What to Look for When Buying an Energy Efficient Home
Posted by: CENTURY 21 Northwest
Date: August 14, 2018
Posted by: CENTURY 21 Northwest
Date: August 14, 2018
Energy efficiency has become more important in an era of rising energy prices. It’s not just a matter of staying green – it’s a matter of keeping more green in your bank account. Whether your efficiency goals are motivated by thrift or by your conscience, there are many homes on the market that claim to be very energy efficient. There are so many, in fact, that potential homebuyers need to do a little research to determine what it truly means to make an energy efficient home – and what factors go into making dreams of efficiency into a homebuyer’s new reality.
As you can imagine, there’s a rather wide gap between those homes that claim to be energy efficient and those that will actually cause less of an environmental impact and allow you to bring your energy bills down. When looking at homes that claim energy efficiency, you’ll want to pay careful attention to a few major qualities. While lacking one of these factors may not disqualify a home entirely, you’ll want to ensure that the houses at which you are looking have as many energy efficient qualities as possible. The more check marks you can make on this list, the better.
Your first step towards finding an energy efficient home is to look behind the walls. While you might not immediately consider insulation as a particularly green feature, finding a home with the right kind of insulation can actually lower the overall energy usage in your home and give you a chance to reduce your carbon footprint. Modern, well-applied insulation is the key here – if it’s done well, you won’t notice it until you receive your first heating or cooling bill.
The best way to figure out if the insulation is sufficient is, of course, to have an inspection done. If you’re not ready to go to that stage, though, you can ask about any updates done to the home in recent years and ask about the average heating bills. If the home is able to stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, there’s a very good chance that the home is built – and insulated – well enough that it’s going to help you to make your green dreams come true if you choose to make a purchase.
How long has it been since that home at which you are looking got new windows or doors? While you might not think of these areas as being full of new technology, the truth is that modern homes tend to be designed in such a way that they require updated windows and doors to minimize energy use. At a very basic level, these additions help to cut down on drafts and can help you to keep out the sun. On a larger level, though, these are the little improvements that really enhance your ability to have an energy efficient home.
Do a little research on windows and doors to figure out which upgrades are actually worth the price. A reasonable rule of thumb to keep in mind is that if a window or door has been updated in the last ten years, it’s probably going to be more energy-efficient than its older counterparts. Not having updated windows or doors shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but be aware that these are areas into which you might want to invest a bit of money later on if you really want to make sure that your home is as efficient as possible.
Smart homes are in right now, so looking at newer construction on the market is sure to show you some very impressive features that actually make your potential home much more energy efficient. These are features that not only make your life much easier, but they can radically cut down on energy consumption. Items like smart thermostats and light bulbs make it much easier to control your energy consumption and thus to keep your bills down. Other features, like tankless water heaters, help to provide you with extra comfort while still freeing you from the shackles of older, more wasteful types of technology.
Some of the most important items to look for aren’t always the ones with the most network features, though. Finding an energy efficient home that has newer, Energy Star-rated appliances or an updated HVAC system is a good way to ensure that you’re looking at a property that is energy efficient. While one or two of these items on their own doesn’t necessarily say much, noticing that a home is full of items that are designed for efficiency will give you a good idea that the entire house has been designed in such a way. Use these common items as a good benchmark for the rest of the home.
Dedicated, off-grid energy conservation technologies are also becoming more popular in new homes. Items like water reclamation units and solar panels are not only becoming more common across the Southwest, but they are also incredibly useful if you want to make sure a home is truly energy efficient. These features help homeowners to drastically reduce their bills by taking at least part of their energy and water production off of the local grid and help the environment by making better use of safer, more environmentally-friendly methods of generating power and saving water.
There’s a huge difference between a home that is set up for solar power and a home that is totally dependent on solar. If you find a home that has panels, ask the current owners about their power usage and how it impacts their bills. In some cases, what works for the previous owners won’t be enough for you. In other cases, you might find a home is more independent from the grid than you actually want. In either case, it’s better to go into the situation informed than to find out about potential problems when you’re on your own.
It’s always important to make sure that a proclaimed energy efficient home is actually up to the standards that are important to you. For some, that might mean the ability to be completely energy independent. For others, it might mean saving a few dollars every month on an energy bill. No matter what you want, though, you’ll be able to find a home on the market that meets your needs – as long as you’re willing to do the research. When you’re ready to buy, make sure to visit CENTURY21 Northwest online and to check out the homebuyer widget.
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