If you've gone as far as adding an alternative energy source, you may be interested in third-party certification of your green home. LEED, the pre-eminent certification standard, does not have a separate category for renovations, but if a home has had a full retrofit, it may be eligible for LEED residential certification. The National Association of Home Builders also offers a certification for renovations.
But if you're looking to renovate to increase your home's value along with its efficiency, think again. While certain features, like an extra bedroom, can be added in an efficient way, an energy retrofit alone will not significantly raise the value of your home, because there aren't enough data yet to determine how much more an energy-efficient home is worth than a regular home. "Lending agencies and appraisal providers are less willing to put a value on these things," says Kevin Morrow, program manager for green building standards at the NAHB. But he says the industry is catching up.
That's not to say that there aren't immediate benefits for homeowners. Not only will you see immediate savings in your utility bills, but you can also take advantage of a number of tax credits for energy-efficient home purchases (story, Page 64). "The government is clubbing people over the head to do it now," says Farr. "The economy needs your dollars."
For Ryan McConnell, a Fort Worth homeowner, an extensive energy retrograde earned him tax breaks and has helped him to save hundreds each month on air conditioning. But the savings aren't his only motivation."For us, it's a matter of doing the right thing over the long term," he says. "We know it will pay out over the course of our lifetime. We've started to look at our house as something that will be here longer than us."
Chris Redmond, an architect with the New Hampshire-based Little Green Homes, agrees. "Some people feel strongly about wasting, whether it be energy or paper towels," he says. "In my family, we try not to waste things, period, and there's a good feeling about that. We're not burning fuel that is going out the window."
And no one wants to waste money. An investment in an energy-efficient home could ensure that from now on, utility bills will be no sweat.