Home Building Trends Show America’s Growing Desire For Energy Efficient Homes

When you’re considering buying a home, what features and attributes matter the most to you?  Do you want a home with multiple stories, or possibly one with an in-ground pool in the backyard?  Are you more concerned about finding a home that’s close to your job, or finding a home that’s closer to a major city?

Home buying trends come and go, but there’s one current trend that’s surprising realtors and delighting environmentalists.  It looks like American home builders have been busy building energy efficient homes because of the demands of their customers.  The National Association of Home Builders survey studied home buying trends and preferences, and energy efficiency topped the list this year.  Survey data indicates that a whopping 94% of home buyers want Energy Star rated appliances, 91% want an Energy Star rating for their home, and 89% want energy star rated windows. 

Future home owners that want to live in an energy efficient home, but can’t afford to have one built, should look into buying homes that were built in the last decade.  The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration Residential Energy Consumption Survey has data on energy consumption in American homes over the past few decades.  Homes built before 1940 use 51.6 thousand BTUs per square foot each year, and homes built in the 1980s only use 43.5 thousand BTUs per square foot.   Homes that were built in the 2000s use 37.1 thousand BTUs per square foot, and as energy efficient homes become the norm the Department of Energy estimates that energy usage will be even lower for homes built during the 2010s. 

The Residential Energy Consumption Survey also has data on the average cost savings that come with owning a more energy efficient home.  Residents of homes built in the 1980s on average spend $1.06 per square foot per year on energy.  That may not sound too expensive, but when you take into consideration that residents of homes built in 1990s spend $0.96 per square foot, and residents of homes built in the 2000 spend $0.88, $1.06 seems like an outrageous price.

Americans that want energy efficient homes may be able to get some help from their state government or the federal government.  A variety of tax incentives have been added over the past few years that help make energy efficient homes more affordable for buyers.  There are two senators that are lobbying to make mortgage lends include a home’s expected energy cost savings when they determine the value and affordability of energy efficient homes through the SAVE Act.  As long as legislation like the SAVE Act keeps making its way through the hands of lawmakers, energy efficient homes could be more affordable than ever in just a few years.


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