It’s undeniable: Energy efficiency is in.
In 2018, there’s an abundance of reasons why you should make your home more energy efficient. As a homeowner, there are hundreds of small, tangible steps you can take to do just that. They can be as minor as replacing your lightbulbs and switching detergents, or as large as installing solar panels.
And as a real estate agent who has spent over a decade revitalizing and selling my Los Angeles clients’ homes, let me share another perk of energy efficiency: You will increase your home’s value.
What’s more, energy efficient improvements can help your home stand out in a crowded market. In states like California that suffer from droughts and strained power grids, the benefits of installing energy-efficient measures are poised only to go up in the future.
Here’s what you should — and shouldn’t — prioritize if you’re considering energy-efficient home upgrades:
Not all windows are created equal. Depending on your local climate, they may be doing serious damage to your energy bills by letting heat out during the winter and in during the summer.
Of course, energy-efficient windows can lower energy costs, but they can even eliminate hot or cold spots in your home. There are plenty of windows out there to choose from, so a good rule of thumb is to go with the government’s standard qualification, ENERGY STAR.
Most importantly, find beautiful windows that complement your home’s design. Energy-efficient windows add to your home’s value, but beautiful windows are what will really help make the sale.
2. Solar Panels
Of anything on the list, solar energy systems may offer the single biggest impact on your monthly energy bill, and, when implemented correctly, they can be a central feature when marketing a green home for sale.
Solar panel users have had their fair share of challenges in the past, primarily from HOAs and other groups. At least in California, however, legislators have given homeowners a lot more freedom in the past few years.
A word of warning: Leasing your solar panels can throw a major wrench in your eventual home sale by requiring your buyer to take over your leasing agreement. If a solar system fits your budget, it’s probably best to buy.
3. Water Systems
If you live in Southern California, you know how dry this state can get during the summer. It’s so bad, in fact, that this year California has set new per capita water use standard: 55 gallons per day by 2022, and 50 gallons per day by 2030.
While the new standards aren’t quite as dire as some have made them out to be, the water efficiency of your home will have a growing impact on its value over time. Water-efficient sprinkler systems, water heaters and toilets can go a long way to selling your green home down the line.
4. HVAC Systems
How your home cools, warms and ventilates affects your energy usage more than anything else, so you’re doing yourself a disservice by keeping your old system.
From fans to central air conditioners to heat pumps, ENERGY STAR makes recommendations that will ease your bills and upgrade your home. I do suggest you include a smart thermostat, which will serve as visible proof to buyers that the energy efficiency you mentioned in the listing is the real deal.
5. Avoid: Appliances And Accessories
Not everyone has the same taste. Your dream dishwasher may not be your buyer’s dream dishwasher, or your buyer may have their own unit they plan on bringing with them.
It’s best not to assume that replacing major appliances with energy-efficient models will have any impact on your home’s value — because they’re not really part of the home. That’s not to say you shouldn’t go green where possible. Just know that if you replace your washer and dryer, you’re doing it for you and not the potential buyer.
Go Green And Go Home
Even if you don’t plan on moving anytime soon, implementing a combination of smart, energy-efficient changes can pay for itself in the long term. I have to admit, it can be kind of addicting to watch those energy bills drop.
If you do plan on moving, energy-efficient is the way to go. As energy prices continue to rise, the number of buyers looking for green housing will rise with them. And what a coincidence — yours will be the greenest house on the market.