This Guest Blog post was submitted by Sarah Saker, Sarah is a small business coach by day with a passion for sustainable living and green initiatives. When not working, she is spending time with family, enjoying nature, or working around the farm.
In this time of increasing awareness of the potential environmental impact of a building, you’d think it would be simple to locate vacation properties that meet the necessary criteria to be considered a green building. That’s actually not the case. A search for green properties mostly gets you a list of companies with the word green in the title.
A search through several property listing companies found that it’s not a simple matter of checking off an option to be shown green properties. The only property search engine that even states they have green properties in the state of Maryland is Redfin. The properties are located in Newburg and Rock Point, MD. These properties are individual homes, for those who maybe want to turn a second home into a rental property or want to own a vacation home.
It’s possible other real estate listing sites have green properties available, you may just have to dig a little deeper to find them. For the moment, being able to specifically indicate that yours is a green property could give you an advantage. Just make sure that when acquiring your vacation property, you find a loan that will financially best suit the plans you have in mind for creating a green property and attract environmentally-conscious renters.
Investing in a green property, at this point in time, may mean that you’ll be buying the property you’re interested in with the goal of making “green” renovations to it. While your upfront expenses to achieve green status in a home may be high, they do have the ultimate benefit of reducing your energy usage and cost.
Most likely your first step in the process of greening your new property will be to update the property’s controls. There are automation systems now that allow you to control a home’s heating, cooling, lighting, security alarms, plumbing, and even window treatments. Getting all of these things automated may be a bit daunting to achieve right away, but regulating such things as heating and cooling equipment to only run when necessary can reduce utility costs by an average of 15 to 30%. Having equipment run only when necessary has the additional benefit of reducing wear and tear.
Solar as a source of energy is growing more popular by the day. The technology has improved immensely since its inception. Installing solar on a building with a flat roof can ultimately help it see a 100% offset in energy costs. It’ll take you an average of 8 years to pay off your panels. In return, the life expectancy of the panels is about 25 years. In 2021 you can still get a refundable tax credit of 26% for the installation of solar panels. That credit will be down to 10% by 2024.
A simple changeover to LED bulbs from incandescent and CFLs will cost more initially for the bulbs, but reduce your overall electric bill in the long run. LEDs are being recommended over CFLs not only because CFLS have complicated regulations for recycling, but because when they’re turned on, they come on all the way. A CFL bulb requires a period of time between when you flip the switch and when they reach full illumination. LED bulbs also reduce your HVAC costs with their reduced heat output.
Another way to preserve interior heat in winter and keep the cool inside during summer is to install energy-efficient window films. The Department of Energy rates window films as one of the best ways to reduce energy use. They can reduce heat gain inside the home by as much as 79% in the summer.
A final green renovation you might consider is installing a reflective roof coating. These reflect heat away from the structure, reducing the home’s interior temperature and eases up on your cooling system’s workload. This, of course, has the happy effect of reducing your utility bills.
In the not-so-distant future, searching for a property already certified as green should become easier. As the younger generations enter the real estate investment market, they’ll be looking for properties that comply with green standards. Expect to see buttons on real estate search sites allowing you to indicate that you are interested in green properties. But until that happens, you may have to undertake converting a home to green energy yourself.