Sustainable features in homes are the latest trend to attract buyers. The good news is that there are so many ways to improve the efficiency and durability of a home. At one point the buzz was all about fancy showers that were lined with sprays that endlessly shot water from head to toe, or countertops fabricated from imported granite. But not anymore. According to the 2018 National Association of REALTORS® Sustainability Resource Guide, 61% of surveyed members said that their clients are interested in sustainability and want more of these features in their homes. Almost every age group wants to save money, pare energy and water consumption, and remove toxins from the air they breathe. Here are some of the tips that homeowners and real estate pros can focus on when trying to sell to sustainable-conscious clients.
First step is to focus on the size of the home. Whether you are starting from scratch, or just adding on, it is important to analyze your needs and try to go smaller. Size is controllable. One tip from Prentis Hale, the principal at SHED Architecture and Design in Seattle, is to keep homes under 2,500 square feet. You can do this by having small bedrooms.
Another way to make your home more sustainable is to focus on keeping your embodied energy low. The dean of the University of Nevada, Steffen Lehmann, defines embodied energy as the amount of energy consumed by all the processes associated with the production of a building. Homeowners should ask builders and architects what they will do regarding the home’s embodied energy and how they intend to keep it low. One strategy is to use only locally sourced and processed materials. This way they do not need to travel all around the globe.
Insulation and heating are very important factors when it comes to a sustainable house. Homeowners should have an energy audit conducted to gauge the efficiency of the home’s systems before they make any changes to their home. After the audit, homeowners should have gaps from windows, doors, and recessed lighting caulked in order to seal the house, and poorly insulated windows replaced with multi-pane windows. The basement, attic, and the walls’ insulation should also be improved. Architect Tony Schmitz states that any home built before 1990 should have an updated heating and cooling system. There are programmable smart thermostats, like the Nest, that are useful for saving energy. The Nest can learn homeowner’s patterns and lowers temperatures when they are away.
Another area of your home to focus on when it comes to sustainability and saving money is your landscaping. Landscaping can get pretty pricey, so homeowners have become more aware of different choices that will last longer and require less water and maintenance. Author and landscape designer Michael Glassman says that native plants, permeable pavers, and drip irrigation systems all pare water use. Besides paring water use, landscaping with large shade trees can block sunlight and lessen the need for air conditioning.
Everyone has seen or heard about solar panels and how much of a difference they make. For many homeowners, solar panels have become a much more affordable option due to the decrease in cost and the federal solar tax credit. Solar panels can be used in combination with a battery storage system to provide homeowners with a way to store energy when the sun isn’t shining and to provide backup power.
The cheapest form of light in a house is natural daylight. This should be maximized in new construction and renovations. If you cannot get the amount of natural light that you want, then LED lights are the way to go. Energy Star-rated products use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.
While there are a plethora of ways you can make your home more efficient and sustainable, above are just a few of the top tips. For even more ways you can save money and energy, check out Realtor Magazine’s article HERE.