Energy-efficient homes are more popular than ever. If you are a prospective homeowner, you’ll probably have many options when it comes to finding the green home of your dreams. But, do you know what to look for?
First, it’s important to understand what energy efficiency means. While an energy-efficient home will likely save electricity, gas, oil, or water, it doesn’t mean you’ll have to suffer by consuming less of these. On the contrary, energy efficiency is about using less energy to produce the same level of services.
If buying an efficient home is important to you, don’t fall for false advertising; make sure you know the hallmark features of a home built for green living. Here are five things to look for in an energy-efficient home.
1. Doors And Windows
According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling costs are the most significant household energy expenses. In fact, heating and cooling account for more than half of household energy use — and 25-30 percent of that lost energy escapes through windows and doors. One of the biggest energy savers you can find in a new house is efficient windows. Look for Energy Star®-rated windows, which can save you hundreds of dollars a year in heating and cooling costs because they are well insulated.
Energy-efficient exterior doors can also trap in heat and save you up to 10 percent on energy bills. Look for homes with metal or fiberglass doors, which can be up to five times more insulating than solid wood doors.
2. Skylights And Solar Panels
The sun is a natural, renewable source of energy. Make use of natural light and heat by purchasing a home with skylights or solar panels. Solar panels and even some skylights can convert sunlight into energy, which you can then use to power your home. By taking advantage of natural light during the day, you can also reduce your need for electricity in the form of heating and light. With lower electricity consumption comes savings on your monthly utility bills as well as a decreased carbon footprint.
3. Energy Star® Appliances
Large household appliances like refrigerators and washing machines can consume a lot of energy and resources. Ensure that your home energy consumption stays to a minimum by purchasing a home that’s already equipped with energy-efficient appliances. Look for appliances that have a blue Energy Star® sticker — this lets you know that the appliance meets or exceeds federal efficiency standards.
4. Low-Flow Toilets
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, toilets account for about 30 percent of a household’s water consumption and can be a leading source of water waste in a home. To ensure that you’re not buying a home that’s a water guzzler, check the bathrooms for newer toilets. While older toilets may use as much as six gallons per flush, new federal standards limit water use to 1.6 gallons per flush. If the toilet has an EPA WaterSense label, you’ll know it only uses 1.28 gallons per flush.
5. A Home Energy Audit
Even with a few energy-efficient features, a home may still not be as efficient as it could be. Before you buy, it’s a good idea to hire someone to conduct a home energy audit. An energy audit is the best way to assess a home’s energy use. The auditor will perform the following tasks: