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Monday, September 24, 2007

Homebuyers prefer glitz to green

A new survey of consumers shows that "energy efficiency" isn't a very popular home improvement option:
Just 69% of the 504 consumers polled in August by Shelton Group, a Knoxville, Tenn., marketing firm, would favor one house over another based on energy efficiency, down from 86% a year ago.
However, the other survey results are more complicated:
Consumers want proof that an energy-efficient home will save them money in the long run in order to justify the generally higher cost of such a home, Shelton claims.
Of course they do. That's kind of the point of energy efficiency, isn't it?
As it stands, ‘energy-efficient’ is consistently equated to ‘more expensive’ in the minds of consumers for products across the board,” Shelton said.
Well, that's probably because no one talks about "payback periods." If light bulb A costs twice that of bulb B, I may choose B. And then discover two years later that bulb A would still be working while B has been replaced. Think ahead, people.
When asked what they would buy if given an extra $10,000 to build a new home, 26% of survey respondents chose granite countertops, compared with 24% who favored an energy-efficient HVAC system. Twenty-one percent chose “additional tile or hardwood,” the same percentage who favored “upgraded or additional energy-efficient kitchen appliances.” (emphasis original)
This just makes me sad. Granite countertops are the latest home improvement fad, like stainless steel appliances or track lighting. Just wait 10 years and let's see what ends up being more valuable: those stone countertops or a high-efficiency air conditioner that gives you more disposable income...

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