Twenty or even ten years ago, it wouldn't even have occurred to home buyers that they should look for a home that was energy efficient. Those who were concerned about efficiency were looking at it from a financial point of view. These days, we're not just interested in saving money on our monthly bills and mortgage payment, we're also interested in the impact our home has on the environment. Here are a few things to think about when buying a home with energy efficiency in mind.
The first thing you should look at when you're judging a home on its energy efficiency is the heating system. Some homes still have coal fired furnaces and many homes still have oil fired furnaces, which are right up there on the list of worst polluting appliances. Geothermal is rare but highly prized for its efficiency while electric heat powered by a sustainable source (such as hydro) is also good. Natural gas and pellet stoves are also more efficient than old oil and coal furnaces.
Connected to the furnace factor is the homes ability to retain heat. You should look for homes on the real estate listings that have newer, double paned windows. Double paned windows with noble gases between the panes are even more efficient. Speak to a window company about what your best option is for energy efficiency windows and doors. Likewise you're looking for a home with good quality seals around the doors and windows to reduce heat escaping. You'll also want to check the efficiency and age of the insulation and whether the whole house (including the attic) is insulated or just the finished spaces. A home inspection can be a very useful tool for uncovering the areas where you can make improvements. (We suggest contacting a licensed HouseMaster office.)
Having an energy efficient house also means not wasting a lot of money powering outdated appliances, so your new home should come with Energy Star rated appliances, especially washers, dryers, fridges, freezers, and ovens, which are the biggest energy suckers. If you don't find any, you may want to leave room in your budget to replace the old appliances. The same goes for any energy efficiency issues you find in the rest of the house. In fact, if you have the money its better to revamp an old home than just buy a new one as you will be adding to the overall number of efficient homes. You may even be able to get tax credits for your renos.
If you're not sure how to evaluate the efficiency of the real estate you want to buy, call your local environmental department and arrange for an energy audit. You'll want to have two if you're renovating - one before work begins and the other afterward to make sure you've reached your goal. Energy audits are often required when claiming tax credits for energy efficiency home renovations. if you want to further discuss the HST rebate on home renovations there are companies such as Rental Rebate that will help you sort through the process and apply for your rebate on your behalf.