Check your local real estate listings, and you are bound to find plenty touting that they are "Green." But how do you really know they are in, fact "Green?" As one of Vermont's few CGP's (Certified Green Professionals) and a developer of certified homes with the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), I am trained in Green Construction and know what to look for in a "GREEN" home. The average homeowner, however, may not have this level of expertise. So what should you look for in a "GREEN" home?
The following are a few simple things you should look for when evaluating the Green level of a new or existing home:
- The first thing to look for-- is it certified GREEN? So many homes claim they are green, but until a VALID 3rd party certifies the home, the claim does not mean much of anything. There are plenty of local resources that can certify homes, and a few you should look for are Efficiency Vermont and NAHB. There are other organizations out there cerifying home, and a quick internet search can validate their authority. Just callinga home green doesn't make it so, and a valid Green home is sure to be certified.
- One of the first things you should remember is you can not spell grEEn with out Energy Efficiency. How efficientlyhomes use resources is one of the paramount factors when determining if a home is green or not. A great thing to look at for and estimate on energy efficiency for an existing home (if it is not certified green) are the previous utility bills. Preferably, bills for a recent heating season. Ask for electric, gas/oil, as a minimum--say, for January to March of the previous year. This is your best way to gauge efficiency, and is not something buyers typically ask for!
- Insulation is critical. Obviously, this is easier to check on new construction, but anything over R-15 is considered adequate for new and existing construction. Also, check with the builder on how they insulate the foundation, and if there is a basement, do they insulate the walls and sheet rock as well. This will cut down on heat leakage in the critical winter months. And remember, Old homes (100 years or more)have a ton of character and charm, but many do not have limited (if any) insulation at all. This is certainly something to consider when purchasing an older home.
- Windows are just holes in your walls! For this reason, make sure you have an efficient "hole in your wall." Check the quality and energy rating of the installed windows. How old are the windows? Do they have any frost build up in the winter months? If they are new, what is their energy rating? If it is new construction, ask to see the caulking around an unfinished unit. Properly sealing a window can do wonders to limit "air infiltration." There are plenty of great, energy efficient windows on the market these days. If you are considering purchasing an older home that may need new ones, build this cost into your home buying budget. It can save you 10-fold in future heating and cooling costs.
- Ask for a "blower air test" if the home is not certified, at a bare minimum. All certified Green homes will have one done, and it is essentially a test that measures air infiltration from "unanticipated" areas of the home- windows, fireplaces, joints, etc. Efficiency Vermont can perform them at a minimum cost, and they are worth every penny. As a side note, if the home tests very well for the blower air test, make sure you have fans in the bathrooms of the homes, and that they are on timers. You will need to introduce fresh air with today's "tighter" built Green homes, and automatic bathroom fans are an easy and inexpensive way to do just that.
- Are the lighting fixtures and appliances "Energy Star" rated? Efficient lighting fixtures, for example, can cut energy consumption by 1/2 or more. Combine energy efficient appliances into the equation, and you are talking serious energy savings!
Buying a GREEN home is not only good for the planet, it is good for your wallet.
Consider this when looking at newer certified Green Construction, vs an older, non-certified green home. Your energy savings for a new home can potentially save $1000's per year! Also, consider working with a proven professional, with history in Green real estate for your next home purchase. As a Certified Green Professional, and a developer of locally certified Green homes in the Burlington area, Dousevicz Real Estate is poised to offer a unique level of experience in Green Construction as you search for the perfect lakefront home in Shelburne, Colchester, or Charlotte, or the finest home or condominium in Burlington, Essex, South Burlington, and the surrounding areas.