When my Santa Barbara clients set out to buy a home, one of the elements that has been steadily moving up their list of important considerations is energy: how much will a property cost to heat and cool?
Big, drafty houses are being edged out, replaced by green, eco-consciously-designed homes. Listings able to boast prominent cost-saving features like solar heating can provide a huge advantage to a seller. For prospects looking to buy a home in the Santa Barbara area, the tradeoff between the higher price tag they can expect from a solar-equipped home and the anticipated long-term energy savings is tilting toward the latter.
What are the actual savings in dollars and cents? That’s the tricky part. Because every region is different (in beautiful Santa Barbara, for instance, the number of clear, sunny days makes the calculation different from averages elsewhere in the country), the amount of solar energy that a typical homeowner can harvest varies widely.
Solar’s renewed prominence has a lot to do with the recent spikes in energy costs. Anyone who set out to buy a home within the past year has certainly seen the writing on the wall…energy prices may be dipping momentarily, but the future shows every sign that nasty raises lie ahead, sooner or later. To the extent that a solar installation serves to offset those fears, it can be thought of as a long-term energy insurance policy. It’s a subtle ‘peace of mind’ factor that can cinch the decision to buy a home.
Energy-saving features are only one of the many considerations that make a home purchase decision more than simply an emotional one.