Tips to Save on Summer Energy Costs


The Energy Department estimates that half of a household’s overall energy usage goes toward heating and cooling costs. With the soaring temperatures, this summer could get pricey with rising energy costs.  The good news is there are some easy ways to cut your cooling costs and keep your air conditioning running. Keep cool and save on summer energy costs by following these simple tips around the house:

  • Close the Shades – This will help keep your air conditioning unit maintain cooler temperatures. Sunny windows account for 40% of unwanted heat and can make your air conditioner work two to three times harder. 
  • Clean the Filters- Clean and replace filters every month! This allows the system to run more efficiently.
  • Unplug– Unplug your electronics when not in use so they don’t suck power out of outlets. Also note, that running an older refrigerator can use up to three times the energy of a modern one. Unplug any appliance when it’s not in use.
  • Turn off lights. Turn lights off when exiting a room because they add to the heat in the home. Also consider replacing incandescent bulbs with energy efficient compact florescent lights (CFLs).
  • Turn off the Oven–  Use an outdoor grill or the stove instead of the oven during the warmer months. Turning on the oven heats up the rest of the house, which forces your air conditioner to go into overdrive. Even better is cooking in your microwave; it uses two-thirds less energy than your stove.
  • Program the Thermostat– Using a programmable thermostat can lead to annual savings of about 30%. Set the temperature higher for the hours you will be away from your home to reap the benefits. 78 degrees or higher is the recommended temperature to maximize on savings.
  • Install Ceiling Fans– The use of ceiling fans can mean savings of around 25% on cooling costs and can make the temperature seem 10 degrees cooler.  Most fans have a switch to change the fan direction. Make sure ceiling fans are blowing downward (in a counter-clockwise direction) to send air past your body.
  • Adjust the Water Heater– Cooler showers in the summertime will let you turn down the temperature setting for a few months. This will reduce energy costs and can save more than $50 a year. 
  • Yearly Check Up– Have your air conditioning unit serviced once a year to make sure it is running efficiently.
  • Plug Duct System Leaks- As much as 20 percent of the air moving through your home’s duct system is lost due to leaks and poor connections. Seal duct work using mastic sealant or metal tape and insulate all the ducts that you can access.
  • Clean the dryer lint filter and check the outdoor vent opening- When lint slows the airflow, the dryer runs longer. When the vent is clogged, the clothes get a long and costly tumbling.
  • Plant shade trees- Outside shade can reduce air conditioning costs 30%. Shade on the east and west is most important.

Area Events for July 2014

Check out the Area Events near you for the month of July!

6/28: Carolina Beach Farmers’ Market, Carolina Beach

6/28: NC 4th of July Festival Freedom Run, Southport

6/28-7/4: NC Fourth of July Festival, Southport

6/29: Boogie in the Park, Kure Beach

6/29: Movie at the Lake, Carolina Beach

7/4: Concerts on the Coast, Ocean Isle Beach

7/4: Wilmington 4th of July Celebration, Wilmington

7/4: 5th Annual Ocean City Jazz Festival, Surf City

7/4: Fourth of July Parade, Ocean Isle Beach

7/5: 2nd Annual Beach House Reggae Fest, Wilmington

7/6: Boogie In The Park, Kure Beach

7/10: Fireworks by the Sea and Live Music, Carolina Beach

7/10: Sunset SUP Series, Wrightsville Beach

7/10: Sunset Kayaking Trip, Wilmington

7/11: Concerts on the Coast, Ocean Isle Beach

7/11-13: Pro-Am Surf Fest, Wrightsville Beach

7/12: Survivor SUP: Paddle Boot Camp, Wrightsville Beach

7/12: 10th Annual Chassis Car Show, Wilmington

7/18: Concerts on the Coast, Ocean Isle Beach

7/18: Friday Variety Show, Kure Beach

7/25: Concerts on the Coast, Ocean Isle Beach

7/25: The SoulShine Festival Tour, Wilmington

7/26: Family Fun Night, Wilmington

Michelle Clark’s Recent Home-Buying Experience

When I meet people at social events, they often ask me questions about the real estate market, and about buying and selling homes. I’ve always been able to give them answers from my experience as a real-estate professional. Now, as a recent home-buyer myself, I can talk from personal experience, too.

I may be fairly typical of people who have recently moved to the Wilmington area, or have downsized, or are just starting their own households. Having sold my home, I was renting temporarily, but I knew it was time for me to become a homeowner again.

I’d fallen in love with a particular neighborhood, but hadn’t found a home for sale there. So I settled for a rental in the short run. Pretty quickly, I saw that with mortgage rates creeping up, and the housing market getting back to more normal, pre-recession conditions, it would be time to buy.

My dream home turned up, finally, in a foreclosure auction. It ended up being a good deal, even though I had to out-bid another would-be buyer. I closed in October 2013, so many of the details are still fresh in my mind.

Here are a few of the reasons I’m happy with my purchase, and with the deal I was able to make:

  • A good interest rate. I got 4.375%, and I knew rates were going to get closer to 5 percent. Every percentage point on a $250,000 mortgage will cost another $150 a month, and that adds up very quickly.
  • The federal tax deduction for mortgage interest is a major advantage of homeownership. This will save me thousands of dollars each year. That’s true for most buyers.
  • As the formerly distressed housing market has gotten more balanced, rentals are getting scarcer and are costing more. In many cases, you can purchase now for less than you can rent.
  • I had a home inspection done. This told me things I needed to know about the property before I made an offer. I could see some cosmetic issues I wanted to address, but I needed a professional inspector to tell me about some termite damage. That let me factor the repairs into the price and get it fixed without major surprises.
  • The location is perfect for me. It’s close to work. It’s even closer to the area where I like to shop, dine out and enjoy leisure activities.
  • It’s a pleasant place to live. The neighborhood has a welcoming feel. There’s always somebody walking their dog, or running, or out getting their mail. People wave and greet you. That’s important to me.
  • I also thought about potential resale value, and even the house’s future rentability. Fortunately, the qualities that appeal to me also make the property desirable for others.

After closing on my new home, I went through the same emotions I’ve seen my clients deal with. Yes, that included buyer’s remorse! For a while, I questioned myself: Had I made a good decision? Buying a house is the most money most of us will ever spend on anything. Making a new home isn’t just a financial commitment; it’s an emotional one. But like most home buyers, I got over the worries. I’m happy with the house, with the price I paid, and with the interest rate.

No house is ever going to be perfect when you buy it. That’s true whether it’s brand new, or a resale. I had my new home repainted, and the wallpaper removed, so it would reflect my own tastes. For me, the redecorating was a lot of fun. And the cost of that work was something I’d planned on before making the decision to buy.

It’s certainly something I advise my clients to think about when preparing to make an offer: What will you need to invest in new furniture, rugs, blinds, paint?

For many families, options like FHA financing can help make these improvements more affordable by lowering the down payment needed.

An important part of what my team does is to help connect our clients with mortgage specialists – and home inspectors, home stagers, and other experts – who can help answer questions and streamline the process, whether they’re buying or selling.

Going through the home buying process myself has reinforced for me how important it is to have good, knowledgeable support. For all of us on my team, it’s important to help our clients make the right decisions.

Have a question about buying, selling or any other real estate matter? Let me know.

Michelle Clark
Intracoastal Realty
Direct: 910-367-9767
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May 2014 Top Producers


Intracoastal Realty Announces Top Agents and Producers Club

Intracoastal Realty recently announced their top performers for the month of May. Buzzy Northen won Closed Volume Team of the Month with $12.6M in sales and Joe Fox won Closed Volume Agent of the Month with $4.4M in sales.  Keith Beatty won Listing Team of the Month with $6.7M in new listings and Joe Fox won Listing Agent of the Month with $3.1M in new listings.  Keith Beatty won Under Contract Volume Team of the Month with $9.1M in contracts and Mark Bodford won Under Contract Volume Agent of the Month with $5M in contracts. 

Wilmington – Lumina Station Office: Top selling team was Buzzy Northen. Top under contract and listing team was Keith Beatty. Top selling and listing agent was Joe Fox. Top under contract agent was Ashley Garner.

Wrightsville Beach Office: Top selling, under contract, and listing team Vance Young.  Top listing agent was Lee Crouch.  Top under contract agent was Mark Bodford. Top selling agent was Eva Elmore.

Carolina Beach Office: Top under contract agent was Joyce Barnwell. Top listing agent was April McDavid. Top selling agent was Alicia Devereaux.

Oak Island Office: Top selling and under contract agent was Renee Yost.  Top listing agent was Cathy Riddle.

Ocean Isle Beach Office: Top selling and under contract agent was Linda Register.  Top listing agent was Bob Williams.

New Homes & General Brokerage: Top listing, selling, and under contract team was Jimmy Hopkins.  Top selling and under contract agent was Nicole Valentine. Top listing agent was Rodney Harris.

Joining the Multi-Million Dollar Club with at least $3M in closed volume through May 2014 is: Bob Williams, Joe Fox, April McDavid, Ashley Garner, Mark Bodford, Joyce Barnwell, Linda Register, and Lois Potratz.