May 2nd, 2022 1:16 PM by Jackie A. Graves
Buying an energy- and water-efficient home can help you save money and increase the comfort of your home — in addition to being better for the environment. From windows to water heaters and insulation to certifications, learn what to look for in determining the energy and water efficiency of a home you’re considering buying.
Lower electric, gas and water bills are some of the biggest benefits of upgrading the energy efficiency in your home. In fact, by buying a home with up-to-date, energy-efficient technologies and high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances you can save 20% to 30% on your energy, water and sewer bills, compared to a less-efficient home.
Additionally, in most cases, energy efficiency and home comfort go hand in hand. For example, you and your family can enjoy the year-round comfort of fewer temperature variations and more immediate hot water from the tap.
You can determine whether a home is energy- and water-efficient in a few ways: look for yourself, ask your real estate agent for help, or hire a professional to conduct a home audit. For a thorough assessment of the efficiency of a home, you can arrange for a professional home audit through RESNET or the Department of Energy (DOE).
Here are three tips to help you recognize and buy an energy- and water-efficient home.
Your real estate agent should be able to help you understand the current energy usage of the home you’re interested in purchasing. Learning about the current owner’s expenses will tell you a lot about how much efficient upgrades could really save you.
If you’re explicitly looking for green housing, it's helpful to work with a housing professional who has specific expertise or credentials. Examples of green certifications include the National Association of Realtor’s Green Designation and the LEED Green Associate certification.
2. Look for energy-efficient features.
Some basic energy-saving features to check for when you visit homes include:
There are certain labels you can look for as well. These typically indicate how energy efficient a home is overall. Some frequently used certifications to become familiar with include:
3. Look for water-efficient features.
You can help gauge water efficiency by looking for water-saving features and potential water leaks during a home visit:
Homes that meet strict standards for water conservation while maintaining high performance may be certified as WaterSense homes.
If you aren’t able to find a home that is already energy and water efficient, there are financing options available to help you make changes to increase efficiency after you’ve purchased the property.
Called energy efficient mortgages, these loans are designed to help you finance improvements to the energy and water efficiency. For example, Freddie Mac GreenCHOICE Mortgages® can be applied to a new home purchase to cover basic energy efficiency improvements.
Talk to your lender about the loan programs available to you, and whether an energy efficient loan may be an option.
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