Energy-Efficient Homebuying Tips

How do you know if the home you're considering is energy efficient? Read on.

Living Green

If you think most homes are energy efficient, think again. A whopping $13 billion in energy costs slip through the cracks of homes each year. A home that gobbles up energy isn't just terrible for the environment—it's bad for your wallet, to boot. If you're looking to buy a home at resale or a brand new abode, here are some tricks to find out if your next home scores well in energy efficiency.

Do your research.
No matter the location, a record of a home's utility bill are accessible online via most local government websites. If you're unable to run a search on a specific address, ask the current homeowner for copies of prior electric bills. Even last year's bill from winter or summer can provide tremendous insight into whether or not the home you're looking at has a history of being an energy suck.

Get a big deal with less.
Giant homes can mean giant energy bills. It takes a lot to heat and cool an oversized home. If you're considering a big home that seems like it's at a great price, think about utility bills. Will it still be a steal in the future?

Look before you leap.
Run your own mini energy-efficiency inspection. When house hunting, take a look around and ask yourself:

__ Are the windows single paned or double paned?
__ Have the windows been properly installed? Are there any gaps between the window and the frame?
__ Can you feel a draft?
__ What about the age of all major appliances like refrigerators or dishwashers? Are they from the Reagan administration?
__ How old is the HVAC system? If it's half your age, chances are you might want to invest in a new one.

Buy a new-construction home.
Sure, older homes come with charm and history, but they can be a never-ending problem for saving energy. New homes built by reliable companies now use energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and green appliance packages. Building a new home? Make sure you look into environmentally cautious contractors. Eco-friendly contractors use sustainable material and flooring, so you and your family can take a breath of toxin-free air.

Go pro.
Sometimes you've got to spend money to make it. Having a professional energy audit may seem like a pricey venture, but in the end, it can save you well into the future. And, you're getting what you pay for. A licensed energy auditor will test a home's air leakage, identify the smallest of problem spaces, and give you a clear picture of what you can be saving.