New homes these days are significantly more efficient than older properties thanks to changes in building codes and consumer demand for environmentally friendly houses. Home buyers and builders are increasingly focusing on energy-efficient features for new homes this year to save money and conserve the environment, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The NAHB noted builders are more likely to follow green building standards to help give consumers the energy-saving components and technologies they want in a sustainable home.
"Our builder members are telling us that more and more buyers are looking at new homes for their efficiency in design and functionality," Tom Woods, chairman for NAHB, said in a statement. "Whether it's improved insulation or sustainable building materials, today's new homes can reach higher energy performance and greater durability than was possible even 20 years ago."
According to the NAHB survey, potential homeowners leading the demand for greener homes are also willing to put their money where their eco-friendly beliefs are. The study revealed 84 percent of these buyers said they would pay a 2 to 3 percent higher price for an energy-efficient home in exchange for savings on utility bills.
With more buyers interested in sustainable new homes, as home builders are increasingly changing their plans for construction to align with buyers' desire for environmentally friendly housing options.
Here are some of the top energy-efficient features in demand for new homes:
Alternative Energy Generation
Some of the most popular features for energy-efficient new homes revolve around alternatives to fossil fuels. Installing technology to generate renewable power results in both financial and environmental benefits. Homeowners save money on their monthly utility bills and reduce their impact on the environment at the same time. An NAHB survey found almost one in four single-family home builders used sustainable power generation equipment in new homes. Many homeowners likely demand photovoltaic solar panels to install on their rooftops now that the prices of these technologies have declined.
Over the next few years, the costs of renewable energy generation are expected to decrease, which could help increase demand for solar, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Prices of PV solar modules dropped 75 percent in 2014 compared to at the end of 2009. The cost of electricity in certain countries in 2014 was reduced by 29 percent.
In addition to the falling cost of solar power generation, homeowners can save on renewable energy equipment by applying for available tax credits.
The cost of solar panels are declining, saving more money for eco-conscious homebuyers.
As builders construct more single-family properties with tech-savvy owners in mind, owners benefit from living in smart homes that easily adjust to their needs. These homes often have devices like smart thermometers that can be programmed to optimize the temperature depending on the occupants' preferences, according to Cheat Sheet.
The NAHB said programmable thermostats were ranked in the top four features wanted in new homes this year. By having the indoor environment automatically controlled by the thermostat and set based on user preferences, smart technology like thermostats could pave the way for the next wave of new homes.
Replacing old windows with Low-E windows helps conserve energy.
Since windows often act as a barrier between the outside and inside, they are also the source of leaks that force heating and cooling systems to work harder. As a solution, builders are increasingly installing low-emissive glass windows. Lowes defined Low-E windows as glass that has been treated with a coating that lets light in but reflects heat. This ensures that the window's function is not affected, yet it conserves energy and maintains the comfort level within the home. When talking with custom home builders, buyers should consider asking about installing these efficient window options.
In addition to keeping the home cooled in the summer by reflecting heat, these windows are also useful in the winter by reducing heat loss, Lowes stated. Windows may leak heat, however, the coating on the windows aids in retaining heat for a warmer home during harsh weather.
A programmable thermostat is essential to reduce heating and cooling costs.