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The trend toward living green

By Judy Martel ·
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

A majority of respondents in a survey by said they would like to own an eco-friendly residence and are willing to pay more for it.

Builders are responding to more demand for eco-friendly features such as solar panels.

The online survey of 1,439 consumers didn't define "eco-friendly." For homeowners in the south, an important eco-friendly feature might be energy-efficient air conditioning, says Leslie Piper, consumer housing specialist with But in another part of the country, it might mean solar panels. Because of the disparities, the survey let respondents decide how to define the term.

Overall, respondents say energy-efficient appliances, lighting and air conditioning were among the most desired eco-friendly home features, Piper says, with nearly 80 percent of respondents saying they want all three.

Piper says a majority of respondents who currently live in an eco-friendly home are older than 40 and have children. She attributes that to a higher level of education about environmentalism. "In the 1970s, you saw people who recycled bottles or cans for the cash or did composting," she says. Ten or 15 years later, people began putting more thought into how to be environmental in their homes, especially when they had children, she adds. "It's becoming more of an everyday routine that brings about awareness."

In her experience as a realtor, Piper says she has seen clients take advantage of a range of eco-friendly options, from simply changing light bulbs or installing low-flow shower heads and water filters to the more complicated and expensive, such as replacing single-pane windows or installing solar panels.

The additional cost of an eco-friendly home would depend on what features it contains and where it's located, Piper says. In the survey, more than 70 percent say they believe eco-friendly features add monetary value to a residence, and 68 percent say they would pay more for it. Of those who would pay more, the majority -- 24 percent – indicate they'd pay 3 percent to 5 percent more. Whether they would actually put their money where their mouth is remains to be seen, but Piper believes the trend toward eco-friendly homes will continue to grow. Builders are already responding, she says. "Green homes are in high demand, and people want recognition for living in a green home."

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April 10, 2013 at 10:13 am

Wow, Isn't it great how they never answer the question they raised ? Well the answer is NOOOOO ! The majority of the cost of all this green stuff is being paid for by the government.....US. My neighbor just bought a eco-water heater which cost $8000, $5000 from the Gommit. You can't use that amount of hot water in 30 years. No one in their right mind would pay $8000 for a water heater, but since they are spending our money the sky is the limit. Does any thinking person believe this will not end in financial disaster ? Save the planet with your own money, I'm tired of being forced to subsidize your worship of earth. Read the First Amendment to the Constitution.

April 10, 2013 at 9:55 am

I have a 5k system that was all I could afford . We were getting 600 Now like the other gentleman said that they are down to 100 or less. I would not invest my money here . I put the money out and now I will be die before it pays for it self . And I still get a electric bill . So it was a win win for the government not for me. I do have two months a year that I don't pay a electric bill but that is the only benefit. I can see at this point. I live in NJ Thank you

Jack Lombard
April 10, 2013 at 9:52 am

I live in Connecticut...Have owed solar pannels for three years. On my rather large electric bill. I now pay the Electric Company annnually 39% of my annual useage. Considering everything, looks, cost to buy, etc I'm doing just fine..Why do I use a lot of electricity? Well I Have lots of call them toys, ie Pool for one..I could go on but I just thought I'd let readers know It works for me....

Oniko Smith
April 10, 2013 at 9:20 am

The govt doesn't subsidize I-Phones, or BMW's, or designer clothes (unless you are FLOTUS)because people will pay for perceived quality. Solar panels are just another govt fueled bubble to push a left of center, oil=bad, agenda.

Edward P.E.
April 10, 2013 at 8:50 am

I live in NJ. Taxpayer money has been funding the installation of tens of thousands of unsightly solar panels that have been installed on available telehhone poles all over the State.Based on published information each panel could light (3) 60w bulbs at peak power. Also published, was that the cost of the panel plus installation was $1,200. Doing the math, I calculated that even with generously allowing for full power under full direct sunlight it would take over 18 years to return the investment cost of these panels. Furthermore, these panels will degrade and probably need to be replaced before 18 years. The technology for Solar panels has not yet been perfected to be profitable. We shouldn't let the government throw taxpayer money down the drain on this folly. Let the private sector perfect the product and then consumers will cover their houses with them.

April 10, 2013 at 7:50 am

Please note that most people are interested in eco friendly homes if they save them money, not if it costs them money. Therefore it is not enviorment, but the pocketbook that matters

April 10, 2013 at 6:25 am

I was sold on my solar panels when the SREC price was $600.00, the ROI was four and a half years. Four months after they were installed the SREC market crashed, do to over production. Now the SREC are selling for $80-$100. So the answer is no they are not worth the cost!

April 10, 2013 at 5:57 am

My husband an I have solar panels in Colorado and love them. Paid cash for the system and with the tax credit the pay back will be within 5 years.

April 10, 2013 at 5:05 am

You talked all around the issue of whether solar panels are worth it. My last indications of this is no - unless you plan on staying in the home the next 15 + years in order for it to pay for itself. I live in California where the electric rates are very high. My son lives in Hawaii, and after he put a pencil to this question, his answer was no also (Rates for electricity in Hawaii are probably the nations highest as all energy is imported).

So why don't you put your question on the line and come up with a definitive answer? Have you put solar panels on your home? All this talk about energy efficiency is fine to a point - but we ain't there yet. President O'blah blah lives in a dream where all eco-friendly things are possible but his energy policy has been one great and giant failure - much to the cost of our nation's treasury, economy, jobs, etc.

Dr. Don
April 10, 2013 at 2:17 am

I am currently considering buying a small ranch in Arizona, for my retirement. I don't need , nor want, any more electric bills; water bills, or cable bills; etc. I am building my own solar panels and will have them installed by a professional. The ranch has it's own well, so I don't need to depend on 'city water', and the sewer will help as far as not worrying about a septic tank. There is plenty of water, even in the Fort Mohave region of AZ. I look forward to complete freedom from the greedy electric companies, as well as the water and sewer 'bull bills'.
I am 70 years old, and have recently built my own solar panels, more than enough to handle the high electric demands of the air conditioning demands that come with 130 degree temperatures, both day and night, and I have a water purification system and tankless water heater. Come what may, we will be prepared; as most folks should be considering. What the electric plants and water processing plants are doing to the planet is a down right SIN. Consider the people that are going to have to live on a polluted planet !!!! If they live long enough to clean up the mess that our generation, and those that came before us; they might just stand a chance to have 'normal' children and families.
Think about how you can help to make life in the future a possibility !!!!