Beginning in 2018, most Portland home sellers will be required to include a straightforward home energy score and report in any public listings for their property. Portland City Council unanimously approved the home energy score policy last year and it goes into effect on January 1.
Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, a home energy score is based on building science and predicts how much energy a home will use. It also provides transparency on energy costs and can guide future upgrades, giving sellers credit for investments in energy efficiency and helping buyers to understand how their future home might perform.
To prepare for the change, real estate professionals like Megan Kavanaugh at RE/MAX are getting a head start to make sure their clients are educated about the home energy score and what it means.
“I want to make sure the sellers I represent understand and comply with the new rules,” said Kavanaugh. “I think it’s important information for a consumer, whether they are selling their house or they want information on a future home.”
The score and accompanying report rank homes on a one-to-ten scale, with “five” representing an average Portland home and “ten” representing the highest degree of efficiency. A score is based on a home’s physical characteristics, not current energy use or types of lighting and appliances. Assessors look at features like the envelope of the home, its energy systems and square footage. By law, sellers must hire an authorized and licensed home energy assessor to perform the assessment, ensuring an apples-to-apples comparison.
Local nonprofit Enhabit, where a team of home advisors has performed more than 14,000 home energy assessments and 6000 home performance upgrades since 2010, is currently scheduling home energy assessments for sellers who may be preparing to list their home in 2018. They schedule assessments for homeowners within three to five days, and complete assessments and deliver a score in 90 minutes. The cost is $249.
“For sellers, listing home energy costs may ultimately yield a higher price and a quicker sale,” said Stephanie Swanson, Enhabit’s vice president of communications. “For buyers, the score helps predict future utility and expenses. A below-average score does not mean a home is poorly built – a beautiful, sturdy home can get a below-average score. It just means there’s opportunity for the seller or future owners to make improvements that reduce energy use.”