Energy Star Ratings for Homes: A Great Concept, but Still a Faulty Practice?
In the light of current economic realities and grave environmental problems that plague the global ecosystem, energy efficiency has moved up in the real estate agenda. Still, advocacy groups, researchers, agents, government bodies, and homebuilders are unsure of how energy efficiency affects the decision-making process and what role it plays in transactions in the market. The Energy Star rating scheme is the guiding light, but it is clear that we have to get it to work properly in practice.
Buying a home is a big decision, and many factors come into play. Financial matters often dictate choices, and apart from the price tag, you should also find out how much it will cost to cool, heat, and power the home. Alas, first-time buyers are less likely to seek information regarding sustainability, while seasoned hunters seldom make such mistakes, prioritizing functionality over aesthetics. In general, a strong energy rating is not considered a decisive factor, and a shabby one does not pose a deal-breaker.
This is somewhat a surprise since better energy performance has a direct impact on the property value. When we take a close look at median-priced homes, we discover that increasing the energy rating by half a star boosts the value by 1.2%. Still, it is unclear whether the greater value is rooted in the published energy rating or design qualities of the home. That is why experts argue that we need to focus on tangible energy-saving features in the league of quality insulation and solar panels.
Bringing energy efficiency to light
Many buyers are left in the dark when it comes to maintenance and utility costs and what we need is a consistent rating system for sustainability throughout the country. The problem is that in the world of diverse climates and property landscapes, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. That does not justify, however, the incoherent information presented by builders. For instance, they fail to explain the sustainability merits of materials used in construction.
Hence, one of the main goals is to assemble a verifiable and transparent framework for communicating information to buyers. This is, of course, a matter of education. The part of the responsibility lies on the shoulders of sellers, who should not fail to disclose any related information. Consumers strongly support such standards and are even willing to pay more for the privilege. For the bulk of them, energy-efficient homes are considerably more attractive than those who lag behind in the sustainability department.
It seems that buyers find the rating information handy after all, as they can compare different houses to each other as well as to best practices. Luckily, things are improving in many areas, and the Internet has certainly been a game-changer. Online resources like Lifull help buyers locate eco-friendly houses, while a plethora of educational websites gives them a chance to develop a deeper understanding of the environment-friendly lifestyle. Consequently, frugal living is high on the list of priorities for many groups, although comfort, neighborhood, and affordability top it.
Then again, comfort is closely linked to factors such as temperature: Everyone wants optimal indoor temperature with good ventilation and natural sunlight. This brings us to the point that buyers like to see sustainability translated into conventional selling points that encompass not only comfort, but also lifestyle and personal identity. Nowadays, many buyers want the Energy-star rating for the whole home, provided that they can witness the concrete benefits this brings to everyday life.
A green lodestar
Whether you want to cut the household expenses or save the planet, sustainably is the name of the game. Energy star ratings set the rules, but we are still far from having a comprehensive system for assessing sustainability in place. Therefore, real estate industry standards should be fully aligned with the principles of sustainability and actively promote capacities in a way that customers will understand and appreciate. We also need a pool of actionable information, which will aid buyers in finding better homes, understanding the ratings and cost benefits, and finally, accomplishing sound investments.