Finding and Buying a Green Home

About ten years ago we were considering solar panels for our home, but found the price a bit prohibitive for our budget at the time. Looking back, we should have figured out a way to do it. Now being green is so much more expensive.

The good news is because of the current economy housing prices have dropped significantly so purchasing a home that is already green or finding a less expensive home and making green renovations is definitely an option.

If you are thinking of buying a new home and want to take steps to ensure the home you buy is eco-friendly, here are some things to look for as you shop.

Location is an Important Green Consideration

Actually, whenever you purchase a home experts will remind you that location is an important factor in your decision, because while you can change the look of your home, it’s a lot more difficult to change the location. So make sure you put location high on your list when shopping for a green home.

Specifically consider how the home is set on the property in order to take advantage of the sun all year round. If it’s an older home, look for vegetation that offers shade (properly placed trees that protect rooms from the hot summer sun) and noise abatement. Look at the lot for things such as rainwater runoff and possible rodent infestation from nearby fields.

Another green consideration is the home’s location to retail, schools and public transportation. Being able to walk or ride a bus or train to work, school or shopping not only helps the environment, it may reduce your home insurance rates.

Make Sure the Home Was Built Green

While many people think of LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certification when it comes to commercial buildings, there is actually a LEED for homes, too.

While the certification process for homes is extensive, some of the things required include the use of products which are locally produced (this means extracted, processed and manufactured within 500 miles of the home), fitting the home with ENERGY STAR® lights and a programmable thermostat, and using water resistant flooring in the entryway, kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and spa areas – no carpeting.

You should also be sure the home is properly insulated (i.e. insulation with the appropriate R-factor, a measure of heat loss) and that there is weather-stripping on all doors and windows. And speaking of windows, while they are great for the natural light they offer, look for eco-friendly, energy-efficient windows that are NRFC rated (National Fenestration Rating Council).

Finally, make sure the home was built with a good plumbing system. An ENERGY STAR ® tankless water heater which eliminates the need for a 40-gallon hot water tank and heats the water immediately (no wait time), plus you’ll want low flow toilets, showerheads and faucets. And check to see if there is a graywater (also spelled greywater) disposal and recycling system for reuse of irrigation and laundry water.

Select Green Flooring, Appliances and Landscaping

If you’re moving into a new home, you may have the opportunity to select many of your own amenities such as flooring, appliances and landscaping.

When we were recently shopping for new flooring for the dining room, they steered us toward bamboo and cork because they are natural, non-toxic, and durable. They are also quite beautiful. In addition to reclaimed wood, linoleum, and stone tile, they are considered the top eco-friendly flooring choices.

As for appliances, keep the ENERGY STAR ® label in mind for your refrigerator, ceiling fans, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer.

On the outside of your home, look for non-invasive, drought-tolerant, native plants with low irrigation needs. Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil and plant trees along sidewalks, patios and driveways to offer shade. Also consider landscaping which discourages invasive species to minimize demand for synthetic chemicals.

There are a lot of ways to make your home more eco-friendly and these are just a few of the things to mull over as you look for you new green home.