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Most Home Buyers Would Pay Extra for Efficiency

But a majority of home buyers are totally confused by green marketing jargon

Posted on Dec 2 2014 by Scott Gibson

The number of new home buyers who would be influenced by energy or water efficiency has been stable over the last few years, at 80 percent or better, but a new finding shows many of them would actually be willing to pay more for the house providing they could enjoy lower energy costs.

That's the conclusion of the annual "Energy Pulse" study from Builder Online, which published the results late last month.

As in past years, the percentage of people planning on building a new house in the next three years hovered around 15 percent. And 80 percent, roughly the same as the last several years, said energy efficiency would have "somewhat/very much impact" on their buying decisions.

This year, Builder said, a new question was added: How likely would buyers be to spend more for a house if it were built to higher-than-Energy-Star standards?

"We actually framed the question as a value proposition, asking, 'How likely would you be to pay more for a home that is a high-performance home, built to standards that are higher than Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners.?" the report said. "Your monthly mortgage payments might be slightly higher, but your ongoing monthly energy costs would be lower.”

Seventy-one percent said they would be likely to very likely to pay more, indicating the potential market is sizable.

But buyers don't get the buzz words

The findings would seem to be good news for builders who specialize in high-performance designs, but Builder also added a warning: words and phrases common in the business are going right over the heads of many potential buyers.

Builder provided the 2,000 respondents with a list of common terms and asked which ones they could explain accurately to a friend.

Only 14 percent said they could explain "high-performance home" (oops — we just used that one), and only 38 percent said they could explain what an "efficient home" was. What's a "green home"? Only 28 percent knew the answer, the same percentage that could explain "indoor air quality" and slightly more than could define "low carbon footprintAmount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that a person, community, industry, or other entity contributes to the atmosphere through energy use, transportation, and other means. ."

"Your communication materials and sales team talking points are likely riddled with these terms, and they’re obviously not speaking the average consumer’s language," Builder said. "So stop assuming they know what you’re talking about. "

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