How well does your home stand up to energy efficiency marketing?  

Jan Stapleton - 2023 NETAR President

At the risk of straining to put a silver lining on the recent cold weather, consider this: It was a real estate marketing lesson for owners of older properties who are – or will someday – market their homes. 

2023 NETAR President
Association Spokesperson

A current Census count shows over 80% of homes in the three-county Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and over 90% of those in the four-county Kingsport-Bristol MSA were built before 2000. That poses some marketing advantages and challenges.  

On the positive side, most of these homes are established neighborhoods, and many attractive older homes fit most of the needs of new or growing families. But there’s a flip side to that.  

Baby Boomers and empty nesters scaling down, Millennials entering the market as first-time buyers, and people relocating have energy efficiency high on their “must have” list. Then there is many people’s preference when moving to a new town. They typically want a new home or one no more than 10 years old. Sellers who give their older homes some energy-efficient muscle have an edge. Especially now that polar vortexes and a weather “bomb cyclone” are frozen in everyone’s memory.  

The Shelton Group is a marketing agency that specializes in energy-efficiency issues. It did some research and found most homeowners (86%) thought they were not using as much energy as they did five years ago. Almost all of them said they thought their homes were energy efficient. With that said, 59% admitted their energy bills had gone up. Another finding was fewer consumers were making energy improvements than they were in 2010.  

One of the strongest selling points of today’s new homes is dramatic improvements in energy efficiency due to improvements in materials, better building standards, and advances in appliance technology.  

Of course, that doesn’t mean all older homes are energy hogs. In fact, there are upgrades to maximize energy efficiency that complement the charm and classic beauty of older homes.

Getting an energy audit is one way to get a handle on what can be done. There are local firms that offer this service, and another source is power companies. Audits usually offer an upgrade short- and long-view. The short view is lower-cost improvements that show immediate results. Big-ticket items need more consideration – especially by those who are or will soon be marketing because there’s a return-on-investment consideration.  

   Some upgrades – some may need to be on the spring-summer to-do list – that should be high on that to-do list include:  

   - Insulating or re-insulating attic spaces. This can have a major impact on both heating and cooling costs.  

– New windows and doors score high on the upgrade wish list but can be a big-ticket item.  

- Many older homes can make big energy efficiency gains with new technologies. Digital controls are one example. They make it possible to automatically adjust heating and cooling levels in concert with peak need-and-use times. Another example is the ability to set those digital controls to heat a home’s downstairs during the day and upstairs at night.  

– Hot water heaters and piping are big energy users. While better insulation helps, tankless water-heating units can be good upgrades, but like the energy-efficient windows, this is an upfront investment. Then payback comes over time because the tankless systems only heat water when needed.  

– If an older home also has older appliances, consider newer energy-saving models. Compared to things like replacing windows and doors, this can be a less expensive alternative, and it results in some energy-efficiency eye candy.  

As with any home upgrade, it’s important to keep tight control of costs and return on investment expectations. If the project involves contractors, multiple estimates are prudent and be sure to check out the contractors’ references. To expand on your library of tips and suggestions, check out the National Association of Realtors® sponsored House Logic at  

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at