By Megan Kramer, Performance Homes Consultant
There are very few homes in central Washington with performance certifications such as Built Green, National Green Building Standard, Earth Advantage, LEED-Homes and ENERGY STAR. Even more significant is the lack of third-party performance testing, verification and Home Energy Ratings. I have heard repeatedly from local industry professionals that clients are not looking for this service and that the electricity rates are too low to justify the added cost.
In fact, people want comfortable, durable, well designed, healthy homes. They understand the added value and are willing to pay incremental costs. New and existing homes that receive a third-party rating or certification are priced higher and sell quicker. There are a variety of incentives that can drive construction of high performance homes including direct utility incentives, lowered operating costs, additional financing options and even improved heath. Builders and homeowners who are not taking advantage of these programs are leaving money on the table now and in the future.
Homes that use between 10%-20% less energy than a code built home can earn up to $2500 in rebates depending on how the home is heated and cooled. You can see more specifics about each program here: Chelan PUD, Pacific Power, Puget Sound Energy, Cascade Natural Gas.
If you do not see your local utility on this list, I encourage you look into potential rebates for items including ENERGY STAR rated kitchen and laundry appliances, water heaters, heating and cooling systems. These rebates are often available to new and existing homes!
There are some simple and cost effective ways to improve the current housing stock and move toward high performance homes. Proper orientation, advanced framing, improved distribution systems, and increased air sealing improve home performance without much additional cost.
Take it a step beyond energy savings through water conservation, indoor air quality, materials use, waste reduction, even site preparation and landscaping. There are certifications available that include all of these strategies.
With the industry booming and new homes built every day, now is the time to act and create a legacy of high quality homes for generations to come. The clients are interested and the builders are capable. Resources can be found on social media, industry publications and specialty websites.
Start educating yourself today! Here are a few resources you can use to get started: