Drain the infinity-edge pools and mothball the home theaters. For young, would-be homeowners, the hottest amenities all come in the same color: green. So much so that a recent survey found 70% of Gen Zers would go over budget just to have a greener home with features like solar panels and energy-efficient appliances. According to the same poll, Gen Z and millennials are 27% more likely than Baby Boomers to seek out an eco-friendly abode.
So, if you’re in the market for a new home — possibly your first — what are some of the most popular, practical, and sustainable features to watch for? And what eco-minded solutions and lifestyle choices can you pair them with? Let’s dive in (just not into those infinity-edge pools).
Energy efficiency is a wise investment
Energy efficiency is an essential aspect of sustainable living. When touring potential homes, consider Energy Star-certified appliances, LED lighting, double-pane windows, and proper insulation. These elements can significantly reduce energy consumption, lowering utility bills and contributing to a smaller carbon footprint. Double win, indeed! And when using these energy-efficient appliances, like your washer and dryer, extend that same thought to everything you do: from designing an eco-friendly laundry room to using sustainable products like laundry detergent sheets.
Renewable energy sources
With the increasing popularity of solar energy, many first-time home buyers are prioritizing solar panels to power their homes. Check the market for homes with pre-installed solar panels or ideal roof space for future installations. Generating your own renewable energy reduces reliance on fossil fuels and adds value to your property, as prospective buyers increasingly appreciate sustainable energy solutions.
Water conservation saves drop by drop
Conserving water is crucial for a sustainable future, especially as more and more cities face freshwater supply issues. Look for homes with water-efficient fixtures like low-flow toilets, faucets, and shower heads. Additionally, consider properties with a rainwater harvesting system, which collects and stores rainwater for outdoor irrigation. A sustainable home should also feature well-maintained plumbing to minimize water wastage.
Natural lighting and ventilation
When buying a green home, it’s not just sustainable appliances that matter. Pay attention to the design and orientation of the house, too. Ample natural lighting and proper ventilation can significantly reduce the need for artificial lights and air conditioning. So, look for large windows, skylights, and open floor plans allowing maximum sunlight penetration and airflow, fostering a healthier living environment. For the hottest months, consider thick sun-blocking curtains to help minimize inside heat from large windows. Trees and foliage around the house will also help keep it cool during summer.
Sustainable materials and construction
Eco-friendly materials benefit the environment and promote better indoor air quality. Look for homes built with sustainable materials such as bamboo flooring, natural wood, recycled glass countertops, and low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints. These choices minimize the use of harmful chemicals, reduce environmental impact, and add value to your home.
Plus, plastic can’t even compare aesthetically to the beauty of natural features. When buying your first home, remember to look for sustainable materials on both the exterior construction and throughout the house.
Smart home technology
If you don’t associate sustainability with digital technology, you’ll be surprised to learn how beneficial it can be in your new home! Over the years, smart home technology has revolutionized how we interact with our homes, making monitoring our energy consumption and reducing our carbon footprint even easier.
So, look for properties equipped with energy management systems that allow you to monitor and control your home the sustainable way. Smart thermostats, lighting controls, and automated systems can optimize energy efficiency, ensuring you only use what is needed. This easy home-buying tip will help you cut down on your bills and lower your carbon emissions along the way.
Outdoor living spaces and landscaping
A sustainable home extends beyond its four walls. Consider properties with well-designed outdoor living spaces and landscaping that prioritize native plants and low-maintenance features. Native plants require less water and are better suited to the local climate, reducing the need for excessive irrigation. Sustainable landscaping can also include composting areas, rain gardens, and permeable pavements, effectively managing stormwater runoff.
It’s also a major sustainable living bonus if your yard has room for a vegetable garden!
While limiting yourself to plastic-free, low-emission products is essential, living a more environmentally conscious lifestyle also means minimizing your impact wherever you can — and growing your own food is part of that. So, ensure a bright, sunny area in your prospective yard for plants to grow well.
Walkability and access to amenities
Picture this: You step out of your front door and find yourself in a vibrant neighborhood where everything you need is just a leisurely stroll away. That’s why you should also consider the location of any new prospective home. Look for neighborhoods that promote walkability or cycling and are close to amenities such as grocery stores, schools, parks, and public transportation. Choosing a home in a pedestrian-friendly community reduces your reliance on vehicles, lowers emissions, and supports a healthier lifestyle.
As a prospective first-time homeowner, opting for sustainable features will benefit the environment, add value to your investment, and lower your monthly bills. By prioritizing green homes, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your sustainable values. And remember, buying a new home is a significant decision, so take your time!