Thursday, August 7, 2014
Many homeowners schedule an energy audit during the winter months when energy bills are going through the roof yet their home is barely warm. Others call an energy specialist in July when sweltering temperatures make it too miserable to sleep. The air conditioning system seems to be working overtime, but it’s still too hot in the baby’s room. Those are all good reasons for an energy audit, but you might be overlooking another important opportunity. Surprisingly, it’s when you are buying a home!
From the Buyer’s Perspective
Buying a home is certainly the biggest investment most of us will ever make. Let’s say that after looking at numerous properties, you finally find your dream house. The next step is the home inspection. We encourage you to go the extra mile and arrange for an energy audit, too. By spending just a little bit more time and money on an energy audit, you can save yourself a lot of money in energy costs over the long haul of home ownership.
Consider this scenario. The energy audit might reveal that your dream house is in fact an old school guzzler of energy. It can still be the home of your dreams, but the energy audit will enable you to better understand what upgrades need to be made. With this additional information you can create a plan and be more financially prepared.
Although energy audits and HERS (Home Energy Rating System) have been available for years, it’s not a familiar topic for many Realtors. Buyers rely on the experience and guidance of their Realtor, but this might be a situation where the buyer needs to take the initiative. Remember that energy costs rank high on the list of continuous expenses for homeowners. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey indicates that utilities comprise 21% of our monthly household budget. That’s a serious chunk of change, so ask for an energy audit!
From the Seller’s Perspective
If you are selling your home, don’t think that buyers are the only ones who will benefit from an energy audit. If you have made energy efficient upgrades to the home you are selling, remember to present that information to prospective buyers. Based on energy costs, energy efficiency is a valuable aspect of the property you are selling. A study published in The Appraisal Journal revealed that for every $1 decrease in annual energy costs the market value of home increases by $20. To put that in perspective, if you knocked $300 off your annual energy costs that could increase the value of your home by $6000. Sellers should keep those numbers in mind and market their home accordingly!
The Times They Are a Changin’
Many industry experts believe that an energy audit contingency clause should be part of the home inspection process. In fact, some towns are starting to make this a requirement. Since 2009, Austin, TX has been requiring sellers to conduct an energy audit and disclose the results before selling their property. The ordinance doesn’t require the seller to perform a retrofit; it simply delivers a “big picture” of the property to the prospective buyer. Why? Austin made a commitment to saving energy by encouraging the retrofits of homes through continuing energy efficiency outreach and education. The city assists home owners by identifying low-cost energy saving opportunities in addition to providing financial and technical resources. Austin, in addition to Seattle, San Francisco and New York, were amongst the first, but more cities are making a commitment to energy efficiency. Yes, the times they are a changin’!