Friday, June 4, 2010

Energy-efficient homes fetch higher rents

POTENTIAL landlords, here’s a tip: Turn the apartment you are planning to rent out into a “green” home.

The reason? More Singaporean renters are clamouring for lower energy costs and an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Despite the higher cost of energy-efficient appliances, landlords are moving towards investing in energy-saving air-conditioning units, for example, as a green apartment can command rents which are up to 10 per cent above the market rate, said estate agents.

Five agents my paper spoke to reported seeing more clients with a preference for energy-efficient household appliances.

According to them, this trend started a couple of years ago and has been picking up in the last half a year.

These days, about three out of 10 clients ask about the energy efficiency of appliances, compared to almost none three years ago, they said.

One of the estate agents, Mr Michael Lim, 43, said that, thanks to campaigns by environmental advocates, people now know that energy-efficient appliances – though usually pricier – will help them save on their utility bills in the long run. People are also more aware of the benefits of going green.

“Landlords are willing to invest in these appliances because they become a bargaining tool,” said Mr Lim.

Estate agent Susan Lim, 37, said: “People want to do their part for the environment.

They’re willing to pay more rent not just because of the money they will save from electricity bills, but also because they want to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle.”

Appliances have to be awarded three ticks and above under the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) labelling scheme to qualify as energy-efficient. The highest number of ticks which can be awarded is four.

NEA recently released figures which showed that sales of energy-efficient appliances have increased. It said that sales of energy- efficient air-conditioners went up by more than 20 per cent from last October to March, compared to the three months prior to the period.

Mr Kelvin Ng, 42, who just moved to his second home, decided to furnish his first one with energy-efficient appliances.

The graphic designer said: “Buying energy-efficient appliances is a good investment, as the tenants and I would benefit.” Mr Ng’s four-room Housing Board flat in Bedok is being rented out for $2,500 a month, $100 above his expectations.

In this case, the estimated savings from just three energy- efficient appliances, not counting lights, is over $300 per year.

Source: my paper, 4 Jun 2010

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