Homeowners Need an Energy Report Card
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Dallas has a thriving real estate market that was rated number one in Forbes’ “Best Buy Cities: Where To Invest In Housing In 2017." But there is one important area where Dallas homes lag behind: the green factor.
Dallas ranks 74th among the 100 largest U.S. cities in key green indicators that include “smart-energy policies and initiatives,” according to an analysis by WalletHub. By comparison, Austin – which has in recent years implemented a range of energy conservation measures – ranks 26th.
The City of Dallas currently has energy guidelines in place for new construction homes and renovations, but there are no regulations at this time for existing homes. But that may soon change: in Austin, homeowners are required to have an energy assessment before the sale of any home.
This is the type of regulation people in Dallas can reasonably expect in the future, according to Clayton Bailey, owner of Dallas-based Green Scene Home Inspections (GSHI).
Taking steps to make your home more energy efficient isn’t just about following regulations, Bailey said. “Energy saving measures that you take at home have a positive impact on the entire community – and your monthly bills.”
Homeowners who want a thorough evaluation of their home’s energy efficiency can hire a professional to perform an in-depth energy audit. “We use different techniques like thermal imaging and blower-door tests to accurately assess how a home is performing.” An energy audit typically costs between $300-500 depending on the size of the house.
Bailey said that because this type of information about a home is especially useful for prospective homebuyers and proactive homesellers, GHSI is now offering a free energy efficiency evaluation, called an Energy Report Card, as part of every home inspection. “We want to arm people with information so they can make smart decisions about their homes.”
James E. Martin, president of the MetroTex Association of REALTORS 2017, says that he has “seen home buyers have an increasing demand for energy efficient homes” in the Dallas real estate market.
“Seven out of 10 people believe eco-friendly features add value to a home,” Martin said. “Those who are mindfully tracking monthly energy and utility costs over time may think that a green home is the best way to control increasing costs and manage their budget.
“Health-conscious individuals see the potential health benefits of green living, especially those with allergies,” Martin said.
Bailey said that there are some steps people can take right now that will save them money, and make their homes more eco-friendly:
1. Check your duct work. If you have high heating and cooling costs or rooms in your house that are hard to heat or cool, you may have poorly functioning ducts. ENERGY STAR reports that about 20 percent of the air moving through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes and poorly connected ducts in a typical house.
2. Upgrade your attic insulation. According to ENERGY STAR®, most homes are under-insulated. “You may have insulation, but you probably don’t have enough,” Bailey said. “The right amount of insulation helps the home retain heat in the winter and cooled air in the summer, reducing utility usage.”
3. Get a smart thermostat.Save nearly 10 percent on energy bills when you program your thermostat so that it’s not heating or cooling your home (more than necessary) during times when you need it least. Gain even more control with a smart thermostat, which can be adjusted remotely through internet-connected devices like smartphones.
4. Ditch the incandescent bulbs. Switch to LED. They cost a little more, but they save you money in the long term. “They last longer, are more energy efficient, don’t put out heat, and there are many more options available to you now than with incandescents,” Bailey said.
5. Upgrade to eco-friendly appliances and materials. Choose appliances with only Energy Star rated models, install recycled-content countertops, and replace toilets with water-efficient low-flow models, for example. “Take a quick look around your home and you’ll see a number of ways to upgrade in an efficient and environmentally conscious way,” Bailey said.
Bailey said that by taking action today, homeowners will not only get a head start on likely new regulations – they will also realize the immediate benefits of an eco-friendly and energy efficient home. And for prospective homebuyers, an Energy Report Card will help them in the decision-making process.
"We applaud Dallas' efforts to make energy efficiency a priority in housing, and we want to help DFW homeowners and homebuyers get on the right track,” Bailey said.