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Energy efficient homes
Save greenbacks while going ‘green’

by Jeffery Hammerberg

Energy efficient homes now come in a variety of sizes and affordable prices.
So-called “green building” practices have been around for years, but mostly on the fringes. But lately the trend is going mainstream. Newer and more efficient building technologies and architectural materials are brought to market each year. And the innovations are not only capable of saving us energy in unique and different ways, but they can also save us some serious cash.

While sustainable building practices have always been welcomed as common sense policy, they have traditionally been more expensive, at least in the short term, compared to conventional construction. Many consumers who would prefer an energy efficient home have not been able to justify the cost, in much the same way that many who would like to drive an energy-saving automobile have not been able to afford a hybrid car.

But a significant shift in favor of the planet (and those homeowners who are concerned about conserving natural resources) is underway. Responding to demand, commercial builders are working to lower costs without sacrificing quality or efficiency.
If you are in the market for a new or existing home, there are ways to go green without depleting the green from your bank account. Here are three cost conscious tips to help you get the most for your money:

Ask about energy efficient home mortgages.

Many banks now offer special energy efficient home mortgages, with special perks. They like lending “green,” because lenders are mostly concerned about two things when it comes to mortgages:

• They want to know that the borrower can repay the loan:
If you buy a home that has lower utility bills, you are more likely to repay your loan on time, because you’ll have more money in your household budget. So energy efficient homes make sense to lenders from this perspective.

• They want to know that the home is valuable, in case they have to foreclose and resell it:

Appraisers are still on a learning curve regarding the value of “green-built” homes, because many of the money-saving features are new and not yet familiar to them. But more and more appraisers are willing to add value to homes based on the recognition that green built homes generally reflect sound, high-quality building practices.
Look for government programs or tax incentives.

When shopping for an energy efficient home, look for government backed programs that offer tax incentives or rebates. Many states now offer these in order to encourage builders and homeowners to conserve energy, and if your home qualifies, you can take advantage.

Check the utility bill history on existing homes.
If you are buying an energy efficient or otherwise “green” home, ask the seller or Realtor to provide you with data on the utility bills and energy consumption. If you study the averages for a few years, you can calculate the actual cost savings compared to similar properties in the same neighborhood that are less energy efficient.

— To find an experienced realtor to help you shop for energy efficient homes, visit www.gayrealestate.com.

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