With residential electricity tariffs increasing annually, South Africans are encouraged to find ways to reduce their household energy consumption, especially because households with higher consumption levels are charged more for the units of electricity that they use.

A growing number of property buyers are looking to buy homes that offer green elements to reduce their household energy consumption and the overall cost of running a property. The term ‘green’ is not a new concept within the property market; however, with electricity pricing pressure, it continues to gain momentum among homebuyers. More and more buyers consider energy efficiency as an important factor when searching for the ideal property. In 2015 the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) conducted a study which revealed that apart from a safe neighbourhood, the factor that influenced home-buying decisions the most was a home’s energy efficiency. Aside from the cost factor, the reason for this is a movement towards being more environmentally conscience and reducing the household’s carbon footprint.

Most homeowners who decide to introduce green elements to the home do so to reduce their utility costs and conserve energy, however going fully green can sometimes be challenging. It is important to remember though, that the homeowner can start by making small changes such as installing energy-efficient lighting. Consistent small changes will add up and make a big difference over time. Once a few changes have been made, the homeowner will be able to compare their utility bills and see a reduction in costs. Energy efficiency can be used by an estate agent to market the property when the homeowner decides to sell. If the property offers similar features to others in the area but costs less to operate, it will at the very least grab buyers’ attention.

There are a lot of different green products available on the market, so it is vital that homeowners carefully consider their options and make the correct decisions when selecting the green elements they use. When looking at green products, there are several factors that homeowners should be aware of:

  • It is vital to ensure that the area where the product is being installed is appropriately insulated.
  • High-efficiency windows are a better option than those that only just meet energy-efficiency standards.
  • Use only low-flow water fixtures.
  • Appliances are graded from ‘A’ to ‘G’ to indicate the energy consumption of the product, with the letter ‘A’ indicating that it is the most energy-efficient.

Due to the trend of buyers specifically looking for homes with green features and many buyers prepared to pay more for these homes, the homeowner will recoup a large percentage of their cost back when they sell. According to the NAHB, approximately 61% of homebuyers would be prepared to pay an additional R50 000 to R100 000 on a home that had features which would reduce utility costs. Adding green features can add value to the property and give the seller an added advantage in the market.

Although going green will save money on utility costs and attract buyers to the home - it is not the only reason. It is also about sustainability and reducing the household’s effect on the environment and its surroundings.