According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) one in five Australian households now use solar energy. Numbers have grown significantly since the ABS started publishing statistics in 2011, with only about five percent of households using solar electricity. Three years later and 14 percent of households use solar panels. When you add in solar hot water heating it increases to 19 percent.
In Western Australia 16 percent of households use solar panels. So apart from saving money and helping the environment, are there other benefits to embracing energy efficiency?
According to a US study by the National Bureau of Research, home owners who invest in sustainable upgrades to their properties receive more return on their investment. The investigation found that home owners who installed solar panels and then sold their properties recouped 97 percent of their investment on top of ongoing energy savings.
By comparison another US study showed that property owners who remodelled their luxury kitchen only received a 60 percent return on their investment.
ACTON CEO Travis Coleman says the research highlights the importance of carefully targeting where you spend your money on home improvements.
“Encouraged by the results they see on home renovation programs, property owners often assume that they will recover all of their investment and even make additional money when they renovate. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case.
“If you are renovating for profit you need to address the demands of the market. People are very conscious of increasing gas and electricity prices and as a result, a significant new development has been the growing demand for established homes that have undergone renovations that include energy efficiency features such as solar panels.”
The increasing cost of energy will also boost demand for properties that have other energy efficient features such as solar hot water systems and roof insulation. In addition, rising water prices and concern for the environment will have an impact on the property market, with features such as water efficient gardens and run-off water tanks becoming more popular. As the market becomes more energy conscious, homes with solar passive orientation will also become more popular with buyers.
“We are seeing more advertisements highlighting this design feature as a major selling point and properties that fully capitalise on a northern aspect can generally achieve higher sale prices than similar homes with a different geographic aspect in the same location,” says Mr Coleman.
“Essentially what the research and current market experience indicates is that anyone who is undertaking the renovation of an older home also needs to focus on how they can improve the overall energy efficiency of their home as this will appeal to future buyers.”