The 10 questions you should ask to ensure an energy efficient new home

We know there’s a lot to consider when you’re buying a new home, so we wouldn’t ask you to add to that list unless it was a seriously big deal. And we hope you know us well enough by now to know that we think energy efficiency is just that.

The thing is, energy efficiency isn’t just about comfort. It’s about cost. You can save both energy and money right off the bat by making sure your new house is as efficient as it can be. Here are 10 questions you should know the answer to before you buy.

1. How old is the HVAC system?
As time goes by, newly manufactured heating and cooling systems become more energy efficient. Ever-tightening federal standards are part of that, as is the fact that technology keeps getting better. The older the HVAC system, the higher the risk of inefficiencies.

2. Is the ceiling sealed?
Remember the importance of sealing your ceiling? If it isn’t properly sealed, you run the risk of losing your conditioned air into unconditioned areas, leading to higher electricity use.

3. How old is the water heater?
Not unlike an HVAC system, older water heaters are less likely to run as efficiently as newer models. Make sure you know how old the water heater is before you make an offer.

4. Are the ducts leaking air?
Any air leak is bad for energy efficiency, and that’s no less true for ductwork. Leaks also cause the furnace to work harder, which may lead to a shorter life for the unit as a whole. Plus, a leak means you may not get that delightfully cool air all the way back to the luxurious master bedroom.

5. What kind of thermostat does the home have?
A programmable thermostat makes saving energy easier by timing your home’s heating and cooling around your schedule. But is it a feature of the home you’re buying?

6. Are the appliances in the home ENERGY STAR® certified?
ENERGY STAR certified appliances are held to high standards of energy efficiency. You’ll end up with lower bills in a home that includes an ENERGY STAR washer, refrigerator, oven—even the huge new flat screen TV in the family room.

7. How airtight are the windows? Are storm windows also present?
Newer windows are the most likely to be airtight, but you’ll still want to inspect them. If the windows are older, storm windows can provide some additional protection.

8. What about the doors?
If you can see light around the frame of the door, or feel a noticeable difference in temperature, it likely means there’s an air leak.

9. Will the seller chip in some cash for improving the home?
Just because a house isn’t energy efficient doesn’t mean you have to cross it off your list. When you know specifically what needs to be improved, it’s worth asking the seller to chip in to help cover the costs.

10. Do you need a professional energy audit?
Okay, this one’s a trick question—the answer is A professional can give you a better, more precise idea of exactly what needs attention. If you’d like to set up an energy audit before you buy a new home, contact your Energy Advisor today.