More Buyers Are Looking for Homes with Green Technologies and Smaller Carbon Footprints

In February of 2017, the National Association of Realtors surveyed its members regarding green homes and home buyer priorities. NAR found that nearly half of the realtors reported green data fields in their MLS listings. 70 percent of realtors stated that promotion of energy efficiency was either very valuable or somewhat valuable when selling a property, and half of home buyers expressed interest in purchasing a sustainable home. No doubt about it, going green is a smart move for home buyers.

How Valuable Is a Green House?

Green technology is still relatively new, so data on green updates and the direct impact on home values is hard to obtain. The Boston Globe points out that solar panels can increase a home's value by approximately $3 per watt. In the same article, the Globe pointed out a study from UCLA and Berkeley that showed homes advertising green features sold for 9 percent more than homes without green features.

Greening Up Before Going On the Market

Home sellers who want to improve their property value by making green updates and home improvements are faced with a variety of choices. There are many ways, big and small, to reduce a home's carbon footprint. Costly upgrades tend to have bigger returns than small DIY projects, though home sellers on a budget may prefer to make small improvements that allow them to name green features on their home listing.

Below are some major upgrades that homeowners may perform before putting their home up for sale:

  • Install low-e windows. New windows are a great money saving feature that can help improve a home's efficiency and reduce its dependency on climate controlling systems. Low-e coatings in particular help keep warm air in the house during the winter and can keep out UV rays in the summer. With an ROI of 70 percent, window replacement is a popular option among home sellers.

  • Upgrade the HVAC system. ENERGY STAR air conditioners and furnaces use less power and can help lower utility bills in the house. In fact, installing a new HVAC system can cut a homeowner's energy bill by as much as $115 per year.

  • Install solar panels. Many solar companies work with homeowners to help them get rebates and take advantage of government subsidies for solar panels. Homeowners can purchase solar panels straight out, or can lease the solar panels for a fixed period of time. Most solar panels will not completely reduce a home's dependency on power from the electric company, but will greatly reduce the home's dependency on the power grid.

In addition to the relatively major home improvements listed above, homeowners on a budget can make smaller home improvements that can also have a big impact on the home's carbon footprint.

  • Install low-flow features in the bathroom. Low-flow toilets, faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads can save money and reduce water usage by hundreds of gallons.

  • Install a "smart" thermostat. Smart thermostats reduce energy usage when the home owner is away or sleeping. Over time, smart thermostats will learn a homeowner's energy preferences. By tracking the movements of the homeowner through his or her cell phone, the smart thermostat will adjust the temperature of the house when the homeowner returns home from work.

  • Improve attic insulation and seal air ducts. Beefing up attic insulation and sealing air ducts prevents climate-controlled air inside the home from leaking into the uninhabited parts of the house like the attic. This helps keep the house at
    a comfortable temperature year round.

    Promoting a Green House

    Some studies suggest that home buyers are just as interested in saving money on utilities as they are in saving the environment. Home sellers who want to capitalize on this interest can advertise their home's green features in terms of money savings. Listing the percentage of savings with a new HVAC system, new windows and other green features can help attract buyers.