As you decide whether to upgrade an existing home or build a new energy-efficient home, think about the general condition and features of your existing home:

  • Is your current home site suitable for your family’s needs?
  • Are you comfortable in summer and winter months?
  • Are land values in your area declining or increasing?
  • What does it cost to maintain your current home?

Adding insulation, reducing air leakage and penetration, and installing a high-efficiency heating system and water heater can all reduce your current monthly operating costs. But larger maintenance items like roof repairs, window and door replacement, wiring upgrades and mold and mildew control may be a factor in deciding to build a new home.

Be sure to consider energy-cost savings, comfort, health, affordability, durability, operating costs and resale value, as well.

Financing

Buyers purchasing an energy-efficient home with documented energy consumption may qualify for a larger mortgage than they would on a conventional home.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, lenders look closely at the projected utility costs for a home in determining whether a prospective mortgagee can afford both the monthly mortgage payment and the utility payment. In addition, lenders have changed their appraisal forms to include energy-efficiency considerations.

For example, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) now include energy efficiency on their appraisal forms. Freddie Mac has also updated its purchasing guidelines to permit higher loan-to-income ratios for energy-efficient properties.

The bottom line is more prospective homeowners can qualify for these energy-efficient mortgages on an energy-efficient home when lenders take a look at the homeowner’s expenses and ability to repay the mortgage.