When you bought your car, your car dealer told you what kind of gas mileage you would get (e.g. 30 miles per gallon).
But when you moved into your home or apartment, did you know how energy-efficient it would be? Probably not.
In a report released on Wednesday, however, the California Clean Energy Fund recommends that home-sellers be required to disclose a home’s energy efficiency, costs, and consumption to prospective buyers.
A select number of municipalities already have home energy-performance disclosure requirements. For example, sellers of single-family homes in Montgomery County, Maryland must disclose their prior 12 months of utility bills. And in recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of more comprehensive metrics to quantify a home’s energy efficiency, such as the Home Energy Score and Home Energy Rating System.
Why is transparency about a home’s energy efficiency, specifically at the time of its sale, so important?
The time of home sale represents a key “Trigger Moment” for energy efficiency improvements: home-sellers and home-owners are already making financial and property-related investments around the time of sale, and so can reasonably incorporate energy upgrades into those investments. Both sellers and buyers, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, spend 2.5 times more money on renovations within two years of sale than at any other time in a home’s life cycle.
The report estimates that half of all single-family homes in the US turn over every 12.5 years, which means that utilizing the time-of-sale “Trigger Moment” could result in significant energy upgrades (e.g. heating/cooling, duct sealing, insulation, and air sealing) for 50% percent of the housing market by 2025.
For more insights about how home life-cycle events can lend themselves to cost-effective energy upgrades, check out the California Clean Energy Fund’s full report, “Pulling the Trigger: Increasing Home Energy Savings.”