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Special Reports


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

TORONTO, September 17, 2008 — 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.

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™ 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.

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.

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Media contact:

Jackie Braden, RBC, Media Relations, (416) 974-2124
Andrew McNeill, RBC, Royal Bank, (416) 955-2737

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


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09/17/2008 08:05:51