An Architect's Tips on Selling Energy Savings
In a blog post last month, we posed the question: do consumers want energy efficiency upgrade options? Since then, we’ve received feedback from high performance building advocates, builders and architects – one in particular who offered guidance on selling energy efficient home options to today’s homebuyers.
Antonio de la Carrera of ADLCL Architecture is a Dallas-area architect with experience in sustainable, energy efficient and Net Zero custom homes in cities including Dallas, Boston, Chicago and Mexico City. His experience has led him to identify three crucial tips that builders of all types and sizes should use to better sell energy efficiency.
- Consumers Are Buying Comfort
“Homebuyers are getting more educated about energy efficient homes and what that means in terms of options that contribute to more comfortable living,” the architect says. The array of online resources and tools to help inform buyers is abundant, which leads to more savvy, knowledgeable consumers who have often formed priorities and preferences, some negotiable, some not so much. “Buyers are connecting comfort and energy efficiency, but they are buying comfort. That is non-negotiable. Emphasizing specific energy efficient features that contribute to comfort is a must.”
- Choice and Flexibility Are Good
De la Carrera is a proponent for choice and flexibility in energy efficiency targets. The idea of good, better and best energy efficiency targets is one that he’s sold on. “Builders must have established approaches for homes pegged to a certain performance target, for example HERS 60, HERS 40 and Net Zero. The idea behind offering three comparable designs and corresponding price points lends flexibility and choice to consumers in an area that’s going to have a direct impact on the cost of home ownership.”
- Real Numbers Remove Guesswork
It’s one thing to say that a home is energy efficient, it’s another to prove it and De la Carrera says builders should be doing this. His website lists several model home options, HERS scores for each as well as energy use index and estimated energy costs based on actual energy bills provided by customers who bought that model. The HERS score, he says, indicates a level of energy efficiency, but the addition of the energy bill is a persuasive tool for demonstrating how a lower HERS score correlates with lower energy costs. “When you provide this information to the homebuyer and they’re able to see the energy cost savings, the incremental costs for the more efficient home is not only bearable, but preferable when compared to unknown energy costs.”
Regardless of whether you’re constructing a custom or production home, De la Carrera says that builders must take the long view of home performance. “By designing and constructing net zero homes, I’m offering my clients the next evolution of residential spaces and that market will only become more attractive to all homebuyers in the future.”