As climate change becomes an issue in the United States and globally, having a green home is becoming more and more desirable. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there has been a marked increase in homes on the market with energy-efficient features, as homeowners attempt to reduce their environmental impact.
Green home features, such as solar panels, can improve your home’s efficiency by requiring less energy and fewer resources. If you’re considering upgrading your home with green features, here’s everything you need to know — including which green improvements can increase your home’s value, and how to find your home’s energy points.
2022 Energy Statistics
Energy-efficient homes are becoming more and more popular, and buyers are making green features a priority during their search. Here are some statistics on energy-efficient homes, including those certified as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a widely used rating system from the US Green Building Council.
Energy saving home checklist
If you are considering an energy efficient home, there are a variety of things to look for. Here are some of the biggest:
- house sizeIn most cases, larger homes are less efficient because they use more energy for heating and cooling. Additionally, larger homes often have more lights, appliances, and other features that require energy.
- 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 a rainwater harvesting system.
- building designHome: The design and layout of a home can affect how energy-efficient it is. For example, houses with an open plan are often more efficient than houses divided into smaller rooms, because it is easier to control the temperature and requires less building materials.
- insulation: Look for homes that are well insulated to keep the home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Spray foam insulation is widely considered to be the most energy efficient type of insulation.
- doors and windows: Efficient, airtight doors and windows can reduce heating and cooling costs. To improve efficiency, you can also install window blinds to reduce cold drafts in the winter and keep the heat outside in the summer.
- energy resourcesSome homes are partially or completely dependent on renewable energy sources, such as solar energy. Homes with solar panels may be more expensive, but they can lower your energy bill. Some states offer incentives for homeowners to use solar energy.
- indoor environment qualityA good ventilation system can improve the efficiency of your home while reducing the amount of indoor pollution.
- Landscaping: Look for homes with drought-tolerant plants, especially in dry areas that don’t get much rain. Some examples of drought tolerant plants include lavender, rosemary, aloe vera, and geranium.
Energy efficient homes not only reduce the cost of heating, cooling and electricity. It also positively affects the environment. When your home requires less energy, it frees up important resources, such as water, and reduces reliance on commercial building materials, which often generate large amounts of greenhouse gases.
How can energy-saving features help a home sale?
Energy efficiency at home is not only important while you are there. Some features of a green home can also increase the value of your home when you are ready to sell it.
Data shows that green homes are becoming more desirable to buyers. In a 2022 NAR survey, 50 percent of brokers 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 study from NAR looked at the energy-efficiency features that homebuyers found most important. Effective heating/cooling and windows/doors/siding were top ratings, with 30 percent of buyers saying they were important. Next, 24 percent of buyers wanted energy-efficient lighting, 20 percent were looking for energy-efficient appliances and 10 percent wanted landscaping to conserve energy. Fewer homebuyers, just 3 percent, were specifically looking for a home with solar panels.
Although energy-efficient home improvements can be expensive, some changes can greatly increase the value of your real estate. For example, in New Jersey, homes with solar panels can sell for nearly 10% more than homes without the median price there, which equates to more than $32,000.
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 getting the total Chi Points in the house. Provided by the US Department of Energy, this scoring system reflects the current efficiency of your home based on energy use and associated costs. The Department of Energy (DOE) equates to it at miles per gallon for a car, but for your home. The scores are on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most efficient. You can enter your zip code online to find a qualified resident to register your home.
When the assessment is complete, you receive not only a score but also a comprehensive report from the assessor that breaks down your energy use and offers suggestions for improvement. However, keep in mind that home energy results are mostly for your own good. The main purpose is to help you save money by making green strategic improvements.
Here are some green house improvements that can have a great return on investment:
- Buying energy-saving appliances: Many home appliances are available in energy-efficient versions, including washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, water heaters, and air conditioners. If you’re already thinking about getting new hardware, it might be worth the slightly higher cost of the green model.
- Switch to a smart thermostatSmart thermostats that 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 bulbs: Consider replacing traditional light bulbs in your home with energy-efficient versions or LEDs. According to the Department of Energy, the average household saves approximately $225 in energy costs each year by switching to LED lights.
- Install low flow fixtures: Water use is a big part of energy efficiency. To reduce use and save money, consider replacing plumbing fixtures with low-flow options, including low-flow toilets, shower heads, and sink faucets.
- Use ceiling fansInstalling ceiling fans can save you money on cooling your home in the summer. They are very inexpensive compared to whole-house air conditioning systems, and even if you don’t do the whole work, they can make you less dependent on the air conditioner.