From: Erin Palmer, Guest Contributor
Published February 26, 2013 01:12 PM

9 Energy-Efficiency Questions to Ask Your Realtor

From the threat of high-impact storms like Sandy to the destruction of natural habitats, climate change affects everyone. It’s clear that we all need to reduce our carbon footprint to minimize global warming. Fortunately, more Americans are reducing greenhouse gases through better choices in home energy use – and saving money, too. In 2008, Americans saved more than $19 billion and prevented the emission of greenhouse gases equivalent to 29 million cars through energy-efficiency measures, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


If you’re in the market for a new home, consider not only the number of bathrooms and closets, but its energy efficiency, as well.

Before you make an offer on a home, ask your realtor these 10 questions:

1. What energy-efficient features are recommended for this area? For example, insulation recommendations may vary widely between Augusta, Georgia, and Augusta, Maine.

2. How old is the heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system? Nearly half the energy a home uses is for heating and cooling. HVAC systems more than 10 years old may not operate efficiently.

3. Are the windows energy-efficient? Poor quality windows let in cold air during the winter and allow cool air to escape during the summer heat, causing wasted energy.

4. Are the appliances Energy-Star rated? High-efficiency dishwashers, water heaters, refrigerators and washing machines use much less energy.

5. How old is the insulation and is it sufficient for the climate? A properly insulated home will require less energy to heat and cool.

6. Has the home been properly sealed? Outer walls, floors, windows, doors and ceilings must be adequately sealed. Gaps and cracks can let air in and out, wasting resources.

7. Was the house built with or updated with green materials? You’ll want to know if the paint and floor coverings in the home are low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound), if wood has been is certified sustainable, and whether any building materials were recycled.

8. How does the home conserve water? Are there low-flush toilets, a tankless water heater and water-conserving showerheads? Is the irrigation system set to save water?

9. Does the house get natural daylight? Windows and skylights can reduce the need for artificial light.

Choosing an energy-efficient home will help you save money and the planet. Ask your realtor the right questions and you’ll be empowered to choose the right home.

This guest post was provided by Erin Palmer. Erin writes about the leadership training needed to enact social change. She also covers the educational side of creating change through public administration degree programs.

For further information see Energy Use

Home image via EPA.

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