Green homes are becoming increasingly popular among new home buyers. Homes with green features made up 20% of all new home construction in 2013, according to the industry research firm McGraw-Hill Construction. As the housing market continues to recover, they predict this share will grow to between 29% and 38% of new U.S. homes by 2016. Certainly, green home building is gaining momentum.
Today’s homebuyers are interested in buying green homes because of the benefits they offer – from healthier indoor air to energy savings.
Benefits of a Green Home
A modern efficient home is constructed with a lot of thought given to the materials used in construction. Building materials are expected to be toxin-free, sustainable and energy-efficient. The use of toxin-free building materials helps combat indoor air pollution. Since we are exposed to the air in our homes as much or more often than outside air, indoor pollution can pose serious health risks to residents. A healthier home means fewer visits to the doctor and hopefully fewer respiratory problems.
Besides potential health savings, the net cost of owning a green home is typically comparable to, if not cheaper than a standard home. People who live in green homes save money by consuming less energy and fewer resources than standard homes. The savings add up over the years in decreased energy and water bills.
For Further Reading: Benefits of Green Home Building The typical household spends about $2,150 a year on a residential energy bill. Multiply that by 30 years, and the lifelong savings can easily be greater than the initial outlay.
Net-Zero Homes in Frederick
Right here in Frederick, net-zero homes are being built in downtown. Originally built by Nexus Homes, the project was recently purchased by Lancaster Craftsmen, a Middletown builder. They home to complete the project towards the end of 2017.
Net-zero homes are just a small portion of the green homes that are being constructed today. Federal tax incentives are helping to fuel the number of green features like insulation that reduces a home’s energy loss or geothermal heat pumps. Depending on where they live, homeowners can also claim rebates from their state, town or utility.
More and more insurance companies are offering discounts on policies covering green homes. Similarly, there are even a few mortgage companies offering discounted loan rates for home buyers buying green.
Costs of Green Homes are Coming Down
The cost of building a home with green features and energy saving materials used to be 10% or more above the cost of traditional construction, but that cost is coming down. Some builders are building green homes for as little as 2% to 3% more. As green features become more in demand and more commonplace, builders and designers are also starting to incorporate them even into moderately priced homes.
A green home is often more durable than standard homes because of its high-quality building materials and construction processes, requiring fewer repairs.
The value of a green home is often higher than that of a comparable standard home, and the market demand for green homes is expected to rise. Study after study shows that home buyers are willing to pay a bit more for a green home, knowing that the return on their investment will be significantly lower energy bills for years to come.
Local, state and federal governments are increasingly offering tax breaks and incentives for building a green home or adding green features to an existing home.
Features of a Green Home
Efficient plumbing and bathing fixtures, drought-tolerant landscaping and water-conserving irrigation systems help green homes use less water than standard homes. This feature will become increasingly important as the prospect of water shortages loom in some parts of the country.
Because many green building materials incorporate significant recycled content, they require the use of fewer natural resources. The amount of excess building materials dumped in landfills is significantly less than the amount generated by traditional building practices.
Some green homes incorporate carpets and floor tiles from recycled materials, like tires and bottles. Other homes use salvaged materials or renewable and sustainable products, such as bamboo, hemp, and soybean. Homeowners can choose countertops made from recycled street lights and other recycled glass.
Low-volatile organic compound paints and finishes inside the home reduce exposure to toxic chemicals. Hardwood floor finishes have changed over the recent years to those with lower off-gassing and less toxic formulas. Formaldehyde-free insulation also insures fewer dangerous chemicals are released into the atmosphere.
Energy-efficient appliances, insulation, roofing materials, doors and low-e windows are all effective in lowering heating and cooling bills.
In many cases, builders are also including universal design elements into green homes. These designs, which include wider doorways, no stairs, flat entries and accessible bathrooms, sinks, and showers, assure that people with varying abilities can live in and age in their homes and their neighborhoods.
Updating Your Existing Home With Green Features
There are many green renovations and improvements a homeowner can do to retrofit their existing home, making it more energy efficient and healthy. And many of these improvements have tax breaks to go with them.
- Solar Energy Systems – Installing a solar water heater or photovoltaic system allows you to take a credit of 30% of the cost of both the purchase and installation, with no upper limit.
- The federal government provides a solar tax credit, known as the investment tax credit (ITC), that allow homeowners and businesses to deduct a portion of their solar costs from their taxes. Both homeowners and businesses qualify for a federal tax credit equal to 30 percent of the cost of their solar panel system minus any cash rebates. Learn more about the federal reneable energy tax credits, including the timeline for the eventual end of the ITC in 2022.
- Windows, Doors, and Skylights – If you replace doors, windows, or skylights with energy-efficient models, you may be eligible to get a tax credit of 10%.
- Water Heaters – get an energy-efficient model and get a tax credit for up to $300 of its cost.
- Energy Efficient Appliances – Check with your energy company, and state for tax credits and rebates as you purchase more energy efficient appliances.
Further Resources: Federal Tax Credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency via Energy Star.
Thanks for an informative guest post on energy efficient green homes from our favorite home inspector:
Reliable Home Services, Inc.
PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322
Contact Chris Highland for our list of green home builders in Central Maryland and buyer representation.