As Bend prepares to launch its mandatory Home Energy Score policy on July 1st, homebuyers in the area may find themselves navigating unfamiliar territory. Understanding how to interpret and use the information provided by the Home Energy Score can assist buyers in making informed decisions. With over 4,000 homes scored in Oregon, A Quality Measurement has compiled a list of helpful tips to help buyers maximize the usefulness of the Bend Home Energy Score.
- Treat the Home Energy Score like a Nutrition Label or MPG Rating: Similar to how a nutrition label provides vital information about the quantity of calories in the food you consume, or an MPG rating informs you about the energy use of your car, the Home Energy Score similarly serves as a metric for energy consumption. The more you study and compare these scores, the more valuable they become in your decision-making process.
- Distinguish Between Energy Consumption and Efficiency: It’s important to note that the Home Energy Score represents energy consumption rather than efficiency. Just as a hybrid SUV may be efficient for its size but still consume more energy than a non-hybrid smaller car, a larger home may score lower than a smaller, less efficient home.
- Compare Apples to Apples: To make meaningful comparisons, focus on homes of a similar vintage with comparable room counts, square footage, and whether they have air conditioning. A good score for a 3,000 sq ft, four-bedroom home built in 1920 may not be appropriate for a newer, smaller home with fewer bedrooms and no air conditioning. Here is an article that explains a bit more about why two homes that seem very similar might have very different scores.
- Evaluate Recommended Improvements: Don’t solely rely on the score itself; take note of the recommended improvements listed on the second page of the Home Energy Score report. For instance, consider two homes—one with a score of 2 and the other with a score of 5. While the latter may initially seem superior, a closer look at the recommended improvements may reveal that the former only requires a new furnace to reach a score of 7, whereas the latter necessitates air sealing, insulation, and a new water heater to reach a score of 6. In this scenario, if all other factors are equal, it might be wiser to purchase the home with a score of 2, knowing that a furnace replacement will enhance its energy efficiency.
- Evaluate Estimated Annual Utility Costs: Don’t solely rely on the score itself; take note of the estimated annual utility costs. Sometimes homes with similar scores can have significantly different annual utility costs. This is particularly important when comparing homes that scored a 1 (meaning 85% of US homes use less energy) or 10 (meaning the home uses less energy than 90% of US homes), since those scores are at the ends of the scale and the amount of energy a home can use or produce is infinite.
- Assess the Carbon Footprint: Buyers concerned about the environmental impact of their new home should not limit themselves to examining only the Home Energy Score. Instead, consider the carbon footprint as well. Different combinations of gas and electric mechanical systems, coupled with overall energy consumption, can result in significant variations in the carbon footprint. Generally, homes equipped with electric mechanical systems, especially higher efficiency models, tend to have a smaller carbon footprint. Additionally, Bend’s reliance on cleaner electric power sources is likely to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels over time.
As Bend’s mandatory Home Energy Score policy takes effect, homebuyers should familiarize themselves with the intricacies of this new system. By treating the Home Energy Score as a valuable metric, differentiating between energy consumption and efficiency, comparing comparable properties, evaluating recommended improvements, and considering the carbon. If you need guidance from the most experienced Home Energy Assessors in Central Oregon, don’t hesitate to contact us, we are always happy to help.