Compare Portland Homes by Energy Efficiency

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Portland home buyers get to be a little pickier in 2019. In January we started out the year with a high 3.3 months of inventory on the real estate market, and it’s just a few weeks until the typical spring surge of homes going on the market brings that number even higher.

With high utility rates and the threat of climate change on everyone’s mind, many buyers are factoring energy efficiency into their decision-making process. But while it’s easy to compare the number of bedrooms or square footage of different homes, how do you tell if one home is truly more efficient than another? Here’s our real estate agent guide to understanding which homes are truly efficient — and which are just green-washed. 

  1. Smaller = better (when it comes to efficiency). There’s no getting around it, bigger homes just cost more to heat, cool and run. Longer ductwork means more heated or cooled air is lost in transit, and there’s more exterior wall space to gain or lose heat from. 
  2. Newer = more efficient (but also bigger). Energy efficiency wasn’t really a priority for home builders until the last couple of decades. In fact, a National Association of Homebuilders study found that homes built in 1999 were no more efficient than those constructed pre-1950. Then again, newer homes also tend to be the biggest. According to Pew Research, homes have grown 28% bigger since 1970.
  3. Utility bills are tricky. Yes, you can look at what the previous owner paid in utility bills, but those numbers just reflect usage, not efficiency. Maybe they had an indoor grow operation and so their electric bill was through the roof. On the other end of the spectrum, maybe they only used the wood stove for heat and never turned up the thermostat. Looking at utility bills often doesn’t provide much information about a home’s performance under different owners.
  4. Home Energy Scores can shed some light. In the city of Portland, a Home Energy Score report is required for nearly every home on the Portland real estate market. This energy report takes into account the home’s size, age, and a number of other factors affecting efficiency through a physical inspection performed by a qualified home assessor. Because the format is consistent for every home assessed, it’s a quick and easy way to compare data on homes. And, it provides a list of suggested improvements that can help the home perform better right away.

When you go home shopping in Portland, your real estate agent should be able to hand you a Home Energy Score the minute you walk in the door. In nearly every case, sellers are required to provide a home energy score. Click here to learn more about Home Energy Scores in Portland. 

Ready to start comparing homes in the Portland area? Contact our top 1% buyer’s agents today!

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