How to Buy an Energy-Efficient Home
Energy efficiency is one of those terms that advertisers often use to market their products. But it is much more than a buzzword. It becomes a critical factor when planning to buy a new home. Think about it. Doesn’t saving big on energy bills sound like a good idea?
Suppose you want to understand how to make the most out of your investment by spending as little as possible on cooling and heating costs. In that case, this article covers all the reasons why you should invest in an energy-efficient home. So, let’s dive right in.
So, what is Energy Efficiency?
Simply put, it is the practice of reducing energy consumption that brings down pollution levels and cut energy bills cost.
A lot comes to mind when buying a house. The whole process can even feel overwhelming. Finalizing your wardrobe, curtains & other interior details is what most of us start with. Maybe even breaking down walls to merge two rooms. But have you considered energy efficiency on your to-do list? If we look at the statistics, 10% of home buyers under 34 prefer an energy-efficient home. They wouldn’t mind paying a little extra for the same. While it costs a little more, the benefits outweigh your expenses. To start with, you will live in an environmentally friendly home. It is less expensive to maintain, all while sustaining a comfortable temperature.
Suppose you are looking for a new house. In that case, this article will offer you insights into how you can purchase an energy-efficient home.
Home Buyer’s Checklist – Identifying Your Ideal Home
If energy efficiency is a priority, you must inform your real estate agent at the earliest so that they can narrow down their search. Ask them to look out for details like intelligent thermostats and insulation. It will help them understand that you mean serious business.
Your real estate agent will then propose a few home options to you. And on that basis, you may take your pick. However, there are also other factors you must consider. It will help you identify how energy-efficient the home is. To start with, here are some questions that we feel would top the list. It will factor in your budget, family requirements, and the environment.
How Old is the Home?
Older homes have their charm, character, and history. While they are built from unique materials and sport incredible craftsmanship, they are not exactly energy efficient. However, if you find yourself more at ease with an older home, all you need to consider are some upgrades. Purchases like window sealing, new appliances, insulation & smart thermostats would help increase your home’s energy efficiency.
What’s the Style & Type of Home?
Style is another consideration in your journey towards buying a home. Robust materials and building styles insulate homes better. Also, high vaulted ceilings make for a striking feature. While it is initially a more significant investment, it will undoubtedly keep your home warmer in the long run. Additionally, container homes, mobile homes, and log cabins also have similar issues with sealing and insulation.
For some of you, keeping energy costs low may be critical. In that case, you can look for a home that minimizes heat loss and optimizes space utilization.
How Recent Are the Home Upgrades?
Make sure you ask the owners about when the home improvements were made. Sellers generally focus on the aesthetics of a home. Kitchen and bathrooms are treated as a top priority. But they may not be as energy conscious as you are. However, it is a good idea to put those questions forward since you may need to replace appliances and home insulation immediately. So, make sure you factor in that cost.
What Type of Heating/Cooling System is Installed?
Another tip for you to consider is the type of heating and cooling system installed in the home. Things like gas, electricity, water heater are vital installations. Check the air conditioners, too – are they installed as window units or involved ducts?
Approximately 60-70% of a home’s energy bill is focused on climate control. So, as a buyer, you must focus on the cooling and heating system's efficiency—lookout for wall-mounted thermostats located in shared spaces and bedrooms. A home with smart thermostats can help you save hundreds of dollars on your annual energy bills.
Does the Home have an Energy Rating, Score, or Certification?
Government and private bodies offer systems that determine how energy-efficient a home is. The US Department of Energy (DOE) gives residential homes a rating between 1-10. This score factors in things like walls, windows, roof, foundation, insulation and climate control. If you are looking for a home with a high energy efficiency rating, consider a score of 8-10.
Here’s another home-buying tip for you. When you look for online listings, do consider the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score. It is a nationally recognized index that uses home inspection data to calculate the competency of home energy systems. This score will also predict your utility bills with the help of the HERS Index. A custom HERS software can help determine your home’s energy performance and notifies you on cutting costs on energy consumption.
Energy Star Certified homes are being adopted more commonly by homeowners today. Qualifying as an Energy Star Certified Home requires your house to be 15% more efficient than standard homes built per the International Residential Code, 2004.
Is the Home Well-Insulated?
Insulation is not one of those factors that are as evident as other considerations. A wall-mounted thermostat and baseboard heater are easy to spot. However, insulation is hidden behind walls. An inspector is a right person to help you investigate how well-insulated your future home is.
Are the Windows and Doors Well-Secured?
Windows and doors are last on the list of home upgrade expenses. However, a rigorous inspection can help pinpoint broken seals. Proper sealing keeps your home well-insulated, reducing heat leaking, noise, moisture, pollen and drafts.
Did you Review Last Year’s Energy Bills?
The last on the list of tips includes the previous bills you should review to determine the energy efficiency. The current homeowners may not necessarily match your heating preferences. However, it will give you an idea about the monthly bills. If the costs are unusually high, do consider a home that produces low energy bills. Homes with an Energy Star Certification save nearly $200-$400 compared to traditional homes.
Wish you a Wonderful Journey Towards Finding Your Dream Green Home!
Buying a home is not a difficult task. But making an effort to invest in an energy-efficient home is a commendable effort. Congratulations! You are now one step closer to finding your dream home. We hope the above tips have helped you better assess your idea of an energy-efficient home.
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