Environmental sustainability is a hot topic today. Realtor studies show more buyers are looking for environmental upgrades when searching for a home. Green homes sell for more and save the owner money.

Green 2014A National Association of Realtors survey found 68 percent of buyers believe energy efficient appliances are somewhat or very important, while 67 percent of homebuyers said energy efficient lighting was somewhat or very important. According to the California Association of Realtors, 94 percent of buyers look for Energy Star rated appliances, 91 percent want an Energy Star rating for the whole home and 89 percent responded they want to see Energy Star rated windows. Energy Star is a standard for energy efficient consumer products created by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.
A study conducted by UC-Berkeley and UCLA found certified green homes sold for 9 percent more than comparable, non-labeled homes.
“Energy upgrades help the resale value of a home. Homeowners will see the financial savings from the beginning,” said David Tonna, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors. “A home with significant environmental upgrades can see utility bill savings of 20 percent or more. On larger homes, this can add up to hundreds of dollars per year.”
An energy efficient washing machine uses 35 percent less water and energy than a regular one. Replacing five light fixtures with high efficiency models can save up to $75 per year on lighting. An Energy Star heat pump water heater can save a family up to $670 annually. A homeowner who goes through the process of sealing the gaps at vents, ducts and electrical wires can save an average $200 per year.
There are also a variety of government programs that help pay for the upgrades. Below is a partial list of some of programs help Silicon Valley homeowners green their homes:
FHA: FHA’s Energy Efficient Mortgage program helps homebuyers or homeowners save money on utility bills by enabling them to finance the cost of adding energy efficient features to new or existing houses as part of their FHA insured home purchase or refinancing mortgage.
By Rose Meily, for Silicon Valley Community Newspapers