Sure, you’ve heard it all before. And you’ve accepted that an energy-efficient way of life is the path to the future. But the future is a long way off… isn’t it?
Not really. Energy costs are not getting cheaper, and so long as the global population continues to rise and our consumption needs continue to grow, there is very little chance it ever will. Inflation isn’t going away either, so there is no real good news to latch on to with the overall cost of living.
However, beyond these factors, there are other key attributes to choosing an energy-efficient home that might motivate you to make a change sooner, rather than later. If our word is not good enough, then consider these points that were recently brought up by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
According to the UNDP’s Building Sector Energy Efficiency Project (BSEEP), the most common concerns home seekers focus on these days are location, design, layout, reputation of the developer and price.
Though awareness has, in general, grown about the need for energy-efficient features in a new home, these are still not deemed to be decisive factors. However, the BSEEP advises that it should be a priority. Here’s why:
Better thermal comfort
As the world becomes a more congested place to live in, this is a factor that becomes increasingly important – not just because it delivers overall comfort and a better quality of life, but also because it contributes to the overall physical and mental wellbeing of the dweller. An energy-efficient home often has a lower indoor temperature compared with a conventional one. This is because it is constructed with materials that make it more difficult for heat to get in. Autoclave aerated concrete bricks, roof and wall insulation materials, and reflective paint, among others, can protect your home from the heat and keep the indoor temperature more comfortable.
Protect your vision
This is not a widely-known point, but energy-efficient homes equipped with efficient lighting systems not only help reduce your energy bills but are also better for your eyes/vision and health. Efficient lighting systems do not contain mercury, and are hence safer for the household. They also produce less heat than conventional lights.
Save energy cost
This is perhaps the biggest incentive for most homeseekers, but few realise what this means to the monthly and annual bottom line. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), by using less energy for cooling and lighting and choosing 5-star energy-efficient appliances, a home can deliver 20% savings on annual utility bills. Over the seven to eight years that a typical family lives in an energy-efficient home, you can save tens-of-thousands of ringgit in maintenance costs.
Good for investment
Here’s a tip for the future: an energy-efficient home is future proof. Never cringe at the thought of higher electricity tariffs. If you are buying houses for investment, this is the kind of house that you want to look for as it will probably have a higher resale value. Apart from that, you may find it easier to rent or sell your house by focusing on all the energy-efficient (and cost saving) selling points above.
Retrofitting costs more
Make the decision right at the beginning, because if you buy a non-energy efficient home and decide to transform it into an energy-efficient home later, you may need to allocate a big budget to retrofit your house. Plus, the features will be limited to what the house can be adapted to. You definitely can’t change the orientation and if it is built using bricks that absorb heat, you can’t do anything about it except spend more on insulation.
From a “big picture” perspective, the more energy we consume, the more environmentally harmful emissions we produce. Obviously, if you live in an energy-efficient home you will consume less energy/electricity. This benefits the environment as your house indirectly releases less carbon emissions that contribute towards pollution and climate change.
The BSEEP is a national project that has been implemented by the Public Works Department, while actively administrated by the United Nations Development Programme. It was mooted to fight climate change by reducing the annual growth rate of GHG emissions from Malaysia’s building sector.
Ultimately, however, the power to fundamentally change the property landscape for the better lies in the hands of the buying public. If there is a sizeable shift in homeowner priorities and demand, the market will have little choice but to bend to adjust.