Buyers’ Search for Energy Efficiency

Over the past year, buyers have been searching for properties with more indoor and outdoor living space, private home offices, and plenty of storage. 

In addition to more space, a recent report by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows that buyers are also looking for energy efficiency when looking at new homes.

Top Energy Efficient Features for Buyers

The report surveyed 3,000 homebuyers and was presented during NAHB’s 2021 International Builders’ Show. As buyers search for homes, they are keeping an eye out for eco-friendly design and green features. 

The top three energy-efficient features buyers look for are:

  1. Energy Star rated windows and appliances.
  2. Efficient lighting that uses less energy than traditional light bulbs.
  3. Energy Star rating for the whole house.

Willing to Pay

Since energy-efficient features often result in lower utility costs, buyers consider this when buying a new home. If green features will save homeowners money toward utility bills every month, buyers surveyed said they are willing to spend more money upfront.

On average, buyers said they would pay over $9,000 more upfront for a home if it would lower annual utility costs by $1,000. Buyers are also willing to spend more than $2,000 upfront for a home certified above-code for health and wellness, which includes features such as zone heating and indoor air quality. 

Homeowner Education

It’s not enough to just start installing green features into new homes. Homeowners must also know and understand how the features work. Part of regular home maintenance is ensuring that the green features are serviced and properly working. In addition, homeowners need to know how to use green features to their full potential to gain all the benefits. 

Brandon Bryan, the founder of Red Tree Builders, stated,

“We’ve got to teach people how to live in green homes, how these homes operate, and even before we build to let them know what we could do because a lot of times we could do so much more for their life.” 

What green features are important to have in your home? 

8 Simple Tips for a Greener Home

When you incorporate green practices at home, you use less electricity and water. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, you’ll reduce your monthly bills, saving you money every month. 

Not all sustainable choices are difficult to implement or impossible to keep up with. In fact, there are many simple ways to go green in your own home, starting today. 

Keep reading for 8 simple ways to make your home more sustainable. 

Unplug

One of the easiest ways to save energy is to unplug devices when they are not being used. When you keep appliances plugged in, they continue to suck up electricity even when they are not powered on. Get in the habit of unplugging toasters, heaters, coffee makers, and fans when not in use. You can also use a smart power strip in your home office or entertainment center. These power strips cut power off and save energy when devices are in standby mode. 

Program Your Thermostat

A programmable thermostat allows you to monitor your heating and cooling systems. This allows you to easily use less energy when you are at work or traveling, and keeps your preferred temperature while you are home.

The Nest Thermostat takes programming to the next level. This ENERGY STAR thermostat learns what temperature you like and builds a schedule for you. It also provides maintenance reminders and HVAC system alerts to keep your system in the best condition. 

Stock Your Freezer

A full freezer works more efficiently than one that is nearly empty. The freezer works harder, and uses more energy, when cooling down air that comes in every time you open the door. If fully stocked, less air is able to enter, which helps to keep the temperature down while saving energy. 

Seal Your Home

Gaps around windows and doors let hot outside air into the house in the summer, and heat escape in the winter. This makes your HVAC system work harder, wasting energy on heating and cooling. Every year, check for gaps throughout your home. When needed, seal the gaps, and use weather stripping around windows and doors to keep inside air in and outside air out. 

Switch to LED Lighting

LED lightbulbs consume about 80% less energy and last up to 20 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. As light bulbs burn out, make sure you replace them with LED lightbulbs for both interior and exterior lights. 

Fix Leaks

Small toilet or faucet leaks often end up on the to-do list, only to be tended to months later. Even small leaks (like a constant dripping) can waste up to 90 gallons of water per day, according to epa.gov. If you notice a leak, call a plumber to assess how it started, and make sure to fix the issue right away. 

Upgrade Your Insulation

Older homes often lack sufficient insulation. A properly installed home and attic help to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This means your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard. 

Purchase Efficient Appliances

When you are replacing appliances, purchase energy-efficient models. You can find ENERGY STAR dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, ovens, and refrigerators. This label verifies that the appliance is energy efficient. In the bathroom, opt for low-flow showerheads and toilets to save water. 

Which of these green tips have you already implemented? Let us know in the comments!

What is a HERS Index?

There are plenty of ways to make your home more energy-efficient. As homeowners, you know that with every scheduled maintenance and every home purchase, there are ways to save energy, money, and have a more sustainable household. 

With all of the options available, it can be overwhelming to sort through what will help your home run more efficiently, and what isn’t necessary. That is where the HERS Index can help.

What is the HERS Index?

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is the nationally recognized system to assess a home’s energy performance. 

HERS scores are designed to calculate the energy efficiency of new or remodeled homes. If you are in the market to buy a brand new home, the HERS score will give you an idea of the energy costs for the house.

How do you find out the HERS Index Score?

A certified HERS Rater can determine the HERS Index Score of your home. They will complete an onsite energy rating of the home, and then compare the data to a reference home. The reference home is an analysis tool designed to resemble the actual house in size, shape, style, environment, and climate. 

What does the score mean?

The HERS Index ranges from 0 to 150, with 0 being a home that produces or conserves as much energy as it uses. While a score of 0 is unlikely, the lower the score, the more energy-efficient the home.

The standard new home typically has a rating of 100, while the typical resale home has a score of 130. Using these scores as reference points, you can get an idea of how efficient your home is. 

How can I improve my home’s HERS Index Score?

The greatest energy expenses in a house are for heating and cooling. Whether you are remodeling your entire home or just looking for a way to save on energy costs, you can get a programmable thermostat, upgrade your HVAC system, or simply get an annual tune-up to make sure it is working properly. 

Other energy-saving tips include: sealing all air leaks, add insulation, upgrade to ENERGY STAR appliances, and consider installing solar panels

A HERS index rating can help you determine what type of fixes will be most beneficial for your home. 

 

Solar Roof Panels vs. Solar Shingles

As solar roof technology becomes more advanced, homeowners have more options when making the switch to solar energy. 

Solar roofs are enticing because they harness the sun’s solar energy to generate electricity for the home, potentially saving money and energy. While solar panels have become a common sight in neighborhoods across the country, solar shingles are also becoming more mainstream. 

What is the better option for your home? Below, we compare solar panels and shingles to help with the decision. 

Solar Roof Panels

Solar panels are large panels that are installed on top of the shingles on the roof. Several panels are installed on the roof, generating electricity that can be used by the household. 

Pros of Solar Roof Panels

  • Solar panels maximize electricity production. 
  • Solar panels can be angled to gather sunlight. Some types of panels can swivel and adjust throughout the day.
  • Solar panels can be placed on your property, as well as the roof.  
  • You can have the panels removed and bring them with you to a new house.

Cons of Solar Roof Panels

  • Panels appear bulky. 
  • The installation of solar panels involves many steps and requires electrical inspections.

Solar Shingles

Solar shingles are a more recent technology than solar panels and are designed to look to typical roof shingles. Solar shingles have two functions: to protect the roof and to generate electricity. 

Pros of Solar Shingles

  • Solar singles are more aesthetically appealing, blending in with other shingles of the roof. 
  • Solar shingles can double as shingles, so if replacing the entire roof, it can be cost-effective.
  • Solar shingles are easier to install than panels. 

Cons of Solar Shingles

  • Solar shingles are less energy efficient than solar panels.
  • The roof needs a particular slope with ample sunlight exposure.
  • The lifespan of solar shingles is less than panels. 
  • Removing solar shingles is not an option because they serve as the roof shingles.

Solar energy can save money and energy over time. When making the switch to solar energy, always consult a professional to determine what your options are. 

Tips for an Eco-friendly Bathroom

Bathroom remodels are one of the most sought after renovations. A simple update can make a home feel more luxurious. 

Although small in size, the bathroom can also waste more water and energy than other areas of the house. When the time comes to renovate your bathroom, follow these tips, so it is eco-friendly, as well as visually appealing. 

Be Water Conscious

It’s no secret that a lot of water is wasted in the bathroom. Flushing the toilet, taking a shower, drawing a bath, and using the sink each day adds up. Inefficient water fixtures can add up to hundreds of gallons of wasted water each day. Some people are opting to ditch a tub altogether and use the extra space for a beautiful walk-in shower. When selecting new items for the bathroom, pay attention to:

  • Toilets. A conventional toilet uses 1.6 gallons for every flush, but an old model could be using up to 7 gallons per flush, according to the EPA. A low-flow toilet works with less water and has dual flushing options. One button flushes liquids, using under one gallon of water per flush. The second button flushes solid waste, using the full 1.6 gallons per flush.
  • Faucets. Many people leave the water running when brushing their teeth, washing their hands, or washing their face at the sink. Consider motion-sensor faucets to cut back on water waste.
  • Showerheads. When installing a new shower, select an environmentally friendly low-flow showerhead to reduce water usage. Look for the EPA WaterSense Label to be certain you are purchasing water-efficient products. 

Install an Efficient Water Heater

A lot of energy is used to heat water in the home. Replacing the water heater can aid in making your showers and baths more eco-friendly. There are several options to choose from: heat pump water heaters, tankless water heaters, solar water heaters, and condensing storage water heaters can all help to save energy. ENERGY STAR ratings can help you determine which equipment is most efficient.

Choose Eco-Friendly Materials

Eco-friendly materials are not only sustainable, meaning they last a long time, but they also do not harm the environment. Often, eco-friendly materials are renewable or recyclable. Many tile options are eco-friendly. Other eco-friendly materials include glass, metal, bamboo, and cork. You can take it a step further than flooring and cabinetry and opt for eco-friendly towels and shower curtains. 

Install LED Lighting

If you have not brought in LED lighting to your home yet, it’s time to make the switch. ENERGY STAR LED lights use up to 90% less energy than standard bulbs and last at least 15 times longer. 

Opt for VOC-free Supplies

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, emit gasses and chemicals into the air. If you have ever gotten a headache from the smell of your cleaner, chances are it was filled with VOCs. Select paint and cleaners that are VOC-free. 

Do you have more tips for becoming more eco-friendly in the bathroom? Let us know in the comments!

 

4 Benefits to Nest Thermostats

Smart and green.

More and more aspects of the home are becoming advanced. Smart appliances coupled with sustainable products allow homeowners to increase efficiency, decrease energy usage, and save money. 

Thermostats and heating systems are a major player in the home’s energy usage and costs. Nest Thermostats take the guesswork out of saving energy, making it the first thermostat to become ENERGY STAR certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. Here’s why we decided to install Nest Thermostats in all the units at the Residences at 66 High Street

No Programming Required

Programmable thermostats help you become more efficient with energy and save money. The problem is they can be complicated to figure out, and only allow for 2-3 changes throughout the day.

Nest Thermostats learn your schedule, your preferences, changes in the season, and even your home’s heating and cooling system. After a few days, the thermostat knows when to turn the temperature up or down. Once it learns your preferences, you don’t have to make any adjustments. The best part? You start seeing your monetary savings right away. 

Control from Anywhere

Let’s say you are off of your typical schedule – you are working late, or are getting home earlier than expected. You have the ability to control the temperature from your phone. This ensures energy savings when the house is empty and comfortable temperatures when you arrive home. 

Proven to Save Energy

Heating and cooling a house account for nearly 50% of all energy usage. Studies have shown that Nest Thermostats saves homeowners 10%-12% on heating and 15% on cooling. In addition, an Eco Temperature setting takes over when Nest Thermostat senses you are away for an extended time. This helps save even more, without the hassle of changing the programming. 

Nest Leaf 

The Nest Leaf collects and analyzes data from your home. Based on that data, Nest offers ways for you to save even more energy. A Green Leaf that appears on the thermostat is your signal – simply press it to learn about ways you can save. 

This type of technology is the future of the Smart Home: saving energy and money, without the need to program. 

Do you have a Nest Thermostat? Tell us about your experience with it!

 

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