Does It Pay to Be Energy-Efficient?

Energy is one of the most expensive parts of homeownership, which underscores the importance of energy efficiency. When people factor in the costs of their energy consumption into their overall cost of living, and consider the effects of efficient improvements, they will have a better idea of what they may have to pay.

How Much Does Energy Cost?

The amount of energy that a home needs to run effectively depends on a number of factors. These include:

  • total square footage
  • age of the home
  • energy-efficient upgrades
  • home amenities (e.g. swimming pool)
  • region
  • seasonal climate
  • residential use

In short, the energy requirements of one home might be quite a bit more or less than a home on the same street. On average, homeowners across the country spend around $100-$130 a month on their energy bills.

Why Is Home Efficiency Important?

Many people think of energy efficiency in the home as a way to “go green” or help to decrease impacts on the environment. However, the efficiency of the home has a way of hitting a homeowner’s pocketbook just as hard. Although the national monthly average may seem quite reasonable overall, it can vary significantly from one season to the next, or among energy sources.

For example, people who rely on natural gas to run a furnace might pay a lot less than a person who uses heating oil. It could cost hundreds more during an unusually hot summer or cold winter, putting pressure on people’s budgets. Prices on energy fluctuate year over year, but one thing is clear: The less energy a home needs to run, the less homeowners will have to pay.

Which Systems Use the Most Energy?

Efficiency in relation to overall cost should be considered from a few perspectives. First, people should consider the cost to put in a new appliance or piece of equipment, such as upgrading windows or water heaters. Second, they should research and create a tentative budget for consumable items they may have to buy in advance, such as fuel or light bulbs. Third, they should assess the overall consumption of each item. 

The largest consumers of energy focus on heating, water heating, and air conditioning. These appliances also tend to cost more to replace. However, homeowners should also look at the efficiency of appliances and systems like refrigerators, chest freezers, ovens, lighting, and water fixtures. A handful of minor fixes may create a notable improvement.

Efficiency is one way to decrease municipal energy consumption, but also save money. When homeowners think about energy efficiency before they buy a home, they know more about their total living expenses after they move.

Can Home Buyers Figure Out a Home’s Efficiency Before Buying?

Efficiency could affect a homeowner’s monthly expenses to a notable degree. As such, it makes sense for home buyers to consider how any particular home might rate on an efficiency scale before they commit to signing a purchase contract. Some aspects of the home, such as the efficiency of an air conditioner or refrigerator, are fairly easy to assess during a home showing.

Many appliances must list important information about average efficiency or energy consumption in a place that is easy for people to locate. Buyers can also ask the seller, or the seller’s agent, for the average energy bills they can expect. Otherwise, home buyers may opt to place a professional home energy audit as part of their purchase offer.

This guest post comes from Dylan Snyder, a licensed Realtor® and Florida real estate expert with both personal and professional ties to the communities of the northern Palm Beaches. You can find more of his writing and energy efficiency tips on his blog at