Move-in to long-term savings and comfort
Data is showing that the residential real estate market is heating up as an increasing number of homebuyers enter the marketplace. In a fast paced market where properties are selling quickly (median time on the market for homes was 46 days in April, down from 62 in March ), it’s important to be knowledgeable about the industry - whether you are buying or selling - so when the right opportunity knocks you can take advantage.
Selling your Home
In this "buyers market," granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are still at the top of the "must have" list. However, more and more savvy homebuyers indicate that a home’s energy efficiency performance would influence their final purchase decision as it impacts comfort and lowers utility bills .
Fortunately, there are many products available on the market today to help homeowners looking to sell their homes demonstrate home energy savings to potential buyers. Common solutions range from CFL or LED light bulbs, awnings or blinds for windows and air sealing and insulation. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that air sealing is one of the easiest and most cost-effective renovations that can yield the quickest high return on investment for a home, ultimately helping to improve the homes marketability.
Also an important step before selling your home is the appraisal process. The appraisal process has recently been improved to acknowledge energy efficient features in homes. In order to assist you in realizing the potential return on investment of an efficient home during the sales process, the Appraisal Institute (the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers) offers an additional appraisal addendum form intended to help analyze values of energy-efficient home features including insulation, building envelope air-tightness, energy ratings and energy audit data. Be sure to provide this form to your appraiser and ensure that they include your upgrades in their analysis.
Buying an Existing Home
After you place an offer on an existing home, you will likely have a professional home inspector spend time looking at everything from the appliances and windows to the furnace in the basement to ensure everything in the home is fully functioning and that there are no unwanted surprises. When preparing for your home inspection, there are a few questions you should ask your home inspection professional about the home, including:
Is the attic in the home well-insulated?
The potential for energy loss through an uninsulated or under insulated attic can make your energy bills go through the roof. Whether used as an unoccupied storage area or for additional living space, a well-insulated and air sealed attic helps to increase the comfort of the space by providing even temperature distribution throughout the home, preventing condensation and reducing the potential for mold, mildew, wood rot and associated odors. Keep the heat out of your living space by installing proper insulation and air sealing with GREAT STUFF™ or GREAT STUFF™ PRO Insulating Foam Sealants** to reduce air leaks. It can be used to seal the attic perimeter, attic hatch door frames, cable and gas lines and other penetrations around the home.
Are the doors and windows sealed tightly against air leaks?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), random air infiltration through gaps and cracks is a leading cause of energy loss in homes, accounting for 25 to 40 percent of the energy loss in most residential structures. Because air infiltration can cause energy loss and contribute to moisture condensation, gaps and cracks around major areas of air leakage –such as around window and doors – need to be completely sealed and this can be done easily and cost-effectively with GREAT STUFF™ PRO Window & Door Insulating Foam Sealant.**
Is there proper mechanical ventilation?
Going hand-in-hand with proper insulation and air sealing is the need for proper mechanical ventilation. When creating an energy-efficient, airtight home by upgrading insulation and air sealing, common irritants such as dust, allergens, mold and pests are prevented from entering the home, but there is an increased risk of existing indoor irritants or pollutants being trapped in the home, requiring mechanical ventilation.
It's very important to be mindful of this during any energy retrofit project and to make sure that your home meets air exchange standards, such as those recommended by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). When air sealing buildings, ensure that combustion appliances, such as furnaces water heaters, wood burning stoves, gas stoves and gas dryers are vented to the outside.
Check out http://www.epa.gov/iaq/homes/hip-ventilation.html for more information. The guidance provided here will help to improve the overall indoor air quality of the home without sacrificing energy performance.
For more extensive upgrades, your professional inspector can recommend a home energy assessment to identify additional areas within your home to help boost its energy efficient performance throughout the year.
Happy house selling and hunting!
 National Association of Realtors http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2013/05/april-existing-home-sales-up-but-constrained
 National Association of Home Buyers (NAHB) “What Homebuyers Really Want”: http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?sectionID=734&genericContentID=206669&channelID=311
 U.S. Department of Energy: http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11220
**Consult label and Material Safety Data Sheet carefully before use.
Companies: Dow Building Solutions
Gary Parsons Gary Parsons is the Lead Building Scientist in Dow Building Solutions Research and Development. He is a LEED Accredited Professional, a licensed residential contractor in the state of Michigan, a member of the Society of Plastics Engineers and a member of ASHRAE. www