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Survey: Green Homes are Still Too Expensive

2/14/2011 11:22:19 AM

Tags: Whirlpool, National Association of Home Builders, green building survey, green homes, Robyn Griggs Lawrence

“The reality about green homes and what the public actually thinks about them are not always one and the same,” Tom Halford writes this morning in Triplepundit. “In fact, they can be disparate enough that it would warrant continued action by organizations supporting green homes to increase awareness about the benefits of these homes and to dispel any myths.”

Halford’s assessment is based on a survey that his employer, Whirlpool Corporation, recently conducted with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) on the public’s perceptions about the state of affordable and green housing in the United States. The survey found that builders and consumers generally perceive green homes as affordable to live in but more expensive to purchase. Eighty-seven percent of builders believe green homes are affordable for middle-income families to live in, but 30 percent said green homes were not affordable for the segment to purchase or build. Sixty percent said that green homes were not affordable for low-income families to purchase or build.

The public is generally in favor of continued efforts to build more green homes. The survey found that 64 percent of respondents indicated that savings from green home features were sometimes worth the added costs and efforts. Seventy-seven percent of consumers said that green homes are important to them—but lower costs are key. Fifty-nine percent of consumers said that lower-cost products and materials are needed to make green homes more affordable, and 75 percent of builders agreed.

“The findings we have thus far clearly show us that this is something the public is looking for,” Halford writes. “It’s up to the companies and organizations involved in green building to help educate the public further on why this is such an important endeavor and why it can be affordable to all.

heathers house 

Heather Ferrier built her green home in Texas for $115 a square foot--a relative bargain. Photo by Paul Bardagjy 


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6/9/2011 6:01:36 PM
We are older than these other folks and in the south it truly isn't even affordable as wages here are also not as they are in other parts of the country where these folks build an affordable home for l00 thousand and call it cheap. Sorry but that's life and I know you feel you have earned it and no doubt you have but affordable isn't even in the going green market.

2/18/2011 4:31:45 PM
I built my 3200 sqft passive-solar off-grid home for around $100 per sqft. I did, however, do most of the work myself: carpentry, plumbing, electric, etc. If I had a contractor do it -- if I could find someone who knew how -- I imagine it might have cost 50% more, but even that is not excessive. The main thing preventing "green" homes from being affordable is the expectations of wastefulness from the occupants. If the owners want to be able plug in a 20-year-old refrigerator or do laundry irrespective of weather, they cannot live in an off-grid home or have net-zero energy usage. Solar is affordable today if the loads are sized appropriately. I have 1.5kW of solar and 1kW of wind, and it is perfectly sufficient for the loads in my home. But then I only use 6-10kWh per day. The average American home uses 30+kWh/day. I spent around $25k on my energy production and storage equipment (before most of the rebates were available unfortunately). If you wanted to power the average American home, it would require $100k+, which is indeed excessive. Only when the alternative energy technology is paired appropriately with passive techniques, energy efficient loads, and a conservative lifestyle will it be affordable. BTW, since it cost $3k+/yr for oil and electric in my rental home that was 1/3 the size, I figure that my "payoff period" is just a few years of comparable utility bills. And since it's rolled into my mortgage at a low interest rate, actually the payoff is immediate.

2/14/2011 2:09:40 PM
My husband and I turn 60 next month and, while we would love to lower our energy bills and help to save the environment, costs of alternative energy are prohibitive. Likely, if we install saving features like hydro-power, solar or wind power, we would not see any financial benefit in our lifetime. It would be great to see the cost of solar units drop to an affordable amount so that we could attempt to install it on our property. I understand that business people need to make a profit, but if those companies who produce alternative energy systems REALLY do it to save the environment, they would price the units to help people buy them. It makes sense; the more they sell, the more likely they would earn as much money as they do selling one unit to every 2000 potential customers.

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