Portland Home Energy Score – Required for All Rentals? 2023 Update.

The city of Portland’s Home Energy Score (HES) program has been in effect for five years now, and since its inception in January of 2018, almost 35,000 HES assessments have been performed (as of November 2022). A key driver in its creation was the 2015 Climate Action Plan, in which the Portland City Council identified actions to support the goal of reducing CO2 emissions 80% by the year 2050. One of those was the implementation of a home energy scoring program, and Portland became the first city in Oregon and only the second in the country (after Berkley, CA) to establish one. Let’s take a look at how the HES program has grown over the past five years.

Portland Home Energy Scores – Expanding Beyond the Home Sale in 2023?

Renters could be next to benefit from the home energy score program. According to Dirk Larson, Portland Buildings Program Coordinator, the city hopes to pass an expansion of the Home Energy Score program in the spring of 2023 to include all rentals in the city of Portland.

A Timeline of Mandatory Home Energy Scoring in Oregon

In 2019, one year after the Portland HES was set in motion, the Oregon Department of Energy (ODE) formed a partnership with Earth Advantage, a green home certification nonprofit, to manage and oversee the program. Earth Advantage also manages the Green Building Registry, a database that allows you to look up any property to find its HES report.

Milwaukie and Hillsboro

In 2020, Milwaukie, Oregon enacted its own energy scoring program, followed by Hillsboro, Oregon in 2021. The programs are near mirror images of the Portland home energy score program.

Corvallis, Oregon

Corvallis will likely be joining the ranks soon. The Energy Action Team of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition conducted research on the program and gathered community feedback for several years, and this past June 2022 the Corvallis City Council voted to adopt its own policy. Since then the energy ordinance has encountered delays in its final passage and it is not clear when it will take effect.

Eugene, Oregon

The city of Eugene has a voluntary home energy scoring program already in place and its City Council is seriously considering putting its own home energy score mandate into effect. A mandatory home energy scoring program was proposed in a November 2021 council meeting as a move toward achieving the city’s larger carbon reduction and energy efficiency goals.

Bend, Oregon

Just this past December, in a move aligned with its own climate action plans, the Bend City Council approved an ordinance that will go into effect July 1, 2023, making Bend the fourth city in Oregon to require home energy scores.

How Does Portland’s Home Energy Score Program Work?

The HES requires that most owners of single-family homes (within Portland’s city limits) obtain a standardized energy score assessment and share it publicly before selling the home. The resulting Home Energy Score report clearly displays the home’s ranking on a 1-10 scale (with 10 being most efficient) and its estimated yearly energy costs, along with a prioritized list of improvements that would improve the score. Finally it includes an estimate of the yearly energy savings if the improvements are made. Here is a sample Home Energy Score report. To learn more about home energy scoring in Portland, check out this article.

Courtesy of the City of Portland

Do You Need a High Energy Score to Sell Your Home?

Most of the time it is required, with a few exceptions. The energy score rating is designed to provide transparency to buyers and highlight ways to improve a home’s energy efficiency. It provides a level of insight into the future energy costs of living in a home and prepares buyers ahead of time with information about updates and repairs they may want to undertake. This kind of full disclosure is invaluable to buyers, and in our case we haven’t seen a score scare a potential homebuyer away from their dream home.

The bottom line is, the report shows how a home’s annual energy usage compares to other homes in Portland. If a home scores a 1, it uses 85% more energy annually than other Portland homes. A score of 10 means is in the top 10% of homes that use the least amount of energy. The average Portland home score is 4.7. A buyer can use the insight gained from reading the score report to plan for energy efficiency upgrades and potentially make affordable or DIY improvements to improve a home’s energy usage. Learn more about energy scores.

Our advice: if you are planning to make any home improvements that could impact your home’s energy performance, wait to order the score until they are complete. This way you can secure the best possible score for your home before listing it on the market.

Portland Home Energy Score Costs and Assistance

A home energy score assessment costs about $135 and takes around an hour to complete. The price may be higher, depending on the size of your home. If the fee presents a financial hardship for the seller, there is a provision that allows homeowners at or below 80% median household income to qualify for a free Home Energy Score. Here is a handy tool for calculating your Area Median Income (AMI).

If your home meets the conditions for requiring a home energy score, you must complete a HES assessment and share the score when listing your home to avoid a $500 fine for non-compliance. The City will initially send a warning notice giving a 90-day window to correct the issue. Getting your home scored by an experienced professional is a simple and much more affordable option. You can book and pay online.

Benefits of the Portland Home Energy Score Program

A home energy score benefits homeowners and homebuyers alike by giving more insight into the physical features of a home, like walls, insulation, and windows, as well as heating, cooling and hot water systems and how they contribute to the home’s overall energy usage. This valuable information can translate into repairs and upgrades that may increase the home’s value in addition to its energy efficiency and provides a clear picture of the home that is reassuring to buyers.

Home energy scores also contribute to the larger picture of reducing carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels to bring us closer to the ultimate goal of clean air – indoors and out – and water, and that benefits us all.

Put Your Home Energy Score to Work for You

We have 20 years of experience in the Portland housing market and are happy to walk you through the home scoring and listing process. Contact our office at 503-714-1111 to get started with our top seller’s team today. If you are searching for a home and want to learn more about home energy scores, our top buyer’s team is ready to answer your questions and provide you with the best possible home buying experience. Call us at 503-773-0000 today!

February 10, 2023

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.

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