Green Homes Can Help Save Money — and the Planet

Green Homes Can Help Save Money — and the Planet

mage via Pixabay

Living in a green home no longer has to mean going off the grid and strictly timing your hot showers. In fact, green is mainstream, with studies showing that most Americans want to live in an eco-friendly home while a growing number already do. So if your dream home is a green home, consider this advice when building, buying, remodeling, or simply implementing some smaller changes to in order to make your home and lifestyle more environmentally friendly. 

Building

According to some estimates, the green single-family housing market accounts for about 40 percent of the market total and 84 percent of all residential construction includes some sustainability features. So, if you’re planning on building a home, odds are it would include eco-friendly features even if it wasn’t a personal priority for you.

But, since it is, you might want to take the green construction process further by opting to build an LEED-certified home. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, which oversees the program, LEED-certified homes are designed to use about 30 to 60 percent less energy, helping project both the planet and your pocketbook.

Buying or Renovating

If you want to buy a home that’s already stocked with eco-friendly features, real estate brokerage firms make it easy to search online for green homes in your local market, and you might be surprised at what your money can buy. Most green homes in Chapel Hill sell for an average listing price of $430,850, but many others on the block could be made more eco-friendly with some simple and affordable modifications. And the same could probably be said of renovating your existing home if you don’t have plans to move.

So, whether you’re searching for a green home that’s move-in ready or willing to make modifications to transform a house into an eco-friendly haven, here are some features to consider:

  • If you’re buying, ask if rooms have been painted with products that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chemicals found in many paints that can easily vaporize and could pose health risks. And, if you are repainting rooms yourself, opt for products without VOCs and other harmful chemicals including solvents, ethylene glycol, acetone, or formaldehyde.
  • Prospective buyers should look for low-maintenance lawns stocked with native plants. And, if you opt to invest in replacing a traditional lawn with native grasses, it’s probably well worth it. According to one expert quoted by Realtor.com, it will require 50 percent to 70 percent less water and save you approximately 60 hours a year in time spent on maintenance.
  • While buying a home with solar panels or having them installed may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to adding eco-friendly features, solar energy makes much more sense for some homes than others. You can use Google’s Project Sunroof site to learn more about a location. It uses information from Google Maps to create a personalized roof analysis based on the address entered. The analysis accounts for how much sunlight hits the house, among other factors. Then, it recommends a solar installation size for the home and calculates cost savings and the reduced environmental impact of switching to solar.

Other Options

If you want to improve your home’s energy efficiency with a few easy changes, consider investing in Energy Star-qualified windows and appliances. Energy-efficient windows can cut cooling and  heating costs by 12 percent while individual appliances can trim $45 a year or more on utility bills annually. Installing a smart thermostat can also reduce wasted energy to make your home more eco-friendly, and many utility companies even cover part of the costs.

So, whether you’re building, buying, renovating, or making modest modifications, there are several eco-friendly features that can save you money while helping protect the planet.

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