Summer is here and that means open house season is now in full swing. Looking for your perfect home is an exciting process, but there's more to look out for besides those granite countertops or beautiful hardwood floors. Factoring energy-efficient features into your search could save you money for the years ahead.
Our dedicated guide can help make sure your dream home is an energy efficient one.
Look out for old appliances
Large appliances like fridges, stoves and laundry machines often come as a package deal when you're buying a home. Appliances that are ENERGY STAR® certified will help keep your monthly bills down.
Clothes washers with that blue seal, for example, use 25 per cent less energy and 45 per cent less water than standard products. Likewise, ENERGY STAR refrigerators are nine per cent more energy efficient than standard products and only use half the amount of energy compared to old refrigerators.
While you're in the kitchen, check that the fridge door seals are in good condition to ensure no unnecessary energy is used to maintain a set temperature inside.
The good news? If appliances like dryers or dishwashers are dated in your new home, you can factor rebates into the cost of upgrading.
Keep temperature in mind
You may not think about comfort levels during an open house walk-through, but your home’s temperature is crucial for your day-to-day living. Heating and cooling appliances make up a large portion of energy bills, so pay careful attention to them when visiting a property.
If the house has a furnace or air conditioner, find out how old they are and what kind of shape they’re in (ideally, they’ll be ENERGY STAR certified). Older equipment is often less efficient, but proper maintenance can keep it running smoothly until you can invest in a more efficient model.
Some homes may have air-source heat pumps, which are much more efficient than furnaces and heaters because they move air instead of producing it, reducing your household’s carbon footprint and saving you up to $325 a year while efficiently heating or cooling your home.
If you spot ceiling fans, that’s a plus. An ENERGY STAR certified ceiling fan will use up to 60 per cent less energy than regular fans.
What’s behind the walls?
Take insulation levels of your potential new home into consideration by asking the seller (or your real estate agent) whether the walls, floors, interior hot water pipes and the attic have been insulated and upgraded for a comfortable home all year long. For example, insulated exterior walls can stop up to 20 per cent of home energy loss.
Beware of drafty windows and doors
Drafty windows can account for up to a quarter of your house’s heat loss, which means more energy used on air conditioning or heating. Look for condensation, poor caulking or gaps between the window and the house’s siding.
If your perfect home is drafty, weather stripping around doors and windows is an inexpensive way to make it more comfortable and energy efficient. Air-sealed or weather-stripped doors and windows can reduce up to 15 per cent of your heating bills by preventing warm or cool air lost through the gaps.
If you want to upgrade, look for high-performance ENERGY STAR certified windows, which are designed to reduce condensation and block out outdoor noise. Additionally, storm doors and windows are great features that also act as an extra layer of protection from the weather, reducing almost 50 per cent of heat loss.
Think about light
Consider the lighting sources in your potential buy. Is there overhead lighting, and if not, would you want to add it? There may be opportunities to use more task lighting in a potential home, so you can save on the costs of keeping all the lights on. Plus, if the home already has energy efficient LED lighting, you can save a bundle.
Consider natural light, too. A home with plenty of windows and light is a draw for most of us and can help keep your home warmer during the winter. But, they may add to your cooling needs in the summer, so think about how window coverings can help curb sunlight.