Purchasing a home involves making many decisions. How many bedrooms do you need? What neighbourhood do you want to live in? Should it be previously owned, brand new or custom-built?
Here’s one more thing to consider: is the home a “green” home? That is, does it have features that will save energy and water, reduce maintenance costs and waste, offer a healthy indoor environment and have a reduced impact on the earth?
With growing awareness around being green and making the right choices for the environment, it’s not surprising that more and more builders are constructing green homes.
In addition, homeowners are investing in upgrading their homes with green features to make them more energy efficient, comfortable as well as to increase the sales value.
All of this is good news for buyers who are looking for a home with a particular shade of green. Whether you’re looking at a home that is previously owned or one that is new, here are some things to consider:
Insulation: Next to a mortgage, energy costs can be one of the most significant household expenditures. An energy-efficient home conserves energy by reducing heat loss during the winter and heat gains during the summer.
One of the best ways to reduce heat loss and gain is to ensure ceilings, walls and foundations are well-insulated and draft-free. Energy Star windows and doors will also help keep your heating and cooling costs down while improving comfort.
Heating systems: A home with an older model heating system that operates at 65 to 75 per cent efficiency can realize significant cost savings by converting to a new energy efficient model that operates at 85 to 98 per cent efficiency.
Look for heating systems that use high efficiency motors as well to reduce electricity costs.
Water-efficiency: Water is a precious resource. Newer front loading clothes washers can use far less water than older top loaders.
They can save on water heating and clothes drying costs too. Also, ask if the home has low-or dual-flush toilets and low-flow shower and faucet fixtures.
Water use can be further reduced by limiting the amount of water required to maintain lawns and gardens through the use of hardy, indigenous plants, capturing rain water for irrigation and limiting lawn area.
Light fixtures: Energy-efficient lighting is an easy way to reduce your electrical consumption. Look for compact fluorescent lamps, which last up to 10 times longer than regular bulbs and use one-third of the energy.
Durable building materials: When a building material requires frequent repair or replacing, it becomes both an environmental and economic burden.
Durable materials don’t need to be replaced or repaired as frequently and this reduces repair costs as well as the amount of resources consumed to supply the materials and the amount of material taken to landfills.
Look for things like exterior siding that doesn’t need frequent painting, roofing materials built to last for 20 years or more, and moisture-resistant finishes in bathrooms and kitchens.
Indoor Air Quality: Choose materials and finishes that have low odour and low pollutant emissions. A ventilation system that provides fresh outdoor air and deals with moisture and odours can also help maintain a healthy indoor environment.
One way to check the nearby destinations in any neighbourhood you’re considering on your green home hunt, is to visit www.walkscore.comand enter the address of the house you’re looking at.
This tool calculates a walkability score for that address based on its proximity to transit, grocery stores, schools and other amenities.
This is one element of sustainability that can be compared to other neighbourhoods.
Click here to view this article. By Trevor Gloyn, Postmedia News – The Vancouver Sun.