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Charlie Glahe WIN Broomfield

The value of water-efficient homes

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As states across the U.S. experience terrible drought, water conservation has become a huge priority. For example both California and Florida have implemented mandatory water restrictions that require cities to substantially reduce their water consumption, which is not an easy task.

Even in areas that are not experiencing droughts, conserving water is extremely beneficial - both for the environment and a homeowner's water bill. As a result, homebuyers are increasingly interested in homes equipped with modern water-saving technology. If you are planning to sell your home anytime soon, implementing water conservation technology could make your home more valuable. If you are planning to stay in your home for a while, making your home more water-efficient can help you save money. Finally, those looking to buy a home could benefit from investing in one that is water-efficient. 

How much water do we really waste? 
Americans waste an exorbitant amount of water. The Environmental Protection Agency says household leaks alone waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water per year in this country, which is equivalent to the total amount of water used by 11 million homes in a full year. Other factors, such as over watering lawns or inefficient irrigation systems, add up to a lot of wasted water. 

Sometimes, saving gallons of water per day and hundreds of dollars per year is as simple as fixing a leak or buying a new shower head. National Geographic reported that a low-flow shower head saves 15 gallons of water per every ten-minute shower, and the EPA said replacing your faucet and aerator with one of its WaterSense labeled products could save 700 gallons of water per year. In addition, a WaterSense labeled toilet uses 1.28 gallons or less per flush, compared to a standard toilet which uses between 1.6 and 7 gallons per flush depending on the model. All of this effort can really pay off, both by lowering your water bill and making your home more appealing to prospective buyers if and when you decide to sell. 

Water efficiency is a growing desire for homebuyers 
The National Association of Realtors listed drought awareness as a top trend influencing homes in 2016. Gita Nandan, an architect in Brooklyn, New York, told NAR that the modern home buyer is interested in more than standard water conservation technology like low-flow toilets. She discussed a rainwater harvesting system her architectural firm, thread collective, designed for a four-unit building in Brooklyn. The system captures rainwater and uses it to water the building's yard and rooftop garden. The harvesting system, in addition to low-flow fixtures installed in the building, has led the building to use 30 percent less water. Nandan believes water-efficiency is becoming as coveted by homeowners as energy-efficiency. 

Kari Klaus, a North Virginia real estate broker and the founder of Viva Green Homes, a real estate listing site that calls itself the "Zillow of Green Homes," wrote in Mother Earth News that green homes sell for more money. Buyers are very excited about homes that will help them save on utility bills. Their desires include both energy and water efficiency, and when they are considering making an offer on your home, they will probably ask you what you typically pay for utilities. Being able to tell them that you only pay a small amount due to your home's amazing water and energy saving capabilities is sure to differentiate your home from competitors. 

What kinds of homes are most water-efficient? 
In reality, any home can increase its water efficiency by implementing new fixtures and technology as well as making sure any leaks are taken care of quickly. New construction homes, however, are increasingly having water-efficiency built right into them. Start Fresh. Buy New., an advocacy group that promotes the advantages of new construction homes, reported that newly built homes are up to 30 percent more efficient than homes built ten years ago. 

According to California real estate company Terra Firma, many new construction homes are now built with energy-efficient plumbing, dishwashers, toilets, washing machines and water heaters. Many are also equipped with drought-tolerant landscaping or irrigation systems that automatically adjust based on weather.  

Remember, new construction homes still need a home inspection. Home inspections are key in ensuring that builders did not make any mistakes when building the new home.