Are you in the process of searching for a single family home, but want to find one that is energy efficient? If so, it will help to look for the following things when touring the home.
The Heating System
Pay attention to what system is used for heating the home during the winter. If it is a forced-air system, look to see if it is powered by electricity or gas. A gas-powered furnace is going to be much more efficient when compared to a similar electric model. However, it will be even better if the home uses radiant heat. The hot water that runs through the pipes in the floor will retain its heat quite well, allowing the heat to radiate up through the floor without actively using any energy.
If you have access to an infrared camera, bring it with you when touring the home. You will actually be able to see how much insulation is in the walls based on the heat transfer that happens in various spots. While a home inspector can offer this service to you, you may save yourself the expense if you're able to get an idea of if the home has plenty of insulation or not.
The condition of the windows plays a huge factor in energy efficiency since old windows will cause drafts that allow more air into your home. In addition, old windows may only have a single pane of glass that allows more heat transfer to occur. New windows that are made with double or triple-pane glass are going to be a sign of excellent energy efficiency.
The Water Heater
Many homes have a traditional hot water heater that uses a tank that stores water to be used on-demand. This is an inefficient way of heating water since energy is wasted as the water just sits there. Look for a home that has a tankless hot water heater, which heats the water on demand.
While it's possible to do various upgrades to a single family home to fix the problems mentioned above, one thing that is not easy to fix is shade. Having trees planted around the home that cast shade on the structure can do a great job of naturally cooling down a home.
Be sure to work with your realtor if you are looking for single family homes that have energy efficiency in mind.