ARE “GREEN” HOMES WORTH IT?

In today’s society, things are evolving to become more sustainable to reduce carbon footprints and the effects of climate change. This includes the construction and remodeling of homes.  

Some of the new elements included when building “greener” homes are:

  • Living roofs
  • Solar panels
  • Greywater recycling systems
  • Sustainable construction materials
  • Better insulation practices 

The popularity of these initiatives has boomed as people begin to “greenify” their lives due to news on climate change; in addition, environmentally friendly homes cut down on total energy costs. Although there are new construction practices to create more eco-friendly homes, there are also plenty of renovations or improvements that can be done to an existing home to improve their impact on the environment. 

However, the big question is: are “green” homes worth it? To determine an answer to this question, there are a few other questions to consider. . .

ARE THEY GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?

Yes, environmentally friendly building practices do make a difference. In fact, new construction is a significant contributor to greenhouse gases, “accounting for almost 40% of emissions globally,” in a 2021 report done by the UN Environment Program. This, alongside using natural resources, could make traditional new construction an environmental threat. 

Certified green projects are environmentally friendly, using fewer resources and recycling protocols. They can also work to create a cleaner building space with the material used being less taxing on the environment. These changes make the home more environmentally friendly and reduce carbon emissions. They can also make the home less expensive to operate due to its energy efficiency, reducing total energy use, which is also eco-friendly. 

DO THEY INCREASE RESALE VALUE?

Buyers searching for homes do consider environmental impact when searching for a new home; to what extent it boosts resale value is debatable. 

A 2019 study found that homes rated energy efficient sold for 2.7% more than unrated homes. But, of course, one must consider that homes rated energy efficient are likely newer, and newer real estate typically demands higher prices. 

In terms of buyer desires, a survey sent to 1,000 agents in 2022 found that 48% said their buyers prioritize energy efficiency in their home search. They also estimated that the value it adds to a home has increased from $6,556 to $8,246. However, buyers are likely only willing to pay more for these environmentally friendly upgrades when they understand the benefits of it, specifically in regards to cost-savings, and even then, it is not guaranteed. 

Some environmentally-friendly features are considered more desirable amongst buyers, which may boost the potential for consideration of higher sales prices. The following percentages from the National Association of Home Builders show that:

  • 83% of buyers desire Energy Star-rated windows.
  • 81% of buyers desire Energy Star-rated appliances.
  • 80% of buyers desire energy-efficient lighting.
  • 79% of buyers desire Energy Star rating for the entire home.
  • 73% of buyers desire triple-pane insulating glass windows.

Therefore, these may be the best to consider when pursuing eco-friendly improvements. 

Overall, may it increase resale value? Yes, it very well may, but it also may have no impact. Therefore, if resale value is your only motivating factor for making changes on an environmental level, then it may be best to reconsider. Alternatively, if you are doing it for many reasons like personal choice, energy cost-savings, AND the potential to raise property value, then it is likely a good path for you.

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HOME, CAN YOU STILL MAKE IT MORE ECO-FRIENDLY?

Yes, absolutely! Even if your home may not be built with or have these new environmental advances, it is still possible to create a more eco-friendly home. This doesn’t mean you have to get solar panels, there are plenty of lower costs options available. Some ways to do so include: 

  • Use green cleaning products (be sure not to fall for green-washing, though) 
  • Reduce overall energy consumption (this can be as simple as turning off lights or unplugging unused electronics) 
  • Install a programable thermostat 
  • Buying an eco-friendly appliance (once your old one no longer works, using products for their usable lifetime and not upgrading until necessary is also eco-friendly)
  • Install a rain barrel (collect rainwater to water your gardens) 
  • Replace light bulbs with LED

And so many more! Check out this resource for additional ways to make your existing home greener. 

Additionally, if you ever decide to renovate or demolish an older home to build new, consider doing so in an eco-friendly way. Deconstruction, rather than demolition, is a green alternative, sending 85% less materials to landfills. The deconstruction industry is still an up-and-coming one, but a quick Internet search should provide you with some local options in your area.  

IS THERE ANY WAY TO HELP OFFSET THE COSTS? 

Did you know that the state of Wisconsin is going to be offsetting the cost of making your home greener? The estimated launch for the program is sometime in 2023; however, the current plan is as follows. . .

The HOME Rebates program will provide up to $4,000 per household and up to $400,000 to multi-family buildings for energy-efficient retrofits. The rebates will be provided on a sliding scale, dependent on the impact of energy use: 

  • Reduce energy use by 20% –> $2,000 in rebate
  • Reduce energy use by 35%+ –> $4,000 in rebate

There is also the home electrification program which will offer the opportunity to improve your home with all costs covered if your income is 80% of the median or below in your area. The cap would be $14,000 per household, with the following breakdown:

  • $8,000 for heat pumps
  • $4,000 for panel/service upgrades
  • $1,750 for heat pump water heaters

The most rebated item is heat pumps, although other things like electric stoves, clothes dryers, and insulation are also eligible.

Are you interested in either of these programs? The best first step is to connect with an energy assessor company that can determine ways to make the home energy efficient and let you know if you qualify for certain rebates. Also, be sure to follow the news to be up-to-date with everything concerning this new and upcoming program.  

IN CONCLUSION, ARE “GREEN” HOMES WORTH IT. . . ?

Eco-friendly is the future of many industries, and real estate is no exception. “Green” advancements are being made in the building industry and will continue to be made, according to the experts, as it becomes more mainstream.

As to the question, are “green” homes worth it? The answer depends on the viewpoint from which it is being asked. If it is a personal question, and resale is the only consideration of the person, making their home more eco-friendly, may not be worth it for them; if there are other considerations, like environmental impact, it may well be worth it.

However, on a general scale, making homes more green is worth it in the long run, as people seek to reduce carbon footprints and ensure that the World is a cleaner place for the current generations, and future. 

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