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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 12:37 pm

Shmaxo - Yep... They definitely didn't address the question in the article title did they..

John McConnell - I'm surprised 21 panels will fully provide for your house. I'm planning on having 24 panels put on my house and that will only provide for about 75% of my annual consumpion. I avg around 950 kWhs per month.

With the lease programs they have now, you can get a full installation for zero or little money down. I'm opting to pay a couple thousand up front so I can lock in a utility rate for the eintire 20 years. Better rate of return that way, and 3-4 years to break even.

I just hope it looks nice. Aesthetics are important to me.

Walter McDonald
April 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm

TREE HUGGERS, Stop fearing life! Your low flush toilets need at least two flushes. I want a good water flow when showering and appliances that accomplish the task they are designed to do. Energy efficiency usually comes with diminished results. This is the USA. We can produce all the power we need. If you want to go back to the thirties, go to some other country. God Bless America, the greatest country in history.

April 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Two of my neighbors have had solar panels installed by Vivint free of charge. One crew comes out to see if your roof is facing the right direction for it to be worth installing the panels. next crew does the installation. A third crew hooks the panels up to your house electrical system. all this is free of charge. What is required is that you purchase your electricity from Vivint for 20 years at a savings at least 25%. Check it out for yourselves at their website. Another solar company offering the same deal is Sunrun.

April 10, 2013 at 11:35 am

Bottom line is they are VERY expensive and the average consumer cannot afford them period. I am an electrical contractor and the only ones that can afford solar are government mandated projects. Everyone else... get out your checkbooks.

April 10, 2013 at 11:17 am

It's been my experience that homes that have opted to have solar panels on their roof have found that re-roofing costs can be very pricey. In order to put shingles down, the panels have to be removed by a plumber and replaced after roofing is done by a plumber making a expensive project even more expensive. Some engineer needs to figure a way to display the panels that are easier to replace/remove..

John McConnell
April 10, 2013 at 10:50 am

I live in Maryland and had 21 solar panels installed on my roof 7 or 8 years ago. The cost for the entire system was about $40,000. I received a $10K grant from the state and a few thousand back from the federal government. I also sell my renewable energy credits on the open market every quarter. I probably take in around $1000 a year from that. On top of that I have had no electric bill for years and have, on occasion, received a check back from the electric company. I am very pleased with my panels and how it has helped my electric bill.

April 10, 2013 at 10:44 am

Again, the teaser question is not answered, not unlike many of the blogs out there that just want to suck you in --(Lilo gone too far?--Kim K's clothes too much? Not falling for it again. Giant waste of time.

Jim B
April 10, 2013 at 10:40 am

I had to reshingle my roof about two years ago due to age and the fact that the sun cooked the southern side of my roof right down to the tar although the northern side wasn't too bad. After I replaced my shingles I had solar panels put on the sunny side of the roof. 44 nice big 185 watt panels that covered almost the entire roof. The panels will not only save my roof from being cooked but I have only a $2.20 elec bill for being hooked up to the elec co. I am saving $1800 a year in bills and I get $1,000+ for my esrec certificates. Payback is about 9-10 years. Then I still have a tiny elec bill and 5 more years of esrec paybacks, not bad, really!!!

April 10, 2013 at 10:33 am


April 10, 2013 at 10:27 am

About 1-2 years ago I heard Donald Trump speaking on the possibility of placing solar panels on one or more of his buildings. Obviously he can afford the best minds in the business on this subject. He said that the break-even point was at 20 years. 20 YEARS! And that's without any maintenance, replacement, etc. Someday solar will be a viable option, it's just not today, no matter how the "greenies" want us to spend our money.