If you’re thinking of buying real estate, consider buying an energy-efficient home. You could reduce your monthly utility costs by as much as 30 percent. Over the years that you own the house, those savings could be significant. While you may pay more upfront — both because energy-efficient homes could be more expensive to build and because high demand means sellers may charge higher prices — the difference can often be worth it.
Let’s take a deeper look at what makes a house energy efficient and how to find one.
When you buy a home that’s certified by the National Green Building Standard (NGBS), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or the EPA’s ENERGY STAR ® homes program, you’re buying a house that has been inspected by these organizations and meets their standards for construction, materials, and energy efficiency. The Home Energy Score rating system was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy to provide homebuyers and sellers with a clear national standard of what energy efficiency means.
Each of the rating systems assess energy-efficient house features slightly differently. But they do share commonalities — such as best practices for a home’s systems, insulation and resource usage — that make it easier for you to know what you’re getting when buying an energy-efficient house.
From a state-of-the-art water heater in the basement to solar panels on the roof, there are many ways to make a home more energy-efficient:
If you’ve decided on buying an energy-efficient home, finding one may take a little bit of extra effort. However, people who have invested in smart home improvements and green home technologies know they can command higher prices for their houses, so they’ll mention these upgrades in their listings. Here are some additional tips for how to find an energy-efficient home.
Use keywords when searching online listings. Any of the certification organizations mentioned above are a good clue. You can search for specific energy-efficient house features. Words like “green” and “sustainable” may also get you results.
You can make buying an energy-efficient home much easier by using home search sites that focus specifically on energy-efficient properties, such as Realty Sage and Green Homes for Sale. Some mainstream sites, like Zillow, allow you to search for the energy-efficient homes among their standard listings.
Another way to go about how to find an energy-efficient home is to find a real estate agent who specializes in selling these kinds of houses. That person should be knowledgeable about certifications and energy-efficient house features.
If you’re wondering how you can afford to buy an energy-efficient home, consider an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM)*. These mortgages increase your purchasing power when buying a home that’s already energy efficient. You can also buy a standard house and finance energy-efficient upgrades using money from the mortgage. You can get EEMs backed by Fannie Mae, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), among others.
Whether you want to lower your bills, shrink your carbon footprint or make improvements to increase your home’s property value, here are some places to start:
Buying an energy-efficient home is an investment in quality, comfort and potential cost savings that could pay off for you personally and contribute to a cleaner, greener environment. Energy-efficient house features are increasingly sought after, so the money you spend on them may give you a great return on investment. You won’t just possibly save on your energy bills — you’ll also likely be able to command a higher purchase price when it comes time to sell.
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