Energy-efficient windows top consumers’ most-wanted green features, NAHB finds

Homeowners see value in ENERGY STAR rating
ENERGY STAR rated windows were among homeowners' top desired features in a new home. (Photo: Lmphot, Dreamstime)

Homebuyers who want energy-efficient features in their new home are most likely to be swayed by ENERGY STAR-rated windows, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders.

The organization’s “What Home Buyers Really Want” survey asked consumers who had purchased a home in the last three years, or who planned on purchasing a home within the next three years, about which green features were most important to them.

Almost 90% of respondents called these energy-efficient windows desirable, while 38% said they were absolutely essential.

The ENERGY STAR mark carries a lot of sway with consumers. The survey found 86% of respondents considered appliances with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rating desirable or essential (and, in fact, respondents were more likely to rate these appliances as essential than windows, 40% versus 38%). Over 80% of respondents said an ENERGY STAR rating for the whole home was at least desirable.

NAHB found homeowners were willing to pay an average of $8,728 upfront to save $1,000 a year in their utility bills.

“It is important to note that while the average amount a homebuyer is willing to pay is $8,728, the median is $5,000. The difference can be explained by the presence of some very green-motivated home buyers who are willing to pay more than $50,000 upfront to save $1,000 a year,” Carmel Ford, research associate at NAHB, wrote in a blog post.

More affluent homebuyers, those who expect to pay over $500,000 for a new home, will pay an average $10,560 to achieve those utility savings.

Beyond the ENERGY STAR rating, green features were rated highly by homebuyers as at least desirable, though they were less likely to consider them essential to buying a home.

Efficient lighting and triple-pane insulating windows were equally popular, with 77% of consumers saying they were desirable or essential, but roughly a quarter of homebuyers consider them essential. Although 73% of homebuyers said a home that went beyond what was required by code in terms of insulation was at least desirable, just 21% called it essential.

[Related: From code minimum to competitive advantage: Rocky Mountain Green]

Features that address indoor air quality are a clear opportunity for home builders, NAHB found. Over 40% of homebuyers said home dehumidification systems, whole house mechanical ventilation, low VOC materials and electronic air cleansers were desirable features in a new home, and between 14% and 16% of homeowners called these features essential.

Danielle Andrus

Editor, Colorado Builder Magazine

Danielle Andrus has 178 posts and counting. See all posts by Danielle Andrus

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