Things to Consider When Buying a House

By Kallie Baxter, Marketing & Communications Specialist 

Buying a house is exciting and yet also stressful. Buyers usually have a list of “must-haves” such as an attached garage, a dishwasher, outdoor shed, deck, etc. It’s great to have a list of what you like and what you do not like. But a lot of times, home buyers are not always thinking about the energy efficiency of the home they are purchasing. If you are looking to purchase a home, the following are some questions to ask and consider during the process: 

  • How will you heat your potential new home? Is it electric baseboard, natural gas, fuel oil, propane, etc.? How old is the system? Will you need to update it in the next year—if so, price out how much that may cost you. Do you need to switch to a different heating system? 
  • Is the current property on any heating/cooling programs with their utility provider? Does it require a backup system?
  • Is there a central air conditioning unit or an air source heat pump? Is it enrolled in a load management program through the utility provider?
  • What type of water heater does the home have—electric or gas? How old is it? If it’s an electric water heater, is it enrolled in a load management program like TWEC’s peak shave or Electric Thermal Storage (ETS) program through the electric utility?
  • How old is the electrical system? Is it up to code?
  • What is the insulation like—is it well insulated or will you need to add insulation to help during the cold months?
  • Windows—how old are they? Are they in working order? Do they seem to leak cold air? 

As a buyer you can forgo a home inspection, but the inspection technician will look at the electrical, plumbing, insulation, and structural components of the home. Having an inspection completed on your future home is important for determining if there are any issues with the house that could cost you additional money down the road. 

You can ask the realtor to have the homeowners release their utility bills if they choose to. However, it is important to know that everyone’s usage and lifestyle is different. Some people like to keep their home at 75 degrees in the winter and others may keep it at 68 degrees all winter long. Even though you may be able to see a snapshot of energy use on their utility bill, you do not know the lifestyle of the homeowners.

You may not like the wall color in your new home, but that is much more affordable to change than changing out a new HVAC system, adding in insulation, or updating your electrical system. These are just a few tips and questions to ask when you are looking to purchase your next home.