A white picket fence, two-car garage and grade-A schools are no longer enough to sway today’s discerning homebuyers. If you’re in the market for a new home, your focus is likely on lower utility and maintenance costs, greater comfort and – naturally – a home that will appreciate in value over time.


A National Association of Home Builders’ survey from 2013 revealed that nine out of 10 shoppers would willingly pay up to 3% more for a house with energy-efficient functionality. When you’re looking for four walls to call your own, these five features can have the greatest impact on your long-term investment.



1. Economical Heating and Cooling


Economical Heating and CoolingHeating and cooling costs account for nearly half of your utility bill. Though a solar heating system would be the most efficient, it’s still a pretty rare find (and often too expensive). No matter what heating and cooling system is installed in a home, look for insulated ducts and a programmable thermostat.




2. Insulated Air Ducts


Insulated Air DuctsAccording to energystar.gov, about 20% of the air that moves through a home’s duct system is lost to leaks and holes. Insulating air ducts will help prevent this significant loss of energy and keep air temperature consistent and comfortable throughout the entire house. It may not be the first feature you look for when touring a home, but this sneaky energy waster is well worth a peek before purchasing.



3. Solid Walls


Solid WallsIn addition to the air ducts and windows, walls should be properly insulated to avoid heat lost through drafty spots. Eyeing a 1920s Dutch Colonial house? It may look sweet and charming on the outside, but its walls are most likely cavity walls. As the name implies, cavity walls have a hallow space between a sheet of brick and a sheet of concrete. Unless the previous homeowner made updates, there might not be insulation in these walls. Ask your Realtor®.



4. Proper Water Drainage


Proper Water DrainageHome Energy Rating System (HERS), a nationally recognized energy performance rating system, suggests checking how a home manages the flow of water. Angled drainpipes and graded landscaping should direct water away from the home to prevent damage to the walls, roof and foundation. Keeping moisture out of a home can help secure the air quality inside. These measures also protect the integrity of the home’s insulation and HVAC system, so they can continue to run effectively and efficiently.



5. ENERGY STAR Appliances


ENERGY STAR AppliancesThe National Association of Realtors® found that 68% of homebuyers want energy-efficient appliances, and who could blame them? An ENERGY STAR certified washing machine uses 50% less water than its conventional counterpart. From refrigerators to bathroom ventilation fans, all ENERGY STAR certified appliances use less energy and save you more money.


While location and price may be at the top of your must-have list, these five energy-saving features will largely determine how much money you save during your term as a homeowner.


See Also: Tools for Monitoring Home Energy Usage