As you compare different features when looking for the perfect property, you have a lot to consider: Is energy efficiency on your list?
From price and location to square footage and architectural style, your new home's features will affect your everyday life, so it's important to make the right decision for you. Some factors will affect your comfort, others will affect your home's function, and others will affect your budget. However, one plays a big role in all three: your home's energy efficiency.
Here are some of the most valuable reasons to prioritize homes with energy-efficient features.
- Efficient HVAC Systems Could Cut Future Energy Bills in Half
Programmable thermostats make it much easier to develop efficient heating and cooling habits, but it all comes down to your HVAC system. Inefficient systems can double a home's energy use because they have to work overtime to stabilize indoor temperatures. Because older units are less efficient and may need to be replaced in the near future, it's important to know the age and maintenance history of every HVAC appliance. However, only an energy audit can reveal the efficiency of the whole system. If you're in the process of buying a house, make sure your inspection also includes an energy audit from a certified home energy rater, who will evaluate the ductwork, seals, and other factors that affect how much energy it takes to heat or cool your whole home.
- Low-Flow Plumbing & Plants Lower Your Water Bills
The average household wastes a lot of water on everyday tasks like flushing toilets, brushing teeth, and watering lawns. While you need water, you don't need to pay for water that runs down the drain or feeds plants that don't belong in your climate. Whether you care about saving the planet or reducing your monthly payouts to the water company, it's time to consider indoor and outdoor ways to minimize water waste. Low-flow, dual-flush toilets use only as much water as they need, while drought-resistant landscaping choices reduce your outdoor irrigation needs. Look for homes with tankless water heaters, water-saving sink faucets, and rainwater irrigation systems too.
- Extra Insulation Keeps Your Home Comfortable All Year
Newer windows and roofs should always stand out when you're buying a house, and not just because they won't need to be replaced any time soon. Today's options are more insulated, sun-resistant, durable, and efficient than ever, with materials specifically designed to reduce indoor-outdoor temperature transfer and withstand the elements better. For example, insulated glass units (IGUs) are windows with two or three glass panes, which have moisture-absorbing spacers between them for even more insulation. Reflective shingles keep roofs significantly cooler, preventing hotbox effects in the attic and reducing the strain on the HVAC system. As you look for your next home, look for newer features that increase insulation and prevent huge seasonal fluctuations in your HVAC usage.
- Energy Star Appliances & Lights Have Exciting New Features
Buying a house with greener features isn't all about sacrifice. Energy Star makes it easy to tell which appliances meet recommended efficiency standards, but you'll probably find that these efficient fixtures are more fun, too. For example, LED light bulbs prevent heat gain and use far less electricity, but some also come with innovative features like mobile connectivity and changing colors that respond to music. Energy Star appliances often make cooking and cleaning easier too, so look for that label.
As you weigh different priorities and consider homes with different types of appliances, windows, and more, it's important to make sure energy efficiency is always on your mind.