The first step in zero home sales is to sell the benefits of the home like you would any other home — emphasizing beauty, location, finishes, and amenities. These are the bedrock of selling homes. But in addition to that, zero energy homes have many features and benefits, beyond superb energy efficiency, that make them better homes and much easier to sell than a standard code-built home.

To leverage the zero advantage, it’s important to recognize that different people are motivated by different things. To effectively sell zero you need to connect with their concerns, interests, and aspirations in a way that gets them excited about one or more of the many benefits of zero. 

The second step is to discover those interests, concerns, and aspirations by developing a relationship and asking a few key questions. Examples include: inquiring about their concern for family health; asking how much they value comfort and quiet ; exploring the importance of saving on the cost of ownership; learning how they view risk management, predictability, and control; asking if they’re interested in technical innovations; and discovering whether they’re enthralled by the potential of solar and renewable energy. 

The third step then is to tailor your sales presentation of the benefits to the interests and concerns of your client.The sales pitch for each of these interests and concerns is powerful — and each one is a bit different. 


An Exceptionally Healthy Home

Most people do not factor in the health of their family when purchasing a home because they assume that most homes are healthy. Unfortunately, conventional homes often contain unhealthy materials and inadequate ventilation, and few in the housing industry pay attention to this deficiency. But health and indoor air quality are becoming significant concerns for many, if not most, parents and homebuyers. So asking questions along these lines may be helpful: Are you aware that indoor air pollution affects people with asthma, allergies, COPD, and chronic illnesses, as well as affecting residents’ ability to concentrate and their sense of well being? If you had the choice of a home that would ensure fresh filtered air 24/7 for your family’s health, how important would that be? Certified zero homes are airtight to keep out environmental pollution, have fresh filtered air, are usually built with materials that do not off-gas formaldehyde or other toxins, and have no harmful fumes from gas stoves, water heaters, or furnaces. They can be much healthier homes, and many are certified under a third-party indoor air quality program, such IndoorAir Plus.


An Exceptionally Comfortable and Quiet Home

The high level of air sealing and insulation means there are no drafts, no hot and cold spots — just steady even temperatures, even in extreme weather. Zero energy homes are very quiet because they’re protected from loud wind, storms, or traffic noises and have quiet mechanical equipment. They provide a level of comfort not found in standard homes. 


They Cost Less To Own

You can explain the monthly or yearly cost of ownership, which includes PITI+E+M (Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance plus Energy Costs plus Maintenance) — and then compare the cost of ownership of a zero home to a similar standard home. The zero home is almost always less because the monthly energy savings exceed the extra amount added to the monthly mortgage. In addition, maintenance is reduced because zero homes are more durable due to advanced framing, thicker walls, and air sealing, which keep out moisture, mold, and insects. A home with a lower cost of ownership provides financial security.


They Reduce Risk and Increase Control and Predictability

For those truly concerned about both short- and long-term risk management, you cannot have a risk managed future that does not include a zero energy home. Certified zero homes reduce risk to the climate, environment, health, wallet, and wear and tear on the home. They provide predictability and control: control of comfort, control of utility bills, control of health, control of moisture and rot, as well as providing a steady temperature longer during a power outage. They provide better control over heating and cooling and water heating — and even better control of stove-top cooking because induction stovetops give superior cooking speed, temperature modulation, and safety compared to gas. Control is designed into the home from the very beginning. 


The Technology in Zero Homes is Cool and Reliable

The innovation in zero homes is cool and engaging for techies, and a key selling point. At the same time it can make life easier for everyone. You can reassure non-techies that this technology is reliable and user friendly. You should be prepared to ask: “Would you like me to explain how this works?” You should become familiar with the technology involved — understand it, know its advantages, present it as something cool and advanced — emphasizing that it will be part of all future homes, while making it seem natural, simple, and reliable. You should also know when not to go into the technical details. You can point out that while these technologies may seem innovative today, they will be standard features in all homes of the future. No one wants to buy a home today that will be obsolete in just a few years. 


Getting All Your Power from the Sun Is Really Cool and Powerful

Solar panels not only look cool but they are also a symbol of independence and self-reliance — as well as a declaration of concern for the planet. Having solar panels empowers people and opens a pathway to potential energy independence. For those who want a positive energy home, extra solar panels can power their vehicles as well as their homes. When storage battery prices come down, adding them to their solar system will give homeowners full control over their energy needs: no gas station and no utility companies — while supporting the environment and reducing greenhouse gases. Solar, combined with energy efficiency, opens the path to a zero carbon future.


Turn Aspirations into Action 

Different people are motivated by different things — but almost all buyers will be motivated by at least one of these fantastic zero energy home benefits. Discover what drives your clients and light a fire under their interest whether it is health, comfort, control, risk management, the cost of ownership, renewable energy, or the planet — or some combination of these. Then, help them turn their aspirations into action.


Special thanks to Sam Rashkin of Retooling the American Housing Industry and Suzanne Shelton of The Shelton Marketing Group, Inc — both of whom spoke on this subject at the 2020 EEBAHigh Performance Home Summit