A Wall Street Journal Energy Roundup blog post points out a new study showing that consumers are starting to become skeptical about the concept of going green.
â€œEven with all the talk today about consumers seeking to save energy costs and help the environment, the shaky housing market and other recent economic uncertainties prove that wallets are still driving many Americansâ€™ green purchase decisions,â€ Shelton Group CEO Suzanne Shelton said in a press release. â€œAs it stands, â€˜energy-efficientâ€™ is consistently equated to â€˜more expensiveâ€™ in the minds of consumers for products across the board,â€ Shelton said.
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. Otherwise, according to the survey, consumers would prefer to spend their money on aesthetics. 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 â€œadditional tile or hardwood,â€ the same percentage who favored â€œupgraded or additional energy-efficient kitchen appliances.â€
When asked how they would spend an extra $10,000 to improve an existing home, most respondents preferred to upgrade their flooring, kitchens, bathrooms and paint. Replacing windows, which might improve a houseâ€™s energy efficiency, was only the fourth-most-popular choice.
Frankly, this doesn’t surprise me, even though it does disappoint me.
I can only guess that it is a rational economic decision based on that fact that the average American only lives in particular house for 5 years or less. You can buy granite countertops that would impress your friends and neighbors and make your kitchen look nice and help sell your home when you move, or you can put in new windows that might pay you back inÂ 6 1/2Â years in increased efficiency –Â 1 1/2Â years longer than you’ll probably be in the house. And since no one appreciates energy efficient windows, it wouldn’t help you resell the house later either. (Don’t believe me on that one? Ask your real estate agent.)
It’s a bit frustrating to me, because you can’t even get most people to take the easiest step of all in energy efficiency: changing out a few light bulbs from incandescent to compact fluorescent. The payback period for that is in mere months.
Anyone out there who has made an energy efficiency upgrade to their home lately besides me? Tell us what you did, and why!