Energy efficiency is often overlooked when buying a home. But it shouldn’t be, since the way your home uses energy can affect your monthly utility costs, comfort, safety, durability and even resale value.
Here are five energy-related questions to ask your realtor when viewing a home.
1. What are the monthly utility costs?
Don’t find out later that your bargain-of-a-lifetime home is actually more expensive than you thought. Ask about utility costs upfront to get a fuller picture of what the home will actually cost you.
2. Have there been any energy efficiency improvements made?
Ask what improvements were made and when they were made. Then look into if they actually improve the home’s energy performance and sustainability. Sometimes home sellers or real estate professionals will advertise something as eco-friendly and bump up the home’s price, even though it’s not actually worth it. It’s called “green-washing.” Look out for it.
3. Has the home had an energy assessment?
Determining if the home has been assessed by an energy expert is crucial to saving. This could be a full ENERGY STAR® certification at construction, an Energy Assessment during major renovations or our FREE 90-minute Home Energy Analysis available to eligible Consumers Energy natural gas and combination customers. Regardless, make sure you get a copy of the report if one has been performed and get one done if not.
4. Does the home have a HERS Index Score?
The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rates your home based on its energy efficiency. To learn what an HERS Index Score is and why it’s significant, check out our recent post.
5. Was the house built by an ENERGY STAR certified builder?
An ENERGY STAR certified builder can ensure a home is at peak energy efficiency. Keep in mind, though, that ENERGY STAR for New Homes was formed in 1997. So, if a home was built before then, it cannot have this certification (it can still have a HERS Index Score).
Don’t worry if your realtor doesn’t have an answer to one or more of these questions. A good buyer’s agent will work with you to find the answers. Look for one with special green training or certification and you’ll be one step closer to your ideal, energy-efficient home.