City of Bend proposes Home Energy Score requirement to help buyers make purchasing decisions


(Update: Adding video, comments from Realtor, city analyst)

Home Energy Score helps homeowners and homebuyers have a better grasp of a home’s energy use

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Bend homebuyers may soon have an easier time finding out how much they’ll be spending for a home’s energy use.

The City of Bend’s Environment and Climate Committee has drafted an ordinance that would, if approved, mandate homeowners and Realtors to provide the Home Energy Score before they sell their home, which must then be shared with prospective buyers.

“So, it looks at the physical attributes of a home,” city Senior Management Analyst Cassie Lacy said Tuesday. “So what kind of building do you have, what kind of windows do you have, what types of heating and cooling systems do you have?”

The square footage of a home is also a factor.

The Home Energy Score, developed by the US Department of Energy, estimates home energy use and associated costs. It essentially helps homeowners and homebuyers have a better grasp of a home’s energy use, potentially influencing purchasing decisions.

The Home Energy Score is a rating from 1-10 that assesses how efficiently a home uses energy.

A low score of 3 may indicate higher costs that a homebuyer will have to take into account, while a score of 10 indicates greater energy savings when it comes to things like heating and cooling a home.

Similar to how you might call an appraiser to get your property assessed, Lacy said once the program is in effect, there will be authorized home energy assessors in town that homeowners can call.

The committee’s 2 pm Tuesday meeting agenda includes a link to the draft Home Energy Score ordinance and other documents.

As drafted, homeowners would have to provide it to their real estate agents, as well as visitors shopping for a new home, keep a copy for review and include the score in real estate listings, with somes.

The requirement of a Home Energy Score could encourage homeowners to find ways to make small improvements to increase energy savings, while it would also provide homebuyers with true cost information that could influence whether they want to invest in a particular home.

The city of Milwaukie, near Portland, adopted a Home Energy Score requirement in 2020, the first Oregon city to do so.

Cindy King, a principal broker at Re/Max Key Properties, said energy costs are not the highest item on a buyer’s list of priorities.

“Because we have such a shortage of inventory, that is not one of the top three or five questions buyers ask about,” King said.

However, since energy costs can be a big burden on monthly expenses, Lacy said it may draw more consideration in the future.

“So we hope that with this information, energy costs can be a bigger role in people’s purchased decisions, so they don’t accidentally buy something that is too expensive for them to afford over the long term,” Lacy said.

Many newer homes already have energy-efficiency standards.

For owners of older homes, the score may encourage upgrades, or reflect upgrades that have already been made.

Certain homes are exempt to the program.

“Ones where significant financial hardship is indicated, so for example, foreclosure sales or trustee sales,” Lacy said.

King said, “It’s going to be a new process, should it pass, I think it will add a few more steps and a lot of questions that are going to be asked by the homeowners.”

The city of Bend will open a public comment period in a few weeks to collect input about the proposed program. It will run from mid-July until the end of August.

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