The case for building a more efficient home is getting stronger all the time. Utility rates continue to rise, and market demand for better performing homes is driving innovation in the building industry, along with helping bring down material prices.
People often think they will have a hard time paying a higher mortgage rate when building or buying a better performing home, and advocates of sustainable building practices are often asked to identify a 'return on investment' date, to show when added energy efficiency measures will have paid for themselves.
There are variable payback time periods for different home features; some measures may pay for themselves in a year or two, some a decade, but ultimately a more efficient and durable house should more than pay for itself in the long run.
But, the best news is that in some cases the payback period starts the moment you turn the heat on. The higher monthly mortgage premium you may end up paying for a more energy efficient home can sometimes be matched or exceeded by monthly savings on utilities.
Case in point - with a $77 annual heating bill, the Naugler House in New Brunswick costs $2,140.82 less to heat per year than a house of the same design, on the same site, built to code. The $178.40 in utilities saved each month exceeds the additional $152 they pay each month on their mortgage for having built their home to a higher level of efficiency.
This will not always be the case of course, but however much more you end up having to pay, remember that your mortgage payments will end one day, but your utility bills will not.
On top of energy savings, there are a lot of other trees you can tap to save a bit of money - from some of the more marketing-savvy institutions that want to be seen as the 'green' option. There are preferred mortgage rates available, municipal and provincial tax incentives, even discounts on home insurance as a 'green' home is more durable and less likely to make a claim.
Have a look at our Financial Incentives page to see who wants your business the most, and what they are willing to offer you to get it. Programs vary by region and province; they can also be added and removed with little notice or fanfare. So, if a program on our list has been discontinued, please let us know, and tip us off to any you have found that we missed.
By Mike Reynolds, Co-founder of Ecohome.net