What’s a Home Energy Score?

Author Natalie Bruno | Jun 29, 2022

As of January 1, 2018, the City of Portland Home Energy Score (HES) ordinance took effect for all homes listed for sale within the Portland city limits. This ordinance requires homeowners to contact an authorized Home Energy Assessor to get a HES before listing their home. These scores are displayed in any listing or public post about a single-family home. Homeowners that do not comply risk a fine of up to $500. The HES requirement excludes low-income housing, repossessed homes, and houses in significant physical distress. Cities outside of Portland have followed suit, and now HES is required in Milwaukie and Hillsboro.

The Portland City Council originated the requirement as part of a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases, as buildings are responsible for over half of America’s carbon emissions. However, the HES ordinance does not require a home to undergo upgrades to meet a higher energy efficiency; it only requires the score to be made available. Instead, Portland’s City Council believes buyers will voluntarily upgrade their new home once they learn it has a low energy score.

How does it work?

The HES assesses a home’s energy use compared to other houses. The score is calculated by evaluating fixed assets like insulation (ceiling, wall, etc.), air leakage (think drafts), furnace efficiency, and hot water heater efficiency. Stoves, refrigerators, window air-conditioners, lights, etc., are not included in the evaluation because of too much behavioral variability. For average-sized houses, the HES assessment will usually take about one hour and cost between $150-$200. The Home Energy Score (HES) is informational only – no efficiency upgrades are required. The HES ranks houses on a scale between 1-10.

• Homes ranking a 1 are expected to use more energy each year than 85% of U.S. homes.
• Homes ranking a 5 are expected to use less energy than about 50% of U.S. homes.
• Homes ranking a 10 are expected to use less energy than 90% of U.S. homes.

The HES report details each assessment category and includes an estimate of the tons of carbon required annually to operate the house and the projected annual energy cost to live in the home. The HES report also includes a list of suggestions to reduce energy use and the house’s carbon footprint, giving an estimate of how the home would score after efficiency improvements. Home Energy Scores are valid for two years unless changes such as a new furnace or windows occur. An existing HES is updateable for eight years, after which a new assessment must be done to sell the house.

For more information about home energy score requirements and to schedule your Home Energy Score, contact one of our preferred vendors below or visit our database of contractors.

Portland Home Energy Score

Home Energy Score

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