Your New House May Already Be Saving You Money

Home ownership, along with higher education, may be the most money you've ever put toward something in your life. Just the process of landing your dream house can make your head spin and your knees weak. But there are some perks that come built into your new home, even more than shelves and walk-in closets, and they'll keep saving you cash for years to come.

A Norwegian study just released findings about energy-efficient homes and how they sell. The researchers framed the issue for home sellers: Even when you've invested in energy efficiency, that's not necessarily going to drive your home's price up. In Europe, houses for sale come rated to show how much you may spend on energy costs; higher ratings didn't necessarily translate to higher sales. For buyers, however, that's a dream come true.

Lots of qualities tend to come first when making a decision on housing: location, appearance, amenities, budget. Energy efficiency may not swing your decision one way or another. But if you choose a home that's already been fitted with energy-efficient appliances or was built with solar panels or high-quality insulation, you may be able to reap the benefits without paying much extra up front. Over time, energy-efficient housing can cut down on bills and help reduce dependence on nonrenewable energy sources. You might even be eligible for tax breaks because of the previous owner's investment.

If you're looking to sell, don't let this study dissuade you from considering energy efficiency — your initial investment could help the house and the planet for years to come.