If increased energy efficiency is your top criterion for buying a new home, you are not alone. Very few homeowners describe their current lodgings as “energy-efficient.” Energy efficiency is the top concern of US homeowners seeking to exchange or purchase real estate. More than seven homeowners out of ten see energy efficiency as very important.
Of course, if you have installed solar or made other changes, you are already ahead of many others. Don’t be complacent, however! The Demand Institute, a non-advocacy, nonprofit organization jointly operated by Nielsen and The Conference Board, recently combined two broad surveys. It made its own measurements of more than 10,000 American households and used other specifics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer expenditure survey.
The poll asked questions concerned their current living situations and moving intentions, as well as their preferences for a new home. Respondents rated the importance of 52 different home and community characteristics on a scale from 1 to 10. They also evaluated their current homes on the same 52 characteristics. By comparing what Americans have to what they want, researchers uncovered a satisfaction gap of more than 36%.
It’s pretty stunning that only one in three Americans consider their homes satisfactory from an energy perspective. We also feel the costs of energy from utilities are exorbitant. And no wonder: average household spending on utility power has jumped 56% in just over a decade—well over other household expenses (38%).
The survey also found out that almost all of us (90%) have tried to do something about energy use by ourselves within the past five years (see graph). Two out of three households have changed living habits toward energy efficiency, including replacement of old light bulbs with LED or CFD ones. About a third have sealed leaks, replaced old appliances with more efficient ones, and installed programmable thermostats.
On the bright side for homeowners, these numbers indicate very clearly to manufacturers, businesspeople, and policymakers that they need to get moving faster on these issues with new products and services. Their responses will include both catering to renovations and maintenance, and development of new technologies, including everything from cellphone apps for home energy monitoring to power storage innovations and better funding opportunities.