The emergence of the ‘Green Home’ has big benefits for homebuyers, greatly reducing the energy consumed and the cost to heat and/or cool their homes. It’s often much more cost effective to implement energy saving features in newly-built homes than to retrofit an existing house. This creates a unique point of distinction for today’s homes compared to those built as recently as 5 or 10 years ago.
We know green energy features help reduce the overall cost of ownership. NewHomeSource.com, the leading resource for consumers to select a new home, was curious to see which green energy features consumers think will have the greatest impact on the resale value of their home. NewHomeSource.com conducted an online survey nationally across the site asking consumer’s opinion on some of the most popular green energy features in today’s new homes. Almost 40% of respondents cited solar panels as having the greatest impact on the resale value of their new home with tankless water heaters (23%) and energy efficient appliances (18%) ranking second and third. Low-E windows (14%) and Icynene Insulation (7%) ranked last in terms of perceived resale value.
Solar panels have long been an attractive way to reduce the energy consumption of a home. Not only do solar panels reduce the reliance on outside power providers but the energy generated can often be sold back to the power company. However, the cost to purchase and install a new solar system can be expensive and difficult to justify, often requiring several years before homeowners can expect to see a return on investment. With new homes, the cost is factored into the construction of the home. Lennar and many other builders have begun developing new ‘solar communities’ where solar power is a standard feature and ready for use at the time of move in. According to the American Solar Energy Society, “A solar electric system compares very favorably with other home improvements in percentage of cost recovered. Often, a solar system can recover much more than 100% of its cost, and this percentage actually increases overtime as electric rates rise.” In addition to the energy savings, solar panels constructed with the homes ascetics in mind can have a visible and positive impression on future home buyers. They can literally see this is a green energy home, providing long-term benefits for them as well.
Did you know that up to 20% of a home’s energy cost can be spent on the water heater? Tankless water heaters are a new alternative, offering efficiency and comfort for homeowners. Instead of a large 50-60 gallon tank that heats and stores the water, tankless water heaters user extreme heat to raise the water temperature as it passes though the pipes. The result is that homeowners have instant and continuous hot water. Tankless heaters last approximately twice as long as traditional tanks and provide energy savings by using less water and reduced power consumption by only heating water when it is needed. Conversely, tankless water do require large amounts of heat to meet the needs of the home. I had considered retrofitting my home with a tankless water heater but found I’d need to upgrade my gas lines to handle the additional BTU’s. This became cost prohibitive in my house, but is easy to incorporate in new construction. While tankless water heaters definitely provide assurance you’ll never run out of hot water, they can require more energy to power, partially offsetting potential energy savings.
With newly-built homes, everything is new--including home appliances. Kitchens are outfitted with new refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers, often from a series of design options the consumer controls. More and more builders are offering Energy Star appliances in their Design Center, helping customers select attractive and energy efficient appliances. EnergyStar is a government-backed regulatory program that identifies products that help reduce greenhouse emissions and use energy more efficiently. Homeowners will benefit from reduced power consumption. By investing in upgraded appliances wisely, you may also be able to increase the resale value of your new home, too, since appliances are a major focal point for homebuyers.
Low-E window is a proven technology that can be easily be overlooked when considering energy savings. Low E glass works by reflecting heat utilizing a thin metallic coating on or in the glass. The coating helps reflect infrared light which can heat the interior of a home. Low-E windows are gaining in popularity; recently the Department of Energy has been promoting Low-E windows for both new and resale homes. A report issued by EnergyStar.gov states, “Based on recent trends for improved efficiency, high-performance windows are expected to become standard practice for the building industry. Since it is both difficult and costly to replace windows after a house is built, it is best to install high-performance products during construction.”
NewHomeSource consumers ranked Icynene Insulation has having the lowest perceived contributing factor to a home’s resale value, however don’t under-estimate the potential savings. Just as solar panels have a visual impact on prospective homebuyers, well insulated walls may be overlooked when factoring the value of a home. Well insulated walls play a critical role in a home’s efficiency. Icynene Spray Foam and other new types of insulation are allowing homebuilders to construct better insulated and quieter homes. Unlike traditional insulation, Icynene is spray foam that expands as it dries. The expansion allows the foam to fill small cracks that otherwise would allow air, moisture and heat to pass into the home. While Icynene Insulated walls may not have the same glamorous appeal as solar panels, according to EnergyStar, a house sealed to their standards can save up to 20% on heating and cooling cost.
Today, many builders offer Energy Star Certified Homes designed to meet rigorous government standards for energy efficiency without compromising quality. These features make new ‘green’ homes an attractive and often more cost effective purchase than remodeling an existing home. Green products vary by homebuilder, community and your climate region, but many consumers will see dramatic differences in their monthly energy bills by taking advantage of these new features. And when the time comes to sell their home, they’ll be able to continue to reap the benefits of today’s green technology.