How to buy an eco-friendly home

Real Estate

Many people have the dream of living in an off-grid home, with all the systems powered by solar and wind power. Even if your sights aren't set that high, most people want to offset the energy bills, right? Not to mention that if you can generate enough power, you could even make money selling it to the power companies. Crazy! Living in an eco-friendly home has quite a few benefits, but they also come with a heavier price tag. Right now there aren't as many renewable energy focused builders, so it could be more costly until the technologies become widely available.

When you decide that a green home is right for you, here are some of the top eco-friendly home features that you should be looking at in your prospective home search. These are improvements that not only add environmental piece of mind, but also save you money.

Insulation

Most homes in the US are not properly insulated. This causes an excess of heat loss and therefore wasted energy. An excellent improvement for your home is replacing outdated/old insulation. One of the more attractive options is spray foam insulation. Make sure to find a pro company to install this stuff for you, and ensure that it is a variety of foam that is safe and doesn't contain formaldehyde or other dangerous substances. There are newer and safer options that are blown in either with water or other inert substances instead of CFCs. Some newer homes are built with spray foam and other high-tech insulation options from day 1.

Get Solar Power

Another aspect of green home construction is solar power. A study conducted by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) concluded that homes with solar panels sell 20% faster and for 17% more money. You could have solar panels installed in your home for fully functional electrical supply, or you could install a smaller panel setup just to supplement your current electrical usage. Just decide your budget up front and see what's plausible for you. Talk to a local solar power expert and ask them your specific questions.

When you are searching for a home to buy that has solar, here are some important questions to ask for you and your Realtor to go over. Age of the system? Size of the system? Who installed it? Is it owned outright? Some homeowners have an agreement that they get free electricity if they lease their roof to the power company and allow them to install their panels on the roof. This is fine for the homeowner but you may not necessarily want to be stuck with one power company on your roof for a 20 year lease, which is common in this setup.

Efficient Windows and Doors

Openings including windows and doors are notorious for letting in/out the climate you've worked hard to create inside your home. Make sure that your new home includes double pane windows and draft-free doors. At the very least you could plan on installing the proper drapes that help mitigate heat loss in the winter and keep your home toasty.

Overall buying an eco-friendly home is much like buying a regular home, but you'll want to inquire about some of the special features we touched on today. It's no simple task to buy a home but using a Realtor helps you get the green features you're looking for.