Moving is stressful. Between hoping you’ll get the price you want for your current home and then packing up all your possessions into boxes, it’s no wonder that by the end you swear “I’m never doing this again!”
According to a recent CENTURY 21 Canada survey which asked more than 1000 real estate agents what homeowners want, homes with energy efficient features are increasingly important to buyers, and they’re willing to pay a premium for appliances and upgrades that increase efficiency. But where should you start with so many options on the market? It really depends on your budget.
Low cost upgrades (under $100):
Light fixtures: If some of your lighting is looking a bit dated, you may need to upgrade it for staging purposes. Consider energy-saving light fixtures. They use up to 90% less energy than conventional fixtures and they also distribute light efficiently and evenly. They come in styles to fit each area of your home, so any update can be done energy efficiently. (Cost: 35+)
Light bulbs: Regardless of whether you need new fixtures, it also makes sense to ensure the bulbs that light the home are efficient too. Incandescent and harsh CFL bulbs can be replaced with task specific ENERGY STAR certified LED lightbulbs. (Cost: $8-$30)
Bathroom fans: These are rarely replaced until they are broken, but they make a huge difference. Plus, fans that are ENERGY STAR certified use a remarkable 50% less energy. Potential homeowners will appreciate the small upgrade that will make a big difference in the dampness (and potential mildew) of a bathroom. (Cost: $60+)
Fix drafts: The first impression is the most important. If a potential buyer feels an emotional connection to the property, they’ll do almost anything to make sure they call it home. Part of that first impression is how he/she feels when they walk around. If cold air is creeping in through window sills and under doors, they’re likely to wonder what else is wrong with the place. Increase comfort and cut down on drafts with new weather stripping or caulking (Cost: $10+)
Energy saving shower heads/ water nozzles: These are one of the easiest replacements to make to your house. An added bonus? Many utility companies often give them away for free. Even if you don’t sell your home immediately, you’ll see the benefits on your utility bill right away. If you are selective about design, you may have to pay a bit more. (Cost: free- $100)
Medium cost upgrades ($100-$300):
HVAC/Furnace maintenance and filters: This is something that should be done with seasonal maintenance anyway. But telling buyers that the maintenance visit is complete and the system is up to date provides a peace of mind that is worth more than the cost of the visit. Filters should be replaced fairly often, which will improve efficiency, the lifespan of the unit, and the quality of your air. (Cost: filters, $40+/maintenance visit, $150).
Smart Thermostat: These are the newest technology and some of the most satisfying smart technology to own. The most up-to-date thermostats can be controlled with your phone and help you manage your energy usage from anywhere. Some of the best ones include the Nest and Ecobee. (Cost: $220+)
Attic Insulation: Air leaks in the attic can result in substantial heat loss in your home. Even worse, that heat loss can lead to moisture-related problems. This isn’t an upgrade that you want to skip, because it could end up costing you more in the long run! The extent of the work that needs to be done depends on what type of attic you have already. Consult a professional for the best advice. (Cost: $200+)
Higher cost upgrades ($400+):
Home Energy Audit: If you really want to impress a potential buyer, give them all the information they might need. An expert can bring in special equipment and expertise to show you where you are using the most energy and what changes will result in the biggest savings. Even if you don’t plan to sell your home for a year or two, you can benefit from the analysis and pass it along to future buyers so they know what to expect. The upfront cost is steep, but could easily pay off. (Cost: $400+)
Energy efficient windows and doors: This is a huge undertaking, and very expensive, but well worth the investment. New windows will likely be double pane and hold the warmth in your home better than old windows. Doors and skylights can also benefit from the ENERGY STAR seal of approval. Better yet, their website has a climate guide for Canada to indicate which windows are best suited to your home. (Cost: $1000+)
Once all the upgrades are complete, don’t forget to advertise it. Be sure to inform your real estate agent so they can market your home as energy efficient and help you sell your home as a smart one.
For more energy saving tips and products, visit https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/products/energystar/18953, administered by Natural Resources Canada