"The Actual Costs of Owning a Home are the MONTHLY COSTS, NOT the Purchase Price
Actual Costs = Monthly Costs + Hidden Costs
It is a misconception that the more we reduce a building's environmental footprint, the more money we have to spend. While it is true that many "greener" options will require more hard earned dollars, the best options will actually save you money from the very first month.
Payback is one way of looking at an energy investment. For example: if one spends 30k dollars on a PV solar system, how many months or years will it take to make that money back in lower, monthly energy bills? There are some serious flaws to using a payback approach:
1. Most people finance, which changes the initial purchase price into monthly, mortgage payments.
2. Monthly, energy bills are always rising and increasingly unstable making future calculations only a guess.
3. Payback does not account for the millions of hidden costs associated with nuclear and fossil fuel use and dependency.
Purchase Price versus Monthly payments
People buying a home do not really pay the purchase price. Mortgage payments + energy/utility payments are the actual costs one pays to live in a home. The best investments add only a few dollars to your mortgage payment, but will bring your energy bills down by double or triple that amount, saving money from the first month of occupancy.
Forget the earth, invest in yourself.
The best investment in our climate is always an air-tight, continuously-insulated envelope. Secondly, heating/cooling systems since they represent the largest portion of monthly, energy costs. Money spent in these two areas can increase monthly-mortgage payments slightly, but will dramatically reduce monthly-energy bills.
Financing offers you the ability to own a home. It also offers an opportunity to save alot by spending a little.
The right building envelope and space conditioning investments outperform almost any other investments and dramatically reduces environmental impact (if you're into that kinda thing).
Mortgage + Monthly Energy Bills ¬tual Cost of Home
Conventionally built green home
$750 + $100 = $850
Passive Solar, SIP built Green home
$756 + $42 $798
This home would have a higher purchase price and mortgage payment, but from the first month of occupancy it would be more affordable. It would also be more comfortable, better protected from rising energy costs, safe in a winter power outage, and would enjoy a probable, higher re-sale value with less days on the market. It would also be half of the environmental foot-print of the other "green" home."