Simple Energy Messages from the Property Brothers

As I recently reviewed in my “Storytelling from BECC” blog, media provides a huge opportunity for the home performance industry to make it into the mainstream. That’s why I was pleased to see recently that HGTV’s show “Property Brothers” was dolling out advice that I’ve heard more than once at industry conferences.

For those of you unfamiliar, the “Property Brothers,” also known as Drew and Jonathan Scott, team up to sell people homes that are fixer-uppers. In other words, they take homes that otherwise look like junk and turn them into dream homes. While renovating, they take all necessary measures to insulate, put in energy efficient appliances, and so on. Throughout the hour-long show, energy is mentioned a few times, but it’s in the big reveal at the end that you really get the most education.

In the episode I watched, they went so far as to tell the couple that had bought the home that their new windows, new water heater, and newly insulated walls would mean that they’d use less energy and therefore equal cheaper energy bills. While that message may seem broad to building scientists, it’s really all that homeowners need to know. The homeowners gave the contractors a budget and the contractors used energy efficient practices within that budget. The homeowners didn’t necessarily ask for it, it was just given to them. They weren’t complaining.

After watching the show, I did some research to see if these gentlemen were actually proponents of energy efficiency or if it was just a (good) plug for Energy Star appliances. In doing so, I ran into this interview. Here’s a snippet of the “green” parts of the conversation:

“[Interviewer]: Reno-wise, what should you spend the most money on to get the biggest bang for your buck?

Jonathan Scott: Everyone focuses on cosmetics but people don’t put enough time and money into energy efficiency. Energy and utility costs are going up constantly. When I buy a home or advise people to buy a home, I do everything to make it energy efficient. Eventually when I build a home from scratch, it’ll be zero carbon footprint. I’m building a guest house to attach to my house right now, and that’s zero carbon footprint.

[Interviewer]: Any downsides to zero carbon footprint-ing?

Drew Scott: A lot of people want to go green, but the initial cost can be expensive. Like putting in solar panels. You don’t want to financially cripple yourself just to go green.

Jonathan Scott: There are also a lot of products marketed as being green that aren’t. The products break down and you replace them and it’s an even bigger waste. Do your research and only get products that are authentically green.”

While the statements above are also very broad in the spectrum of the home performance industry, they are still statements being made by actors on television. If we really want to create mainstream demand for home performance, we’ve got to start somewhere—and I think this is a pretty good start.

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