Shopping for a new home is always exciting. There are so many aspects to consider and requirements to be met. However, other than the size of the kitchen or the number of bedrooms, you should also pay attention to the building’s energy efficiency rating.

If you are not careful a poorly constructed or designed house can cost you thousands in utility bills and climate-control costs. Luckily, it is possible to have a beautiful home that is economically sustainable as well as environmentally friendly. Below are some energy and cost-saving features you should look out for when choosing your next home.

A well-constructed roof

The roof is vulnerable to damage from snow, ice, heavy rain and wind. It therefore needs to be sturdy enough to withstand extreme weather. You should conduct a thorough inspection of the roof prior to purchasing any house. Additionally, ensure that it is properly insulated in regions where winters are cold. Similarly, in warmer areas, make sure the roof has a reflective material under the tiles or shingles to help keep everything cool and lower your air-conditioning bills.

Window treatments

Window treatments can help significantly reduce energy costs. Drafty windows are sure to cost you money by making your air-conditioning or heating system work overtime, depending on the season. If you find curtains boring full height shutters make a great alternative. They are energy-efficient since they shut out the cold during chilly winter months and provide adequate ventilation when it is hot outside, maintaining optimal temperatures inside the property.

High-efficiency insulation

Effective insulation in the floors, walls and attic will keep your home cozy and comfortable regardless of the region or season and can help to cut back on energy costs. Before buying a new house, ask if the insulation has been upgraded to meet the minimum efficiency standards for your region. Some types of insulation are specifically designed for certain types of homes or areas, a fact you need to be aware of before viewing any properties.

Efficient bathrooms

Bathrooms account for a large percentage of a home’s indoor water consumption. These costs can add up fast when coupled with the expense of heating the water. In order to save your hard earned money, ensure that the property has new toilets that use less water per flush. Additionally, make sure the water heater has been adequately insulated and has the required energy-efficiency certification. The bathroom should also be fitted with low-flow showerheads and faucets to cut back on water usage.

One final tip: you should never buy a house without first conducting a thorough inspection. Look out for issues that could cause problems later, such as bad wiring, termite damage and roof leakage. In addition, be sure to check that the property has undergone a recent energy audit and has an acceptable home energy score. If in any doubt hire a professional to help with the inspection. Taking precautions such as this will ensure you are not saddled with a house that wastes energy and empties your wallet.

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The road to financial freedom is a bumpy one, and debt seems to creep up on us in the middle of the night. Opening a Qatar current account is likely to be the least of your worries when moving to the tiny peninsular Gulf state to live and work. That’s because it’s a fairly straightforward procedure. Indeed, armed with an international account, courtesy of your bank back home in the United States or Britain, you may not even need to open one.

But if you do, it’ll prove useful for all of your day-to-day banking needs. Simply apply to the Qatari bank of your choice, provide copies of your passport and residency permit along with a reference letter from your employer. The letter must provide salary details and permission for you to open the account in the first place. And that’s all there is to it.

That’s the easy part. The hard bit is salting enough money away on a regular basis each month so that when you leave the country after a couple of years or more you go back home with something to show for all the hard work and effort. Sadly, so many expats leave Qatar and other countries across the Middle East either penniless and in debt or with little more money in the bank than they arrived with.

Start out with a plan

Sure seems to be the way to go. And the sooner you put some kind of plan into action the better. Being an expat carries with it a whole string of benefits, writes Jessica Cook in an article on the Emirates247.com website. Fair enough, she’s writing about expats living and working in the United Arab Emirates. But her words of wisdom are equally applicable to Qatari expats, too.

The thing is the aim is to accumulate as much wealth as possible over the plan’s time scale – five years or so seems to be the popular choice of length before the expat either returns home or moves on to another, hopefully just as lucrative, destination. Seems simple and kind of obvious.

Not so. It seems although thousands of expats have dreams of making big pots of cash, the reality is many end up totally broke, with little or nothing in the bank after years spent living the high life.

Stick with it

Cook suggests a number of strategies to follow including using some kind of regular savings vehicle, investing a cash lump sum in an offshore bond, or currency hedging, where you save in US dollars, for example, and then switch to the local currency when the exchange rate differential is in your favour.

Whatever you decide to do, says Cook, you need to stick with it. And she adds, “Set yourself that goal and don’t veer away from it. Whether it is to accumulate a lump of cash by disciplined regular saving or to give up that swanky new villa and put aside a lump sum for greater growth – prioritize and think about what it is you are saving for, so that you have an end goal in mind.”

Don’t waste the opportunity you have, warns Cook, a private client adviser with AES International, Global Wealth Management. Take advantage of your expat status. You can read the full article here.

 

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Out a Payday Loan

December 7, 2014 Personal Finance

Just about everyone has been strapped for cash at one time or another. A family emergency or some other out-of-the-blue expense leaves you short, with no idea of how you’re going to make it through until your next payday. Where can you turn for the cash you need to stay afloat?   Situations like these […]

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