Could Research Show That People Are Not Interested In Green Homes?


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OK I will bite…could it be true that a study shows that people are not interested in saving money, saving energy, or living in a home powered by solar power? According to The Guardian in the UK, these are the results of a study by the National House Building Council foundation. The article in the paper actually starts with this line:

People are not ready for zero-carbon houses and are not that interested in energy saving when they buy a house, according to research published today.

Really. People are not interested in saving energy when buying a home – very interesting. Even without all the talk about global warming and “going green” you have to wonder how an entire study could come to the conclusion that people have no interest in zero-carbon houses and saving energy. And to add insult to injury, “Most would prefer a higher specification bathroom or kitchen to personal investment in energy efficiency measures.” Once again, an ugly side of human nature takes first place in that being selfish about how nice your bathroom is much more important than saving energy or even their very own planet…where their bathroom is located.

And just so no one wonders, I like a nice bathroom. But would I take one over having solar panels on my house? Not in a million years.

Someone who really gets the green home aspect of building is Michelle Kaufman of Breezehouse fame. Her interview in Fast Company tells of her experiences with what people want from their homes – and it includes solar power, natural materials, and energy conservation. So what does she hear while talking to people about going green?

People do want to go green. They want lower energy bills and healthy environments for their families. It’s a no- brainer, but there are not many solutions out there.

That makes a lot more sense to me. I know I am in the business of talking all things “green”, but I doubt that if I asked someone outside of my world if they wanted to own a house that had solar panels, conserved energy, and was zero-carbon, that they would actually say no. One has to wonder who funds studies like that…could it be home builders or energy companies that stand to lose money because the general population is getting interested in alternative energy or conservation? Hmm…

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  1. I work in the building materials industry. I can tell you, environmentally friendly, energy saving, green products are all the rage right now and they don’t show any signs of letting up. Builders love them because they usually mark up their expenses by a certain percentage, so more expensive products don’t bother them. Also, these products help set a builder apart from the competition. Homeowners love the products because they save money in the long run. Dealers (me) love the products because they usually are less “commoditized” and the pricing is stable.

    There are shingles that look almost like regular shingles, but they all link together with a wire. They’re solar! My next home will definitely have these!

    There is a fabric that was developed because of the space program that you can put in your attic, fastening it to the underside of your rafters. It lowers heat in the attic by 30 to 50 degrees. It saves tons on AC costs.

    Shaw Industries, the flooring company, is manufacturing and aggressively marketing their green initiatives with laminate flooring. Most of it is made using recycled products.

    If you were to look at the multitude of trade journals I receive each month, you’d find at least one article in each on green products.

    If the environmental movement would begin to focus more on business relationships and strategic partnerships than government relationships, I think they would begin to achieve their goals much more quickly. People respond to economic incentives. Like I told my boss (who obviously is DEAF), “What gets rewarded, gets done!”

    (sorry for the long comment)

  2. Thanks for the comment Ron, appreciate it. So what could a “survey” like this really mean? Who would benefit from results like these? I can think of only one – oil and power companies?

  3. That might be the obvious choice, but I have a hard time thinking that oil and power companies are really that concerned. Their profits are at record levels even with the current green initiatives so who else could benefit? There are multiple layers of possibilities that would probably surprise both of us.

    We also need to look at how the questions were worded, who was asking them, and to whom were they asked.

    Again, people respond to incentives. They also respond to incentives today more positively than incentives in the future (hence, our deplorable US savings rate). Asking someone a question like, “Would you rather have a high spec bathroom today or put solar panels on your roof?” is a poor choice of words.

    Asking, “Would you be willing to find a way to save $5,000 on your bathroom if it meant being able to reduce your energy costs by $15,000 over 8 years?” might be a better question.

    The problem is probably in the question and that is evidence of either an uneducated or a biased surveyor. My money is on uneducated…

  4. I suppose “uneducated” is right, Ron…that seems to be the one that makes the most sense, as who wouldn’t want a more efficient/less expensive utility bill home?

    Thanks for the input…

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