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Going Green: Eco-Friendly Metros and the Rise of Solar Power

Dated: July 21 2020

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With rising energy bills and state-specific regulations and incentives on more eco-friendly energy sources and increasing consumer preference for Earth-friendly options, the number of homes with “green” features continues to rise. 

Whether it’s adding solar panels, updating lighting and appliances with more energy-efficient options, or adding alternative plumbing to save on water, there are many things you can do in your current home (or your next home) to reduce your home’s carbon footprint over time.

States like California and many others have joined in on the green revolution, continuing to explore alternative energy like solar and wind power, and provide incentives or tax credits for homeowners who choose to install them. 

Also, the California Energy Commission voted in May 2018 to require solar panels on new homes as of Jan. 1, 2020. To see what laws or incentives exist in your state, search this clean energy database

Eco-friendly cities®’s economic research team recently used®’s vast for-sale listings data to analyze which U.S. metros have the most eco-friendly features and learned that going green doesn’t always have to be costly. 

If you’re looking to do your part to take care of Mother Earth with your home purchase, Fort Collins, Colo., may be the best place for you. This metro area has the highest likelihood of finding a home with integrated green features like programmable thermostats, solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and more. Fort Collins had 36 percent of its April 2018 listings showcasing least one sustainable living feature.

But, if you’re looking to go green and save some green, stay away from Tulsa, Okla., where buyers will pay the biggest premium – 19 percent – if buying a home with existing eco-friendly features is a priority. 

Javier Vivas, director of economic research for®, noted that “although Southern and Western states still lead the way in green technology adoption, eco-friendly features have grown in popularity across many regions of the United States” and that buyers have come to expect the standard features. 

However, don’t expect the lack or inclusion of green features to be the biggest influence on your home price. Vivas says, “in today’s inventory-starved market, location still reigns supreme and the price of land can easily override the allure of special eco-friendly features.”

If you’re already a homeowner and are ready to make some changes to your home that will save energy and ultimately help save the planet, there are a few easy things you can do. put together a list of things green home improvements that will put cash back in your pocket. In fact, they estimate that you can potentially save $723 to $1,182 a year just by making these simple changes. 

If your home is fairly new, it may already have some energy-saving features. See how green your home really is with this helpful reality check and learn more about how you can “go green” in your home, whether it’s adding smart bulbs, cultivating plants that require less water in your backyard, or installing solar panels.

Solar power shines in California

With all of its sunshine, California dominated our list with eight of the top 10 markets with the highest concentration of listings featuring solar panels. The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., led the list at 6.1 percent of total listed homes. 

In Salinas, Calif., buyers save on average of $233,850 on homes featuring solar panels when compared to the metro’s median home listing price of $917,050. 

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, eight of the top 10 metros featuring the most solar panels on actively listed homes are located in California, according to research from®,” Chief Economist, Danielle Hale told HousingWire. “Among the markets reviewed in April, homes with solar panels tended to have a lower median price per square foot than homes without the feature so while it may cost more to install the panels, sellers don’t reap an obvious financial benefit in the form of a higher selling price.”

With the new mandate placed by the California Energy Commission that requires solar energy systems for new construction, there’s a lot to consider if you’re looking to buy or build a home in California in the next three years. The intent of the mandate is to cut energy use in new homes by 50 percent over the years, starting in 2020. 

According to Forbes, only 15 to 20 percent of new single-family homes in California currently include solar installations. The mandate would make it $25,000 to $30,000 more expensive to build new homes than those built according to the current code, established in 2006. 

However, experts say that extra cost, which accounts for both solar installation and improved insulation, would come back to your bank account in savings on energy bills. Saving $50,000 to $60,000 in operating costs over 25 years is a possibility, and officials say this plan would one-up the goal of net-zero energy.

Solar power can be pricey upfront but can pay off in the long run, especially as recent innovations in the solar power technology have lowered the overall cost. 

Tammy Lee is the Product PR Manager at® and a writer for the Home Made blog. Read the full bio ›

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Buying or selling any home can be a complicated process, and if you add solar or green upgrades into the mix it can really get interesting. We know how to handle these homes and how to structure it fo....

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