Bill shock is up there with 2022’s top buzzwords, so it’s little wonder that buyers all over the world are on the hunt for more energy-efficient (EE) homes with affordability in mind. Most people are aware of the benefits of improving their household budget by lowering utility bills but are committing to tackling climate change with a collectively greener consciousness. It should come as no great surprise that EE homes with sustainable and eco-friendly features are attracting a higher premium and more interest from buyers. Currently, Australian homes produce around 13% of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions.1 In order to lower this statistic, and save where it counts, homeowners and buyers are starting to consider sustainability as the new standard in home living. As Geelong real estate agents, we’re seeing more interest in sustainable homes than ever before.
The Search for Greener Homes
According to a recently released report by Domain, the percentage in price difference for a home that has achieved EE status is approximately 5% higher than average. The same report also cited that the sustainability keywords now being considered in listings include sunroom, solar panel, north facing, eco homes, sunroof, bio, grassed, sunny, conservation, energy, eco, orientation, shading, shade, rainwater tank, cross ventilation, insulation and zoning.2 The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns saw Australians scrutinising their existing standard of living and investing considerable amounts in property renovations and upgrades. This included green improvements such as water tanks, solar panels, smart meters, better insulation and lower-cost heating and cooling.
Even though the aforementioned keywords are now being factored into listings, lifestyle benefits remain higher on the wishlist for most buyers. If you are selling a property, it’s still recommended to initially highlight sought-after features such as large blocks, pool, view, waterfront and backyard before mentioning sustainability. This priority list could change though. Australian sellers, and their agents, are seeing buyers’ preferences for more sustainable living increase over time. Domain has also reported that the proportion of homes for sale that contained EE keywords within the listing has risen each year, from 49.7% in 2019 to 54.4% in 2022.3 With two interest rate rises already implemented this year and another one due, buyers will be increasingly seeking home features that combine livability with affordability.
Rightsizing is the new Downsizing
Paying that little bit extra for EE features in a home will save buyers money in the long run, but size-conscious purchasing is also playing a part in lowering energy usage. Rightsizing is about homebuyers taking stock of their living arrangements and asking themselves what they need, rather than what they want. It is also fast-replacing the term downsizing which is perceived to have negative connotations. That’s because rightsizing isn’t about what people are giving up or compromising, but how they can improve their comfort and financial load by consciously re-evaluating their property must-haves. This might include considering the number of rooms that are currently unused, or if a large backyard and pool are essential when they might be equally as comfortable on a smaller block. It also throws location into question and asks people to be honest about where they need to live. Do they have to be in a vibrant and more expensive suburb packed with amenities, or would they benefit more financially from being in a cheaper and quieter location? Rightsizing into the right home will help people consume less energy, lower their emissions and decrease their utility bills.
Rise of the Passive House
Passive houses are gaining favour in the Australian market. Originally invented in Germany, passive house principles are now being incorporated by more architects and home builders on a global scale. This design standard achieves thermal balance with minimal energy usage. Through a combination of insulation, window glazing, door design and placement, ventilation systems with heat recovery, and insulation, passive homes can be certified once they meet certain performance standards. When a building is designed with these principles, it consumes 75-95% less energy than a traditional building.3 The benefits of the passive house don’t end with lower bills either. The specific set of design principles including advanced insulation and ventilation produces a healthier level of air circulation and better comfort in extreme temperatures. Without additional mechanical heating and cooling systems, the homes are also extremely simple to run and do not require technological components that will falter or need ongoing maintenance.
Sustainable homes here in Geelong
Just as demand continues to surge for Geelong property as part of the ‘Geechange’ phenomenon, so do houses that combine sustainability and affordability. Because EE homes do attract a premium, they are less sought-after by first-home buyers and more appealing to buyers with larger families, or empty-nesters ready to rightsize. Hopefully, more homes will become EE as standard and they will be affordable for all homebuyers. If you’re searching for your dream home in the Geelong region with EE features, please view our property listings, contact us online or call 03 5292 8084.
1.Compare Club. https://asset.compareclub.com.au/pdf/Bill-Shock-Report-Q2-2021.pdf