Woman adjusting Eco Thermostat

Top 7 Eco-Friendly Home Features Buyers Are Looking For

Rachel Burris5-Minute read
PUBLISHED: July 21, 2021 | UPDATED: June 30, 2022


Providing exceptional service to your customers requires that you keep your ear to the ground. Knowing the latest real estate tech trends can help you stay ahead of the competition. However, you should also stay apprised of the latest trends in the housing market, so you can better advise your customers on the home features that matter most to them.

These days, eco homes are all the rage. With fears of climate change rising, an increasing number of homeowners are trying to do their part to improve the environment. If they’re not already, it’s likely that your customers are going to start asking to see homes that are green and sustainable. Not sure what that looks like? We’ve gathered the top 7 eco-friendly features buyers are looking for, so you’re better prepared to help your customers with their search.

What Are Eco Homes?

Eco homes are designed to promote greener lifestyles by minimizing the amount of greenhouse gases they emit into the atmosphere. These homes reduce their environmental impact through their inclusion of sustainable materials and technologies that cut down on homeowners’ energyand water needs.

Top 7 Eco-Friendly Home Features

Each of the eco-friendly home features on this list helps to limit the amount of waste produced by households. While some of them are common features in contemporary homes, others are highly specialized and can be challenging to find on the market.

1. Energy Star-Rated Appliances

Homes that have high-efficiency appliances are in demand because they offer enhanced performance with reduced energy usage. Furthermore, Energy Star-rated appliances tend to be more visually appealing.

“These give the rooms a more modern look and feel with the added benefit of being eco-friendly, so homeowners may prefer them for sustainability reasons or just aesthetics. Either way, they use less energy than their inefficient counterparts, which saves money on the owner’s utilities,” says Matthias Alleckna, an expert energy analyst at EnergyRates.ca, a leading energy rate comparison website.

Just how eco-friendly are these appliances? Alleckna explains that high-efficiency washing machines, for instance, “use 25% less energy and 33% less water per use.” So, these appliances can go a long way in lowering homeowners’ carbon footprint.

2. Programmable Thermostats

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 85% of buyers who purchased homes in 2019 considered the cost of heating and cooling to be a significant factor in their home search. This desire to cut costs has led more buyers to seek out homes with programmable thermostats.

Homes with older, inefficient HVAC systems are both more wasteful and costly because they pump hot and cold air throughout the home without regard to the times and spaces in which it’s actually needed. Programmable thermostats, on the other hand, provide homeowners with increased control over their climates.

“Not only is it a more precise way to set your home temperatures, but a resident can use online features to set times for air and heat to activate,” says Brad Pauly, licensed real estate broker and owner of Pauly Presley Realty in Austin. The ability to set the temperature remotely further enables homeowners to preserve energy and save money on their utility bills.

3. Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant floor heating is another way to lower energy usage. Commonly found in luxury bathrooms, radiant heating requires electric coils or water tubing to be installed under the floors of a room. With heat directly transferring from the ground to the individuals standing on it, radiant heating uses much less energy than traditional heating methods.

So, while this technology is pricey to install, it ultimately contributes to lower energy expenses. As if the cost factors weren’t enough to entice, the indulgent feel of warm tile on chilly feet causes this eco-friendly upgrade to be quite high on buyers’ wish lists.

4. Low-Flow Toilets

It’s not just energy consumption that buyers are worried about. They’re also looking to conserve water, and low-flow toilets can make a significant difference in the amount of water used in homes. While older toilets use up to 7 gallons of water per flush, there are now laws that require regular toilets to use no more than 1.6 gallons.

Although this is a huge improvement, many home buyers are looking for alternatives that have even higher efficiency. Low-flow toilets use only 1.28 gallons, further reducing the amount of water wasted. To determine whether a toilet is low flow, simply check the volume stamp located inside the tank or between it and the seat.

5. Solar Panels

Instead of having to rely on the utility company to provide electricity, buyers are interested in generating clean energy themselves. Now that capturing the power of the sun is far more affordable, buyers are on the lookout for homes that are already decked out with residential solar systems.

“Solar panels, which were once a niche and specialized novelty, are now a mainstream home feature,” says Jamie Safier, a luxury real estate agent for Douglas Elliman. “The technology behind them has become so advanced that not only are they less of an eyesore, but they are a huge money saving addition for consumers, too, for just a minimal investment. Additionally, some states also offer tax advantages and discounts for homes that make this adjustment.”

6. Recycled Materials

“I’ve noticed a few eco-friendly preferences starting to catch on in 2020, though one of the most notable has been the use of reclaimed materials in home design,” says Than Merrill, real estate investor and CEO of FortuneBuilders. “I think everyone from home builders to potential renters are going to be looking for and implementing this trend in the year to come."

Building and finishing homes with recycled materials has become a trend for a reason. Producing materials depletes a lot of natural resources, so reusing them eliminates waste and diminishes the environmental impact. Reclaimed materials, like barn wood and recycled quartz, are also more affordable and can furnish homes with striking textures.

7. Geo-Thermal Systems

“Geo-thermal systems use ground temperatures for heating and cooling of the home,” says Chris Fisher, manager of solar product development and marketing at CertainTeed, a manufacturer of building products and materials. “Ground temperatures remain relatively stable as compared with air temperature, so geo-thermal systems can use the ground’s relatively cool temperature to cool a home in the summer and relatively warmer temperature to heat homes in the winter. They’re eco-friendly primarily since they can displace heating loads, which currently rely on the burning of fossil fuels to produce heat."

While this method of heating and cooling is far more efficient than traditional HVAC systems, it’s also much more expensive to install. Since it regulates temperatures by transferring heat from the earth into your home, installation requires extensive drilling. Although home buyers can add geo-thermal systems their newly purchased homes, the high costs make it much more desirable to find a home that’s already been retrofitted.

The Benefits Of Eco Homes

With their environmental and financial advantages, it’s no wonder that an increasing number of buyers are seeking out eco homes. As a real estate agent, it’s advantageous to learn more about the slew of eco-friendly home features that are now available. The more you know, the better you can assist your customers in finding and assessing these new technologies.

If you find your local area has a significant inventory of eco homes, you may want to encourage more of your buyers to consider purchasing them. Remember, homes with eco-friendly features have become highly coveted, so they’re likely to sell faster and possess a higher resale value in the future.

If you’re interested in receiving more tips and news about the industry, check out our real estate agent resources.

Rachel Burris

Rachel Burris is a writer covering topics of interest to present and future homeowners, as well as industry insiders. Prior to joining Rocket Companies, she worked as an English teacher for the New York City Department of Education and a licensed real estate agent for Brown Harris Stevens. She holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Bucknell University, a postbaccalaureate certificate in psychology from Columbia University and a master's degree in English education from Teachers College, Columbia University.