We all talk about how we would love to go green, or make our homes a little greener, but when it comes to buying a new home, we tend to be more concerned about the neighbourhood and the square footage than how green our new home is. What environmental factors should you be considering when you’re looking for a new home, especially when you’re buying a home that was built before green construction techniques became standard?
1. Commute Options
Living out in the middle of nowhere seems tempting if you don’t enjoy the company of neighbours, but it can make it harder or more expensive to have a green home. Commuting to work increases your carbon footprint unless you’re driving a hybrid or electric vehicle. Living closer to the city, where you have commute alternatives like bicycles or public transportation can help to reduce your carbon footprint and live an overall greener life.
2. Solar Location
Solar energy is a great way to make your home — new or old — greener but it isn’t an option everywhere. When you’re purchasing a new home, make sure you check and see what the new home’s solar rating is. Tools like Google Sunroof allow you to put in your address and see how much money you could potentially save by installing solar panels on your home.
3. Tax Incentives
Green energy tax incentives can help you save money on your home, your property taxes and your homeowners insurance, depending on where you live. This might not be a deal breaker when it comes to purchasing your new home, but these incentives might tip the scales if you’ve got a couple of homes to choose from when you’re house shopping.
4. Water Use
Dwindling freshwater resources, even in developed countries, mean that we all need to be a little bit more mindful of the water we use. Older homes aren’t designed to be as efficient as they could be when it comes to water. Thankfully, this is something that can be easily rectified with water aerators and low flow toilets, showerheads and faucets.
5. Energy Efficiency
New homes are designed to be as energy efficient as possible, while still providing all the modern comforts that we know and love. Look into homes with Energy Star rated appliances, and ones that are equipped with smart thermostats. If your dream home doesn’t have a smart thermostat, you should still look into installing one after you move in. Smart thermostats can decrease annual heating and cool bills by almost half.
6. Community Resources
Living a green life isn’t just about having a green home — it’s about the community that you live in. Look for communities where green living — recycling, composting, gardening, solar energy, etc. — is a priority. This will make it easier for you to make your entire life green instead of just your house.
7. Insulation Upgrades
A/C units in older homes have to work harder to keep the house cool and comfortable because of a lack of insulation in the walls and attic. Homes build before the late 1970s might not have any insulation at all as it wasn’t required back then. You can make an older home green, you just need to have your insulation inspected and replaced to make your home more energy efficient.
8. Energy Audits
How much energy is your home actually using? Most power companies offer free home energy audits to help you make the best choices to lower your home’s energy output and lower your energy bill.
The larger your home is, the more it costs to cool and the more money you end up spending to try to make the house energy efficient. If you can, depending on the size of your family, consider downsizing. Not only will you save money on your energy costs, you’ll end up saving money on your home expenses as well.
10. Realtor Assistance
A decade or two ago, asking a realtor to find you a green-friendly home was nearly impossible but today there are plenty of realtors that specialise in that kind of property. Find someone who can help you find your dream home, especially if that dream home needs to be green. Having professional help can make your search a little easier.
Going green should start at home…with your home. Take some steps to ensure that your new home is green or can easily be made green before you sign on the dotted line.