If there was ever a year to go green at home, 2008 is it.
With more homeowners asking for energy-efficient appliances, tighter homes that preserve indoor air quality and other features, it’s easier than ever to go green at home.
According to trend spotting experts, saving green is the big motivation to for many homeowners. The National Association of Home Builders’ annual consumer preferences study found that such money-saving features as better insulation, Energy Star windows, more efficient equipment (like HVAC systems), and ceiling fans were tops for many consumers.
"In living spaces, energy-efficient features are very important to new home buyers," said Gopal Ahluwalia, NAHB’s vice president of research, at the 2008 International Builders Show (IBS).
Value of greener homes
Buyers are also willing to pay more to get them, according to the survey. After all, a healthier home is a more livable one – and consumers are recognizing that value.
In an October 2007 report by The NPD Group, Inc., about 64 percent of consumers surveyed believed it was “important to purchase environmentally friendly products for their homes.”
Buying green home products became more important to consumers as they got older, but major appliances aere the leading eco-friendly product category across all age groups.
Saving money by going green
So how much cash can homeowners save with greener features? Estimates report that homes built greener use about 70 percent less energy than conventional homes – and that translates to lower heating and cooling bills.
Besides energy-efficient appliances, green building strategies can range from high-tech to low-maintenance. High-tech solutions include roof-mounted solar panels that harness the sun’s power for an “off the grid” energy source, and windows that eliminate the need for electric light during daytime hours.
“Low-tech” options include installing simple overhangs on windows to prevent solar heat gain from turning your home into an oven (thereby reducing energy bills), and rooftop gardens (popular in urban settings) that can cool homes in the summer and insulate them in the winter.
Consumers in the market for a new home may also be eligible for green mortgages and financial products. Many major banks are now offering energy-efficient mortgages (EEMs) for homeowners, making it easier for borrowers to purchase homes with specific energy-efficient improvements.
Green features, new homes
More new home builders are also incorporating greener features because of consumer demand for homes that cost less to maintain. At the International Builder’s Show, green building is one critical feature that is distinguishing builders in a tough market.
"Consumers are looking for differentiation in a housing market, and they're looking for homes that help them respond to increases in oil, home-heating costs, electricity costs, natural-gas costs," said David Rodgers, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the U.S. Department of Energy, at an IBS 2008 news conference. “More than ever, people are watching what energy means to their bottom line.”
Find more tips on saving money at home, including ways to green an existing home, in the “Going Green” section of the New Home Guide.