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Pay more for energy efficiency up front, save more in the long term, says prof

In an effort to cut costs when purchasing a new home, buyers are missing a chance for greater savings in the long run, says Professor Kim Pressnail of the department of civil engineering. Buyers often do not request that their homes be built to energy-efficient standards that could reduce their annual energy costs by up to 50 per cent.

“The reality is that energy conservation puts dollars back into homeowners’ pockets,” he says. “Homebuyers often go for the least initial capital cost without considering future operating expenses, including future energy costs.”

In a recent paper, Pressnail and colleagues tallied the cost of building a model home to the minimum Ontario Building Code standards and associated energy costs. They then calculated the cost of upgrading the home to the R2000 energy-efficient standard developed by Natural Resources Canada. They found that the additional cost to the homebuyer of upgrading a $160,000 minimum-standard home was $5,560, but it translated into energy savings of $818 a year.

Pressnail adds that the returns are even greater if future fuel costs are considered. “Since houses built today have a 100-year lifespan and since energy prices will surely rise, the economic and environmental case to build better houses now is even more compelling.”

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