Questions for Efficient Home Buyers
The real estate market is a buyer’s market right now. But how do you know if your future home is efficient? Here are some things to consider when looking for a more efficient home.
1. How big is it? Today’s home are much larger than need be, and bigger homes use more energy. In general, a one bedroom home doesn’t need to be any bigger than 900 square feet, 1,400 square feet for a 2 bedroom, 1,900 for a 3 bedroom, and so on. My one bedroom is 831 square feet and, honestly, it is more than enough space!
2. Where is it? High walkability scores are becoming more and more important to home owners. Your walkability score is calculated based on how close you are to sidewalks, grocery stores, dry cleaners, school, parks, etc. When you walk somewhere instead of drive, you not only saves money (you use less gasoline), you save the environment by contributing less air pollution as well as stay healthy. In this day and age, we could all use more exercise, and extra vitamin D never hurt anyone. Just don't forget the sunscreen!
3. How is it oriented? South facing windows can let in heat during the winter so you can use less energy heating your home. Nice, big shade trees will help keep the heat out during the summer, again using less energy running your AC unit. They also provide a shady place to sit and enjoy the day or to let the kids play outside.
4. Is it well insulated and are doors and windows sealed tightly against air leaks? You will want to have your HVAC contractor check to make sure you have enough insulation for your area. You can also have a ‘door blower test’ performed to find any leaks or drafts.
5. Had the indoor air quality been tested? New homes are sealed tighter than they used to be so they can hold in the hot or cold air, depending on season, but they can also hold in toxins such as mold, asbestos, and lead, not to mention smoke (from cooking or cigarettes), smells from garbage cans and pets, and other day to day odors. Opening your windows regularly will let these odors escape. You also want to ask if the home was built or renovated with low and zero-emission paints and sealants, strawboard for the subfloor, and other non-toxic materials – these materials to not contribute to poor indoor air quality.
6. How efficient is the water usage? Look for a water-conserving irrigation system and rainwater collection and storage systems as well as check the kitchen and bathroom plumbing fixtures for their efficiency.
7. What’s on the roof? Lighter colored roofs reflect sunlight and therefore keep homes cooler in the summer months. Live up north? Look for a darker roof to attract sunlight in the winter to help heat your home.
8. Has it been certified as green? The U.S. Green Building Council, the EPA, and other agencies rate homes based on their efficiency. The highest rated homes are certified green homes.
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