The energy crises may have subsided, but home owners remain willing to pay extra for homes with renewable energy systems.

It's not just because the homes may be politically correct, but more a practical matter of building greater equity and resale value.

More than 50 percent of California home owners surveyed said they would be willing to pay more for a home equipped with solar and wind technology, according to the California Energy Commission.

Maryland Marketing Research, Inc. conducted the survey of 300 California homeowners in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fresno and San Diego, and found that more than 60 percent of home owners would be more interested in a home that has a renewable energy system already installed versus a home that does not.

"These are very promising findings about home owners' preferences," said Sandy Miller a commission spokeswoman.

"Residents who are considering remodeling their homes this spring should consider installing solar photovoltaics or wind turbines, depending on their site. It makes good sense financially, especially with the current rebates available through the Energy Commission," said Miller manager of the commission's Buydown Program.

The Buydown Program offers cash rebates to help offset the initial cost of a renewable energy system. Residents get $4.50 per watt or up to 50 percent of the total eligible system's cost, whichever is less.

The benefits of installing a renewable energy system and performing other energy saving retrofits extend beyond financial assistance and reduced energy bills. Installing solar or wind technology and building in other energy savings is likely to build home equity and even improve resale value.

Rick Nevin, vice president of ICF Consulting, a Fairfax, VA-based international consulting firm produced two scientific studies, "Evidence of Rational Market Evaluations For Home Energy Efficiency" and "More Evidence of Rational Market Evaluations For Home Energy Efficiency" that show how even simple energy-efficient home improvements can boost home value by $18,000.

Barbara Zeidman, director of the Los Angeles Partnership Office for Fannie Mae, the nation's largest source of financing for home mortgages, sites the Village Green development in Sylmar, CA as an example of how cost-effective renewable systems can be for homeowners. Village Green is a 116-home, energy-efficient development built in partnership with Fannie Mae. The community uses solar photovoltaic panels in addition to other energy-efficient technologies.

"The average Village Green resident pays $20 per month in utility bills compared to the average bill of $200 per month for other Sylmar residents -- even their neighbors across the street. In Village Green, resale values have gone up and the residents' reduced monthly bills are proof positive that these types of systems make a genuine difference to their pocketbooks,'' says Zeidman.

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