Sustainable homes are in demand among renters, buyers, and builders alike. Not only are eco-friendly homes better for the environment, but their energy-efficient features lower the mounting utility bills through smarter lighting, materials, and temperature control systems.
As well as being a savvy consideration for home-dwellers, sustainability is a prominent driver among house-hunters with a strong return on investment (ROI).
"Over the past few years, we have experienced a dramatic increase in the number of prospective buyers and renters enquiring about the sustainability credentials of a property. Anybody looking to list their property should think about its environmental footprint - it's a quick drawcard for browser interest."
Research by the University of Wollongong found that Australians are willing to pay a premium of up to 10 percent for energy-efficient design, while a report conducted by CRC for Low Carbon Living and the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) found that two-thirds of Australians prefer energy-efficient homes when given a choice. Here's how to ride the eco wave:
We’re confident that energy-efficient features will become as s as standard to the house inspection routine as turning on the taps, so it will pay to upgrade now.
"Every house, regardless of its age, has the potential for an environmental upgrade that can attract buyers and add value to your home. Even renters can benefit from some clean, green upgrades around their house that lower utility bills without the overhead or structural damage."
Reduce water consumption with a new showerhead: A water-efficient showerhead can use 40 percent less water and save a family of four up to $315 a year. Some local councils even offer a complementary showerhead upgrade. If you are renting, it is advisable to get approval from your landlord or ensure that the existing showerhead can be replaced.
Ban the breeze: Draught-proofing with draught snakes or self-adhesive draught excluders stops warm air from escaping your home in winter and hot air from entering in summer, reducing your heating/cooling costs, and making your home more comfortable.
Window dressing: A single pane of glass can lose almost 10 times as much heat as the same area of an insulated wall so consider thick curtains to keep heat in. In summer, minimise the amount of direct sunlight streaming into your home by swapping to light curtains that are closed on hot days or when exposed to direct sunlight. Consider adding a deciduous shade tree to your garden to allow the sun in during winter and obscure heat during summer.
Intelligent lighting: LEDs consume around 20 to 25 percent less energy than traditional incandescent light fittings and are a low-cost upgrade available to renters and owners alike.
Buyers and investors are becoming more proactive about seeking out sustainable homes, particularly as lenders are rolling out discounted green home loans for properties with a minimum of seven stars under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme. To meet these criteria without undertaking a full renovation, consider the following upgrades:
Control the heat: Controlling how exposed the inside of your home is to the external weather conditions is one of the most effective ways to control how much additional heating and cooling your home requires.
Insulation is a critical consideration here. Hot air moves by convection from warmer to cooler areas, so pay particular attention to your ceilings and any of the walls connecting to the outside. Also look at upgrading to double-glazed windows, which can reduce window heat losses by almost 30 percent in comparison.
Upgrade fittings and systems: Efficient design is improving every year, so whether it's the end of the line for an existing appliance or the full-scale redo of your home, take the time to research sustainable upgrades to your appliances and service systems.
Your hot water system, air conditioning unit, dishwasher, or tapware are all major contributors to household utility bills so a single long-term investment in a new upgrade can save thousands over your home's lifetime.
Introduce self-sustainable features: Particularly as the cost of self-sustainable features like solar panels, greywater systems, and rainwater tanks reduce, the payback period on investment can be as low as three to four years for residents.
These eco-efficient systems do not require a full renovation to introduce, and with buyers willing to pay more for environmental design, are important features that contribute to your home's sustainable credentials on the market.
"Being able to prove energy efficiency across design, materials, and climate when listing a property is key to differentiating yourself in the marketplace - we're seeing that this can drive purchase preference by around 9 percent in premium markets. When listing, undertake an energy-efficient assessment and work with an agent to ensure that this and any sustainable features are highlighted in the floorplan."