If you’re planning on selling your home, there’s a lot to consider. You may already have some improvements in mind, such as a kitchen overhaul, that you hope will boost your return-on-investment. However, there’s another category of upgrades you should consider: by making energy and indoor air quality improvements in your home prior to listing, you can improve your home’s value and curb appeal. In this article, we’ll review why this is and how you can get started.

Why energy-efficiency matters

There’s been a major, yet subtle, change in home building here in the United States. In the 60s and 70s, most homes were built without energy efficiency in mind: even in areas of the country where such improvements might have made sense, energy costs were far too low to make them a worthwhile investment for either the builder or the buyer—who the costs would have likely been passed onto, anyway.

Yet, times have changed, and now those same homes are at a crossroads. They exist in a market where energy costs are higher and the financial and environmental impact of highly wasteful energy use is felt more than ever before. Yet, many homeowners have not yet invested back into their home to retrofit them and bring them up to current standards.

Why make energy improvements?

In most cases, selling your home can be the push needed to move forward with energy improvements. In fact, an increasing number of homebuyers are taking energy efficiency and energy-efficient upgrades into consideration when purchasing a home. If you’re looking to maximize your home’s value and curb appeal, high-ROI home energy upgrade projects might be worth investing some time and money into.

Finding your home’s energy rating

All homes—brand-new, old, or somewhere in-between—can be evaluated using the Home Energy Rating Systems (HERS). This rating system is used to grade homes on their energy-efficiency relative to the average new home, which is assigned a score of 100. Homes that are 40% more efficient than the average new home would have a score of 60, while homes that are 50% less energy-efficient than that same home would have a score of 150. Generally, an older home on the market has a score between 130-150.

Getting a HERS rating

To find your HERS rating, you’ll need to consult with a professional home energy audit specialist in your area. Your score is influenced by the energy efficiency of your exterior walls, your attic insulation, your windows, your air ducts, your cooling and heating systems, and other factors.

Know before you start work

Having a HERS score before you start an energy efficiency overhaul of your home can help you measure progress and identify areas to target for the best-possible improvements. Think of it as a checklist: you’ll know exactly where to start making changes for the biggest bang-for-your-buck.

What is your home’s indoor air quality?

When most people think of “pollution,” they probably think about a crowded freeway or a smog-spewing power plant. Very few of them would think about their own home. Poor indoor air quality paired with the fact that you spend most of your time inside your home, means that your family is exposed to plenty of air quality hazards. Consider everything that might be in your air—pollen, dust, pet dander, viruses, mold spores—and you’ll start to see why indoor air quality is so important.

Two problems, one solution

Indoor air quality and energy efficiency often go hand-in-hand. For example, a home with leaky air ducts is not only wasting energy, but it’s also less effective at pushing air through the ductwork, which allows even more dust to build up. Similarly, homes with poor ventilation cannot take advantage of mild weather days to save energy or to discharge stale, dust-filled air.

Getting some fresh air

As with energy waste, the good news is that indoor air quality is something that can be improved. The first step is calling a local professional for an indoor air quality test. This test will determine exactly what’s in your home’s air, so that you can have a game plan for dealing with it. The solution may be increasing the ventilation to allow more fresh air in, getting those air ducts sealed, or having air filters installed to purify the air and remove odors.

Improve your home before you list

If you’re planning on selling your home this year, consider making energy-efficiency and indoor air quality improvements before you list. Not only can you include information about these upgrades in your listing, but prospective buyers touring your home will be able to notice (and smell) the difference. This can help you maximize your final sale price and get a buyer faster—all of which saves you money and hassle.

Isabella Cormier is the communications specialist and editor for Buddy’s A-1 Air Conditioning and Heating, a professional HVAC company located in Baton Rouge, LA. Isabella has been writing about the home service business for six years and enjoys giving advice that helps homeowners get the most out of their homes. At Buddy’s, we never lose sight of the fact that our mission is to earn your business, on each and every job.