Bend’s Home Energy Score Program Begins July 1st
Written by Matthew Schrader-Patton
In the fall of 2022, the Home Energy Score Program was passed by the Bend City Council. In short, this program will require homeowners to have their homes scored if they wish to put the house up for sale. The score indicates the efficiency of a house’s energy usage, and helps homeowners, current and potential, understand the full cost of the house.
So, what does this mean for Bend? We’ve answered a few frequently asked questions below, with the help of some local experts.
How does this benefit me as a homeowner?
It all comes down to transparency. A Home Energy Score will inform you of the true cost of your new home, so you’ll be able to better anticipate power bills. An HES will also provide you with optional steps you can take to improve your score, which, if taken, will increase your home’s value, improve the comfort of your home, and save you money over time. Bend residential design, building, and development expert Peter Grube likens a Home Energy Score’s affect on a house’s value to a kitchen remodel, “[making] home performance improvements ‘visible’”, but with a key difference; “home performance improvements will lower a homeowner’s cost of ownership on a monthly basis and increase comfort on a daily basis.”
Grube describes the Home Energy Score as a MPG for houses; it helps homeowners know how much they can expect to spend on energy, and how different houses differ from one another.
Having a Home Energy Score for every home will allow homeowners to be more informed, comfortable, and save money.
What does this change about the homebuying process?
If you are in the market to buy a new home, you will be able to make an apples to apples comparison of the energy use of homes on the market in Bend. This is much more accurate than comparing utility bills without knowing about the behaviors of the occupants and whether they were energy hogs or heros and how that might compare to your own behavior. With your estimated monthly energy budget in hand, you can include it in your calculations to know what you can afford without having high energy bills sprung on you at the beginning of the heating season.
The scorecards will be available so that you can see a list of the priority energy improvements for each home to get an idea of the scale and potential cost of upgrades. You can use the scores to compare the recommended upgrades and see if you might be able to increase the score and efficiency of a home that may be priced for less on the market! The scores are meant to increase transparency and give you additional tools to make informed choices in the homebuying process.
What does this change about the home selling process?
If your home does not already have an up-to-date Home Energy Score, you’ll be required to obtain one via inspection. After you have your score, you can decide if you would like to improve your score by making any of the recommended renovations or move forward with listing your home. It is not required to complete any of the priority improvements in order to list and sell your home.
The score will be visible to buyers and likely be factored into their decision to purchase. The transparency that this process grants, shows interested buyers what their options are to increase the score and what their energy savings would be should they be interested in making improvements. Buyers would have another way they can compare houses, and get a full picture of costs down the road. According to Grube, the Home Energy Score is standardized by the U.S Department of Energy, so scores can be compared throughout the country, not just in Bend.
How is a Home Energy Score different from a home inspection?
The Home Energy Score offers more to homeowners than a regular home inspection. John Schwencke, a local Home Inspector with experience in completing Home Energy Scores assessments and generating HES reports, points out a few ways the Home Energy Score program goes further than a standard home inspection. First, an HES looks at more variables than a home inspection, such as square footage, number of rooms, and local climate. Second, an HES is more objective and standardized compared to a home inspection, in which “the inspector has the subjectivity to communicate the condition of the issues from their own point of view.” The Home Energy Score, however, is generated using software directly from the U.S Department of Energy after various issues and qualities of the home are documented by the inspector obtaining the HES. Third, Schwencke describes how an HES goes further by not only offering solutions to problems and the cost of the solutions, but also by offering the estimated returns on the investment in repairs.
The Home Energy score is a detailed, objective, standardized inspection that can tell you how repairs will change your energy bill.
When will the Home Energy Score Program go into effect?
The Home Energy Score Program will go into effect on July 1st, 2023.
Where can I learn more?
You can learn more on the City of Bend’s website. Stay tuned for more opportunities to learn more about the HES from The Environmental Center. City of Bend and The Environmental Center.
The passing of the HES in Bend is a great step towards building climate resilience, and is in part due to the voices of support from community members like you. Are you interested in learning more about our advocacy work locally and beyond? Visit envirocenter.org/advocacy to stay up to date on the latest action alerts and ways to get involved.