How to Help Prospective Buyers Visualize Energy Cost Savings


Providing prospective buyers with tangible information on anticipated utility cost savings can be a differentiator for your business and create a lasting impression as they look at other potential homes to purchase.

Saving money on utility bills is a driver for many prospective home buyers. According to NAHB’s What Home Buyers Really Want, 2021 Edition, home buyers are willing to pay an average of  $9,292 up front to save $1,000 a year in utility cost (which is equivalent to a 9.29-year simple payback), up from $8,728 (8.73-year simple payback) in 2019. The median amount is $5,000 (five-year payback), which has remained stable since 2003.

During the May Home Performance Counts: Virtual Green Home Tour, Paul Parkinson, director of sales at Lennar, explained: “People don’t know what they don’t know. Having a visual for someone to stop at, whether it’s a virtual tour or live tour starts the conversation: ‘What is this, and what does it mean?’ Then we can talk about HERS scores and the products we use in order to make the homes more energy efficient. We go, ‘Do you like to save $2,500?’ And people generally nod their heads, yes. Then we can say ‘That’s what you are going to save if you buy this home.’”

“That’s enough of the conversation,” he noted. “You don’t want to get too deep into the details because not everyone is going to understand what you are saying, but keeping it simple is effective.”

“The HERS index is a great visual because it shows customers that there really is a way to measure the performance of a home, as energy costs are one of the most expensive costs to operate a home,” added Annette Bubak, REALTOR® GREEN of Sunnova Energy. “The visual is also great because it makes us stop and think. It’s a memory point. The home buyer goes to another community — maybe they don’t have these types of visuals there, but now they start asking questions. It can be a differentiating point between builders in a community.”

The tour series continues in June from Santa Fe, N.M. Join Mark and Leslie Giorgetti of Palo Santo Designs LLC on June 17 at 3 p.m. ET for a tour of their personal residence, which was featured in the 2020 SFAHBA Hacienda Parade of Homes. High-performance features include rainwater reuse for both irrigation and toilet flushing, passive-solar design, solar photovoltaics, a super-insulated shell, Pumice-Crete walls and food production as part of the landscape design.

A live Q&A with Mark and Leslie, as well as former SFAHBA Executive Officer Kim Shanahan, will take place immediately after the tour.

The series is a product of Home Performance Counts, a joint educational initiative between NAHB and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). In addition to the showcase of homes, builders, real estate agents and others will discuss how housing industry professionals can work together to increase sales and provide added value to consumers.

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