Washington, DC real estate is one of the greenest metropolitan areas

Being green is not just a trendy thing for the rich and famous to talk about, it's also an important aspect of building sustainable homes. Now is the time to buy and build homes that won't negatively impact the environment, but allow you to live in a way that uses minimal resources. Homes for sale in Washington, DC may be some of the best for this as the nation's capital ranks number two on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) annual list of cities with the the most Energy Star-certified buildings, according to the Washington Business Journal.

Losing only to Los Angeles, Washington, DC had 404 ENERGY STAR-Certified buildings in 2011. This equates to a savings of approximately $118.6 million. These numbers show the city is gradually getting more sustainable, as it was ranked number four in 2008. In third place was Atlanta, followed by Chicago and San Francisco. The EPA says a total of $2.3 billion was saved this past year thanks to these buildings, and this amount is equivalent to the energy costs of 1.5 million homes. In addition to saving money, it also prevents unnecessary greenhouse gases from being emitted and saves nonrenewable resources.

Homebuyers can do their part in the movement toward more sustainable living by looking for homes that already have ENERGY STAR appliances and light bulbs. These items can make a house more efficient and comfortable, and will reduce costs spent on high energy bills and other utilities. However, an older home can be purchased and improved simple enough to also save energy. New homeowners may want to hire a professional energy auditor to understand a home's current energy use and find out what they can do to save. Anyone who has lived in a home for a few months could also compare their home's energy use to others in the area and see how it stacks up.

One of the most important things to look at while purchasing a home, if hoping to improve an current home's energy efficiency, is the insulation. Poorly insulated homes will waste more energy and have high utility bills. The source suggests hiring a skilled contractor to take a look at insulation because making improvements could save up to 20 percent on cooling and heating costs.

Being a green homeowner is simply enough and living in the second most energy efficient city in the country may encourage Washington, DC residents to become more sustainable.