Give the people what they want: energy-efficient homes

The National Association of Homebuilders’ data show that homebuyers want houses that are energy efficient, and will pay a premium to live in one.

As the NAHB’s press release for its 2013 study, What Home Buyers Really Want, puts it:

What do home buyers really want? First and foremost, energy efficiency.  Some of the most wanted features involve saving energy, i.e. Energy-Star rated appliances and windows, and an Energy Star rating for the whole home.  Nine out of ten buyers would rather buy a home with energy-efficient features and permanently lower utility bills than one without those features that costs 2 percent to 3 percent less.

Slide 1 - Homeowner Operating Cost_Comparison_Chart_edited-1

So it is baffling that the NAHB and its state affiliates have campaigned against the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code—the national model code, adopted by municipalities across the country, that makes new homes 30 percent less expensive to maintain, adding thousands of dollars in energy savings to the wallets of homeowners.  The NAHB’s current proposal – RE166 – would wipe out two-thirds of those efficiency gains for some homes.

Given the high and unpredictable cost of energy, it is simply too expensive to own an inefficient home.

The second highest cost of owning a home can be attributed to utility bills, right after mortgage principal and interest, but ahead of property taxes and insurance. Over a home’s 70-year life, average energy bills total over $160,000.

Homes built to meet the 2012 IECC only cost about 1-2 percent more than inefficient homes, but they end up saving American families big dollars. The U.S. Department of Energy concluded that even with a minimally higher mortgage and down payment, cash flows of a 2012 IECC homeowner become positive within a year or two across the board around the nation.

The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is updated every three years by officials and experts from cities, counties, and towns across the country. They have to look out for the long-term quality of the housing stock in their home communities. And they know that well built, energy efficient homes are in everyone’s interest.

Especially the homeowner’s.

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