Buyers value eco features

Energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important to new homebuyers,but a lot of builders aren’t capitalizing on this “green” interest,according to a new energy efficiency study.

Energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important to new homebuyers, but a lot of builders aren’t capitalizing on this “green” interest, according to a new energy efficiency study.

The fourth annual EnerQuality Energy Efficiency/Green Building Survey released last week found that nine out of 10 Ontario homebuyers value energy efficiency when making a new home purchase. And they are willing to pay more for these features, despite the tough economy.

“It’s an overwhelming endorsement. Homebuyers recognize that energy efficiency is important when purchasing a home,” said Corey McBurney, president of the EnerQuality Corp.

The survey, however, found that less than half of homebuyers had been offered energy-efficient features by their builder.

The survey, done in July and August 2009 by the EnerQuality Corp. (which delivers Energy Star, EnerGuide, R-2000, LEED Canada for Homes and GreenHouse programs in Ontario) was based on responses from 1,638 new homebuyers in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa-Carleton. The survey respondents had closed a new lowrise home purchase in 2008.

Not only did buyers value energy efficiency, they were willing to pay more for those features — an average of $13,183. Forty per cent of them were willing to pay $10,000 more for a green home in 2009, compared to 22 per cent in 2008. And 92 per cent of homebuyers intend to choose an energy-efficient home again in the future.

The main driver is saving money — 27 per cent listed that as the main reason why an energy-efficient home is important to them, followed by a healthier indoor environment (19 per cent) and protecting the environment (17 per cent). Energy savings were important to both first-time and repeat buyers.

“I’m happy to see the strong recognition of the value of energy-efficient homes, but home builders aren’t as strong in selling this stuff as we’d like. There is a disconnect there,” said McBurney.

McBurney said he felt that energy efficiency “dropped off as a talking point” for most builders when the market took a dive last winter and builders started slashing prices and looking for ways to cut costs.

In the survey, 12 per cent of homebuyers who did not perceive energy efficiency to be important cited “my builder didn’t offer it” as their main reason for feeling that way.

“What we found interesting is a jump in what people are willing to spend on energy-efficient features,” says McBurney.

“More than 70 per cent would be willing to spend $5,000 or more, with the average cited as $13,000. That’s a significant result. The appetite is there. Even in recessionary times, consumers still care about energy efficiency.”

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