Buying an energy efficient home

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Purchasing a property is a major life decision, so it only make sense that home buyers would want to ensure that their financial investment makes sense in the long run. One way to do so is by ensuring that they're purchasing an energy efficient home. Energy efficient homes are designed to reduce energy consumption, as well as other environmentally-unfriendly things like greenhouse gas emissions and nonrenewable resources. Properties can either be built from the ground up with energy efficiency in mind, or existing homes can be renovated to make them more energy efficient.

Determining energy efficiency
One of the simplest ways to determine a property's energy efficiency is to find out its EnerGuide rating. EnerGuide compares properties and rates energy performance on a scale of zero to 100. The higher the score, the better a home's energy efficiency.  

Another option for home buyers is having a certified home inspector look at a property to help determine its energy efficiency. These experts can find issues your average home buyer may miss, such as insulation problems, unsealed windows and other defects that could result in higher energy costs.

Home buyers can also seek out properties that meet the certain requirements put in place by Canada's Department of Natural Resources. These homes, which are certified as R-2000 Standard, are intended to meet certain environmental requirements in addition to regular building codes.

"The R-2000 Standard includes requirements related to energy efficiency, indoor air quality and the use of environmentally responsible products and materials," states the government organization's website. "It does not, however, specify exactly how a house must be built. Rather, the R-2000 Standard sets criteria for how an R-2000 home must perform. This leaves the designer and builder free to choose the most effective and economical way to build it." 

Some requirements include the size of the property's projected energy budget, the type of ventilation system installed and water-conserving plumbing fixtures.

Benefits of energy efficient homes
In addition to helping the environment, energy efficient homes can greatly reduce costs for homeowners. While many buyers may focus on concerns such as mortgage rates, it's important to consider the costs of living as well. An energy efficient home can cut down on heating costs, electrical expenses and various other household needs.

In addition to saving money on energy costs for as long as you live in an energy efficient home, there are also more immediate financial benefits. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation offers a 10 percent refund on mortgage loan insurance premiums for borrowers who purchase an energy efficient home, purchase a home and make energy efficient renovations or renovate an existing home to make it more energy efficient. The CMHC may also offer a premium refund for longer amortization periods if a borrower is eligible.

Energy efficient renovations
Whether you purchase an energy efficient home or buy one with the intent of doing renovations yourself, there are several ways a home can cut down on costs and help the environment.

One such way is by utilizing solar panels. While solar panels can make a home more expensive initially, they dramatically lower electricity bills and result in large savings in the long run. Solar panels also cut down on the carbon dioxide created by electrical use.

Another big concern is insulation. Proper insulation can keep hot or cold air inside, significantly decreasing the need for a heater or air conditioner. This will cut down on costs associated with heating and cooling, as well as the power usage they require.

Whether it's to save money or save the environment, investing in an energy efficient home is a wise move for home buyers.

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