Finding a new place to live is exciting, but the searching process comes with its challenges. While some properties are move-in ready, others need touch ups or total renovations. A steady 12% of the U.S. population – or about 35 million people – move every year. So when you're ready to look for a new place to live – whether it's a house or an apartment unit – you might bring along a checklist that outlines requirements that are important to you or your family. As you search for a property that fits your needs, add a few of the green features below to your list – they might help you conserve time and energy in the long run!
1. Natural lighting. Artificial lighting consumes about 5 percent of a household's overall energy usage, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. A house or apartment with natural lighting can feel more inviting and spacious than one lit by multiple lamps. When you tour different homes and apartments, look for properties with skylights and windows with energy-efficient ratings. If you find the property's current windows aren't the most energy efficient, you don't have to replace them immediately. They can be improved with window treatments, insulating panels and caulking.
2. Outdoor and garden space. Having a place to spend more time outside means you can take a break from using energy-consuming items such as appliances, electronics and lights. Most properties have at least a small balcony, backyard or patio area to relax and entertain guests. If you're interested in living in an apartment, most complexes have a community park or courtyard available. Also, any outdoor space of your own gives you the opportunity to grow fresh flowers, herbs and veggies. Plant a garden and use the ingredients you grow in your own home-cooked dishes!
3. Energy-efficient appliances. From the shower to the dishwasher, make sure the property's fixtures and appliances are as energy efficient as possible. If conserving water in the new home or apartment is important to you, get more information on low-flow fixtures. They typically cost about $10 to $20 and have been known to conserve water by up to 60 percent, says the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition, your potential new property might come with appliances. If so, ask about their energy efficiency or learn helpful tips about appliance energy conservation.
4. Public transportation access. Even though public transportation is different among U.S. cities, find a property in close proximity to a bus station, train stop or another form of green public transportation. The American Transportation Association reports that public transportation helps reduce carbon emissions in the country by almost 40 million metric tons per year. If your city doesn't have a large public transportation presence, you still don't have to rely on a car every day. Look into areas with homes and apartments that are biking or walking distance from work and your favorite city spots.