The New Trends in Housing

The New Trends in Housing Energy Federation Incorporation EFI | Energy Federation Incorporation

EFI attended the Better Buildings, Better Business Conference earlier this year and one thing is for sure – 2019 is shaping up to be a pivotal year in getting builders to think about the future of the housing market. Some of the new trends in housing include:

  • Net Zero Ready/Net Zero Energy Homes
  • EV Charging Stations
  • Smart Grid Technology
  • Connected Homes
  • Indoor Air Quality

So What Does this Terminology Mean? 
Presenters were encouraging builders to continue to push the envelope and build for the future.  Net Zero ready, in its simplest form, is to build a house where renewables or charging stations could easily be added to the home if a homeowner chose to in the future, because making these renovations at a later point in time could easily add 5-10 times the expense.  The goal of a Net Zero Energy home is to offset the homes typical energy usage with renewable energy (solar panels/wind turbines) that is often tied in directly to the utility. 

electric car ev charging eco friendly

Why Now?
Over the past few decades, many improvements and economies of scale are starting to come to fruition along with legislation and climate implications.  As homeowners/homebuilders look to continue to reduce operating costs of homes over a period of time paired with environmental concerns and technological advancements, the time for rethinking about the way we construct housing is now. 

California has recently mandated that all new homes starting in 2020 must have solar panels included with new home construction.  The California Energy Commission estimates the cost of adding a typical solar electric panel array, to the average new home, would add approximately $40 dollars a month to the monthly mortgage payment, while the homeowner will save an average of $80 a month on their energy bill. 

solar panels energy efficiency housing eco friendly house smart house
Other big names also continue to support/make pledges to commit to the future.  Besides all the buzz with Tesla, you may have heard of GM (General Motors). They have committed to designing an all EV platform, virtually eliminating the internal combustion engine from their lineup. Many of the major manufactures have also started releasing their version of electric vehicles including – BMW, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Nissan, Tesla and Volkswagen (along with many others).  There is now even an EV Truck that is in production that has a distance range of 400+ miles.  That’s impressive, but does it have any power?  I should mention it goes from 0-60 MPH in 3.0 seconds – that’s quick all with no emissions!  The manufacturer, Rivian also claims that it comes with an 11,000 pound tow rating – equally impressive!   

electric car ev charging eco friendly truck
Back to the economics, another inserting tidbit: while electric vehicles may still have a hefty upfront price tag, like all things competition, product lifecycle and economies of scale will likely make these vehicles more affordable over time and when comparing MPG cost (or whatever we call this moving forward) EV is the hands down winner – averaging about $.02 cents per mile to operate, while gas vehicles average $.09+ cents per mile.  I know this article was about housing, but pretty cool stuff coming down the pike. What’s next, flying cars?

Another driver (no pun intended) of all this is that utilities are committed to continue to reduce their carbon footprint. Xcel Energy, one of our clients, has committed to 100% carbon-free electricity production by 2050 – now that is some serious X to Y by T!  Xcel will be moving away from coal fired and natural gas power plants that are currently used to produce electricity and continue to invest big time on solar and wind energy.  Currently they have reduced their carbon emissions by 38% since 2005, and have an intermediate 80% reduction goal by 2030. 

All Aboard!
“It’s easy to move from rail car to rail car at 70 MPH, but hard to jump on when the train is going by at 70 MPH.” This was a quote that one of the presenters used which I thought really made a statement. Luckily we work for a company that is committed to energy efficiency and also the future. I believe we are well positioned on the Energy Efficiency train - we are heavily connected with smart home products/smart thermostats, helping builders “build tight and ventilate right” with air sealing and ventilation products and now also promoting EV charging stations. Even though we may have to shift rail cars from time to time, it beats trying to jump on when the train is going by at 70 MPH…


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