Energy efficiency becoming a prerequisite for new homeowners

Homeownership has been perhaps the most widely accepted tenet of the American Dream for more than 50 years. Throughout the 1990s especially, homeownership rates spiked as suburbs sprawled outward from urban centers and the footprint of Americans extended into previously undeveloped areas.

But, for all the advantages provided by suburban living and its considerable popularity, why did a Gallup poll find last month that homeownership rates have plunged to a record low of 62 percent?

"Why are the giants of the building industry, the creators for decades of massive communities of cookie-cutter homes, cul-de-sacs and McMansions in far-flung suburbs, doing an about-face?" asks a May 15 USA Today analysis on the changing housing market. "Why are they suddenly building smaller neighborhoods in and close to cities on land more likely to be near a train station than a pig farm?"

This seismic shift in homeownership habits can be traced back to a variety of factors that arose in the last five years, including the bursting of the housing bubble, spiking gas prices that made extended commutes much more expensive and a general paradigm shift among Americans who are more conscious of their consumption habits.

As part of this change, consumers are increasingly coming to expect home energy efficiency when they build new properties or move into existing houses. Products like energy-efficient heating and insulation can trim a homeowner's monthly utility bill, while a comprehensive emphasis on energy efficiency in multiple aspects of the home can reduce consumption costs considerably.

To begin benefiting from energy improvements, consumers in the Tri-State area should not hesitate to contact an accredited Washington, D.C. home inspector. Once an energy audit is complete, the inspector will be able to tell a homeowner the best ways to begin saving money immediately.