8 Eco-Friendly Upgrades That Can Increase Your South Bay Home's Value

8 Eco-friendly upgrades that can increase your home's value

South Bay homes impact the environment, though industry plays a major role. We can always turn down our heating, light fewer rooms, and upgrade the refrigerator, but we’re about to share some eco-friendly upgrades that are far more effective. Some are low-cost, while others may be more costly, but offer more efficiency.

"In your perspective, Sandy, which energy efficient upgrade catches the eye of potential buyers and is most sought after/inquired about. A single sentence would be great. - Thank you." - Sandy Jamison

Smaller energy-efficient appliances can help, like Energy Star-rated washing machines or microwaves. Still, the brunt of energy costs are from larger systems, so thoughtful homeowners should start their upgrading journey there. Naturally, It won’t matter how efficient the microwave is if your HVAC is costing you hundreds of dollars extra every year. 

We’re about to show you how to increase home value and save on energy costs simultaneously.

Beach grass sky sun villa house

A recently built home with a cool roof and modern design - via PxHere

Energy Consumption in America

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

  • Space heating accounts for 45% of end-use energy consumption in single-family detached homes.
  • The two most-used energy sources are electricity and natural gas.
  • Across the U.S., the average energy consumed per home is down compared to previous years.
  • The average home can lose $150 per year from “phantom drain,” when electronics are supposedly turned off.
  • Natural gas and petroleum are still a huge portion of energy consumption (33% and 36% respectively).

Do Eco-Friendly Upgrades Increase a Home’s Value?

What’s the point of upgrading energy efficiency at home? Is it just for peace of mind and a sense of environmental responsibility? Sure, there are many intangible benefits you’ll get from the upgrades - but it could also boost your property’s value.   

In 2022, a study confirmed that homes with higher Energy Star rating or LEED certification can sell for 2-8% more.

You might be wondering how exactly eco-friendly upgrades can increase your South Bay home’s value. 

roofing setp with modern windows

An advanced roofing setup with modern windows - via Jeff Vincent

Why Does the Value of a Green Home Increase?

Buyers are willing to pay more for each of these reasons:

  • An eco-friendly home is going to be more future-proof against energy costs.
  • In many cases, the energy-efficient option can probably offer a better quality of life. For example, air quality is often improved by non-toxic building materials, efficient heating, and air conditioning. 
  • Comfort can also be improved, as eco-friendly upgrades often perform much better than older comparables. For example, a greener air conditioning system may circulate more air and keep families even more comfortable in South Bay summers. 
  • Energy efficiency is in demand and socially responsible.
  • Buyers know that your green home could save them money, which is worth a larger initial investment. 
  • In California, the government even supports homeowners by rebating 30% of the cost of certain upgrades.

Planning on selling your South Bay home soon? We’ll guarantee your sale price.

8 Eco-Friendly Upgrades for South Bay Homes

California energy costs are notoriously high and this causes many residents to seek solutions. From top to bottom, modern technology is revamping homes. It’s not in the pursuit of vanity either, although, these upgrades often look fantastic. No, homeowners are primarily looking for energy savings.

Realtors will agree that homes with eco upgrades generally sell quickly and for more money. You can ask professional agents anytime about which upgrades have the most upside. 

Remember - the federal government will support certain upgrades with deductions and tax credits. There may be ways to massively lower the cost of going green at home. 

Energy-Efficient Lighting

For many of us, LED lighting has been around for a long time. It’s nothing new, though it still needs mentioning. South Bay homes on the market should be using normal or smart LED lighting wherever possible. 

At the very least, South Bay home buyers will usually expect efficient interior lighting. They know that those lights are used more and have a larger impact on electricity bills. According to government sources, average American families can save around $225 each year by swapping incandescent for LED.  

A home lit energy-effecient lighting

A home lit with energy efficient lighting - via Foto Miki

Lower energy cost is the main advantage of switching to LED lighting, more formally known as Light Emitting Diodes. For exterior and interior lighting, they’ll consume up to 90% less energy compared to traditional incandescents. Most people also know that LEDs can last longer, meaning even more savings. 

It creates one less headache for you or potential buyers. 

We’ll illuminate a few more benefits of energy-efficient lighting before we move on.

  • More than just lighting: The smart LEDs on the market have functions that might surprise you. It’s possible to sync them with central control systems in smart homes and set schedules. 
  • Added security: Many LEDs can connect to security systems, giving you more control over an important part of the home. Set patterns to mimic a normal routine, making the home appear occupied, or just link lighting to alarm systems. A voice or smartphone can control many functions, especially with a smart lighting system like Lutron or Control4
  • Prices are expected to come down and quality is expected to rise.

Solar Panels

Like LEDs, solar panels are not a new concept. Around California and the entire Bay Area, you’ll spot their bluish-black sheen on several rooftops.

Five or 10 years ago, converting sunlight into energy was still a fringe concept for South Bay homeowners. Whether it was ‌panel prices or dubious energy returns, solar wasn’t immediately popular. Even Tesla, with a plant in San Jose, offers a home battery system for storing solar energy.

With the high energy prices of the present day, it becomes easy to see why South Bay home values can increase with solar panels. South Bay residents pay more for electricity, so naturally, ways to reduce costs are sought after.

Every dollar solar shaves from your electrical bill adds $20 of value to your home - according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 

Roof with solar pannels

Homes outfitted with modest amounts of solar paneling - via Dave Dugdale

A solar panel is one of the only upgrades that provides energy, whereas other items on this lengthy list either harness it or use it. A south-facing roof is ideal, though it’s not a dealbreaker. As long as there aren’t many obstacles to lower efficiency, South Bay roofs have potential.

What makes property value increase after installing a few solar panels?

  • California’s electricity rates are high, with some estimates saying that California homeowners could pay around $400 extra in 2024, compared to 2023. As of September 2023, rates were up 92% since January 2014. 
  • Energy savings are attractive to potential buyers. Compared to homes without a solar system installed, some studies show as much as a 4.1% boost in sale price.
  • Property tax exemptions can give homeowners the benefit of solar, without paying taxes on the extra value it injects into the property. 
  • Energy efficiency is attractive to homebuyers, both for societal reasons and financial ones. As a logical result, those homes tend to sell faster and for slightly more than traditionally energized homes.

Energy-Efficient Windows and Frames

Some people might think that an efficient window is just for keeping heat inside, but they also hold in cool air. With modern designs, a barrier is created between the elements and your interior, like the layer of water in a wetsuit keeping a diver warm.

Double pane and triple pane windows use layers filled with argon, acting as a gaseous insulator. The newest tech even uses ultra-thin layers of metal (Low-E coating) to minimize infrared and ultraviolet light, while allowing in the natural rays you want. A rating system called the U-factor is used to measure heat loss. Look for low U-factor windows 

Loft Home with Modern Glass Windows

Modern glass windows in a beautiful loft home - via David Prasad

A poorly installed leaky window frame undermines whatever fancy technology the glass uses. It’s important to think of a window in two parts; the frame and glass are codependent. 

The benefits of having the latest energy-efficient windows:

  • Anywhere from 21 to 31% lower utility payments thanks to less escape warm and cool air.
  • The long-term savings are well-established, making your home more valuable and attractive to buyers.
  • Better control of your indoor climate. Once your desired temperature is reached, the efficient windows will help it stay there.
  • Noise protection is an added benefit of energy-efficient frames and windows, thanks to the multilayer design.
  • Less maintenance and upkeep because of leaks and condensation. Modern windows and frames are specifically designed to thwart the extra moisture and protect the home’s interior surfaces.

Cooler Roof Materials

Since we rarely come face to face with our roof, this section can be overlooked by homeowners. Just like the foundation is the home’s first line of defense against the earth, the roof defends against weather (while adding curb appeal). 

Now, it’s not just the rain that roofs deflect. The sun is a relentless force that beams down onto the roofs of South Bay homes. The effects can make a home overheat in the hottest months, forcing homeowners to spend more on cooling. Because we’re never walking around on the roof, most homeowners don’t know just how hot they get. In fact, they can be up to 100 degrees hotter than the air temperature. Some of that toasty temperature is transferred right into the home.

Insatlling Modern Roof

Modern roofing being installed - via studio tdes

In August of 2023, the South Bay Area hit an average high of 90°F. Here’s another relevant piece of info: a study found that 90% of roofs in the United States don’t reflect heat properly and are absorbing it. These two factors alone can lead to sky-high cooling costs, without even looking at the rest of the home construction.

A reflective roof that also ventilates heat can add energy savings and boost South Bay home values. Of course, the roof is just one defense against high energy costs. The windows, HVAC system, and insulation are just a few others that should be working alongside the roof.

Here’s how South Bay eco-friendly roofing upgrades add value:

  • It will lower monthly energy costs significantly. The savings can be as much a 7-15% of total cooling costs.
  • A roof with eco benefits is a plus in buyers’ eyes. Potential buyers know that modern roofs offer monthly savings, tax benefits, and longevity, thanks to advanced materials.
  • Lower maintenance costs and payback period. Of course, roofing projects have varying costs. Using the latest materials, maintenance is much less frequent and roofs can be paid off quickly. 
  • Tax savings on top of monthly energy savings. There are thousands of dollars to be saved every year for switching to energy-efficient upgrades. Some credits are specifically for improvements, not new builds. 
  • Extends the life of other systems. By bringing less heat into the home via the roof, your HVAC systems and fans won’t have to work as hard. In the long run, this could really boost their life and decrease maintenance. 

Smart Thermostats

Some fell in love with smart thermostats right away. The sleek designs, attractive displays, and reassuring yet unflinching control - it’s all great. Don’t forget that the main advantage is energy cost reduction and more functionality, though the frills are still nice.

Google and Amazon hopped into the market. From their Mountain View headquarters, Google seems to have created one of the most clever systems, called the Nest. More expensive options are out there, with different capabilities and strengths. 

Google Nest

A Google Nest being adjusted and scheduled - via Ben Simpson

Smart thermostats set temperatures based on your schedule. You’ll be able to find cost savings and avoid wasting energy when you don’t need it. Let’s say you just booked a last-minute weekend trip but forgot to adjust your thermostat. With a Google Nest, you can make whatever adjustments you need, from anywhere on the globe.

But why does this increase South Bay home values? 

  • Smart thermostats add comfort. A home with better climate control is more comfortable and more adjustable to our needs.
  • Smart thermostats can reduce heating bills with the right settings. Potential buyers will appreciate having control over energy spending too - and pay more for it.
  • You can track your family’s energy use. Instead of waiting for utility bills in the metaphorical dark, smart thermostat systems can track usage to keep you aware (even remotely).

Ceiling Fans

In the long list of upgrades that save homeowners in South Bay money, ceiling fans take an undeserving back seat. Apart from being one of the best ways to evenly move air around homes, they can reduce your dependence on more expensive cooling methods. 

Ceiling fans are also one of the least budget-breaking upgrades you can choose. The modern electric ceiling fan has been evolving steadily since the 1880s. The goal: maximum air movement at minimal energy output. 

The ceiling fans you’ll buy today are made of ABS polymer, various metals, or wood for a more classic styling. They’re best in larger room with high ceilings and help avoid condensation, stale air, and stuffy rooms.

Modern Ceiling Fan

A modern ceiling fan with classic stylings but increased efficiency - via FanFan61618

Look for high CFM/W ratings, which show Cubic Feet of air per Minute per Watt. The maximum is generally around 480 CFM/W for Energy Star fans, but your home interior may not require it. 

Many homeowners don’t realize that ceiling fans consume a much larger amount of power at the highest speeds. You might think it's double, or even triple the wattage of the lowest speed - but it’s closer to five times the energy (or more). Always compare the fan power consumption for low speed and high speed. 

What makes property value increase when you upgrade to efficient ceiling fans? 

Although they are just a few hundred dollars or less, ceiling fans can still add value to a South Bay home. Potential buyers will be happy to have an alternative to air conditioners. Efficient airflow can reduce the need for other HVAC systems that may cost more to use each month. Along with other eco-friendly home upgrades, efficient ceiling fans could make your home stand out and raise what you can reasonably ask buyers to pay‌ for.

Duct Sealing and Insulation

Humanity’s history with sealing and insulation isn’t the best. Luckily, we’ve moved far away from using materials that harm the environment and occupants. Toxicity and flammability are at an all-time low, while ‌efficiency is peaking.

For greener duct sealing, the South Bay housing market has started to adopt new materials. Bamboo and linen are just two components in the mix, offering superior insulation with a much smaller footprint. Aerogel is another high-tech material used these days. The goal is to create an airtight seal and manage heat gain and loss at the same time.

Then there’s eco-friendly insulation, which has a great effect on a home’s value. Of course, sealing ducts and insulating walls go hand in hand, waging the same war against wasted energy. That being said, insulation covers a large amount of a home’s surface area, so it's a crucial defense. Closed-cell spray foams are among the most efficient, but have a higher installation cost than fiberglass or cellulose insulation. 

Look for higher R-values on insulating and sealing products. This is the rating for advanced materials like polyisocyanurate can be up to R-6.8 per inch, while fiberglass may be around R-3.0 per inch.

Modern Spray Insulation

Modern spray insulation - via Jesus Rodriguez

How does all of this increase South Bay home value?

  • Both duct sealing and insulation have a trickle down effect. Related systems like HVAC and ceiling fans could work less (and use less power) if both are energy efficient. These are savings that homebuyers are looking for in expensive energy sectors like the South Bay housing market.
  • Your home will be more comfortable in all seasons - a commodity that buyers will pay more for. The indoor temperature will be more consistent overall and moderate whatever is going on outside. High heat levels are kept out by better sealing and insulation, while cooler temperatures hold steady inside.
  • Once sealing and insulation are upgraded, the job doesn’t need to be done for a very, very long time. Knowing that this major upgrade is finished will be a huge selling point for buyers. 

Energy-Efficient HVAC Systems

Sometimes, the biggest energy savings come from larger up-front investments. With an HVAC system, that’s definitely the case. 

Of all the eco-friendly home improvements, HVACs represent some of the largest savings, as well as installation costs. For that reason, many homeowners avoid this and go for other eco-friendly home upgrades. If your goal is to flip a home and maximize short term profit, this might not be the upgrade for your home.

HVAC Installation

HVAC installation - via Flickr

But for long term owners, or sellers who can’t avoid upgrading an older inefficient system, the energy savings (and added home value) are massive. There’s also a rebate running for South Bay homes until 2032, reducing the cost of upgrading by hundreds of dollars.

To evaluate an HVAC system, know these ratings:

SEER2 (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) Usually, 22 to 26 SEER is considered very efficient. 

EER2 (Energy Efficiency Rating) An EER2 of 12 is considered energy efficient. 

HSPF2 (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) 9 HSPF2 and above is considered efficient for a heat pump system.

What makes property value increase after an HVAC upgrade?

  • Lowered monthly energy costs. Upgrading from a lower rating of 13 SEER to 16 SEER could give a 30% decrease in cooling costs. At that rate, paying off the costly installation doesn’t take long, but buyers will love the savings too. They’ll often pay for more up-front for a home that will save them money each month.
  • More control over the home’s temperature and more comfort. Another thing buyers will pay more for is added comfort. Not only do modern HVAC systems cool South Bay homes better, new systems also give you more control. Most have diagnostics and advanced controls that you can tweak from mobile apps or a central unit. 

Looking for Other Value-Boosting Methods for Your Home?

Budget-aware homeowners can always find ways to increase home value. If it isn’t with ceiling fans, cooler roofing materials, or triple pane windows, there are still options. 

Going green increases value (if done correctly), but it’s not always the most efficient path to take. For example, your property might be in desperate need of something else. A real estate agent is the perfect person to ask about this - nobody understands the South Bay housing market better. What works and what doesn’t, what adds value to South Bay homes and what adds expenses; they’ve experienced it all. 

We aren’t closely guarding these secrets! In fact, we can consult on your specific situation over the phone or email. Tap into our real estate expertise and find out about our seller guarantees.

More Questions? Follow-up With Us!

If you have more questions about what to expect from the markets around the Bay Area, don’t be afraid to reach out to us today. Our experts are experienced in all property types and the entire San Francisco Bay Area, and we can help you to find what you need to know today.

Contact Us To Learn More

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Post a Comment