As climate change becomes a problem in the United States and globally, having a green home is becoming more desirable. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there has been a significant increase in the number of homes with energy efficient features on the market as homeowners try to reduce their environmental impact.
Greenhouse features like solar panels can improve your home’s efficiency by requiring less energy and fewer resources. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re considering upgrading your home with green features — including what green improvements can increase your home’s value and how to get your home energy score.
2022 power statistics
Energy efficient homes are becoming more common, and buyers are prioritizing green features during their search. Here are some statistics on energy-efficient homes, such as those certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the widely used rating system from the US Green Building Council.
Energy efficient home checklist
If you are considering an energy efficient home, there are several things to consider. Here are some of the bigger ones:
- The size of the house: In most cases, larger homes are less efficient because they take more energy to heat and cool. In addition, larger homes often have additional lighting, appliances, and other energy-intensive features.
- Green features: Look for homes that are already equipped with eco-friendly features. Examples include solar panels, heat pumps for heating and cooling, Energy Star certified appliances and rainwater harvesting systems.
- Construction design: Home design and layout can affect how energy efficient it is. For example, open-concept homes are often more efficient than homes that are divided into smaller units, because they are easier to control the temperature and require less building materials to build.
- Insulation: Look for well-insulated houses to cool the house in winter and summer. Spray-foam insulation is considered the most energy-efficient type of insulation.
- doors and windows: Efficient and well-insulated doors and windows reduce heating and cooling costs. For improved efficiency, you can install window shades to reduce cold drafts in the winter and maintain heat in the summer.
- Power sourcesSome houses are partially or completely dependent on renewable energy sources, such as the sun. Homes with solar panels may be more expensive, but can lower energy bills. Some states offer incentives to homeowners with solar panels.
- Indoor environmental qualityHaving a good ventilation system can improve the efficiency of your home by reducing the amount of indoor pollutants.
- Landscaping: Look for homes with drought tolerant plants, especially in arid areas where it doesn’t rain much. Some examples of drought tolerant plants include lavender, rosemary, aloe and geranium.
Energy efficient homes don’t just reduce heating, cooling and electricity costs. They also have a positive effect on the environment. When your home requires less energy, it frees up valuable resources like water and reduces reliance on commercial building materials, which often emit greenhouse gases.
How can energy efficient features help home sales?
Home energy efficiency is not only important when you live there. Certain features of a green home can also increase the value of your home when you are ready to sell it.
Evidence shows that green houses are becoming more desirable to buyers. In the year In the 2022 NAR survey, 50 percent of Realtors said they helped a client buy or sell a home with green features in the past year, up from 32 percent the previous year.
Another NAR study looked at the energy-efficiency features that homebuyers find most important. Effective heating/cooling and windows/doors/shutters were the top ratings, with 30 percent of buyers saying they were important. After that, 24 percent of buyers wanted energy-efficient lighting, 20 percent wanted energy-efficient appliances and 10 percent wanted energy-saving landscaping. A smaller number of home buyers, just 3 percent, specifically wanted a home with solar panels.
Although energy efficient home improvements can be expensive, some changes can significantly increase your real estate value. For example, in New Jersey, homes with solar panels can sell for 10% more than homes without them — more than $32,000 for the median home there.
Home Energy Score: What is it and how can it help make your home greener?
Wondering how to make your home more energy efficient? Start by finding your home energy score. This rating system, provided by the US Department of Energy, reflects your home’s current efficiency based on energy use and associated costs. The DOE equates it to one mile per gallon for a car, but for your home. Scores are on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most efficient. You can enter your zip code online to find a qualified appraiser to score your home.
When the assessment is complete, you’ll receive a report from the assessor that breaks down your overall energy usage and offers suggestions for improvement, not just a score. However, remember that home energy effects are mostly for your benefit. The main objective is to help save money by making strategic green improvements.
Energy saving improvements
Here are a few greenhouse improvements that can provide a significant return on investment:
- Buy energy efficient appliancesMany home appliances are available in energy-efficient versions, including washers and dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, water heaters, and air conditioners. If you’re already thinking about getting new appliances, the green model may cost a bit more.
- Switch to a modern thermostatSmart thermostats make it easy to control the temperature in your home all year round. You can also control the temperature remotely so you don’t waste money on heating and cooling when you’re not home.
- Replace light bulbs with LED bulbsConsider replacing traditional light bulbs in your home with LED or energy-efficient versions. According to the DOE, the average household can save $225 in energy costs each year by switching to LED light bulbs.
- Install low-flow facilitiesWater use is a big part of energy efficiency. To reduce usage and save money, consider replacing plumbing fixtures with low-flow options, including low-flow toilets, showers, and sink faucets.
- Use ceiling fans: Installing ceiling fans can save you money on cooling your home in the summer. They are very cheap compared to whole house air conditioning systems, and even if they don’t do the whole job, they make you less dependent on AC.
Questions to be asked
What is a green building?
What is renewable energy?
How to reduce energy consumption?
How does solar energy work?