We all want to do our part to help the environment and cut down on rising utility costs. But for many homeowners, green alternatives and upgrades are simply too expensive to be realistic. However, now is an excellent time to consider making eco-friendly home improvements, as an array of financial incentives is bringing these alternative energy systems into the mainstream for buyers, sellers and homeowners.
If you’re in the market for a new home, you may be able to get more for your money when you consider homes with energy-efficient upgrades like solar heating or tankless water heaters. These systems mean lower utility costs every month, which leaves more room in your budget for a slightly higher mortgage payment.
If you plan to stay in your home but are looking for a way to save on monthly energy bills, you may qualify for state or federal tax credits or special financing that will help you make energy-efficient improvements. These upgrades will reduce your utility costs and benefit the environment.
If you’re thinking about selling your home, any energy-efficient upgrades you’ve added can mean a higher asking price. Eco-friendly homes are an increasingly popular segment of the real estate market and as more home buyers look for energy-efficient properties, those upgrades are becoming an appealing selling point.
If you need financing to make energy-efficient upgrades to your home, you can get the funds you need through either a government-sponsored program or a traditional lender. Certain states even provide special programs for residents who qualify, so it’s smart to begin your search with your state’s department of energy to find out what’s available in your area.
There are also special mortgage programs that can help you afford energy-efficient upgrades. Called EEMs, or energy-efficient mortgages, these programs allow both homeowners doing new construction and those making improvements to an existing structure to obtain financing. EEMs make it possible to purchase or refinance a home that’s already certified energy-efficient, or to purchase or refinance a home that will be energy efficient after certain upgrades are made. Most lenders offer both kinds of EEMs; you may also qualify for home-improvement loans that will help defer the cost of energy-efficient upgrades.
In order to qualify for these special mortgage programs, most lenders require homes to have an energy-efficiency rating. These ratings are based on an inspection by a certified professional and tell lenders how energy efficient your home is.
The energy rater will check all the features of your home that relate to its energy consumption. This includes windows, insulation, heating and cooling systems, water heaters, and ductwork. You will receive a report that includes your home’s energy rating, as well as an estimate of your yearly energy usage and spending. The report sometimes includes suggestions for improvements you can make to boost your home’s energy-efficiency and the costs of those upgrades, along with an estimate of the annual savings and return on investment of making changes.
Check Out These Resources from the Federal Government:
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - Energy Efficient Mortgage
Home Owner Guide
- Energy Star - Energy Efficient Mortgages
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