The demand for green housing is strong and nearly 20% of new homes in American today claim to be eco-friendly.
And nearly 75% of American new build homes have workers that have some experience in building eco-friendly projects, so there will be some elements of “green” in nearly every housing development.
But how do you tell the “real thing” from the “nearly but not quite”? That’s where our four simple steps to buying an eco-friendly home come in.
The Four Key Steps To Eco-Friendly Home Buying
You do not need to be an expert in green tech to understand the basics of buying green and whether you’re buying an ordinary home, a tiny home, a dome house or an a-frame kit house, these steps are all equally applicable to making sure your purchase is kind to the planet.
Step 1: Is The Home A Smart Home?
Obviously the kindest way to live is to go off-grid but that’s not always practical and if it’s not an option for you, the next best thing to do is buy a smart home.
Why? Well, because smart technology tends to try and minimize waste – be it fuel waste, carbon emissions or water waste.
A smart automation system will tend to take care of lighting, security, heating, cooling, water, appliances and even your entertainment systems.
The best smart tech doesn’t just give you control of your usage, it also provides reporting on what’s being used and where and when, so that you can help to cut down on the areas where you are most wasteful.
We also find that most smart appliances tend to be as energy efficient as possible, in the first place, which helps reduce your impact on the planet without any effort at all.
In short, for most people, a green home will be a smart home.
Step 2: Seek Out Signs Of Sustainability
In addition to smart tech, it’s a good idea to look out for signs of other sustainable investment in the home.
Many home owners appreciate the advantages of say, solar panels for electricity, and they may already have installed these for their own benefit or to persuade a new buyer that the property is greener than it first appears.
It’s also worth thinking about the size of space that you actually need.
The bigger your home, the more money you will spend on maintaining it, heating it, lighting it, etc. and the more damage you are likely to do to the environment while doing this.
The more you can cut down on the size of your home, the better and while not everyone can live in a tiny home, almost every American could live in a smaller home if they were just a little more organized, without compromising their quality of life.
You should also look to see if the area you’re moving into is green, many cities have minimal ecological footprints now and places with low energy consumption tend to need less heating, cooling, etc.
Step 3: What Kind Of Work Does It Need?
When you find your dream home, it might not be perfect, and it might need a little (or a lot) of work to be more eco-friendly.
Now, it’s fine to make some changes in the process of moving in to improve your environmental footprint but you should be aware of how much it’s going to cost.
Changing over to LED lighting from traditional lighting, for example, is inexpensive as is putting out draught excluders on windows.
But if you’re going to have to install solar panels and implement your own smart house system from scratch, that’s an investment that can run to tens of thousands of dollars.
That’s fine if you’ve got it, but if you haven’t – you’re going to have to borrow it and that can make your mortgage much more expensive.
It’s best to identify the most important green features you want your home to have and then see what’s missing and cost it out before you agree to purchase your new place.
Step 4: Consider Green Financing
If your home is green, then you might want to think about taking advantage of green financing options.
These are programs which are only available for eco-friendly homes and they can work out substantially cheaper than a standard mortgage if you meet their lending criteria.
There are three main options for energy efficient mortgages (EEMs):
- The Federal Housing Administration – these loans are good because they’re based entirely on the value of the home and not the additional work you intend to carry out, which means your down payment remains smaller than it might with other loans. You do not need to be a first time homebuyer to borrow from the FHA.
- Department of Veterans Affairs – the VA only lends to veterans and active military personnel plus reservists, and their program only covers the costs of energy improvements to a property you already own (up to $6,000) but if you qualify, the interest rates are very favorable, indeed.
- Banks – these more conventional mortgages are available from Fannie Mae and other lenders. They work in nearly the same way as a regular mortgage but allow you to add the costs of any improvements to the value of the home (up to 15% of loan value), this increases the deposit as well as the monthly repayments but interest rates tend to be lower than on regular mortgages.
Final Thoughts On Eco-Friendly Home Buying
Buying an eco-friendly home doesn’t need to be a super complex task.
If you follow our simple 4 step process, you could soon own a home that makes you and the planet feel great.