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Energy-efficient upgrades may reduce your energy bills, help save the planet—and even increase the market value of your home.


If you’re looking to boost the value of your home, you may be sprucing up the décor and modernizing the design in an effort to impress would-be buyers. But have you considered a green makeover? Prospective buyers are starting to look beyond hardwood floors and granite counter tops, and often include solar panels and dual-pane windows on their checklist of desirable features.


Every year, Remodeling magazine publishes a “Cost vs. Value Report,” listing the costs of various remodeling projects, such as a bathroom makeover, region-by-region, and how each renovation will affect resale value. Available data suggests that a solar energy system bumps up the value of a home at approximately $3 per installed watt. That means a typical 6,000-watt system (costing around $25,000 before tax incentives (if you’re eligible for any) would appreciate the value of your home by $18,000.


A recent article in the Boston Globe points out that energy-efficient projects are less easy to value than traditional renovations, since energy savings are not the only part of the equation; more efficient HVAC systems are not as obvious a selling point as gorgeous granite counter tops (“Will green improvements boost your home’s value?” July 2015). Realtors don’t really have a shared vocabulary for talking about energy-efficient features, but experts predict that property values should rise once green language is standardized—particularly on improvements that can be quantified.


The evidence certainly points that way: A study by the University of Berkeley and UCLA found that green-labeled (Energy Star, for example) single-family homes sold for an average of 9 percent more than homes that were not labeled. Other studies came up with similar findings, and suggest that buyers are interested in specific ways to save money rather than buying based on principle (though that’s often a factor). Buyers are more likely to pay more for a house if its green credentials are clearly documented; an energy bill that quantifies savings is more effective than a realtor droning on about R-values and thermal bridging.


Location may be the most important consideration when purchasing a property, but where your home is located can also determine the tax incentives you get for investing in a green makeover. Luxury real estate services firm, Gibson International notes on their website that residents of LA County, for example, are eligible for renewable energy rebates which can offset some of the cost of installing solar panels (“Increase Your Home’s Value with Green Technology,” January 2015).