There are several factors that you consider when looking for a new home or an apartment like location, layout, nearby school, local businesses, etc. However, there is one important factor that often gets overlooked: energy consumption. Energy efficient homes will help you save energy as well as money while making your home much more comfortable and durable. One common misconception is that the energy efficiency measures are way too costly. However, the energy savings overtime will soon overcome to initial upfront cost.
Let’s look at the top 6 energy efficiency features that you should look for before buying a home or an apartment.
- Home Appliances
Appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, microwaves, water pumps, etc. represent a big share of energy consumption. One of the best ways to ensure these appliances don’t consume too much energy, make sure to check if they are ENERGY STAR rated or not. Appliances with the ENERGY STAR label undergo rigorous testing by third-party labs, and they guarantee energy efficiency.
A recent study showed that a typical household spends around $2000 every year on energy bills. With ENERGY STAR labelled appliances, you can save up to 30% or $575 every year on energy bills. Speaking of environmental impact, these appliances avoid up to 5,500 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Heating Systems
Another characteristic to consider regarding home appliances is their energy source. In general, electrical appliances have a higher operating cost than gas-fired appliances. Pay special attention to space heaters and domestic hot water systems, which can be very expensive to run with electricity. Heat pumps are an exception, since they can compete with gas heaters in running costs, without burning a fossil fuel locally.
The way a home is heated has a major impact on energy consumption, and heating systems are characterized by their variety. The types of equipment you may find include furnaces, boilers, resistance heaters, steam radiators, hot water radiators and radiant floors. To find the best option, the best recommendation is getting in touch with a professional HVAC engineering firm.
During an inspection, checking if all the walls are well-insulated may not be possible. However, there is one key place that must be inspected before purchasing a house: the attic. Improperly insulated attics can cause plenty of issues, especially during the winter.
According to the ENERGY STAR recommendations, the attic insulation should be as high as the floor joist insulation, with no low spots to maximize efficiency. House sellers should provide all the available information about the insulation of components such as roofs and walls. If the budget is available, thermal imaging is a very effective method to detect insulation issues.
If there are air leaks around windows and doors, heating and cooling appliances must work harder to keep the desired temperature. Look for windows with energy efficiency certifications and storm resistance properties, and also check if they are properly installed without gaps around the edges.
Another thing to consider is the placement and number of windows: having plenty of efficient windows will provide energy savings by allowing sunlight in. Less artificial lighting is required, and open windows can provide natural ventilation when the weather is suitable.
- Electric Supplier
In some places, residential energy users can choose the electric supplier. By finding a favourable electricity plan, you can achieve significant power bill savings over time. If you are concerned about using electricity from clean sources, suppliers will often disclose their mix of energy sources. For instance, you can minimize your environmental impact by finding an electric supplier that gets most or all of its energy from renewable sources
The plumbing system design has a direct impact on water bills, and there is also an energy cost when a water pump is involved. In the case of domestic hot water systems, consider there is also a heating cost. Plumbing fixtures like faucets and drains should have water efficiency ratings – fixtures with the WaterSense label from the US Environmental Protection Agency offer water savings of 20% or more.
While checking around the kitchen or bathrooms, examine the pipes underneath the sinks. Watch out for any leaks or mold growths: leaks increase your water bill, while mold has a negative effect on air quality and health. If any of the two issues is found, make sure it is repaired before you buy or rent.