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Too Few Builders Offering Energy-Efficient Features

Posted by Sherry Rioux on November 2, 2009

It looks like a large number of new home builders are missing out on some real opportunities to attract new home buyers.  According to a survey released earlier this month, less than half of new home buyers were offered energy-efficient features for their new homes yet, 90% of buyers state they value energy efficiency when making a new home purchase.

Energy efficiency is quickly becoming a major factor in home buying decision making, according to the survey.  1,638 homebuyers in the Toronto and Ottawa areas were surveyed by energy-efficiency consultancy EnerQuality Corp..  The study found that homebuyers were willing to pay an average of $13,183 in additional costs for a “green” home. While last year only 20% of homebuyers were willing to spend $10,000 or more extra, that figure has quickly doubled to 40% of people who were willing to spend so much extra if it meant lowering energy costs over the long term.  More than 70% would be willing to spend $5,000 or more.

I heard a term once that referred to a house having two purchase prices; one to buy the home and the second price tag being the cost to carry and operate the home.  As this second price tag takes on increasing prominence for homeowners with declining disposal incomes, a net decrease in the cost of owning a home to the tune of hundreds of dollars per year can have a significant impact on a buying decision.

Under the new Ontario Green Energy and Green Economy Act, buyers will soon have the right to ask for a mandatory home energy audit from the seller.  As consumers become ever more aware in rapidly increasing numbers about the benefits of an energy efficient home, I can see the day when all homes have ratings and indicators as part of the standard listing.  People buying energy efficient homes today will already be one step ahead of older homes with no energy-saving retrofits.

The EnerQuality survey found that 92 per cent of homebuyers who participated would seek out energy efficiency for their next home purchase and, most are willing to pay for it yet, many builders have not offered these options or features.  That is a real disconnect and it would be wise for home builders to become educated about the many opportunities and options available today.  I would think this carries over as well to home renovators and contractors.  Educating themselves right now would be good business practice in meeting consumer demand that is sure to continue growing.

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