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Green House Hunting

You live an eco-friendly life. You compost, you garden, you dry your clothes on a clothesline, you use cloth napkins and cloth diapers...but, have you considered moving into a “green” home? And if you have, how do you even begin to find such a thing?

First off, find a a green real estate agent. They do exist! Ecobroker has a database of green real estate agents who are educated and certified in the area of green real estate. Ecobroker's site also a search function where you can find green properties in your area. You can check off green features in your search, such as just looking for properties with energy-efficient appliances, green building materials like bamboo or cork floors, and more.

Another resource is Listed Green. They list green, energy efficient LEED homes.

If you want to do the research on your own, think about what types of green features you want your home to have. Energy efficient home design? Solar panels? Built using recycled materials? Keep yourself up-to-date on green home terminology. EcoHearth has a great glossary to help you out.

When house hunting, also consider size. Look for a house with only the space you need. Does a family of four need a McMansion with 6 giant bedrooms, a family room and a living room, a dining room and an eat-in kitchen? Probably not. All of those rooms that you rarely need just use more energy.

Also, think about public transportation and “walkability.” WalkScore.com allows you to put in an address and it tells you how walkable your neighborhood is. It's certainly greener to live somewhere with plenty of public transportation and stores within walking distance!

On the other hand, if you find that a certifiably “green home” is outside your budget, you can buy a home that isn't necessarily green, but then make little changes as you go, such as replacing the appliances with Energy Star rated ones, improve insulation and windows, and repaint with low or no-VOC paint. Planet Green has some info on making green home renovations.