As energy efficiency rises in importance for today’s home buyers, sellers need to know what features the environmentally-conscious are focusing on. Many are willing to pay a premium for homes that prove they save money and reduce energy waste. But buyers and sellers both need to beware of misleading marketing that oversells a house as being “green.” With buzz words like “sustainable,” “high efficiency,” and “eco-friendly,” it’s easy to be confused as to what’s a truly “green” home versus a home that has some nice energy efficient upgrades. While LED lightbulbs and a couple of Energy Star appliances are desirable, they alone don’t make a home truly “green.”
The most common energy efficient home upgrades that buyers will find are:
• A cost-efficient HVAC system
• Energy-efficient appliances
• Energy efficient lighting
These are excellent features that can set similar homes apart from each other and collectively result in thousands of dollars difference in price. But if you’re looking for more than a few energy-conserving upgrades and want a truly “green” home, you really need some authoritative certification to back up “green” claims. Two of these certifying companies include LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and HERS (Home Energy Rating System). These companies run tests to score the energy efficient performance of specific features in a home. Make sure that homes are properly marketed with appropriate indexes and scoring in terms of efficiency when searching for a “green” home. Some estimates indicate that a “green” certification from one of these organizations can improve selling value by as much as 9 percent.
As a general rule for the serious environmentally conscious buyer, the more of the following features that are present, the more “green” the home and the higher the price:
Solar panels. Convert sunshine into usable household energy.
Dual-pane, low emittance windows. Conserve heating and cooling in the home, as well as provide UV protection to furniture, carpet, and wood floors.
Certified wood from sustainable forests. Using wood from forests that are actively renewed preserves forests for generations to come.
Recycled building materials. Makes a maximum use of flooring, doors, hardware, and recycled materials from elsewhere throughout the home.
Blown-in cellulose wall insulation. Prevents air leaks better than sheet insulation and is non-toxic. It also increases a home’s fire resistance.
Fresh air ventilation system. Improves air quality by pumping in fresh filtered air and pumping out carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
Water conservation devices. Includes water-saving toilets and shower fixtures, as well as satellite controlled sprinkler devices that only turn on sprinklers as needed.
Smart hot water management. Includes a high efficiency water tank plus a heat recovery system that utilizes drain waste water heat.
Landscaping for energy conservation. Takes landscaping design into account to shade the home, create windbreaks to protect the home from excess cold, and decorates the home with water-efficient plants.
Three good reasons to buy a home with “green upgrades” are: (1) monthly bills will be lower and buyers can increase their overall home budget; (2) property value increases and assures a good investment; and (3) homeowners help protect the environment through waste reduction. While younger generations like Millennials and Gen-Yers are more apt to buy a “green” home, energy efficiency is among the top five must-haves among ALL buyers.