Oregon Home Energy Score Policy 2022 Update

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The City of Portland enacted the Home Energy Score (HES) Program in January, 2018 and saw 20,000 HES assessments completed by 2020, the most recent numbers to date. Portland was the first in the state and the second in the country (after Berkley, CA) to unveil a home energy program of this type. The program came about from an earnest City of Portland goal to significantly lower carbon emissions (by 80%) by 2050.

In 2019, the Oregon Department of Energy (ODE) partnered with Earth Advantage, a green home certification program, to assist with the implementation of Oregon HES programs and share U.S. DOE best practices.

Now, both Milwaukie (as of October, 2020) and Hillsboro (as of September 2021) have followed suit, with both cities running their own HES programs.

Corvallis, Oregon to add a Home Energy Score Requirement in 2023

Adding a home energy score requirement was discussed in a Corvallis council meeting about the potential ordinance June 2022 after the Energy Action Team of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition researched the program for a few years and gathered local feedback.

On June 21st, 2022 the Corvallis City Council voted 5-4 to approve the ordinance. The Corvallis home energy score policy will be in effect April 1st, 2023.

Corvallis will likely be the next Oregon city to implement the home energy score, originating from a U.S. Department of Energy program, likely to mimic the details of Portland, Milwaukie, and Hillsboro’s existing policies.

Eugene, Oregon is considering a Mandatory Home Energy Score Policy

Currently, Eugene has a voluntary home energy score program in place, but its city council is actively researching and discussing the possibility of requiring the score.

What is the Home Energy Score (HES) Program in Portland?

What the program boils down to is that all Portland homeowners must, by law, complete a HES assessment before they put their homes on the market. They’re also required to publicly post the resulting Home Energy Score report for all interested potential buyers to see.

The report not only clearly shows the ranking of the home’s energy use (on a 1-10 scale), but it also lists costs that would be incurred to make improvements and cost-effective ways to upgrade the home’s energy efficiency.

Here’s an example of a completed HES report.

Image from the City of Portland

Get more in-depth details about the Home Energy Score program and how it works.

Does Your Home Need a Score of 10 to be Sellable?

Considering the HES 1-10 scale, it seems logical to think that a score of 1 could be worrisome to homeowners wanting to sell their homes and a 10 would mean you can rest easy. But that’s not necessarily the case.

If your home scores a 10, that means it’s is in the top 10 percent of homes in Portland that use the least amount of energy. If your home scores a 1, that means it will use more energy annually than 85% of other homes in Portland.

Essentially, the report provides information to potential buyers about the amount of energy used by a home in Portland compared to other homes in Portland. The most recent reports show an average HES in Portland to be around 4.7.

But, as we say, a score of 1 doesn’t mean all it lost. It just means buyers will have a better idea of what kinds of improvements the home might need, some of which might be low-cost DIY projects. And in most cases, having any information is better than no information. Homebuyers love transparency.

Portland Home Energy Score Fees, Fines, and Assistance

The cost for a Portland Home Energy Score assessment is $129, a $4 increase since the program first launched. However, the price could increase, depending on the size of your home. While this might seem like yet one more nickel-and-dime item to add to the list just to get your home on the market, compare it to the non-compliance fine of $500, and the mere (approximately) one-hour time commitment to have a professional complete the assessment.

When the city deems a seller in non-compliance, they issue a warning. The seller has 90 days to complete the assessment. After that, the fine is implemented.

Recognizing that the fee may not be possible for everyone, the city offers free HES assessments in some cases. To see if you qualify, use the Portland Housing Bureau’s AMI calculator tool.

Who and What Does the Portland Home Energy Score Program Benefit?

It’s easy to feel inundated by the mounds of paperwork and processes we all have to contend with on a regular basis. Selling or buying a home adds to it all. But keeping the benefits of programs like HES can help assuage any frustration that might crop up.

Portland HES Program Benefits Homeowners

One of the HES Program benefits is that it gives homeowners understand what kinds of repairs or upgrades they can make for a higher score. Whether or not a higher score will ultimately help sell the home, the repairs and upgrades can turn into highlights of the home, which may be instrumental in making a sale. Also, depending on what improvements are done, your home’s value could increase as well, allowing you to set a higher asking price.

Portland HES Program Benefits Potential Homebuyers

Another benefit of the HES Program is the transparency it provides potential buyers. Because the program is so new, it’s too soon to cite a clear correlation between the Score and home sales in Portland. However, other parts of the country with similar programs in place have found that having this transparency, regardless of the score or ranking achieved, can help move homes more quickly.

Closer to home, we found reports from Portland’s 2020 Bureau of Planning and Sustainability report, which states that two out of three home buyers check the home energy score when looking for a new home. And as we say above, for many buyers, a low HES isn’t a deal breaker: knowing is better than not knowing.

If you’re a potential buyer in Portland, Hillsboro, or Milwaukie, you can consult the Green Building Registry for HES reports on homes you’re interested in. Simply enter the address of the property. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, your agent can contact the seller’s agent for details.

Portland HES Program Benefits Portland and the World

Increasing home energy efficiency can lower utility costs for Portland residents and help cut down on the day-to-day cost of living.

It can also reduce or eliminate a variety of pollutants and greenhouse gas, which can have a ripple effect in slowing climate change. This, along with the potential for a decrease in water use can have far-reaching positive effects on the earth and its environment.

Curious About How Portland’s Home Energy Score Program Might Impact Your Next Real Estate Transaction?

If you’re looking to sell your home and have questions about the HES assessment process, our top 1% seller’s agents are here to help. Likewise, if you’re a buyer searching for your next perfect home and have concerns about the score on a home that’s caught your interest, our top 1% buyer’s agents can help. We have almost 20 years experience in the Portland metro area and are well aware of trends, policies, and requirements in the real estate world. We’d love to partner with you and make your experience as stress-free as possible. Call us today or chat with the bot on our site.

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