Buying & Selling

Buying a Green Home When you buying a new or previously-owned home, consider not only the price of the home, but also the operating costs of owning the home. Energy consumption comprises a large portion of home operating costs and a typical energy efficient home uses 20 – 30% less energy than a comparable standard home. A study released in February of 2013 by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says one of the most important qualities new home buyers want is an energy efficient home. They add, “Nine out of ten buyers would rather buy a home with energy efficient features and permanently lower utility bills than one without those features that costs 2% to 3% less.” The Federal Housing Authority’s (FHA) Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) credits a home’s energy efficiency in the mortgage itself. EEMs give borrowers the opportunity to finance cost-effective, energy-saving measures allowing borrowers to qualify for a larger loan amount and a better, more energy efficient home. EEM’s are available through FNMA (Fannie Mae), Freddie Mac, HUD and FHA. Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs) are used to purchase existing homes that will have energy efficiency improvements made to them. EIMs allow borrowers to include the cost of energy efficiency improvements to an existing home in the mortgage without increasing the down payment. Questions to Ask Yourself While Home Shopping: How old is the HVAC system? If it’s older than 10 or 15 years, you might need to replace it soon. How old are the refrigerator, dishwasher and washing machine? If they’re more than 10 years old, they will probably need to be replaced soon. Are the windows single or...

Energy Calculators

Below are resources to assist you with pinpointing exactly how much your home needs to be improved: Click here to take the “home quiz” and find out where your home’s energy waste is coming from. Check the RESNET database to see if it received a Home Energy Rating Score (HERS Score). Take the energy savings home tour from Touchstone Energy to learn how making small changes and using energy wisely can help you save energy and money. The interactive home tour will show you how. Interested in learning how your new or existing home’s energy usage compares to others?  There are two great ways to find out!  Obtain a Home Energy Score OR a Home Energy Rating – see below for details. Home Energy Score The Home Energy Score is similar to a vehicle’s miles-per-gallon rating. It helps homeowners and homebuyers understand how much energy a home is expected to use and provides suggestions for improving its energy efficiency. It also allows homeowners to compare the energy performance of their homes to other homes nationwide. The Home Energy Score includes: 1) the Score itself, 2) facts about the home including data collected and energy use breakdown, and 3) recommendations to improve the Score and the energy efficiency of the home. The process starts with a Home Energy Score Assessor collecting energy information during a brief home walk-through. Using the Home Energy Scoring Tool, developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Assessor scores the home on a scale of 1 to 10. A score of 10 indicates that the home has excellent energy performance. A score of 1 indicates the...

Financing Options

Home energy efficiency improvements range from very little in cost to quite a lot depending on the type of work needed.  Caulking windows and wrapping a water heater cost less than $50, while replacing the insulation in an attic or sealing a crawlspace may cost thousands.  Homeowners benefit either way due to high return on investment of these measures, but in some cases homeowners turn to financing programs to get the work done, helping to lower their monthly energy costs and improve the value of their home. Click here for a table listing the Return on Investment (ROI) for various energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. Click here for our 10-11-12 infographic detailing how 10 simple low-cost energy efficient improvements costing just $1,100 up-front can save you $12,000 over then years! Is financing home energy improvements a good idea?  Absolutely! It’s both a good idea and very common. Around 70% of all home improvement projects up to $15,0000 are financed, and around 90% of projects over $15,000 are as well. The average American family has between $3,000 – $7,000 in disposable income available at any one point in time, and the average debt held by an American family is around $8,200. Since a small percentage of Americans are able to pay several thousands of dollars cash for important and high return on investment (ROI) improvements, financing is a great way to make these projects possible without incurring all of the up-front expense at once.  Two  common benefits to financing home energy improvements include: You don’t have to tie up your valuable disposable income and cash with large purchases. Low monthly payments and...

Financial Assistance

Financial Assistance Here are some helpful resources for persons looking for financial assistance to improve their home’s energy efficiency: Contact local nonprofits and charities that provide services to low income, disabled, elderly and veteran families. An organization like Rebuilding Together offers home repair services at no cost to the homeowner. Check with government agencies like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and programs including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Look into local crowd-funding campaigns like Clean Energy For Us, which provides a discount on energy efficiency and solar energy improvements to existing homes. Organizations like Mosaic, which use crowd-funding to allow homeowners to save money installing solar panels that are financed from hundreds of other homeowners around the country. North Carolina Weatherization Assistance Program:  The Weatherization Assistance Program is designed to help low-income citizens save energy and reduce expenses through the installation of energy conservation materials and the implementation of energy efficiency measures in their homes. The goal of the program is to create a safe, energy efficient and comfortable home environment for the families served.   Many utilities, municipalities and other nonprofits across the state offer financial assistance for individuals and families in need of support. This assistance can involve lowering electric/gas bills, replacing nonworking heating equipment and more.  Contact your electric, gas or water utility provider to see if they offer any financial assistance...