Report: Efficient Homes Are Key To Strong Housing Market

When the housing crisis hit, California took it on the chin. At the end of 2011, one out of every three homes in the Golden State were underwater, and on it’s own the state accounted for 26 percent of the nation’s negative equity. At first glance, the task of rebuilding the housing market and reducing the consumption of fossil fuel-based electricity might not see like connected issued. A new report from CalCEF, an independent nonprofit corporation working to advance clean energy, found that increasing energy efficiency among California’s residents might be the smartest way to get the housing market back on track.

Yesterday, CalCEF released a report called“Pulling the Trigger: Increasing Home Energy Savings.” In it, they outline a strategic plan to make energy efficiency concerns a major part of home ownership. By identifying “trigger moments” during the home buying process, CalCEF hopes to make it easier for home owners make smarter financial choices, both for the present and the future.

energy efficient house

Image via Shutterstock

The report recommends that California (and other states) set up initiatives that make it easier to implement energy efficiency retrofits in moments when homeowners are already motivated to spend money. According to CalCEF, those three “trigger” moments are the time of sale, time of renovation, and at the time of energy rate tier increases. Some ideas include:

1) Disclosing the energy costs and efficiency of a home at the time of sale and standardizing an energy feature list for all the Multiple Listing Services (MLS); 2) Enforcing stricter standards and permitting requirements to qualify access to incentives for energy upgrades; 3) Incentivizing consumers that remain in upper energy rate tiers to use less energy by offering an EE upgrade – and funds from averted costs; and 4) Modifying existing mortgage financing, refinancing and home equity products to incentivize and incorporate energy efficiency.

“By coupling the worlds of borrower protection and energy efficiency, we can protect homeowners from the unforeseen surprise of high energy bills and ultimately stabilize loan portfolios, improve home values and meet our climate targets,” said Lori Bamberger, the report’s lead author and CalCEF Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

What do you think? Will “striking while they iron’s hot” help California simultaneously revive the housing market and reduce energy consumption?

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog