Wednesday, April 21, 2021 / by Randy Durham
Chattanooga has reinvented its reputation from being one of the dirtiest cities in the U.S. to be an innovator in urban sustainability. In recent years, energy efficiency and sustainability in residential properties have been major priorities in housing policy. In recent news, Freddie Mac reports energy-efficient homes are selling for more money than those without. Also, homes that are marketed as "energy-efficient" tend to sell faster. Aside from the usual headaches of home selling, investing money into renovations of a home destined for resale is risky. However, the cost vs value of green renovations is above common upgrades, such as kitchens or bathrooms. So how can you make your home stand out in today's market? Going the green route is one option, and is surprisingly variable in the range of options available to homeowners.
What is the Difference between Sustainable & Energy-Efficient?
Unless you have been living in a cave for the past decade or so, the overhanging cloud of climate change?is an issue that receives plenty of attention from policymakers, businesses, and even homeowners. To make a long and controversial story short, sustainable housing focuses on reducing harmful impacts on the environment. Energy-efficient homes operate based off of reducing the overall energy consumption of your home. Making your home energy efficient reduces your carbon footprint, while sustainable homes aspire to make a net-zero impact.?
The Path to Sustainable Living
Sustainable homes are constructed or remodeled with renewable resources, such as recycled demolished building materials, low VOC products, bamboo flooring, or EcoRock drywall. They are often powered by wind, geothermal, or solar energy. Also, green home companies have advocated installing?Energy Star appliances.?Coupled with the ongoing efforts of sustainability, there are a variety of products available for construction and remodeling. If you really want Mother Earth to award you a gold star and seriously vamp up your home's resale value, you can have your home certified by a third party. The?U.S. Green Building Council?allows you to officially certify a new construction home or major renovation project as "green." This is most commonly referred to as a LEED certification.
The Path to Reducing Energy Costs
For homeowners who wish to tackle smaller projects or aren't up to the daunting task of adhering to the 80-page certification manual, many of the green updates available are surprisingly simple and affordable. The first thing you can do is conduct an energy audit of your home. The audit will help you identify areas in your home that you can improve on your own. The U.S. Department of Energy advises hiring a professional to conduct a more comprehensive evaluation of your home's energy efficiency. However, they provide tips for a more comprehensive DIY audit
1. Locate air leaks-this can reduce drafts and save anywhere from 5-30% on energy per year
2. Check insulation-especially in older homes, which are often notorious for having inadequate levels
3. Inspect heating and cooling equipment-especially if the unit is over 10 years old?
4. Check out lighting-consider switching to more efficient bulbs
5. Evaluate appliances--energy usage varies, but you can plan accordingly to reduce energy consumption
Aside from energy audits, there are home improvements that even Uncle Sam dotes on. Adding upgrades like energy-efficient doors and windows, high-efficiency water heaters and appliances, or even a programmable thermostat may render you eligible for some?tax credits.?Other trends include using repurposed materials when building or renovating.
Every Home is Unique
The size and scope of your renovation project will affect your home's value differently. Unfortunately, marketing your sustainable abode as having a minimal carbon footprint will not hide the fact that your house is next to the busiest freeway in the city, or that you have the worst neighbor in modern history.?On the flip side, telling your real estate agent that your home is energy-efficient, sustainable, or LEED certified can undoubtedly help you in playing up its positive attributes.?