Determining the overall, environmental-efficiency of a home takes a bit of effort and knowledge. For most it is time consuming, however, here we give you a head start on the process, pointing out the top 5 things you must look for to ensure your home is energy-efficient.
1. Ask to See Past Utility Bills
Asking to see past utility bills is a great way to gauge exactly how much energy a residence uses on a regular basis. The possibility of human error or intentional under-estimations are thrown out the window here. With a bill in hand one can look at the exact numbers and extrapolate from there to determine how efficient the home is overall. This is the first step, once you have the bill, it’s good to dive into specifics.
2. Check the Windows
When it comes to heating and cooling bills, the insulation quality of the windows are absolutely vital. It doesn’t matter how efficient your heating or cooling system is if the windows aren’t sealed properly. Ideally, windows should be double-paned and have a low-e coating. Beyond a visual inspection, a good way to test the quality of the windows is to take the temperature in the center of the window and then on all of the corners. If you find the temperature swings considerably on certain corners, that is a bad sign.
3. Look for the Energy Star Seal on Appliances
Appliances use a lot of energy, and older ones tend to be a real drain. An easy way to check the energy-efficiency is to look for the Energy Star logo. The Energy Star system was started under the Clean Water Act and operates under the Environmental Protection Agency. For appliances to be Energy Star certified, they must pass a series of lab and functionality tests determining their overall efficiency. The more appliances you see brandishing the Energy Star seal, the better.
4. Ask About Paint and Carpet
This is less about energy-efficiency and more about how green the home is internally. It’s always a good idea to ask if the paint used on the walls was of a no-VOC variety. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, and they’ve been linked to a bevy of health problems. It’s also good to ask about the carpet to see if it was made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials or not. All of this stuff plays a role in how green a home is.
5. Order an Energy Audit
OK, so maybe you don’t want to do all of the aforementioned checks and would rather a professional handle it—that’s fine too. Ask your real estate agent to recommend an environmental inspector and have a full audit competed. This will give you an in-depth view of just how environmentally-efficient the home is.