Solar Panels Boost the Energy Efficiency of Boston Homes
Are you planning to sell your Boston condo? If so, you may be surprised to hear just how much buyers value energy efficiency and eco-friendly features today. This is especially true as summer officially kicks off.
In fact, the 2023 Realtors and Sustainability Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows 48% of agents or brokers have noticed consumers are interested in sustainability.
So, if you’re considering selling your house, why does this matter to you? It helps you know what you can do to make your house even more appealing to today’s buyers. According to Jessica Lautz, Deputy Chief Economist and VP of Research at NAR:
“Buyers often seek homes that either lessen their environmental footprint or reduce their monthly energy costs. There is value in promoting green features and energy information to future home buyers.”
If you want to upgrade your house in a way that maximizes its green appeal, you need to work with a local agent to understand what buyers in your area are looking for. The same NAR report identifies the following green home features as most important to buyers at a national level:
- Windows, doors, and siding
- Proximity to frequently visited places
- A comfortable living space
- A home’s utility bills and operating costs
While you can’t change the location of your house, you can take action to make sure it’s as comfortable as possible while also setting up the next owners for lower operating costs. ENERGY STAR shares some suggested upgrades as ones that may be worth considering:
- Heating and cooling: Ensure your HVAC system is properly maintained and regularly serviced to maximize its efficiency. Consider upgrading to a high-efficiency model, if needed.
- Water heater: Your water heater uses a lot of energy. Upgrading to a heat pump water heater can significantly reduce energy consumption and appeal to environmentally conscious buyers.
- Smart thermostat: A big part of your energy bill goes to heating and cooling. Install a programmable thermostat to better regulate temperature settings. This not only enhances comfort but can also lower energy usage.
- Attic insulation: Proper sealing and insulation in your attic help prevent air leaks and maintain a comfortable temperature, reducing the strain on heating and cooling systems.
- Energy-efficient windows: Replacing old, drafty windows with energy-efficient ones can minimize heat transfer and lower your energy bills.
It’s worth noting that you may be able to take advantage of tax credits and rebates for energy-efficient home installations and upgrades. These incentives could help offset a portion of the costs associated with eco-friendly home improvements.
As you prepare to sell your house, it’s important to recognize that real estate agents are valuable resources. They can help you determine which upgrades would be most appealing for buyers in your area and provide guidance on which green features to highlight in your listing. If you’ve already made these updates recently, tell your agent so they can feature them in your listing.
Boston will shortly be introducing a program aimed at offering residents more affordable electricity from renewable sources. Last year, the mayor of Boston pledged that the city, already one of the most energy efficient in the country, will be carbon neutral by 2050. In a state with higher than average electricity rates, this plan will not only help the city to meet this ambitious target but will also offer welcome savings to its residents. As well as participating in programs like this, homeowners can take steps to make a change to greener energy sources themselves. For owners of older properties to house buyers looking to gain equity with a condo fixer-upper, solar panels are straightforward to install, simple to maintain and could significantly reduce energy bills.
At least 20% of Boston’s carbon emissions come from smaller buildings including residential properties. Most older homes in Boston are still heated by gas or oil and they could benefit financially and ecologically from installing sources of renewable energy. The areas of flat roofing on many three-deckers are ideal for the installation of solar panels. However, where placing panels on the roof is impractical, solar panels using SunPower technology can also be installed on ground mounts or even on carports. This flexibility makes it easy for residents in any type of property to make their own electricity from solar energy.
Professionally installed solar panels like these will be serviced and monitored for the lifetime of the units. Solar panels are designed to be durable and can last up for up to 30 years, but a warranty or adequate homeowners insurance will give extra peace of mind in case of accidental damage. Otherwise, the only maintenance required is to clean the panels two or three times a year. Rinsing them with a garden hose and removing debris with a leaf blower will ensure that the panels keep working at their best, providing cheap and green energy for years to come.
Once solar panels are installed, residents can then start to enjoy the benefit of reduced electricity bills. The Energy Information Administration has reported electricity costs in Massachusetts of more than 60% the national average, so any way for Boston residents to lower their bills is welcome. Of course, an initial investment is required for solar panel installation, however, throughout 2021, the Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit of up to 22% of qualifying costs will still be available. This together with other loans, rebates and credits for extra energy generated makes installing solar panels a more affordable and practical choice for Boston homeowners.
The increasing use of energy from renewable sources such as solar panels will help Boston to meet its ambitious target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Used in collective programs and by individual homeowners, solar panels are easy to install and maintain, and they can offer lower energy bills for residents throughout the city.