Green living turns out to be much more than just a passing fad

Green building was once considered little more than a passing fad embraced by a niche demographic of activists and academics. That's all starting to change, as a recent report from McGraw Hill Construction, an industry-research group, found that more homeowners than ever are buying into the energy efficiency craze.

Last year, nearly 20 percent of all new home construction was energy efficient, and analysts expect that number to balloon to between 28 and 38 percent in the years to come. While many homeowners are purchasing green appliances, some households are taking it a step further by creating properties that are completely non-dependent on the power grid.

One family in Frederick, Maryland, for instance, recently turned their conventional looking brick four-bedroom house into a net-zero property. David and Martha Gurzick have luxuries like a steam room and an extra-large washer and dryer in their home, but the added cost of running these systems is offset thanks to the use of rooftop solar panels. While the couple is at work, the panels absorb thermal energy that gets turned into electricity to power the house the rest of the time.

"It was never our intention to get a green home, but these features are the icing on the cake," said David, who paid $516,000 for the 2,800-square-foot residence.

If you are interested in making your home more energy efficient, consider having a home inspection contractor visit your property to evaluate what improvements you can make to lower your utility costs. Investments you make now to improve your house's impact on the environment will definitely pay off in the future.