heater arises.

Types of Water Heaters Available

Within the last few years, a variety of water heaters have become available to consumers. The following types of water heaters are now on the market: conventional storage, demand, heat pump, tankless coil, indirect, and solar. It is also possible to purchase water heaters that can be connected to your home's space heating system.

Storage Water Heaters

A variety of fuel options are available for conventional storage water heaters--electricity, natural gas, oil, and propane. They range in size from 20 to 80 gallons (75.7 to 302.8 litres). A storage heater operates by releasing hot water from the top of the tank when the hot water tap is turned on. To replace that hot water, cold water enters the bottom of the tank, ensuring that the tank is always full. Because the water is constantly heated in the tank, energy can be wasted even when no faucet is on. This is called standby heat loss. Newer, more energy-efficient storage models can significantly reduce the amount of standby heat loss, making them much less expensive to operate.

Demand Water Heaters

It is possible to completely eliminate standby heat losses from the tank and reduce energy consumption 20% to 30% with demand (or instantaneous) water heaters, which do not have storage tanks. Cold water travels through a pipe into the unit, and either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water only when needed. With these systems, you never run out of hot water. But there is one potential drawback with demand water heaters--limited flow rate. Typically, demand heaters provide hot water at a rate of 2 to 4 gallons (7.6 to 15.2 litres) per minute. This flow rate might suffice if your household does not use hot water at more than one location at the same time (e.g., showering and doing laundry simultaneously). To meet hot water demand when multiple faucets are being used, demand heaters can be installed in parallel sequence. Although gas fired demand heaters tend to have higher flow rates than electric ones, they can waste energy even when no water is being heated if their pilot lights stay on. However, the amount of energy consumed by a pilot light is quite small.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pump water heaters use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. To heat water for homes, heat pump water heaters work like refrigerators in reverse. Heat pump water heaters can be purchased as integral units with builtin water storage tanks or as add ons that can be retrofitted to an existing water heater tank. These systems have a high initial cost. They also require installation in locations that remain in the 40° to 90°F (4.4° to 32.2°C) range year round and contain at least 1000 cubic feet (28.3 cubic meters) of air space around the water heaters. To operate most efficiently, they should be placed in areas having excess heat, such as furnace rooms. They will not work well in a cold space.

Tankless Coil and Indirect Water Heaters

A home's space heating system can also be used to heat water. Two types of water heaters that use this system are tankless coil and indirect. No separate storage tank is needed in the tankless coil water heater because water is heated directly inside the boiler in a hydronic (i.e., hot water) heating system. The water flows through a heat exchanger in the boiler whenever a hot water faucet is turned on. During colder months, the tankless coil works well because the heating system is used regularly. However, the system is less efficient during warmer months and in warmer climates when the boiler is used less frequently. A separate storage tank is required with an indirect water heater. Like the tankless coil, the indirect water heater circulates water through a heat exchanger in the boiler. But this heated water then flows to an insulated storage tank. Because the boiler does not need to operate frequently, this system is more efficient than the tankless coil. In fact, when an indirect water heater is used with a highly efficient boiler, the combination may provide one of the least expensive methods of water heating.

Solar Water Heaters

Through specially designed systems, energy from the sun can be used to heat water for your home. Depending on climate and water use, a properly designed, installed, and maintained solar water heater can meet from half to nearly all of a home's hot water demand. Two features, a collector and a storage tank, characterize most solar water heaters. Beyond these common features, solar water heating systems can vary significantly in design. The various system designs can be classified as passive or active and as direct (also called open loop) or indirect (also called closed loop). Passive systems operate without pumps and controls and can be more reliable, more durable, easier to maintain, longer lasting, and less expensive to operate than active systems. Active solar water heaters incorporate pumps and controls to move heat transfer fluids from the collectors to the storage tanks. Both active and passive solar water heating systems often require "conventional" water heaters as backups, or the solar systems function as pre-heaters for the conventional units. A direct solar water heating system circulates household water through collectors and is not appropriate in climates in which freezing temperatures occur. An indirect system should not experience problems with freezing because the fluid in the collectors is usually a form of antifreeze. If you are considering purchasing a solar water-heating system, you may want to compare products from different manufacturers. Just choosing a solar water heater with good ratings is not enough, though. Proper design, sizing, installation, and maintenance are also critical to ensure efficient system performance. Although the purchase and installation prices of solar water heaters are usually higher than those of conventional types, operating costs are much lower.

Criteria for Selection

As with any purchase, balance the pros and cons of the different water heaters in light of your particular needs. There are numerous factors to consider when choosing a new water heater. Some other considerations are capacity, efficiency, and cost.

Determining Capacity

Although some consumers base their purchase on the size of the storage tank, the peak hour demand capacity, referred to as the first-hour rating (FHR), is actually the more important figure. The FHR is a measure of how much hot water the heater will deliver during a busy hour. Therefore, before you shop, estimate your household’s peak hour demand and look for a unit with an FHR in that range. Gas water heaters have higher FHRs than electric water heaters of the same storage capacity. Therefore, it may be possible to meet your water-heating needs with a gas unit that has a smaller storage tank than an electric unit with the same FHR. More efficient gas water heaters use various non-conventional arrangements for combustion air intake and exhaust. These features, however, can increase installation costs.

Rating Efficiency

Once you have decided what type of water heater best suits your needs, determine which water heater in that category is the most fuel efficient. The best indicator of a heater's efficiency is its Energy Factor (EF), which is based on recovery efficiency (i.e., how efficiently the heat from the energy source is transferred to the water), standby losses (i.e., the percentage of heat lost per hour from the stored water compared to the heat content of the water), and cycling losses. The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater. Electric resistance water heaters have an EF between 0.7 and 0.95; gas heaters have an EF between 0.5 and 0.6, with some high-efficiency models around 0.8; oil heaters range from 0.7 to 0.85; and heat pump water heaters range from 1.5 to 2.0. Product literature from manufacturers usually gives the appliance’s EF rating. If it does not, you can obtain it by contacting an appliance manufacturer association. Some other energy efficiency features to look for are tanks with at least 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) of foam insulation and energy efficiency ratings.

Comparing Costs

Another factor uppermost in many consumers' minds is cost, which encompasses purchase price and lifetime maintenance and operation expenses. When choosing among different models, it is wise to analyze the lifecycle cost--the total of all costs and benefits associated with a purchase during its estimated lifetime. Units with longer warranties usually have higher price tags, though. Often, the least expensive water heater to purchase is the most expensive to operate.

 

 

 

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Homebuyers: How To Save Thousands of Dollars When You Buy


"When you analyze those successful homebuyers who have the experience to purchase the home they want for thousands of dollars below a seller’s asking price, some common denominators emerge."


If you’re like most homebuyers, you have two primary considerations in mind when you start looking for a home. First, you want to find a home that perfectly meets your needs and desires, and secondly, you want to purchase this home for the lowest possible price.

When you analyze those successful homebuyers who have been able to purchase the home they want for thousands of dollars below a seller’s asking price, some common denominators emerge. Although your agents negotiating skills are important, there are three additional key factors that must come into play long before you ever submit an offer.

These Steps Will Help You Save Thousands When You Buy a Home

Make sure you know what you want . . . As simple as this sounds, many home buyers don't have a firm idea in their heads before they go out searching for a home. In fact, when you go shopping for a place to live, there are actually two homes competing for your attention: the one that meets your needs, and the one that fulfills your desires. Obviously, your goal is to find one home that does both. But in the real world, this situation doesn't always occur.

When you're looking at homes, you'll find that you fall in love with one or another home for entirely different reasons. Is it better to buy the 4 bedroom home with room for your family to grow, or the one with the big eat in kitchen that romances you with thoughts of big weekend family brunches? What's more important: a big backyard, or proximity to your child's school? Far too often people buy a home for the wrong reasons, and then regret their decision when the home doesn't meet their needs.

Don't shop with stars in your eyes: satisfy your needs first. If you're lucky, you'll find a home that does this and also fulfills your desires. The important thing is to understand the difference before you get caught up in the excitement of looking.

Find out if your agent offers a “Buyer Profile System” or "Househunting Service", which takes the guesswork out of finding just the right home that matches your needs. This type of program will cross-match your criteria with ALL available homes on the market and supply you with printed information on an ongoing basis. A program like this helps homeowners take off their rose colored glasses and, affordably, move into the home of their dreams.

To help you develop your homebuying strategy, use this form:

What do I absolutely NEED in my next home:

  1. ______________________________

  2. ______________________________

  3. ______________________________

  4. ______________________________

  5. ______________________________

What would I absolutely LOVE in my next home:

  1. _______________________________

  2. _______________________________

  3. _______________________________

  4. _______________________________

  5. _______________________________

How Sellers Set Their Asking Price

For you to understand how much to offer for a home you’re interested in, it’s important for you to know how sellers price their homes. Here are 4 common strategies you’ll start to recognize when you begin to view homes:

1. Clearly Overpriced:

Every seller wants to realize the most amount of money they can for their home, and real estate agents know this. If more than one agent is competing for your listing, an easy way to win the battle is to over inflate the value of your home. This is done far too often, with many homes that are priced 10- 20% over their true market value.

This is not in your best interest, because in most cases the market won't be fooled. As a result, your home could languish on the market for months, leaving you with a couple of important drawbacks:

  • your home is likely to be labelled as a "troubled" house by other agents, leading to a lower than fair market price when an offer is finally made

  • you have been greatly inconvenienced with having to constantly have your home in "showing" condition . . . for nothing. These homes often expire off the market, forcing you to go through the listing process all over again.

2. Somewhat Overpriced:

About 3/4 of the homes on the market are 5-10% overpriced. These homes will also sit on the market longer than they should. There is usually one of two factors at play here: either you believe in your heart that your home is really worth this much despite what the market has indicated (after all, there's a lot of emotion caught up in this issue), OR you've left some room for negotiating. Either way, this strategy will cost you both in terms of time on the market and ultimate price received

3. Priced Correctly at Market Value

Some sellers understand that real estate is part of the capitalistic system of supply and demand and will carefully and realistically price their homes based on a thorough analysis of other homes on the market. These competitively priced homes usually sell within a reasonable time frame and very close to the asking price.

4. Priced Below the Fair Market Value

Some sellers are motivated by a quick sale. These homes attract multiple offers and sell fast - usually in a few days - at, or above, the asking price. Be cautious that the agent suggesting this method is doing so with your best interest in mind.

 

 

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How To Protect Your Home While Away

With a steady increase of crime in North America, home safety is a big issue these days. When leaving your home, practice the following advice - it could pay big, big dividends.

Going to the Market or out to Dinner? 

A residence which presents a "lived-in" appearance is a deterrent to burglars. Never leave notes that can inform a burglar that your house is unoccupied. Make certain all windows and doors are secured before departing. An empty garage advertises your absence, so close the doors.

When going out at night, leave one or more interior lights on and perhaps have a radio playing (TV sets should not be left unattended). Timers may be purchased that will turn lights on and off during your absence.

Do not leave door keys under flower pots or doormats, inside an unlocked mailbox, over the doorway, or in other obvious places.

When Planning Vacations or Prolonged Absence 

Discontinue milk, newspaper, and other deliveries by phone or in person ahead of time. Do not leave notes.  Arrange for lawn care and have someone remove advertising circulars and other debris regularly. On the other hand, several toys scattered about will create an impression of occupancy.

Notify the post office to forward your mail or have a trustworthy person pick it up daily. Apartment house tenants should also heed this hint since stuffed mail receptacles are a give away when no one is home.

Inform neighbours of your absence so they can be extra alert for suspicious persons. Leave a key with them so your place may be periodically inspected. Ask them to vary the positions of your shades and blinds.

When you leave, do not publicize your plans. Some burglars specialize in reading newspaper accounts of other people's vacation activities.

If you find a door or window has been forced or broken while you were away, DO NOT ENTER. The criminal may still be inside. Use a neighbour's phone immediately to summon police.

Do not touch anything or clean up if a crime has occurred. Preserve the scene until police inspect for evidence.

Always Remember to: 
  1. Lock before you leave. 
  2. Trust a neighbour with a key. 
  3. Be a concerned neighbour - yourself.
 

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Dean Miller
Associate Broker
Miller Realty Group of Long Island at Venue Real Estate Group
Admin / Operating offices of Dean Miller 246 Mineola Boulevard, Suite 102, Mineola, NY 11501
Corporate Office 2001 Marcus Avenue, Lake Success, NY 1104
Phone : 516-248-5007
e-Mail: Dean@MillerGroupOfLI.com