Energy efficient windows emerged as the leading green product among remodelers responding to NAHB’s Remodeling Market Index (RMI) survey for the first quarter of 2014, as nearly 9 out of 10 remodelers surveyed said they’d commonly used low-e windows during the past year. Next on the list were high efficiency HVAC systems and programmable thermostats at 70 percent each, closely followed by ENERGY STAR appliances at 69 percent.
Although the features at the top of the list all involve energy eficiency, the term “green” is usually defined more broadly than that. Moisture control, for example, is classified as green here, because it results in some components of the home needing to be replaced less often, reducing environmental impacts associated with manufacturing, transporting and installing those components over time. The list of 23 green products and practices used in the RMI survey is based on the major sections of the National Green Building Standard (which can and should be applied to remodeling as well as new construction).
Given the difference in cost, it’s perhaps surprising that use of program-mable thermostats is no more common than use of high efficiency HVAC among remodelers. Anecdotally, several NAHB members have reported that a small but discernible share of their customers tend to resist devices that require programming. A similar result was found in a survey on green products and practices used by single-family builders.
It’s also interesting that, across the two surveys, the same four green features appear at the top of the list and in the same order for both remodelers and builders. The remodelers’ percentages tend to be a little lower, but this is natural, because not every remodeling project involves every home component. High efficiency HVAC systems, for example (the second ranked green feature for both builders and remodelers) are commonly used by 90 percent of builders, compared to 70 percent of remodelers. But remodelers who specialized in projects like replacing windows or building decks in 2013 may have seldom if ever needed to install HVAC systems, while builders of new homes would have, at some point, dealt with every aspect of HVAC.