Sellers stand to gain in two ways from upgrading or owning homes with "green" features:
- Enhance the bottom line:
- In marketing your property, we can promote "green" or sustainable features, thereby demanding a greater sales price over the traditional, otherwise comparable home. We can promote the value added by showing prospective buyers how these features reduce the monthly cost of living expenses, particularly in utility bills, justifying the higher market price.
- Alternatively, we could leave the market price at a relative constant while promoting the benefits of "green" features to prospective buyers. This will assuredly speed up the selling process, reducing the number of days the property sits vacant, saving the seller lots of money in carrying costs, and freeing them up to proceed with other housing objectives.
- Play a role in necessary conservation of natural resources:
- While many people are focused on finding new supplies of energy and water, what makes most sense is finding ways to reduce consumption. This is ecologically responsible.
- Become a leader in the ecological movement by setting the example.
- So what can you do to make your home more green? The most efficient way is to buy one already built that way. But since there have been so many homes built without these features, you may need to consider "green" upgrades:
- Do a home energy audit, or better yet, hire a professional to do one on your home. This will tell you what you are doing well and not so well. Often times there are a variety of inexpensive things you can do to improve your home's energy efficiency.
- HVAC: Replace A/C systems with 13 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) or greater, and updating furnaces to high AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) systems of 80 or greater. This will have a tremendous impact on your utility bills, and is a great selling point.
- Replace kitchen appliances and water heater with ENERGYSTAR rated appliances. So many people live with old appliances never getting around to updating until it's time to sell. Begin budgeting for this now, and enjoy the benefits of these features right away and later when you sell too.
- Replace plumbing fixtures with water conserving fixtures. Many parts of the country are experiencing major issues with water shortages. This is one way each of us can contribute to the solution and save on utility bills as a bonus.
- Take advantage of passive solar technologies for heating, and active systems for power generation to supplement the grid. This is an initiative for the most serious of "green" consumers. Every year the costs of these systems is coming down.
- Install programmable thermostat(s). Help dispel the myth that setting your thermostat to a constant 68 in winter and 78 in summer is the most efficient. The EPA has proven, in test after test, that it takes an equal or less amount of energy to restore a comfortable climate in the home.
- Replace old single-pane windows with ENERGYSTAR rated multi-pane windows. It's not the glass, it's the frames that are the problem. The old one are drafty. This is an expensive but very effective alteration. Most buyers get it, and are willing to pay a premium for it.
- Improve insulation in older homes built before present day codes. This also relates to use of newer insulating products with no or low formaldehyde.
- Install a grey-water recycling system. Catch the soapy water from the washing machine or dishwasher and use it for water plants.
- Install rainwater retention systems. This can be a really elaborate underground catch basin with pumps, or just a simple installation of rain barrels. Either way, this is the enviromnetally smart thing to do.
- Improve interior air quality with ventilation systems that replace indoor air with fresh outdoor air. This is vitally important for some people with environmental illnesses, but is also important for others that don't show immediate symptoms. Tests have shown that the air inside most buildings is far more contaminated than the outdoor air, even in metropolitan areas.
- Improve potable water quality by installing whole-house and reverse osmosis filtering systems. Whether your water comes from a private well or the public system, it is full of contaminants. And using a household filtering system helps avoid the use of bottled water, the byproduct of which is a landfill full of plastic bottles that take forever to decompose.
- Constructing wind screens and shade with intelligent landscaping and planting. These features make the home less susceptible to harsh weather conditions, and can dramatically reduce the energy spent on cooling and heating the home.
Now is the time for environmentally conscious homeowners to awaken to the realities of the environment, for their own good, and to recognize that more and more buyers are looking for "green" features.