Energy Efficient Ideas to Improve Your Home

St. George is moving forward with an Energy Efficient Home movement, and Ence Homes is leading the way in this practice. Ence Homes has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a 2011 Energy Star Leadership in Housing Award. This award recognizes the important contribution Ence Homes has made in energy-efficient construction and environmental protection by building more than 100 Energy Star qualified homes last year. Click here for more info on Ence Homes Green Homes in St. George.

However, for simple, short-term ways to save energy in your home, here are some ideas to make your home more energy efficient throughout the year.

Get a programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostats are a must in modern homes, not only for their convenience, but for saving energy and reducing cost. Time your thermostat to only kick on the AC or heating during certain hours of the day, when you know it will benefit you the most. Set it to turn off during the night or when you’re away for work. If you’re leaving for vacation, set the thermostat to 55 degrees to save on energy but to keep the pipes from freezing.

Seal and insulate

Adding insulation and sealing your home properly can save hundreds on your heating and cooling bill every year. If you live in an older home, there’s a good chance you could be losing money throughout the year – especially during the winter. If your heater is constantly running, try sealing doors and windows to prevent warm air from escaping. Insulation is equally important. Try re-insulating specific areas in the house that fluctuate between drastic temperatures, failing to retain a specific temperature. Installing more attic insulation can make a huge difference throughout the entire house.

Energy efficient appliances

There are countless options for energy efficient home goods for the kitchen, laundry room, and more. Energy efficient appliances are increasing in popularity, and while they cost more up front, they save you money over time by using less energy, water, etc. Consider replacing the appliances in your house – even if it’s one by one – with energy efficient appliances that look great, save you money, and take up less natural resources.

  • Energy Star refrigerators are 20% more efficient.
  • Energy Star dishwashers are about 10% more efficient.
  • Energy Star washing machines use 50% less water and 30% less energy, which can save about $50 per year.
  • Energy Star fans used in bathrooms and above stoves use 70% less energy.

Install a water-saving showerhead

Water saving shower heads can save gallons of water every shower, resulting in massive amounts of saved water per year and a significantly lower water bill.

Energy efficient lighting

Along with energy efficient appliances, one of the factors in our homes that take up the most energy is lighting. This can be even more so in the winter, when the sun sets early and we have significantly less sunlight to light our homes and offices during the day time. When shopping for light bulbs, look for the Energy Star label. Start with the most used light fixtures in your home – like in the kitchen and bathrooms – to save a minimum of $60 a year. Consider installing dimming switches, which use less energy at a low setting.

Take advantage of natural lighting

Not only should you replace your bulbs with energy efficient fixtures, take as much advantage of natural lighting as possible. Consider replacing dark drapes or curtains with minimalistic blinds to keep out the sun and the heat during the summer, and to bring in as much light and warmth during the winter as possible. More windows means less time that the light switch is in the on position. You can also consider installing skylights as a more intensive project to maximize the amount of sunlight you get in your home. Paint your walls light colors to optimize that light and to make spaces appear larger.

Use strategic landscaping

Not all energy efficient improvements happen inside the home – optimize your energy bill using your yard, as well. Plant trees, bushes, vegetation, etc., close to your home. This provides natural insulation, especially during the summer, when trees shade your home and help keep the sun off the exterior of your house.

Take care of your heating and furnace

Check your furnace filter regularly – every month or so during the cold months of the year – and if you have an older furnace, check it even more frequently. Get an annual check on your heating system to make sure its working properly and to make sure it’s running efficiently, without wasting your money. This is also a good safety precaution, to keep your home safe and prevent fires or malfunctions with the heating system.

Install more ceiling fans, and take advantage of the ones you already have

While ceiling fans still use energy, they take far less energy than your AC unit. In fact, a ceiling fan uses about as much energy as a typical light bulb. Switching to ceiling fans and using your AC minimally can save you money on your bill during the summer.

For washing and drying clothes…

Use cold water to wash your clothes, and use the dryer on loads that are completely full. During warmer months, consider drying your clothes outside on a clothesline. As mentioned above, there’s a wide variety of energy and water-efficient washers and dryers to consider investing in.

Fix leaky faucets

Another way to save small amounts of water that adds up over time is by checking all the water fixtures in your house and yard on a regular basis. Fix leaking pipes or faucets as quickly as possible to save water.

Keep the garage door closed

While it’s easy to leave the garage door open and is habitual for most people, keep your garage door closed as often as possible. No matter what time of year it is, the heat (or cold, if it’s in the summer) can escape from your home and overwork your AC or furnace. With the garage being less-insulated than the rest of your house, and directly attached to it, it can affect the temperature of your entire house.

For more info and ideas on energy efficient homes, visit Energy-Efficient Home Design | Department of Energy

Storage Wars, Making Everything Fit

At Ence, we are well known as being one of the foremost luxury home builders in Utah. But while that dream home may seem spacious and expansive at first, as humans, we have a tendency to fill that space with furniture, clothes, ornaments, etc. Eventually, you may find that your home looks like an episode of hoarders. There is nothing wrong with owning a large amount of personal items, if you know how to store them. Having a spacious, open home allows us to breathe and relax. Here are some tips to help your home remain a place of relaxation and comfort, while still keeping all the things that you just “can’t throw away.”

An Example of Hoarding

  1. Hoarding_living_roomChoose the right sized home for your needs. Sometimes this can be difficult, especially depending on what is needed. It isn’t an uncommon experience to move from a larger home to a smaller one. If you ever feel you absolutely can’t part with anything, consider taking advantage of not only indoor space, but outdoor space as well. Utilize a patio overhang and walls to create an outdoor room in your house.
  2. Plastic bins, plastic bins, plastic bins. They are cheap, affordable, and come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Plastic bins can make a world of difference when you are trying to become organized. Additionally, you can buy plastic storage furniture (pick plastic or a synthetic for it’s lighter properties as wooden furniture can often be heavy and hard to move).
  3. A bit of elbow grease and/or home design can ensure that your home has all the necessary qualities to be able to store the large quantities of items that you have collected over the years, but just can’t get rid of. Consider making a storage space under the stairs, for an improvised closet, or use that space in the attic, that otherwise would go unused. Protip: stack heavier boxes/tubs along support beams to ensure that they are well supported, it never hurts to be safe. Also, try and go up into the attic every so often to spray for spiders that may take up residence!
  4. Cabinets with glass windows and shelves, placed strategically throughout the house, allow for an easy display approach. There are many places where these items can be found pre-built and ready to install. Although, if you aren’t handy yourself with tools, you can always hire an expert or friend to install them for you. Having the extra space on a blank wall, for instance, goes a long way toward showing off your collection.

Finally, if you absolutely don’t have space in your home for all of your gear, collected over the years, get a storage unit. One of the easiest ways to avoid having a cluttered house is to spend a bit of money on a storage unit; they vary in size so you can store practically anything. The idea is that you will have it when you need it. Try to pick a unit that is close to where you live, as you may find that you may need quick access to what you’ve stored. Consider storing things which are seasonal: clothes, decorations, and collectibles. Store items that you rarely use, but don’t want to throw away. For more tips and reasons to get a storage unit, visit this website.

6 Painting Mistakes to Avoid

colorIt’s only a matter of time before the colors in your Utah luxury home
begin to get a little boring and you decide to switch things up.
St. George has some great custom paint stores to help you, but
there’s a few things you need to know before taking the plunge.

Mistake #1: Painting a ceiling flat white.

The ceiling, that one wall no one ever thinks of. If you want to add a little flair to a boring white ceiling, don’t paint it white. All white paint has some gray in it, which will take the room down. Try a shade of cream instead.


Mistake #2: Going too “matchy”.

Going all “matchy-matchy” seems like a good idea, but wait. You never want your walls to match the color in one of your fabrics because it comes off too strong. Rather, find a grayed-out version of the color.


Mistake #3: Playing it too “safe.”

A palette of JUST neutrals gets boring fast. One of the biggest mistakes people make with neutrals is not using enough contrast. Don’t be afraid to add some elements that give personality.


Mistake #4: Not following a common theme

The rooms throughout a home must feel connected. A “relaxed, coastal chic” room probably shouldn’t have a “elegant country-style” bathroom. Every room must follow the overall theme of the home.


Mistake #5: Forgetting the importance of a finish.

Darker colors will be very flat after they dry, so use a high-luster finish. For example, an eggshell finish can really kill a rich hue. Do your homework to understand what you’re working with.


Mistake #6: Selecting a one-dimensional hue.

When adding some stronger colors to your palette, remember to find ones with depth. A color lacking depth will jump out at you rather than pull you in. What might be “Decisive Yellow” could end up looking like “Schoolbus Yellow.” No one wants that!

Countertop Guide

Countertop Guide

Getting to design your own kitchen can be a very rewarding experience, but the amount of decisions you have to make can be overwhelming. With so many options, it can difficult to know which direction to go. One decision you’ll be facing is what type of counter top material you want. This pros and cons list will help you get acquainted with the most popular options and help you select the ideal material that will compliment your kitchen design. For further questions feel free to contact us here.



  • Beautiful, naturally-formed design
  • Each piece is unique
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Can withstand heat and knives very well


  • Can become easily stained, will require sealing to avoid damage
  • Very heavy, must be paired with strong cabinet boxes

Butcher Block


  • Great for country or cottage style kitchens
  • Creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere
  • Comes in a variety of tones
  • Has beautiful natural graining patterns
  • Natural wear and tear can add charm and personality but can also be sanded away if desired


  • Can warp because of water damage, will need to be oiled frequently to prevent this
  • Can absorb bacteria and will need to be disinfected regularly

Solid Surfacing


  • Great for modern style kitchens
  • Very low maintenance, no sealing required
  • Damage can be easily sanded away
  • Very wide range of color options including vibrant hues not found in nature


  • Artificial man-made look may not appeal to everyone
  • Can be just as expensive as granite or other natural materials



  • Very classy and elegant
  • Has a strong defense against heat


  • Has a weak defense against staining, scratching and chipping
  • May not be sensible to use throughout whole Kitchen because of price and potential for damage

Quartz Surfacing


  • Simple to maintain
  • Great at imitating natural beauty of stone
  • Comes in wide variety of color options
  • Very durable


  • Can imitate stone, but isn’t quite as good as the real thing
  • Can be just as, if not more expensive than stone



  • Works well in country or old world style kitchens
  • Comes in a variety of color options
  • Stands up well against staining, heat and knives
  • Individual tiles can easily be replaced if chipped


  • Modular aspect makes for an uneven surface that can be difficult for cutting boards or when rolling dough straight onto the counter
  • Grout between tiles can attract bacteria or become stained if not sealed



  • Getting better and better at mimicking more expensive materials
  • Great for designing on a budget
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be paired with any cabinet base because of its light weight


  • The layers in the material can peel over time
  • Susceptible to stains, scratches and burns
  • Excessive damage can be difficult to repair



  • Works well with industrial chic designs
  • Can be tinted to any shade you want and can be inlaid with shells or other interesting materials
  • Very durable
  • Can withstand heavy use


  • Stains easily so must be sealed frequently
  • Can crack if exposed to high levels of heat
  • Very heavy and will require strong cabinet base

6 Spring Candles to Vivify your Home

candle1With spring upon us, your St. George home needs freshened up with a luxury candle or two. Here are some of our favorites:

Artist Series Candle x Ben Fiess

When this candle burns out, you can use the adorable ceramic vessel as a vase for fresh flowers or a cup for pens. Three delicious scents are available: Santal, Spruce, and Fleur.
To buy: $38,

Tuscan Cypress + Figcandle2

Do you daydream of relaxing in the warm sand of an enchanting Mediterranean beach? Forget booking a plane ticket, this all-natural soy candle will bring the sublime sensations and smells to you.
To buy: $25,

candle3Grapefruit Oleander Melrose Jar

Within this custom mercury glass vessel is a sweet nectarous that when lit, will burn for almost 75 hours. Stronger notes of citrus and delicately balances out with subtle hints of sandalwood, cedarwood, and patchouli.
To buy: $33,

Crème de Orangecandle4

The exquisite Valencian orange and creamy vanilla aroma this double-wick candle exudes is simply delightful.
To buy: $30,

candle5White Flowers 3-Wick Gilt Candle

Within this deep blue, gold dipped vessel is a fine white wax that fills your home with the aroma of a fresh springtime flower garden.
To buy: $26,


Geode Candle

Richly scented with island pineapple, fresh mango, coconut and Tahitian vanilla, this geometric candle is perfect next to your bathroom sink.
To buy: $14,

5 Brilliant Tips from Leading Design Books

Refresh your St. George home with some of these design tips and give it that custom touch.

shelfArrange Objects by Shape

The “Rule of Threes” is a great trick to style your coffee table or dresser, but objects of similar size can compete with each other and look muddled. Instead, use this rule: something vertical, horizontal, and sculptural can create a sense of order.

Put Something Eye-Catching on Display

Your entryway needs a focal point; something that catches the eyes of your guests when they walk through your door. A mirror, tall plant, fun piece of furniture, or some artwork can all serve as a perfect focal point. If it catches the eye, it distracts attention away from clutter.

white-couchEmbrace White

There’s a common misconception that you must stay away from all things white if you have kids in the house. But the thing is, there’s nothing easier to clean than white. A little bleach and a hot rinse with water will do wonders for a stained white couch cushion.

Setup a Catchall Space

Attempting to keep your home 100% free of clutter might literally drive you insane. Instead, dedicate a space like a cabinet or closet for all the random things you need to pull out from time to time. Try a little basket on your dresser for loose change and buttons, or a junk drawer for tape and stamps. These “catchall spaces” will save you the headache of finding a place for miscellaneous items. Remember to go through them every once in awhile to prevent overflowing.

Equip Your Entry

An entryway is the first line of defense against clutter permeating deep into your luxury home and its purpose is to process everything you carry in. For your entryway to best serve you, set it up correctly. An umbrella stand, charging station for smartphones, heavy-duty rug, hooks and cubbies, shoe tray, hamper for dirty sports gear, and a message board are your battle weapons.

What Guests Really Notice in Your Home

Our St. George luxury homes attract attention. If you’re hosting an open house or just a get together with friends, here’s some nice touches your guests will appreciate.


Decor isn’t the first thing a guest notices when walking through your door. It’s the smell. Your nose has acclimatized to the lingering smell of fish from last night’s dinner, but it will punch your guests in the nose like a Mike Tyson left jab. Light a candle or simmer a pot of citrus peels and cinnamon sticks.

orchidsFresh Flowers

Fresh flowers add life to your custom home and can serve as the focal point of any room. Some minimalist designers will even argue they’re the only decoration your house really needs. Buy some potted flowers like orchids. With a little tender loving care, they’ll last a month or longer.




Lack of Clutter

A tidy space puts the mind at ease. You don’t need a deep clean, just organize some of that clutter. A coffee table tray or lidded box will help you hide away those keys or stray books.


towelA Tidy Bathroom

This is big one. Make sure you have some clean hand towels ready and for an added touch, light a candle.







An Organized Entryway

A coat rack and a place to sit while taking shoes off is extremely underrated.

3 NASA Approved House Plants

Until you add some wildlife in your home, you don’t know what you’re missing. FYI we’re talking plant wildlife, not squirrel monkeys and hedgehogs.

Not only do plants make your home feel more alive, they also clean the air. According to NASA’s Clean Air Study, the following plants will do the best job of purifying your air.

Add some extra luxury to your custom St. George home with these hygienic plants:

Garden Mumm

This little plant is the air purifying king. (We’d even argue that it’s the prettiest on the list.) They can readily be found at any garden store and can even survive outdoors. They like direct sun and regular waterings.

red-mumPollutants removed: ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene.

Spider Plant

This low maintenance plant is known as one of the easiest to grow. It’s named after the “spiderettes” than dangle down from the mother plant like spiders on a web. Provide them with bright, indirect sunlight and well drained soil.

Pollutants removed: formaldehyde and xylene.

spider-plantPeace Lily

Flowering most of the summer, Peace Lilys are easy to grow. Find a shadier spot for them and allow the soil to dry between waterings.

Pollutants removed: ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.

Renting Your Home on Airbnb? What You Need to Know.

Airbnb is huge.

In fact, it’s so popular that hotels are dropping their prices just to compete.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the service, it’s a website that connects people looking to list, find, and rent lodging. Many of those with luxury St. George homes are using this service as a side hustle while on vacation.

Families touring southern Utah are skipping the hotel suites and looking to rent private homes instead.

If you’re thinking about renting your St. George custom home, here’s some advice before you take the plunge.

Will my homeowner’s insurance cover renting?


Some insurance companies cover a few short-term rentals, but too many visits in a row may require you to purchase a business policy. Airbnb relieves some of this headache by offering insurance to protect you from injured guest lawsuits or home damage.

Will this affect my taxes?


If you’re planning on renting your home out for more than 14 days a year, you’ll need to report the extra income on your taxes. This is due to the IRS requiring Airbnb to report the extra income you’re making through their service. Because it’s your personal home, your options for taking deductions will be limited.

What do I have to pay to use Airbnb?


You owe Airbnb 3% of the total rental price every time you rent out your home. Most users agree it’s a pretty fair price to pay.

Quiet Your Mind in an Overstimulated World

stressWe are overstimulated.

For many of us, Leo Babauta describes our day all too well; “It’s a busy day, and you’re inundated by non-stop emails, text messages, phone calls, instant message requests, notifications, interruptions of all kinds. The noise of the world is a dull roar that pervades every second of your life. It’s a rush of activity, a drain on your energy, a pull on your attention, until you no longer have the energy to pay attention or take action.”

So what can we do?

Spend a moment each day to quietly ponder and be still. It doesn’t have to be long. Practice taking deep slow breaths, and feel your inhales come and go. Making a habit of this will clear your mind of your incessant inner dialogue and help you reprioritize what is significant in your life, and what is just noise.

Of course, it’s much more enjoyable to practice mindfulness on a charming patio with a warm cup of tea. Here’s a few photos of tranquilizing outdoor spaces from our St. George homes that make you want to sit back and relax.

More photos from Ence Homes, the #1 Utah luxury home builders, can be found on our facebook page..