Is it expensive to build energy efficient houses in Kazakhstan?

22 Feb 2016

 New energy-efficient building at 106/6 Yermekova Street, Karaganda

By Saya Kakim, Communications Specialist

A common belief is that building energy-efficient houses can be costly. I wondered if it was really so and decided to do my own research.

Given that in almost all of Kazakhstan climate is severely continental, with cold winters and hot summers, people choose their homes based not only on the conventional factors, such as location and size, but they also consider  whether their prospective homes are warm enough during winters.  With urban multi-apartment buildings having no individual control over heating for each flat, energy efficient houses generally offer more comfortable living conditions.

Energy efficiency of a building could be improved by the use of thermal insulation, modern window frames and doors that prevent heat losses, as well as heat consumption controllers, such as thermostatic valves for radiators. It is a common belief that construction of energy efficient buildings involves a variety of additional costs, which add up quickly and can significantly affect the price of a home in terms of cost per square meter. Is this statement true?

Let’s look at key measures that enhance energy efficiency of houses and what effect they have on a price of a square meter. A pilot project implemented by UNDP and GEF in 2015 showed the following figures:

1.     Better thermal insulation of buildings: increasing insulators’ thickness to 5 centimeters for walls and floors, as the pilot project showed, may raise energy efficiency to class B (high) and bring heating costs down by 20%, making construction expenditures 4.2% higher, so a square meter becomes $45 more expensive. As of December 2015, an average price per square meter in Astana was $1429 USD.

2.     Energy efficient window frames are 15% more expensive compared to the conventional ones but they help to prevent 23% of heat losses. In such case the price of a square meter increases only by 0.23%-0.35%, equivalent to an increase of $2.5/sq.m.

3.     An automated heat substation in the basement of a building, which controls how much heat is transferred to a building, helps save 30-35% of heat consumption, while increasing the price by 0.04%, or $5.5/sq.m.;

4.     Installation of thermostatic valves on a radiator helps to save 5-10% of the heat while increasing construction costs by only 0.001%, or $1.6/sq.m.

5.     Other measures (insulation of pipelines and ventilation shafts, and door closers installation) add $14/sq.m. to the price of a house.

This means that the price difference between two buildings with different energy efficiency classes constitutes no more than $70/sq.m.

The price change is well justified when one realizes that building energy efficient houses results in saving more than 30% on utility costs, 35% of avoided СO2 emissions, 30-50% less water consumption, and 50-90% less waste.

Moreover, energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies help reduce operational costs and life cycles of buildings. Most importantly, energy efficient buildings offer a comfortable environment for their residents.

As you can see, the difference in price is not as big as many might think. However, benefits from living in such houses can last for years. 

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