Portland Home Energy Score: 2022 Update (How is it Going?)

Committed to reducing carbon emissions in Portland 80% by the year 2050, the City of Portland instituted the Home Energy Score (HES) program in January, 2018. Since then, Portland home sellers had completed 20,000 HES assessments at the time of the last Portland City Council Report.

The report also disclosed that, residential buildings are responsible for 18% of carbon emissions within Multnomah County. Considering that about 160,000 of these are single-family homes in Portland with more than three-quarters of them are owner-occupied, it’s easy to see what a positive impact implementing these assessments can make.

Portland Setting the Trend for Home Energy Scores

Portland was the first city in Oregon to require Home energy score assessments for all homes on the market before the listing goes live and the second in the country, right behind Berkley, CA.

Milwaukie followed suit as of October, 2020, with Hillsboro enacting its own HES program in September 2021.

Learn more about the Home Energy Score Program in the Portland Metro area.

What’s a Good Home Energy Score in Portland?

The scoring works on a ranking system from 1-10, with 1 being the lowest (worst) and 10 being the highest (best). According to the Portland Home Energy Score Program, for example, if your HES is 5, that means it measures up to the average home in its energy use. If your HES is 10, that means your home is in the top 10 percent of homes that use the least amount of energy. If your score is a 1, that’s an indication that the home will use more energy annually than 85% of other homes.

On average, homes in Portland are seeing a 4.7 ranking, and the process is still being refined. Over time, we’ll see how the assessments and ranking system play out overall.

HES Fees, Fines, and Assistance

Most homes can be assessed for around $125, with the price increasing with the size of the home. That’s a reasonable fee when you consider the fine for non-compliance—$500—which has been in force since September, 2019, and the time required to complete a professional HES assessment—about an hour.

When a seller is found in non-compliance, the city first issues a warning. The homeowner has 90 days to complete the assessment, after which time, the fine is implemented.

Of course, there are some situations that make this seemingly negligible fee not possible. In those cases, the City of Portland offers assistance for free HES assessments. And in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city paused the program between March, 2020 and May, 2021 to offer flexibility for home sellers facing extenuating circumstances or financial hardship.

In February, 2021, the city reported it had expanded its income qualifications from 60% Area Median Income (AMI) to 80% AMI.

Types of Structures Required to Get a Home Energy Score

Not all residential structures in Portland require a HES assessment. Single-family homes, and side-by-side townhomes do. Stacked condos, floating homes, mobile homes, and manufactured homes do not.

According to a report from Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS), in some cases, single-family homes and side-by-side townhomes are exempt from HES assessments. They are as follows.

  • Foreclosure sales
  • Trustees sales
  • Deed-in-lieu of foreclosure
  • Short sales
  • Qualifies for sale at public auction
  • In receivership
  • Subject to notice of default
  • Uninhabitable due to casualty or condemned
  • Undue hardship

Will a Low Home Energy Score Make it Harder to Sell Your Home?

Before the HES program was enacted, homeowners and realtors alike were concerned that the new requirement might impede some sellers’ ability to market their homes. Now, we know there are some positive aspects to this requirement, in addition to reducing carbon footprint and confronting climate change.

Get a Jump on Repairs and Updates

One of the benefits of the HES program is that it can give you, as a homeowner, an indication about where you might be able to make improvements in your home, which can sometimes turn into selling points once the home is on the market. Depending on the scope of the updates and improvements, it can also increase the home’s market value.

Transparency is Key

Another benefit of the HES is the transparency it provides potential buyers. While no one has yet established a clear correlation between the Score and subsequent home sales in Portland, studies like the one done in Chicago discovered that homes with an energy score of any kind spent less time on the market and had higher closure rate success. When buyers have this level of transparency, they’re more likely to move forward with a large purchase like a home.

Closer to home, the 2020 BPS report states that two out of three home buyers check the home energy score when looking for a new home.

If you’re in the market for a home in Portland, Milwaukie, or Hillsboro, you can consult the Green Building Registry for any address you’re interested in. If you don’t find the information there, let your agent know so they can contact the seller’s agent.

Need to Order a Home Energy Score?

We recommend OrderHomeEnergyScore.com, they’ve been scoring homes since the city of Portland policy began. Their prices are competitive and they make it very easy to schedule and pay online.

Thinking of Selling Your Home and Uncertain About HES Requirements?

We’ve been helping Portlanders buy and sell homes for nearly two decades, closely following trends and changes in the market. Our 1% sellers team is happy to help. We can walk you through the process and put your mind at ease about what to expect. Give us a call today!

January 3, 2022

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

4% max to sell a home in Portland and SW Washington.
4.5% max to sell a home in Salem and Bend.
Over 2,000 homes sold.