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10 Energy–Efficient Features to Look for When Buying a Home

February 13, 2024 | Lifestyle

Knowing everything about the property before closing escrow is essential when buying a home. Negotiating with the seller to repair things like a leaky roof or damaged floors during escrow is not uncommon. As a homebuyer, you also have the right to have a home inspection and a home energy audit by trained, certified professionals. Having an estimate of your monthly costs for utilities like gas and electricity is important because high energy costs to heat and cool a home can be a slow drain on your wallet over time. 

Homebuyers rarely are experts in energy-efficient systems, so we’ve outlined some helpful tips for you. From choosing the right realtor to asking questions to determine if the home you’re about to purchase has energy-efficient features, keep reading to find energy savings features for your next home. 

Find a Green Realtor

To start on the right foot, find a real estate agent with either an EcoBroker designation or a green realtor designation who can help you identify the most critical energy-efficient improvements when buying a home. Additionally, many states have green home certification programs, such as Built Green® Colorado and Energy Star Qualified Homes that your realtor should know about. 

To earn an energy-efficiency rating, these homes have upgraded standards, including better insulation, double-pane, low-e windows, and more. Features such as efficient furnaces and hot water tanks also help reduce energy costs. So, it’s worth finding out what, if any, green certifications your state offers to builders and home buyers. 

1. Tankless water heaters

A traditional water heater uses energy to keep a large tank of water heated at all times, whereas a tankless water heater only heats water instantly as it passes through coil pipes. Though tankless water heaters last longer and take up less space, they can be more expensive than full tank heaters.

2. Insulation

Good quality insulation in floors, walls, ceilings, and attics can significantly increase a house’s heating and cooling efficiency, making it more eco-friendly and less expensive to operate. For example, spray foam insulation does a better job blocking heat transfer—keeping cold air in during winter and hot air out in summer—which has the added benefit of maintaining more comfortable indoor temperatures. 

3. Energy-efficient lighting

LED bulbs are more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs and produce less heat than halogen bulbs. They can also be programmed to turn off and on at specific times during the day or to dim or turn off when no motion is detected. LEDs are highly efficient and are reported to last many years longer than other types of lighting.

4. Solar panels

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, making them a renewable and cost-effective solution to help reduce your electricity bills while protecting the environment from carbon emissions created by other types of energy sources. Many states and municipalities offer free residential solar panel estimates and in some cases financial incentives for installing solar panels.

5. Energy-efficient appliances

Energy Star certification recognizes energy-efficient home appliances like refrigerators, washers, dryers, and water heaters. These products meet strict energy efficiency standards while being affordable. Energy Star appliances help reduce energy consumption, lower utility bills, and minimize environmental impact, making them a cost-effective and eco-friendly option for households.

6. Smart home devices

Smart home upgrades allow homeowners to remotely control and monitor various aspects of their home, such as lighting, temperature, security, and entertainment systems, through devices and smartphone apps. These upgrades provide convenience, energy efficiency, and cost savings. An added benefit—many people find these smart products and apps fun to engage with and operate. 

7. Windows

It is estimated that around 25% to 30% of residential energy for heating and cooling can be lost through windows alone. Either avoid buying a house with single-pane windows or plan to replace them. Additionally, as your inspector to check for things like caulking and weather stripping. If the home has a southern exposure, consider adding awnings or sunshades for better energy efficiency.

8. Landscaping

Consider these landscape energy efficiency strategies when buying a home: design a lighting plan that runs on a timer with LED lights, plant shade-providing trees, and choose native plants that require less water and maintenance. Incorporating these strategies helps conserve energy and water while enhancing the beauty of your outdoor space.

9. Energy-efficient HVAC

Heating and cooling use nearly half the energy in the average home. If you’re looking at an older home, pay close attention to the age of its furnace, appliances, and water heater. Explore upgrading to heat pumps, which can reduce electricity use by up to 50%. Also, newer HVACs have smart functionality and better energy efficiency ratings and performance. 

10. Flooring

The best type of energy-efficient flooring incorporates both cooling and heating strategies. For example, stone or tile will stay cool during the summer and warm during winter if radiant heating is in the home. Other flooring materials that are less than ideal with radiant floor heating include carpet and cork, as these materials don’t transfer heat efficiently. If radiant floor heating isn’t an option in your new home and floors are still uncomfortable, double check that the insulation is effective in the crawl space or basement below the floors in question. 

Find Your Energy-Efficient New Home

If you’re looking for a newly built home, why not find one with an ENERGY STAR-qualified rating? These homes include the items we’ve listed above and more. Additionally, Energy Star homes are verified by a third party and undergo more engineering than other homes. According to Energy Star, “More than 1 million families across the country are living in ENERGY STAR-qualified homes. Together, these homeowners saved more than $270 million last year on utility bills while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 370,000 vehicles.” *

On the organization’s website, you can find out if your state, city, and neighborhood are building ENERGY STAR homes. Remember, there are many ways to save energy in your home. Plus you’ll enjoy increased comfort and lower energy bills by decreasing drafts and leaky windows. 

Make a Smart Choice with Metro Self Storage

In today’s environmentally conscious era, purchasing an energy-efficient home is beneficial not only for the planet but also for your wallet. So whether you’re moving across town or the country, Metro Self Storage is here to help with your life transition. 

We have a growing number of storage facilities with energy-efficient features including solar panels and motion-sensor lighting. Our industry-leading customer service will ensure your next move is as stress-free as possible. We provide friendly service, extended access hours, and 24-hour security features for peace of mind. Check out our eco-friendly facilities and find a Metro Self Storage near your new home. You can conveniently  reserve online today!

*Energy Star Features and Benefits PDF