January 5, 2020

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


2020 NETAR President

What do the majority of Millennials and 83% of homes in our seven-county region have in common?  According to the Census Bureau, both will be turning 30 this year.

While local real estate professionals are looking forward to 60,000 Millennials entering their prime home-buying age, today’s homebuyers are not feeling the same about some of these older homes.  These home buyers position energy efficiency high on their “must-have” list, with most preferring a house less than ten years old.  Therefore, owners of older homes should consider adding some energy-efficient upgrades before listing their homes to net a higher sales price in fewer days on the market. 

The Shelton Group, a marketing agency that specializes in energy-efficiency issues, says most homeowners (86% in a recent survey) thought they were not using as much energy as they did five years ago.  At the same time, 59% said their energy bills had gone up.

A strong selling point for today’s new homes is dramatic improvements in energy efficiency due to enhancements in better building materials, more stringent standards, and advances in appliance technology. If you are an owner of one of the older homes, there are some things you can do to overcome some energy use issues.

You can start with an energy audit. Several local firms offer this service. Power companies are the best resource to verify your auditor is a member of the TVA Quality Contractor Network, and some provide some online methods. Audits usually provide short-term, lower-cost improvements for immediate results as well as long-term, big-ticket items. This information is perfect for adding to your upgrade to-do list. 

Here are some suggestions to get you started: 

 - Insulating or re-insulating attic spaces. It has a significant 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 significant 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 heating a home’s downstairs during the day and upstairs at night. 

- Water heaters and piping are significant energy users. While insulation helps, tank-less water heating units can be better upgrades, but like the energy-efficient windows, there is an upfront investment. The pay-back comes over time because the tank-less systems heat water only when it’s 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 about saving on energy costs for any season, check out the National Association of Realtors® sponsored House Logic at

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It’s the largest trade association in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region representing over 1,300 members and 100 affiliates involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Pending sales, monthly Trends Reports, and the regional market analytics are available on the NETAR website at