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.
For more information about how these financing options work and can be used to get your home upgrades done, check out this video.
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. This is the date on which the assessment was completed. If you are looking at a print copy which is more than two years old a free updated Report should be printed from the Green Building Registry to update use and savings calculations for current energy costs and carbon emissions factors. This Report is a valuable asset for any new home owner but is only required to be printed and in the home when showing 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 priority improvements. This is the Home Energy Score that this house could achieve if all of the priority energy improvements listed on the back of the Home Energy Report were installed.These are the measures with a combined simple payback of 10 years.
Estimated energy savings with priority improvements. The amount of money you could save on energy costs each year if all priority energy improvements were installed. 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 priority improvements. The carbon reduction percentage is also an annual amount and is based on installing all of the priority energy improvements.
Priority 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. There are likely more energy efficiency measures that could have a highly positive impact on the Home Energy Score but fall outside of the 10 year payback threshold.
Additional energy improvements. This list includes additional energy efficiency improvements that could have a highly positive impact on the Home Energy Score but fall outside of the 10 year payback threshold.
Interested in learning more about your Home Energy Score and Report? Check out this informative video.