Energy savings tips for 2022

light fixture

I am old enough to remember the energy crisis in the mid-1970s. We took a different approach to save energy but it kind of faded away over the years. We used to find ways to use less energy.

We used less gasoline by driving less and by driving cars that got better gas mileage. Yes, they were smaller than what we were used to. Driving less is the best way to reduce energy consumption and costs. Carpooling became more popular too as people got the idea of filling up their car and making the most out of those gallons of gasoline.

Cars are expensive too. Sometimes it is possible to become a one-car household and share a car. Becoming a no-car household is even better.

Starting a car and letting it run to “warm up” isn’t really necessary and it adds up to a lot of fuel consumption and air pollution.

I don’t recall having LED light bulbs back then like we have today but we saved energy by turning lights off when we left the room and by using fewer lights when possible. We unplugged things too.

To reduce the cost of heating a home or business we used to turn the thermostat down and wear sweaters.  I think people save energy that way today too but people also like to keep their houses cool enough in the summer so they can sleep under blankets and wear sweatshirts in the house. That requires a lot of electricity. Back in the 1970s, we didn’t have air conditioning. We opened windows and used fans and sweated a lot.

We didn’t think about water much back then here in the land of 10,000+ lakes.  Yet here we are in year two of a pretty severe drought. It seems to be hard for people of all ages to learn that they don’t need to leave the water running in the sink to wash one knife and then leave it on as they cross the room to do something else.

Don’t even get me started on greening up the lawn by watering it daily.

My parents used to talk about rationing during world war ll.  People cut back on all sorts of things. They worked together to save resources so that they could win the war.  Gasoline was needed at the front and so were tires. Both were rationed and so was food. My grandmother altered recipes so that they would work with missing ingredients.

The way we celebrate the holidays is all about consumption and waste. They are also stressful. There are many ways to celebrate holidays. Eating less, drinking less, and buying less is the new way to celebrate Christmas. How about more handmade gifts and upcycled gifts?

At any rate, most of us can turn down the heat, turn off lights, use less water and drive less. The problem is that most people don’t want to and some won’t.


The number of home sales from peak to peak

Normally I would be presenting some numbers for Home sales by St. Paul neighborhood for last month but I am going to hold off on that because I found some discrepancies in the data. I can say that the median home sale price in St. Paul was $275,500 which was $500 more than September 2022 median sale Price.

Median days on market were lower in October than in September. October’s median day on market was 15 days.  The average sales price was slightly higher than the average asking price. In general, the number of home sales in the metro area has been declining for months but prices are still going up. The number of homes being put on the market is trending downward and the number of homes on the market remains low but slowly rising.

I thought it would be interesting to compare home sales in 2021 with the last peak in home sales which was toward the end of 2005. These are rolling 12-month averages. The peak is taller this time and the decline in sales is greater.

Higher interest rates are slowing down the housing market. Ultimately when the housing market slows so does the rest of the economy.

Graph of home sale peaks
Home sales in the Twin Cities

Rates went down slightly

When the Federal Reserve raises the prime rates which are not the same thing as mortgage rates. The prime rate is the lowest rate at that money can be borrowed commercially and it does affect interest rates.

Generally speaking small variations in mortgage interest rates don’t have much of an impact on the housing market. Large variations do have an impact. Right now fewer people can afford to buy a home. Home prices are still rising but will eventually flatten out and then decline.

Mortgage rates
Mortgage rate survey


An extra hour of fun this weekend

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. This weekend we will honor that barbaric custom of changing time.  Daylight savings time ends at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 6, 2022. I’ll probably set my clocks back one hour before I go to bed.

The end of daylight savings time also means that nighttime will start before supper and by December it will start in the afternoon.

I like to have a plan for how to make the most out of my extra hour and generally plan 8 hours of activity for it and an extra hour of sleep. I may start early this year and set the clock back one hour before I go to bed tonight.

Fallback post card
Fall back


Saint Paul Home prices up and down

I read a lot of real estate news and it is confusing at this point. We saw record appreciation in home values during the last couple of years and now values are going down from that. As a homeowner myself I don’t feel as though I have “lost” any money. If I had sold my house last year as some of my clients did I would have sold it at the peak. If I had purchased a home last year as some of my clients did I would have bought at the peak.

Home sale prices took a nose dive during what some call the financial crisis and what I call the housing market crash and great recession. Those very same houses regained all of their value and more since then.

Here is a snapshot of recent home sale prices in St. Paul. It is a screenshot from a report in RPR which is a database that tracks most of the real estate in the country.

Graphic with home sale prices
Home sale prices

Home sales data from September and October will show price declines from September but some of that is seasonal and the gains from the last two years will still be in the double digits.  They are going to start to go down from the peak.

It is hard to predict the future of home values. They seem to always go up eventually but they did go way down for a time before going back up. The pandemic kind of messed everything up or maybe a better way of saying it is that the pandemic changed things. It changed how some people work and where people want to live.