5 Tips On What to Look for When Buying a Green Home

By Danielle King on 24 Jul 2013
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With the rise of energy costs creating an overall increase in environmental awareness, more and more people are turning to energy efficient and “green” homes – and it’s a trend that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon. Different homes have features that have the potential to dramatically reduce your impact on the environment, as well as your energy bills.

Here are a few simple tips for things to look out for when hunting for your new green home.

5 Tips On What to Look for When Buying a Green Home

Heating Systems

Ideally, an energy efficient home will feature a heating system that has a highly ranked star energy rating and can be zoned, meaning that you can select which rooms you want to heat at which time. If everyone in your household is using only one room for an extended period of time, it hardly makes sense to heat the whole house. Good models may also have a 7 day timer, which can be very handy. Generally speaking, gas heaters are cheaper to run than their electric counterparts. However, a highly efficient inverter type could be just as efficient if appropriately sized. Electric under floor heating in particular will be very costly to run – if your home features this you might consider not using it and finding an alternative source of heating, or even a combination of heating solutions.

North Facing Living Areas

If you have a north facing living area you may be one of the lucky ones. You can take advantage of what’s known as “passive solar heating” – free heating from the sun that can aid in warming your home in the winter. If you’re planning on renovating, a good architect may be able to work in this design feature. This is an increasing concern in the construction of many new green homes. A bit of thought and consideration to the positioning of a house on a particular block can significantly reduce your heating costs.

Draft Seals and Insulation

Good draft proofing and insulation will do wonders to help to maintain a comfortable indoor room temperature. Rather than having to keep your heater blasting because you are losing the warmth through the walls, ceilings, windows and doors, draft proofing and insulation will help to keep in the heat for longer so the heating won’t have to work so hard, saving you energy and costs. You can easily check for draft seals around external doors and windows as you look when you are considering buying a home; it is easy to retrofit later. Insulation on the other hand is not so easy to see.  Ask if the home is insulated, how old it is and to what level when you’re looking around.  If it’s not insulated, or it was done some 20 years ago, it will need to be done.

Hot Water Systems

This might come as a surprising fact, but hot water alone can make up 25 per cent of your energy bill. Thankfully, there are a lot of options in terms of energy efficient hot water systems. Solar hot water with a gas booster is the most cost effective to run, and is becoming more popular in green homes. Following that you should look out for gas instantaneous and gas storage, which are far less expensive to run than an electric hot water storage system.

Pools and Spas

Pools and spas generally use a significant amount of energy. The most energy efficient way to run these is with solar heating and a gas booster (if heated). There are many new covers on the market now which are very easy to use; some are clear and can assist in maintaining pool temperature without having to use the booster. Pumps can cost a lot to run so check if it’s an efficient model, or replace it with one when it needs to be replaced.

 

All of these suggestions could greatly impact your running costs and your carbon footprint. If your next (or current!) home does not have these features, do your homework and look into installing them. They can save you a great deal on money long-term, and some options even allow you to claim government rebates.

About the Author

Danielle King is the founder and director of Green Moves Australia, a company that focuses on and promotes sustainability in the built environment. She is a highly qualified and accredited sustainability consultant, qualified carbon accountant, and teaches sustainability subjects at Swinburne.

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