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Survey: 90% of Home Seekers Are Concerned About Rising Energy Prices

Ruth Shin

Ruth Shin

High energy costs could change the what kinds of homes and places buyers and renters are going to be looking for. Find out what factors and features are home seekers top choices.
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Due to recent events, energy prices in nearly every category have begun to soar. Natural gas was the first to get expensive this past winter, however, electricity and gasoline have also made significant bumps in this year alone.

Experts speculate that we will only see them rise further with inflation and supply issues.

PropertyNest wanted to know if higher utility bills and steep prices at the gas pump have gotten people looking for new homes so worried that they’re making changes to what kind of place they were looking for.

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PropertyNest asked: “Whether looking to buy or rent, which of the following features will you prioritize when shopping for a new home due to rising energy prices?”

  • Nearly 90% of all respondents said they will prioritize an energy-saving feature on their new to-be home because of rising energy costs. Only 10.5% said that rising energy costs wouldn’t affect their choice.
  • At 19%, the top choice was to choose a home with energy efficient appliances or smart home technology for both male and female respondents. A home in a location with a shorter commute or a milder climate rounded out the top three responses at 16.9% and 15.4% respectively.
  • There is a clear generational divide when it comes to passive homes. Living in a passive house was the second most selected choice among 18-24 year-old respondents at 16.5% whereas respondents age groups 35 and older, this was usually the least selected answer.
  • The oldest respondents were more likely to prioritize a home with solar panels or other renewable energy source as their solution for rising energy costs. 21.1% of respondents 65 and older chose this as a priority, making it the top answer for this age group.
  • Women were generally more likely to favor solar or renewable energy than men as it was the top third answer for women.
  • A location with a shorter commute remained a high priority for most age groups from both men and women.
  • Male respondents ages 35-44 were the least likely to be concerned about rising energy costs. At 16.1%, it was tied in second place for this demographic along with milder climate.

While industries are trending toward energy efficiency and green tech and design, it may be rising energy costs that actually prompt most Americans to lead greener lifestyles.

Many Americans were floored in February of this year when they received their utility bill. Gas and oil prices skyrocketed and many bills doubled or tripled. Seeing a shocking amount due can make homeowners and renters understand that it may not be a sustainable situation.

And, the worst may be yet to come. Don Whaley, President of OhmConnect Energy and someone with over 40 years of experience in the energy sector, says that consumers receiving their contract renewals, “will likely experience sticker shock when it comes to new contract pricing”.

Most people don’t really prioritize the environment when it comes to buying or renting a home. However, if it affects their pocketbook in a significant way, it can mean immediate change in behavior.

The most popular responses generally were to now seek a home with energy-efficient appliances or smart home tech, finding a home in a location with a shorter commute time, and a home in a milder climate. These three are probably the easiest solutions and allow for the most choices without sacrificing space.

David Phelps
David Phelps
Founder & CEO of Freedom Founders
Is the rising energy price a wake-up call? Will we see long-term consumer behavior changes towards a more energy-efficient lifestyle?
We're already seeing changes today. In my home state of Texas, 7,352 megawatts of new wind, solar, and energy installation projects were completed last year, significantly outpacing California, which installed just 2,697 megawatts of similar projects. Demand for electric vehicles is surging as well.

Generational Differences and Similarities

The two most notable generational differences were younger people being more interested in passive homes, whereas the oldest respondents being more interested in sustainable or renewable energy.

Passive home design is a much newer concept than just solar panels but offers a multitude of advantages and can reduce energy consumption in your home (due to heating and cooling) by 90% when done right top to bottom. It’s so efficient most homeowners rarely need to turn on heat or cooling, while maintaining optimal air quality within the home.

Older respondents who may be retired are thinking about long-term money-saving sustainability.

Seeing that there was a significant response from respondents 65 and older on preferring solar or other renewable energy could mean that they are interested in the same option as young people but may not be familiar with passive home design. In fact, many passive homes incorporate solar panels or other renewable energy sources such as geothermal energy.

What Homeowners Can Do Now to Save Energy

Erin Shine
Erin Shine
Founder & CEO of Attainable Home
What are immediate changes consumers can make at their homes to move towards a more energy-efficient lifestyle?
It’s an investment, but consider swapping your traditional water heater with a new heat pump unit of the same size. Heat pump water heaters save about 75% energy vs. traditional ones. For my latest net-zero renovation here, the old 40-gallon water heater used $500 per year in energy, while the new Rheem heat pump unit uses only $104 per the Energy Guide label. This is also enough energy savings to power the Tesla Model 3 (EV) for an entire year, further saving $1,000+ a year on not using gas at current prices. The overall payback on this is under 3 years.

There are many minor and easy steps homeowners can take to save on their heating and cooling bills.

Eric Shine, Founder and CEO of Attainable Home, a company that renovates to create and builds net-zero or passive homes, has a few practical tips for homeowners on how they could save without major renovations such as sealing air gaps with caulk and spray foam, switching all lights and bulbs to LEDs, and if you’re willing to shell out a small investment–switching to a heat pump water heater.

His simplest and yet surprisingly effective suggestion was to change habits, “just turning off lights, setting the HVAC on more reasonable temperatures, shorter showers, buying an air fryer vs. conventional ovens, and more can really add up for energy savings.”

Home Sellers and Developers Should Consider Making Changes to Attract Buyers

While home sellers or landlords can’t just change the location of their homes or make them smaller, changing appliances or upgrading your home systems to energy efficient products is an easy step to making your home far more attractive to potential buyers or renters.

Real estate developers may not feel that adding on extra cost for passive design is good for their bottom line but if consumers are more drawn to passive home or net-zero design, or new laws are passed mandating these changes.

However, if regular home buyers are feeling the pinch, they may see a slightly more expensive passive home as a great long-term and money-saving investment, especially in light of very high energy costs.

Even if the changes are not rapid, there are already signs showing the growing popularity of passive homes or net-zero design within the home-building industry itself.

Survey Methodology

PropertyNest conducted an online survey among nest seekers nationwide from March 8-10, 2022, on which energy-saving feature they will now prioritize due to rising energy costs. 1,001 respondents ages 18 and older participated with a margin of error of +/- 2.16%.