Buying Green Can Save You Some Green

dimdimich/iStock/Thinkstock

dimdimich/iStock/Thinkstock

If you’re looking into buying a home, consider going green.

The cost of a green home may not differ greatly from that of a nongreen home, but the energy-efficient model should provide savings almost immediately. With the cost of water, electricity, and gas fluctuating, finding ways to protect the environment while saving cash each month is a win-win situation.

If you want to be green, here are some things to look for in a home:

Solar panels

The most powerful energy savers are solar panels. Installed on the roof or on the ground, they collect the rays of the sun. The DC electricity produced by the solar panels runs through a special inverter that converts it into usable voltage for household appliances.

The price of solar panels has dropped, and federal and local tax incentives can cut the cost of a rooftop system to under $10,000, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. For most folks, the bulky panels can be tricky to install, so any home with panels already in place lets an eco-conscious buyer soak up the sun and save money.

Water heaters

Heating water accounts for more than 20% of residential energy use in the U.S.

Old, electric water heaters are energy guzzlers, and most are being phased out. A solar water-heating system eliminates the need for electric water heaters and radiators. Many products are available to save you money and ease the environmental impact.

Proper insulation

Proper roof and wall insulation keep heat inside during the winter and outside in the summer.

Green insulation can include an eco-friendly production or be made of wool, recycled textiles, or anti-allergen material. If the house you’re considering doesn’t include eco-friendly insulation already, you can always update it yourself.

Quality windows

Windows can save energy, too. Heat escapes from windows in the winter, while glass lets it in during the summer. Windows with a proper seal and double or triple panes help regulate the home’s temperature, which in turn reduces energy needs.

More options

Other green items include the following:

  • Up-to-date air-conditioning and heating systems. Old units consume a tremendous amount of power.
  • Newer toilets. Older units consume about a third of all water used in the average home.
  • New paint. At the very least, avoid old lead paint, which has been banned due to health reasons. Low-VOC paint is friendly to the environment.

Get a break

In addition to government tax credits, rebates, and savings, plus lower utility bills, you may be able to get money back on your new green home. Tariff programs in many parts of the U.S. offer owners of grid-connected solar-powered systems a premium for electricity produced by the house that goes back into the general electric grid.

Buying a green home doesn’t just help lighten your environmental impact, it’s a sound investment, too.

This article was published by Anne Miller on realtor.com, and updated from an earlier version by Cina Coren.

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