Energy-efficient homes are increasing in popularity as homeowners become more interested in sustainability and environmentally-friendly lifestyles. Among the characteristics current homebuyers are looking for in a home, energy efficiency is at the top of the list.

So, how do you know if the home you are buying is “green” enough for you? Does it just mean looking for energy-efficient appliances, or is there more to the equation? Take a look at the following features buyers should look at when searching for their next home.

Smart Thermostats

According to Energy Star, 56 trillion BTUs of energy would be saved and 13 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions would be offset each year if everyone used a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats automate the heating and cooling process so that it is more energy efficient. Many also can be controlled using an app or voice commands through mobile devices, which makes them convenient as well as environmentally friendly.

Solar Panels

Going solar isn’t just a good move for the environment. It can also be a great way to make your home work better with its energy needs and reduce its impact on the energy grid. When buying a home with solar panels already installed, there are some important questions to ask:

  • Were the panels purchased through a solar loan, and are they paid off? If not, the home seller is required to pay off the loan on the panels.
  • Are the panels still under warranty? If so, ask how long the warranty lasts.
  • How many kilowatts of electricity do the solar units make each month? Once you know this number, take a look at your current electricity bill and compare. Will the solar units meet your needs, or will you need to add panels?

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters, also known as instantaneous water heaters and on-demand water heaters, make water as you need it, instead of keeping water warm in a tank like a traditional water heater.

If you only use 41 gallons or less of hot water each day, tankless water heaters can be 24 to 34 percent more efficient than regular water heaters with tanks. If you use a lot of water, around 86 gallons per day, they are around 8 to 14 percent more efficient, according to the Department of Energy. For supreme energy savings, a home with a tankless water heater installed at each hot water outlet can save 27 to 50 percent.

ENERGY STAR Appliances

Did you know that the average household spends $2,000 a year on energy bills? With ENERGY STAR products, homeowners can save around 30 percent on energy bills and avoid more than 5,500 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. Look for the ENERGY STAR official seal of approval on everything from dishwashers and washing machines, lighting fixtures, and fans.

Want an ENERGY STAR-certified home? Use this helpful tool to locate energy-efficient home builders in your area.

Proper Insulation

Insulation in the floors, walls, and the attic will keep the temperature consistent all year long. High-quality insulation also ensures that your heating and cooling systems won’t be overworked, which will reduce overall energy usage. Older homes that are on the market have a higher chance of having poor insulation, so make sure to peek in the attic and feel for temperature differences in each room before purchasing.

Quality HVAC System

Modern, energy-efficient systems use less input and require less “work” to keep them running. They’re also quieter and reduce condensation or moisture in the home. Homes on the market that are older than 20 years may have an outdated and inefficient HVAC system. Make sure to have someone inspect the system and the ductwork for proper sealing before making the decision to purchase the home.

Purchasing a new home is an important investment, and understanding the energy efficiencies or inefficiencies of the home can make a huge difference in the outcome of the investment. For more information on home-energy tips, check out the Home Energy Tips section of our website, or give us a call at 1-800-427-8545.