While a home designed with energy efficiency in mind certainly has long-term benefits for the environment, it also means additional dollars in your pocket. The U.S. Department of Energy developed the Home Energy Score, a national rating system that assesses your home’s energy efficiency based on its structure, heating, cooling and hot water systems. From there, you can learn what improvements you can make in order to raise your score and save money.
If you’re in the market for a home, you can get a head start by sizing up the energy efficiency of homes you’re looking at. Here are some suggestions from Nerd Wallet:
Look for clues in listings. Read listing descriptions carefully, looking for mentions of third-party green certification, recent energy audits or energy-efficient upgrades that have been done to the home. Bear in mind that not all sellers will think to include these details in their listings, so be sure to ask your agent about energy efficiency specifically.
Find out if your agent has eco skills. When interviewing agents to work with, find out what knowledge they have about green and energy-efficient properties. Some may even have an EcoBroker designation or the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Green Designation. Such designations mean agents have completed specific coursework to become certified in these specialty areas.
Look at past bills. To get a true gauge of the energy efficiency of homes you’re considering, ask to see the utility data or past bills during the shopping stage or as a provision in the sales contract.
Find out if an energy-efficient mortgage may be possible. While modern homes may be up to today’s energy standards, older homes simply weren’t built with the same set of guidelines. If this is the case with the house you fall in love with, your lender may offer an energy-efficient mortgage (EEM), which builds the expense of energy-efficient improvements into the mortgage payment. In time, the savings on energy bills will offset the extra cost.