RBC finds Canadian homeowners turn to eco-friendly renovations to save money



    TORONTO, Sept. 17 /CNW/ - Eco-friendly home improvements might be all the
rage for Canadians planning home renovations over the next couple of years,
according to RBC's 5th Annual Renovation Study. The poll found that a majority
(60 per cent) of Canadians will include green options when revamping their
homes and of those, 30 per cent say improved energy efficiency is among the
primary reasons for their renovation plans, up from 14 per cent in 2007.
    Yet, 76 per cent said they would do so only if it saved them money in the
long run. In fact, only eight per cent of Canadians would choose
environmentally-friendly improvements if it cost them more and didn't
necessarily save them money down the road.
    "It's very encouraging to see that Canadians continue to show a strong
penchant for eco-renovations," says Catherine Adams, vice-president, Home
Equity Financing. "It's a win-win for the environment and homeowners
regardless of the reasons. Whether you want to save money, reduce your home's
impact on the environment or simply upgrade your home, an eco-renovation is a
sensible choice all-round."
    Many Canadians also hope to profit from their eco-renovations, as
76 per cent said they believe ecological improvements would increase the value
of their home. Interestingly, of those who did, 61 per cent said installing
solar panels would increase the value of their homes the most. Replacing
windows (67 per cent) and installing a high-efficiency furnace (64 per cent)
were also popular renovation choices.

    LIVING OFF THE GRID

    Homeowners also appear open to the idea of taking additional steps to
reduce their homes' carbon footprint. According to the survey, Canadians are
intrigued by the idea of living "off the grid" - that is, living in a self
sufficient manner without reliance on public utilities - and a majority 
(51 per cent) say they would actually consider such a change.
    The concept of a "net zero home" appears to be even more appealing to
Canadians, as 66 per cent said they would consider green options that would
enable their homes to produce at least as much energy as they use. Over half
(fifty-six per cent) believe a "net zero home" is a possibility for their
current home over the next five years and 71 per cent believe this to be true
in the next 10 years.
    RBC is sponsoring the "Now House" - part of Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation's Equilibrium(TM) sustainable housing initiative. Designed to
generate as much energy as it uses, the "Now House" is a retrofit of a
60-year-old war time house. It features sustainable building technologies such
as upgraded insulation, reduced air leakage, new windows, radiant floor
heating, and the installation of solar panels and provides a real example of
how you can take a typical, inefficient house and make changes to increase its
energy and water efficiency. To learn more about the "Now House" visit,
www.rbc.com/nowhouse.

    AN ENERGY BLUEPRINT FOR YOUR HOME

    The survey found that 64 per cent would consider having an environmental
audit done before renovating, to help them better understand how to reduce
energy usage. This is no surprise, considering homeowners are reporting a
16 per cent increase in their monthly energy bill compared to the previous
year.
    "A growing number of Canadians are starting to fundamentally change the
way they think about their homes and its environmental footprint," says Adams.
"The first step to a smart eco-renovation is an energy audit, and RBC is
offering a $300 rebate on a home energy audit with our energy saver mortgage:
www.rbc.com/energysaver."
    These are some of the findings of an RBC poll conducted by Ipsos Reid
between August 13 and August 18, 2008. The online survey is based on a
randomly selected representative sample of 3,733 adult Canadian homeowners.
With a representative sample of this size, the results are considered accurate
to within +/- 1.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would
have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. These data
were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex
composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the
2001 Census data.

    For full tabular results, please see the Ipsos Reid website at
www.ipsos.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Jackie Braden, RBC, Media
Relations, (416) 974-2124; Andrew McNeill, RBC, Royal Bank, (416) 955-2737


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