Many homeowners may wonder why the City of Bend implemented the Home Energy Score requirement for residential homes listed for sale. It’s because the city has a climate action plan, and the Home Energy Score is just one small piece of that plan. A Quality Measurement has performed over 4,000 Home Energy Scores and we have seen firsthand how the score gets people talking about energy savings and make a difference.
We receive calls often from buyers who recently purchased a home we assessed and are looking for advice on making the improvements listed on the second page of the report. We love getting these calls because they show that some buyers are using this information and investing in their future energy costs. I’ve made improvements to my own house and my family is now enjoying a healthier (many improvements that save energy also make the home more healthy), comfortable home that also saves hundreds in monthly energy costs. Prior to the Home Energy Score, I had no idea how easy it would be to make my 1970s home more efficient than even the most efficient new homes.
Knowing how much energy a home uses is a right to the buyer. This is the biggest purchase of most people’s life, and they should know just like they know how many miles per gallon a car uses or how many calories in a burrito at the fast-food restaurant. Not everyone will change their behavior or even pay attention to the Home Energy Score, but some will. We know that as a society we use too much energy, but it’s hard to fix a problem if you don’t measure it and the Home Energy Score does that at a very low cost.
Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions from homes and other buildings. While adoption of energy scores is growing slowly, it is also incremental. The pace of adoption is not rapid enough to match the need to reduce carbon emissions resulting from heating and powering our homes. In Bend, residential buildings contribute to 29% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
However, the benefits of energy efficiency are significant. For example, 40% of the nation’s energy goes to powering buildings and is responsible for about the same proportion of greenhouse gases. Saving energy is estimated to be the third largest electricity resource and costs only about $0.02 to $0.04 per kWh. In contrast, it costs much more to make new energy, with costs ranging from $0.06 to $0.18 per kWh for coal, community solar, and nuclear.
Moreover, homes that are more efficient do not spike as much when extreme weather hits, which means that homeowners with efficient homes are more likely to be able to pay their mortgages. Lenders know this and it leads to additional mortgage products available for owners of energy efficient homes and borrowers looking to make improvements. Further, energy saving improvements foster growth of energy efficiency retrofit jobs in the local economy while making the grid more resilient during extreme weather.
The Home Energy Score requirement for homes in Bend is an important step in reducing carbon emissions and promoting energy efficiency. By providing homeowners with information about their home’s energy consumption and ways to reduce energy use, they are more likely to make improvements to their homes, benefiting the entire community through cleaner air, fewer power plants, a more stable grid, and jobs for retrofit all from a program that does not cost taxpayers.