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Benefits of Buying a New Home: Increased Health (Part III)

By Nick Czar 4 min read

 

Aside from lower monthly operating costs and increased comfort, an increased level of health is another benefit of purchasing an energy-efficient home. For any new home buyer, especially one with a family, explaining the increased health benefits of an energy-efficient home can distinguish a new home from the competition.

The best way for builders to introduce a conversation about the increased health benefits associated with a new, energy-efficient home is to ask the potential buyers, “Does anyone in your family have allergies or asthma?” Statistically, 85% of families have at least one member that suffers from one of these two conditions. Probability states that the customer will answer “yes.” That opens up the door to discuss the advantages of increased air quality associated with a new home.

Increased air quality will allow families to breathe easier in the home. If a potential buyer has ever experienced the helpless feeling of witnessing a child’s asthma attack or a baby with allergies, they will surely relate. Understanding that newer building materials and methods could help their family avoid situations like this in the future is an excellent opportunity to build value. Increased air quality is a very powerful, and under-communicated, benefit of purchasing an energy-efficient home.

Energy-efficient homes typically include higher MERV (Minimum Efficiency Rating Value) air filters. The higher the MERV, the thicker the air filter. Most older, inefficient homes offer MERV 2 or 3 air filters. At this level, the air filter is only trapping less than 20% of particles ranging from 3.0-10.0 microns. These particles typically include things like pollen, dust mites, standing dust, spray paint dust, and carpet fibers. The newer, most energy-efficient homes are now offering up to MERV 8 or 10 filters, included at the base price. These filters will block 70% to 85% or more of particles ranging in size from 3.0-10.0 microns. Not only will the higher MERV filters block a much larger percentage of the aforementioned particles, but will also trap mold spores, hair spray, fabric protectors, and cement dust. To put this into perspective, hospital operating rooms require a minimum of MERV 7 air filters to protect the integrity of the room.

Many homeowners have tried to increase their indoor air quality by going to the local hardware store, purchasing a thicker filter, and installing it into their inefficient home. Unfortunately, this will not work. The HVAC system must be engineered to pull air through the thicker filter. If a homeowner is trying to cool their home and the HVAC system is not engineered to pull air through the higher MERV filter, the cooling system will be overworked, and the air conditioning coil will freeze up, rendering the system useless. In this scenario, a homeowner would have to shut the system down and wait for the ice to melt off the coil to cool their home again.

Another way energy-efficient homes offer a healthier environment is through the reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in building materials. Consumers understand that most homes built before 1978 were done so using lead-based paint. This is extremely dangerous and can have negative effects on a family’s health. That is why there are a number of legal disclosures surrounding the sale of a home that is older than 1978. However, lead-based paint is not the only danger lurking in an older, inefficient home.

Off-gassing occurs when manufactured items in our homes release volatile organic compounds. This happens with paints, wood preservatives, carpet, flooring, and glues. Exposure to VOCs can lead to cancer (in humans and pets), headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea. It can also damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Additional negative health effects of VOCs include conjunctival irritation, allergic skin reactions, fatigue/dizziness, eye infections, and respiratory tract infections. New, energy-efficient homes typically offer low or no VOC building materials in the home, limiting off-gassing. The result is a healthier living environment.

Effectively communicating the increased health benefits associated with a new, energy-efficient home is a strong way to build value in the product. Not only will it differentiate the builder’s home from the others on the market, but it will also address the safety and health concerns of a buyer. Selling the health benefits will elevate the energy efficiency conversation above just cost savings and provide the buyers with the homes they are searching for today.

Originally published Aug 28, 2018 under Explore the latest topics, updated February 2, 2024

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