Beginning January 1, 2018, sellers of single family homes in Portland will be required to obtain and disclose a Home Energy Score. Portland City Council unanimously passed this policy in 2016 in an effort to achieve goals set in the 2015 Climate Action Plan and to protect consumers in one of the biggest financial investments most people will ever make.
How It Works:
Prior to listing a home for sale, the seller must contact an authorized Home Energy Assessor to get a Home Energy Score and Report. Home Energy Assessors must be authorized by The City of Portland. The City manages the authorization of Assessors and holds a list of Assessors who have completed the necessary steps in the authorization process. As of now, there are 30-35 authorized Assessors, with the goal of 80 by Summer 2018.
An Assessor will come to the home and complete their assessment. An assessment takes about 1-1.5 hours and cost $150-$250 depending on the size and complexity of the home. The Assessor will collect over 70 pieces of information during the assessment, including: foundation, insulation, walls, windows, heating, cooling and hot water systems. The assessment is conducted only on “conditioned space”– the area of the home that is lived in and is in contact with mechanical systems such as cooling and heating. Unconditioned space, not part of the assessment, includes areas such as unfinished basements and garages. Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs are also not counted in the assessment. Therefore, the generated report could reflect less square feet than the home’s total.
The collected information is entered into energy modeling software and a score is produced. The Home Energy Score will be available on the Green Building Registry soon after the assessment is complete. The Green Building Registry is open to the public. Anyone can enter a home’s address and view the score. The City of Portland partnered with the US Department of Energy to use the Home Energy Score and software as the official scoring system in Portland.
Note: The Home Energy Score is a measurement of the energy efficiency of a home based on the physical characteristics of the house. The Score is not a measurement of the household’s actual energy usage, which is influenced by occupant behavior. For example, the Score does not reflect how a resident uses energy such as lights or appliances.
The Home Energy Score is a number between 1 and 10, one being the least energy efficient and ten being the most energy efficient. Keep in mind the score is only a number. There is no required action once the score is generated. All the seller must do is provide the report in any listing or public posting about the home.
Don’t fear if your is score low. It doesn’t mean your home is poorly built. A low score is more common in larger homes or homes with limited or no insulation. What’s really cool about the Report is that it also includes a list of Practical Energy Improvements that can be completed if desired. Say you have a low score and want to bump it up prior to sale, you can follow some of the recommended energy improvements and advertise the upgrades during the sale of your home. Or say you have a high score, this can be highlighted when marketing the sale of your home.
More You Should Know:
The Home Energy Score is valid for 8 years.
If there are any improvements made on the home after the Report is complete, an assessor must come back to the home and conduct a new assessment. Don’t worry, the new assessment will only be conducted on the areas that have been improved. This new information will be entered into the energy modeling software, along with the previous assessment’s findings, and a new Score and Report will be generated. Check with your assessor to determine if they will charge an additional fee for a new Score and Report.
If you decide to list your home without a Home Energy Score, you will be subject to penalties. If your household income is low, you can qualify to have the assessment costs covered by the City of Portland.
The Take Away:
Some fear the Score will affect the sale price of their home. This is very unlikely in the next few years. The Home Energy Score is more likely to increase the value of your home over time by encouraging people to invest in home energy upgrades.
For buyers, the Home Energy Score lets you know the costs of owning and operating the home. When negotiating a sale, the Home Energy Score is a great tool to have to discuss energy efficiency improvements as a component of the sales agreement.
Perhaps you aren’t looking to sell but just simply want to invest in your home’s energy efficiency. The assessment is a great way to better understand the improvements you can make to your home.
The Home Energy Score may seem like another complicated component to buying or selling a home. Although it is an added step in the process, the City of Portland has created a system that couldn’t be more simple. The Home Energy Score is not only an investment in your home, but also an investment in the health and well-being of you, your family and the environment.
ARW is here to help! Contact us with any questions or concerns. And look out for the video of a Home Energy Score assessment being done at our house in January.
For those who want to get this done sooner rather than later, Enhabit is a trusted nonprofit and registered Home Energy Assessor. They are offering 25% off if you schedule an assessment by 12/31/17!
Sample Home Energy Score: