Whether looking to buy an existing home or build a new one, Australians are increasingly demanding sustainable, energy-efficient properties – with their hip pockets in mind.
The inaugural REA Insights’ Energy Efficiency Housing Report, released in June, showed energy-efficient ratings and green features have become more important than ever for people looking to rent, buy or build a home, largely due to their ability to reduce energy costs.
The report drew on search data and a recent Residential Consumer Omnibus Survey .
Realestate.com.au data analyst Karen Dellow said 74% of respondents to the omnibus survey specified an energy rating as ‘important’ and 48% of those ranked it as ‘extremely important’ when housing hunting.
“Reducing energy bills is the primary reason consumers care, followed by being more environmentally conscious, reducing carbon emissions and the impact on the environment,” Ms Dallow said.
Ian Fry, a Sydney-based environmental consultant and energy assessor, said in the cooler southern states of New South Wales and Victoria in particular, new homebuyers particularly love green design and elements at present, and demand has been growing in the last five years.
Mr Fry said the realestate.com.au analysis mirrored anecdotal evidence of this across the industry.
“The paper proves [energy efficiency] is front of mind amongst buyers of existing housing stock,” he said.
Mr Fry added solar power was a highly sought-after feature, because of potential cost savings on electricity bills.
The focus on solar and water was borne out in the survey, Ms Dellow said.
“Solar power was the top preference for a home sustainability feature, rated by 81%. Energy efficient appliances, position of the property relative to the sun, and rainwater tanks are also important to consumers,” she said.
In term of actual search activity on realestate.com.au, the report showed ‘solar power’ made up a whopping 92% of energy-efficient keyword searches used. The second-most popular energy-efficient search term was ‘water tanks’.
While public sentiment is important, Mr Fry said regulatory building codes, which now demand better efficiency than ever, had mainly driven the change.
“As more focus is being put on energy efficiency in the building code, this has increased awareness with architects and builders,” he said.
But even more needs to be done, Mr Fry said.
“More education is required to gain a better understanding as to why energy-efficient and sustainable construction is beneficial. Reduced energy costs, less impact to the carbon footprint, and healthier, more comfortable homes are just some of the benefits. It’s a hard task discussing this with the uneducated who are purely considering the bottom line of construction though.”