What is a Home Energy Score?

A home energy score provides home owners and buyers directly comparable and credible information about a home’s energy use. Homes will be scored on a ten-point scale, with “1” indicating higher energy use and “10” indicating lower energy use. The standardized score allows you to compare different homes on an apples-to-apples basis.

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, window types, insulation, roof materials, etc.) of the home, and its systems (heating, cooling, etc.). Like a miles-per-gallon rating, however, actual usage and costs may differ from what the home’s energy report shows.

Why does the City of Portland have a Home Energy Score requirement?

Scores, labels and ratings are a regular part of how we communicate information. We consult miles-per- gallon ratings on cars, nutrition labels on food, and Energy Guide labels on appliances to make informed consumer decisions. However, consumer labeling for homes is inconsistent and unavailable in most real estate markets. Of Portland’s 160,000 single-family homes, less than two percent have an energy score. Portland City Council recognized that requiring home energy scores was the best way to provide consumers with this important information.

What will this requirement accomplish?

Voluntary home energy scoring efforts to date are a step in the right direction; however, we cannot achieve the 2015 Climate Action Plan goal to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 unless we significantly accelerate energy efficiency and renewable energy activities in the residential sector.

Residential buildings contribute nearly half of the emissions from buildings. Local government plays a critical role in making it easier for people to save energy, protect against rising energy prices in the future and reduce carbon pollution.

Why did the City decide to use the U.S. Department of Energy Home Energy Score software tool for this program, rather than EPS?

Over time, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Home Energy Score has gained national prominence. The Home Energy Score is a simple, easy-to-understand, consumer-friendly product. It has the potential to be integrated in local and national online real estate listing services. Lending products are also now available through Fannie Mae and FHA that utilize the Home Energy Score.

The City could not have passed the Home Energy Score ordinance without the years of development and investment in home energy scoring made by Energy Trust of Oregon and the State of Oregon. Energy Trust helped introduce home energy scoring to Oregon and developed EPS™. They developed the Energy Performance Score (EPS) as a means of educating consumers and providing quantifiable energy information to homeowners. Due to the emergence of U.S. DOE Home Energy Score, Energy Trust of Oregon is retiring EPS for existing homes. The Oregon Department of Energy has also approved the U.S. DOE Home Energy Score as the only scoring product that meets Oregon’s Home Energy Performance Score Standard. The City of Portland wanted to align with state standards to encourage broader market adoption in Oregon.

Are there similar requirements in any other U.S. cities?

Yes. Several U.S. cities have passed similar policies, including Austin, Texas, Berkeley, California, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Boulder, Colorado. These policies all differ in a variety of ways and none are exactly like the policy adopted by the City of Portland.

Who is responsible for complying with the Home Energy Score requirements?

The owner/seller of any home that is listed publicly for sale starting on or after January 1, 2018 within Portland city limits.

What happens during a Home Energy Assessment?

The home energy assessment is conducted by a qualified home energy assessor and takes about an hour to complete. Home information is collected during an onsite assessment, including information about a home’s envelope (foundation, insulation, walls, windows, etc.) as well as its heating, cooling and hot water systems. The data is entered into an energy modeling software to produce the Home Energy Score. Information about how residents operate the house and non-permanent house features like lighting, home electronics and appliances are not included in the Home Energy Score calculation. Home energy scoring assumes standard operating conditions in order to allow homes to be compared on an apples-to-apples basis, independent of occupant behavior.

Once a home is assessed and scored, who will see this information?

The result of a home energy assessment is a home energy report, which contains the home energy score, along with other energy-related information pertaining to the home.

The home energy report is intended to be readily available and accessible to any prospective buyer that is shopping for homes in the Portland real-estate market. The home energy score (the number from 1 to 10) must be included in listings generated by the Regional Multiple Listings Service or in postings on real-estate advertising services like Redfin, Zillow, Trulia and any other third-party services used to advertise the property.

The home energy report must be made available to prospective home buyers who visit a home that is on the market. To fulfill this part of the requirement, we suggest that sellers place printed copies of the home energy report in a prominent location in the home, like the kitchen or dining room, where it will be in plain sight of buyers walking through the home.