According to the latest NAHBRemodeling Market Index (RMI), homeowners want energy-efficient upgrades. Thirty-three percent of remodelers polled said that their customers are leaning toward energy-saving improvements, such as low-E windows, spray-foam or fiberglass insulation, and high-efficiency HVAC system in their homes.
The RMI is a quarterly gauge of remodeler perception of the current and future residential remodeling market; and it also includes questions that pinpoint market trends.
"It's no surprise with rising energy prices and other costs draining the piggy bank that homeowners want to maximize home performance with green remodeling options," said NAHB Remodelers chairman Lonny Rutherford, a professional remodeler from Farmington, N. M., in a press release.
"Newer technologies are also quickly gaining in popularity," Rutherford added. "Thirty-five percent of remodelers reported installing tankless water heaters, which save on energy costs by heating water on demand instead of continuously eating energy."
Seventy-three percent of remodelers surveyed by the NAHB say they installed energy-efficient windows in the past few months. Insulation replacement upgrades (in enclosed walls and roofs) were made by 65% polled while 27% said they insulated foundations and 52% installed insulated exterior doors. Fifty-six percent of those polled said high-efficiency HVAC systems were in demand. Energy-saving kitchen appliances were installed by 47% of those polled and 46% said water-saving faucets and fixtures were put in.
The NAHB RMI results are similar to those from a poll sponsored by fiberglass door manufacturer Plastpro, which revealed that 73% of 700 homeowners surveyed said they are willing to pay more for eco-friendly and energy-efficient home improvement products.
"Builders, remodelers, and contractors who are trying to cut costs by offering products that are only average in quality are choosing the wrong path," said Franco An, president of Plastpro. "Indeed, the survey shows that quality is still the defining characteristic for home improvement products despite a decrease in real estate values and a softening economy. Homeowners realize that long-term savings far outweigh upfront costs."
The Plastpro survey, which was administered by the Opinion Research Corp., also revealed that 89% of those polled said they would be willing to pay more for products that reduce heating and cooling costs and 86% of homeowners felt knowledge about environmentally friendly and energy-efficient products was a key factor in the hiring process of a remodeler, builder, or contractor.
When asked about the Plastpro survey, Rutherford said he was not surprised. "We [remodelers] are seeing that as well," he told EcoHome. "People are becoming more aware of the green movement and are asking more questions."
What's more, "We are finding customers to be more educated," Rutherford says. "They are finding products online and asking questions. The Internet has made a big difference. You can Google anything now."
But even with consumers armed with knowledge, remodelers aren't necessarily scrambling to keep up with the green trends because "remodeling is a green process anyway," Rutherford points out.
"We've been doing it so long, [green] is inherently what we do," he noted. As far as staying current with the trends and latest green products, Rutherford says that it is easy to tell who the top remodelers are, because they have always been in the habit of keeping up.
"As responsible pros, you do that anyway," he says. "The top servers stay up with the trends. [Today’s consumer] motivates you to keep up even more. You have to do your research."