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Turning an Ordinary Home into a Green Home

by Chicago Agent

By Stephanie Sims

With all the attention energy efficient appliances are getting, it’s not only something buyers might be conscious of when buying new homes, it’s something homeowners in existing homes are now thinking about. How can they make their homes more energy efficient? How can they spend less on energy bills while still promoting a green environment?

CNT Energy aims to answer those questions. The non-profit focuses on improving energy efficiency and sustainability issues. The organization has several programs available to homeowners, including the Green and Healthy Homes initiative, Energy Efficient Buildings and the Energy Impact Illinois program, which was launched just last month.

Although these are different programs, some with limited grant funds available, they have a common thread: they focus on improving existing homes and making sure they are energy efficient.

“We want to bring a greater awareness for the opportunities to make homes energy efficient and energy efficiencies’ impact on homes by making healthy and energy efficient efforts,” says Anne Evens, director of CNT Energy. “We’ve had a great response from agents and homebuyers because people are interested in making improvements to make their homes greener, but they’re not sure what to do.”

CNT Energy makes this easy – it has a list of quality contractors, whose qualifications are verified, to refer to homeowners and agents representing sellers who want to make their home more energy efficient. In case there are more questions, CNT Energy has a staff of energy advisors and an informative website.

“We’re finding that just by providing information and quality contractors, homeowners are able to make changes,” Evens says. “We’re helping real estate agents be better advisors. People are seeing the value of engaging in green and healthy improvements to their homes.”

To make an existing home energy efficient, the first thing most contractors do, Evens says, is “tighten up” a home. Homes that CNT Energy works with are mostly older and leaky, essentially pulling cold air up through the foundation into a heated space, then losing warm air out of the roof. Contractors also look at a home’s heating system to make sure it’s compliant with health and safety recommendations and replace existing equipment – refrigerators, washer/dryers, for instance – with better, more energy efficient appliances. Evens points out that not only can homeowners save money on their bills with green appliances, new appliances often come with cost rebates.

CNT Energy is also working with MRED and the Green MLS to integrate information about green homes into the MLS effectively.

Evens believes green homes and the need for energy efficient appliances will increase. “Agents have been telling us more and more that homeowners are interested in whether or not homes are energy efficient,” she says. “Buyers seem to be becoming concerned about the quality of their home and the level of improvement needed to make it energy efficient. People want the home they raise their family in to be a healthy place.”

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