“The Value of an Energy Optimized Home” by Marcus Hinds
The importance and value of a well functioning, energy-optimized home is not front of mind for many of us. A home, condo, apartment or any other residential living space is an asset and a necessity, possessing certain items and fittings that ensure your comfort. Many of these use electricity and other resources like Natural Gas, Sunlight, or a composite of all. You pay for this! Luckily for you, the Energy Managers and Energy Auditors are on your side.
Energy Managers and Auditors think of how well your space uses resources and communicates this to you in a format that you can easily understand. There is a huge benefit to this! Having an energy audit done and monitoring your energy use helps you the occupant and in some cases the owner, to understand how well your space is using energy and whether or not you are loosing energy and money.
Good energy professionals also tell you what can be done, and Energy Service companies or ESCOs, work with you to bring professionals in to make adjustments. Energy Auditors usually provide clients with detailed synopses of problems that their space may be facing in being as efficient possible.
An energy auditor will usually come and inspect your space, and let you know of leaks in your piping, faults in your appliances and other energy saving opportunities based on the type of audit you are having done. A good auditor will make sure that you know about all the possible upgrades that would suit you and make your living space more comfortable. The entire process can save you anywhere between 10% and 40% on your annual energy expenses, usually with an immediate payback.
One thing you should consider in having this type of work done is; tax allowances and credits from Utility Companies.
More recently, the Barbadian government has implemented several schemes to stimulate the construction of houses with solar power. For example, from the $10,000 allotted per year under the 2008 modified Income Tax Allowance for Home Improvement, up to $1,000 can be used for energy audits. Under the Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Deduction plan, a reduction of 50% of the cost of retrofitting a residence or installing a system to produce electricity from sources other than fossil fuels have also been proposed.
Other initiatives, such as The Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency Action Program are conducting research into energy efficient practices that can be employed in hotels and other commercial settings. For both residential and commercial properties, having energy audits done increases property value and gives the building space a higher competitive edge in the real estate market.
Buyers would be willing to pay more for owning a building that is operating at optimal performance and will save them money in the process of doing so, and is the case with prospective investors.
The building is also easier to insure and will demand a lower premium, through the many credits that Insurance Companies offer to energy efficient properties. A number of Barbados based insurance companies have been leading the curve and rewarding energy efficient properties with premium credits. This essentially translates to lower premiums coming out of the underwriting process.
Depending on the original amount invested into energy efficient upgrades, one could earn anywhere from 5% to 20% more on the sale of a building that has been energy optimized. In situations where homeowners were very aggressive towards their energy expenses, they have been able to command LEED Rating for their homes. This brand being attached to your property not only means that your home operates in a greener and efficient way, using less energy, less water and other natural resources, but it also pushes it into a different real estate class.
International real estate tycoons would definitely be attracted to the idea of LEED certified properties in the warm sunny Caribbean. It also pushes the resale value significantly higher, while occupants benefit from better indoor air quality, with direct access to fresh air. This Certification means the building is all round more comfortable for its occupants and cheaper to operate.
Energy Management & Sustainability has been and will continue to gain traction around the world, as persons realize the true benefit of applying energy efficiency to their everyday operations.
One example is another Sustainability metrics organization similar to the LEED rating scheme called Green Globes, launched a section dedicated to Sustainable Hotels, cruise ships, meeting facilities, tour operators and attractions in the Caribbean & Americas. Green Globes is more concerned with commercial properties and leisure resorts than the LEED rating system is.
In my opinion, a large number of our buildings here in the Caribbean can reach optimum performance levels and surpass standards set by afore mentioned organizations and others. One advantage that we have in being so close to the equator is plentiful sunshine and the omnipresence of the wind.
In the next 10 years, I foresee major development in our wind and solar energy resources, knowing that we can achieve and surpass internationally accepted standards, with the right inputs and policies in place.