By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
More new homes now will come with energy labels that estimate monthly energy bills, allowing buyers a different way of shopping for homes. The energy labels have been compared to the miles-per-gallon ratings available for cars, which give insight into a car’s fuel efficiency. Likewise, more builders now will give new-home buyers greater insight into how much the home will cost them in utilities--so they have a better gauge to judge the upkeep costs of a home.
Environmental efficiency has become an increasingly important factor in home buying decisions due to rising energy costs. Energy efficient appliances and energy efficient lighting were “very” or “somewhat” important to a majority of home buyers, and heating and cooling costs were at least “somewhat” important to 88 percent of buyers, according to the 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of REALTORS®.
KB Homes plans to debut its EPG (Energy Performance Guide) on its homes by the end of this month.
“For most people, buying a home is the largest and most important purchase they will ever make, and until now there has been no standard way to communicate a home’s estimated monthly energy costs,” says Jeffrey Mezger, president and chief executive officer of KB Home. "We believe providing the estimated monthly energy costs will not only empower our home buyers, but also change the way people shop for a home. Home buyers can now better understand the estimated energy costs for the home.”
PulteGroup Inc. and Residential Energy Services Network also have teamed up to roll out energy efficiency labels on PulteGroup homes this year. The homes will be tested using the RESNET Home Energy Rating System Index, a measure of energy performance that is recognized by government agencies.
"Providing clear, visible energy ratings for homes makes sense for today's energy-conscious consumers who want to save on their utility bills and reduce their carbon footprint," says Steve Baden, executive director, RESNET. "Marketing the energy efficiency of homes is a winning proposition for home buyers, builders, and the environment."
While these labels apply to new homes, the USA Today recently reported that the U.S. Department of Energy is developing a home energy score for existing homes, which it plans to launch nationally this fall.