A “green home,” simply, is a house built or remodeled to conserve energy and water, improve indoor air quality, use sustainable and recyclable materials, and produce less waste. The benefits of owning or building a green home include lower utility bills, such as water, gas, and electricity, a smaller carbon footprint, improved air quality (for better occupant health), and an improved resale value.
Most homeowners justify installing green features in their new or remodeled home by measuring the payback period—the length of time it may take for the savings from a project to justify the upfront cost. Additionally, financing your green home is becoming easier and more accessible—a range of incentives, rebates, and programs are available to decrease your up-front cost in exchange for a decreased overall environmental impact.
For example, the federal government offers incentives for homeowners to make green improvements in the form of tax rebates. One popular incentive from 2013 paid for 10% of the cost of sustainable energy items, such as biomass stoves, insulation, specific water heaters, and energy efficient windows and doors. These tax incentives change frequently; homeowners can stay up to date by referencing the Energy Star and DSIRE websites. Moreover, homeowners can utilize a number of state-level incentives to fund their green homes. Similar to federal incentives, these work by providing tax credits and rebates.
There are also several minor incentives and rebates, often on the local level. Counties, cities and utility companies provide incentives for homeowners to live sustainably. Cities like Philadelphia have streamlined and lowered the cost of home solar project permits, and Sunset Valley in Texas offers rebates for solar water heaters.
These updates provide massive advantages for homeowners. If you are planning to sell your home in the next few years, investing in energy-efficient products and construction will increase the house’s market value. Additionally, homeowners should expect to save money over time by implementing the use of green energy—non-renewable energy sources will only increase in the next several years, and switching to sustainable resources is a great way to combat that inflated cost.