The Home Energy Report is a useful tool for home buyers. It helps you “see inside the walls” of the homes you are considering for purchase. The Home Energy Report lets you compare the full costs of owning and operating each home on an apples-to-apples basis.
During sale negotiation is a great time to discuss energy efficiency improvements as a component of the sales agreement. Costs can either be wrapped into the final sale agreement or included in the mortgage.
Benefits for new homeowners
If improvements were not made prior to sale, the Home Energy Report is your roadmap to a more comfortable and affordable living space. Depending on the mortgage lender and product you select, there may be an opportunity at the time of your sale to wrap the cost of your planned improvements into your financing package.
There are also financing resources provided by Fannie Mae and FHA that involve the Home Energy Score. With Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Energy mortgage, borrowers can finance up to 15% of a home’s “as completed” appraised value for energy efficiency improvements by receiving a Home Energy Score. Borrowers in this program can also qualify for a stretch on their debt-to-income ratios for homes that score a 6 or higher. Talk to your mortgage lender about these options. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has a similar program that allows larger debt-to-income ratios for high scoring homes. These programs reflect the fact that more efficient homes have lower operating costs. Consult with your lender for more details.
Check the score
You don't have to wait for a seller or real estate professional to show you the Home Energy Score and Report for a house. If there is a Score, it will be available on the Portland Green Building Registry. Simply enter the property address.
See a listing without a Home Energy Score?
The requirement includes exceptions for select housing types. Mobile and manufactured homes and stacked units should not be expected to have a Home Energy Score. There will also be certain instances where a home is exempt from having a Home Energy Score, including foreclosure, condemned or uninhabitable properties. These homeowners have applied for and received exemptions from the city. If you want to make sure a listing you are considering does not need to have a Home Energy Score, please email email@example.com or call 503-823-5771.
How to read a Home Energy Report
Home Energy Score. Homes are scored on a ten-point scale, with “1” indicating higher energy use and “10” indicating lower energy use. The score is comparable to the miles-per-gallon ratings on cars: it conveys information about what a house’s estimated energy use is, based on the physical characteristics (size, orientation, window types, insulation, roof materials, etc.) of the home, and its systems (heating, cooling, etc.). It does not reveal information about the personal behavior of occupants.
Cost. The costs listed in the Home Energy Report are estimates based on average use patterns in similar homes. Like a miles-per-gallon rating, actual usage and costs may differ from what the Report shows due to the behavior and choices of the occupants.
Assessment date. Exactly two years after this date, a new report will need to be pulled from the Green Building Registry prior to listing for sale. The new report is free and allows the system to update the report for current energy costs and carbon emissions factors. This report is only necessary to obtain on the occasion that the home is again advertised for sale.
Score expiration date. This is the date after which a new on-site assessment is required. The Home Energy Score is valid for eight years after issue, provided that no changes to mechanical systems, energy efficiency or square footage in the home has occurred.
Score with improvements. This is the Home Energy Score that this house could achieve if all of the practical energy improvements listed on the back of the Home Energy Report were installed. Working with a contractor or on your own, you could implement a select package of measures which achieves an even higher score.
Estimated energy savings with improvements. The amount of money you could save on energy costs each year. Please note, this estimate is based on the systems in the house and not behavior or energy use decisions of the occupants.
Estimated carbon reduction with improvements. The carbon reduction percentage is also an annual amount and is based on installing the practical energy improvements listed on the back of the Home Energy Report.
Practical energy improvements. The back of the report includes a list of recommended improvements which is customized to the data from the house. This list is limited to improvements with a simple payback of ten years or less.