“You’ve got to spend money to make money.” It’s something you might hear a wheeler and dealer in Las Vegas say, but it’s usually not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your log home.
Energy Star Appliances
UPFRONT COST: Each Energy Star appliance is at least somewhat more expensive than a standard appliance.
DOWN-THE-ROAD SAVINGS: Every Energy Star appliance will make back the extra money you spend on it with lower utility bills. (Timeframe for realizing these savings is anywhere from 5 to 15 years.)
Geothermal Heat Pumps
UPFRONT COST: “A geothermal system typically costs $3,000 to $7,000 more than a traditional system,” says Lisa McArthur of the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) at Oklahoma State University.
DOWN-THE-ROAD SAVINGS: You’ll see a difference in your utility bill almost immediately. “Often, a homeowner will experience an immediate 50-percent reduction in their monthly cost,” Lisa says.
Radiant Floor Heating
UPFRONT COST: “Prices range anywhere from $3 to $30 per square foot, depending on the complexity of the job,” says Don Dornbush, president of The FlorHeat Company in Okemos, Michigan.
DOWN-THE-ROAD SAVINGS: “We’ve found that the operating costs for an in-floor radiant heating system will be 40 to 60 percent less than a typical forced-air heating system,” says John Dornbush, a sales engineer with FlorHeat.
UPFRONT COST: “Low-E coatings will add approximately 10 to 15 percent to the cost of the window,” estimates Jay DeKalb, assistant product marketing manager for Jeld-Wen windows.
DOWN-THE-ROAD SAVINGS: “A typical household can save between $125 and $340 per year by replacing single-pane windows with Energy Star-qualified models,” Jay says.
High-End Log Finishes
UPFRONT COST: The average cost of an oil-based stain is $37.50 per gallon, compared to $72.73 for a gallon of water-based finish. In other words, water-based finish is almost twice as expensive.
DOWN-THE-ROAD SAVINGS: While a gallon of oil-based stain only covers 200 square feet, the same amount of a water-based finish covers 436 square feet. And when you consider that a water-based finish will last five years (compared to two years for oil-based stain), you can end up saving more than $10,000 with a water-based finish after 20 years.
Tankless Water Heaters
UPFRONT COST: Standard 30- to 80-gallon “tank” water heaters range in price from $300 to $1,000, and tankless heaters are priced from $500 to $1,100.
DOWN-THE-ROAD SAVINGS: The savings offered by tankless heaters aren’t as remarkable as some of the other products in our survey. In a U.S. Department of Energy study, you can save up to $40 per year. (Sure, it’s a nominal number, but think of it as helping the Earth, too!)
Low-Consumption Plumbing Fixtures
UPFRONT COST: The cost of a low-consumption toilet is comparable to the old models. In fact, all new toilets sold in the U.S. only can use 1.6 gallons of water per flush by law.
DOWN-THE-ROAD SAVINGS: “On average, with an old 3.5-gallon-per-flush toilet, you’ll flush about 20 gallons per person, per day,” says Pete DeMarco, director of compliance engineering for American Standard. “This is reduced to only 8 gallons with low-consumption toilets, and 6.4 gallons with high-efficiency toilets.”
Read the full story in the March 2005 issue of Log Home Living.
Illustration By Matt Collins