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Tips for Buying an Energy Efficient House

Tips for Buying an Energy Efficient House

By s.e. smith, Networx

Buying an energy efficient home can be a great investment that will save you money on energy costs in the long term in addition to increasing the resale value of your home, when youíre ready to move on. With increasing consumer awareness of environmental issues, itís growing much easier to find energy efficient homes, but it helps to be armored with some tips before you set out on your home buying journey. Savvy buyers can find the perfect house for their needs and negotiate the best deals.

If youíre using a real estate agent, which is a very good idea unless youíre familiar with real estate transactions, look for one who has experience with green homes. Some may have attended certification programs on green real estate, while others simply have experience based on previous home sales and the community in general. As you conduct interviews to find the right real estate agent for you, ask about prior experience, the kinds of homes on the market, and recommendations the agent may have for you.

Be aware that energy efficient homes can come with some immediate cash benefits for buyers. Some may qualify for special mortgages as well as tax credits and rebates to defray the cost of the home. If a home isnít quite as energy efficient as you like but it has promise, you may qualify for assistance with modifications to increase its efficiency. Ask your real estate agent about these options and make sure to factor them in as you look at homes for sale; a high sticker price might be mitigated by long-term energy savings and immediate rebates designed to encourage green home purchases.

Some homes may be certified by independent or government agencies to indicate that theyíre energy efficient. Some examples include Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for homes, EnergyStar, and the Passive House Standard. If a home is certified, ask to see the documentation, as it will provide specific information about how well the house performed in testing and what the standards of the certification are. Uncertified homes arenít necessarily a bad buy; youíll just need to perform a more careful evaluation.

An energy efficient home should be designed with the local environment in mind to maximize efficiency. The thermal envelope, which protects the home from the elements, should include insulated windows, high R-value insulation, and appropriate measures to limit cracks and drafts. The green Chicago remodeling company GreenWerks often adds expanding foam insulation to existing structures, but there are plenty of other types of effective insulation available. These all help the home stay hot in the winter and cool in the summer, and reduce the amount of energy that needs to be spent on heating and cooling. You can request an energy audit to determine how much heat is lost and where the primary sites of heat loss are located.

Another factor to consider is the location of the home, not just in the old real estate sense of ďlocation, location, location,Ē but its literal position on the lot. The home should take advantage of prevailing climate and environmental conditions; for example, a row of windows facing south to catch the sun would be a good thing, while the same set of windows on the north are not desirable. Landscaped lots also tend to be more energy efficient, especially if they contain mature trees and shrubs which act as a heat sink to control temperatures around your home, as long as theyíre not too close. A looming tree can cast a shadow on the home and make it difficult to heat in the winter.

Smaller homes tend to be more energy efficient, which is another thing to consider. If youíre willing to scale down to a smaller lifestyle, your home will be less costly to run.

You should also look at the heating and cooling systems to see whatís been installed. These systems come with ratings that provide information about how much energy is required to run them. A well-insulated home should require less energy to heat and cool overall, and the best systems will be designed to work with the home to get the maximum returns. Appliances are another issue; some are more efficient than others, and could be costly to replace. Others may be certified through energy efficiency programs, which can make them very appealing.

As you look at potential energy efficient homes, remember that you donít have to live with what you buy. You could make modifications such as a remodel or appliance switch out. A certified home in your preferred neighborhood might be out of your price range, but itís possible you could buy a home that needs some work for much less, and you could use tax credits and other incentives to perform the work it would need to be more efficient. Your real estate agent can provide specific advice on the best modification decisions for your needs.

Read more: Conservation, Crafts & Design, Eco-friendly tips, Family, Green, Green Home Decor, Home, Materials & Architecture, Smart Shopping, Technology

By s.e. smith, Networx

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41 comments

+ add your own
5:50AM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

The information you have given in the blog really marvelous and more interesting.
Houses for Sale in Chantilly VA

12:09AM PDT on Mar 25, 2014

The beauty of this building is its amazing architecture and designs.
OcalaPropMgmt

7:35PM PST on Feb 7, 2013

The best way to find Gulf Shores real estate agencies is by searching for properties online first. You need to think of the type of Gulf Shores homes for sale you are interested in. Also consider how much money you can spend on the Gulf Shores houses. The many Gulf Shores realtors will be more than happy to show you around the properties.

6:16AM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Thank you

9:37AM PST on Dec 6, 2012

I just love house hunting. You find so much cool stuff and ways to decorate. I could use more insulation at my house which is small.

11:46AM PST on Dec 2, 2012

Thx

6:19AM PST on Dec 2, 2012

I'm house hunting right now, thanks for the tips

2:30PM PST on Dec 1, 2012

I am rehabing a small 468 sq. ft. home. With its size in mind I have been able to install energy efficiency throughout with relative financial ease. The insulation is top grade, all new windows face south and west (no windows on the north or east side), I have a tankless water heater that heats water only when needed, a wall mounted gas furnace for base board heat and all energy efficient new appliances. I have reused and recycled materials from another house that I rehabed to cut costs. It will get plenty of sun in the winter (I had the massive trees cut back) and it will get the cooler ocean breeze in the summer! I am happy with it:)

8:39PM PST on Nov 29, 2012

Thanks for the advice.

4:02PM PST on Nov 29, 2012

The greener the better... thanks.!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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