Looking for a sustainable home? Start here!
As a kid, you might have daydreamed about someday living in a treehouse - enjoying that sensation of living amongst nature. Now that you're a first time buyer, the dream may seem far-fetched, but you can maintain some of your environmental enthusiasm by choosing a home with eco-friendly features.
Many sellers are updating their homes with green features in the hopes of attracting eco-conscious buyers, so it's fair enough to add some environmental criteria to your list when buying a house.
Some homes will boast extremely modern, energy-saving features such as solar panels and recycled materials, but even older homes can be updated to meet the green buyer's needs - helping the environment and saving you money in the long run.
Here are some features to look for in your next residential property:
Double glazing and insulation
Windows and walls may be there to protect you from the elements, but they often let out more of your heat or cold air than you'd like, which means you have to turn up the heat or air conditioning, using more energy. Double-glazed windows are essentially insulated windows - preventing the transfer of hot and cold air between the glass.
You should also check to make sure the walls are insulated. Just as unglazed windows can cost the environment, a lack of insulation in your walls allows for even more transfer of hot and cold between the indoors and outdoors. If you are smitten with a non-insulated house, see if it's possible to add insulation into wall cavities or in the floors and ceilings.
Your light fixtures can also go a long way in reducing your carbon footprint. When checking out a potential purchase, check to see if the recessed lighting and other light fixtures use LED or CFL bulbs - these use less energy than the standard incandescent light bulb.
A house that has plenty of windows - especially north-facing ones - will also save on lighting emissions because you'll get plenty of natural light throughout the day.
Ovens, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers and other modern appliances use electricity and thus contribute to a household's overall emissions, but many of these amenities are now being designed with the environment in mind.
Check for the Australian Energy Rating label on appliances when checking out a new home. Under the E3 Program (Equipment Energy Efficiency), appliances and other electronics such as TVs must have the Energy Rating Label, which tells consumers how the product ranks in terms of energy efficiency on a scale of one to 10 stars, and offers other information about its energy consumption.