Start a Home Energy Labeling Program
Home energy labeling programs and policies allow local governments to provide reliable, standardized information to residents about homes’ estimated energy use. In addition to energy use estimates, home energy labels can provide an estimate of a home’s energy costs, as well as recommendations for energy-saving improvements that can make the home more comfortable and less expensive to run. This information helps homeowners, buyers, sellers, and renters make informed decisions about home purchases, rentals, or upgrades they can make. Local governments can use home energy labels to promote transparency of energy information in the real estate market, requiring a label to be provided in real estate listings, at time of sale/rental, or when upgrades are made. Additionally, the home energy information that is typically collected in order to generate a home energy label can provide local governments with a better understanding of the conditions of local housing stock, helping to target resources where most needed. << Back to Main Page
Home Energy Score™: As a miles-per-gallon type rating for homes, the Home Energy Score provides homeowners, buyers, and renters directly comparable and credible information about a home’s energy use. Local governments are using the Score to promote transparency in real estate listings and drive investments in energy efficiency improvements.
Standard Energy Efficiency Data (SEED) Platform™: SEED provides public agencies and other organizations with a standardized but flexible, cost-effective, secure, enterprise data platform to manage portfolio scale building performance data from a variety of sources.
Home Energy Information eXchange (HELIX): The HELIX database was built to automatically populate real estate listings with home energy information from Home Energy Score, HERS, solar PV data and other sources when it is available and approved by the seller.
Green Building Registry®: In 2017, Earth Advantage launched its Green Building Registry in Portland, OR, where the Registry is being used to auto-populate real estate listings with Home Energy Score data to meet the city’s requirement to disclose Home Energy Scores at time of listing. The Green Building Registry has since expanded to other municipalities and states throughout the country, including the City of Fort Collins, CO, and the states of Missouri, New York, and Oregon.
Using Home Energy Score in Residential Energy Efficiency Programs: This DOE Better Communities Alliance Webinar features presentations from DOE and the City of Portland, OR. Portland is the first city to require Home Energy Score in real estate listings and their presentation provides insights and lessons learns from their experience developing and implementing the policy.
Home Energy Labeling: A Guide for State and Local Governments: This guidebook, developed by the DOE State Energy Program-funded project, Energy Metrics to Promote Residential Energy Scorecards in States (EMPRESS), provides detailed recommendations to state and local governments for establishing home energy labeling programs or policies.
Home Energy Information Accelerator Toolkit: This Toolkit helps readers interested in improving access to home energy information navigate the many resources, lessons learned, and best practices developed through the DOE Home Energy Information Accelerator. It identifies three major areas to accelerate the path of home energy information toward consumers in the real estate market: 1) Define and consolidate data, 2) Integrate data with real estate, and 3) Grow the inventory of data.
Benchmarking and Transparency: Resources for State and Local Governments: This resource guide provides state and local leaders with streamlined access to key, existing resources for developing and implementing high-impact building energy benchmarking and transparency programs in their jurisdictions.
City HELP™: A collaborative effort between Earth Advantage and the Rocky Mountain Institute, City HELP™ uses a city cohort model to provide a pathway for U.S. cities to implement mandatory residential energy scoring programs. They provide policy guidance and peer-to-peer learning opportunities, as well as support with marketing and outreach, data management, and quality assurance for Home Energy Score programs.
- Berkeley, CA:
Berkeley’s Building Energy Saving Ordinance (BESO) requires building owners and homeowners to complete and publicly report comprehensive energy assessments to uncover energy saving opportunities. Single family homes are required to get a Home Energy Score prior to sale, but may be deferred to the buyer for up to 12 months at time of sale. Home Energy Score data from the first year of implementation showed that the majority of homes scored were poorly insulated, and very few had insulation up to code. The city also found that the majority of homes scored had single paned windows. The three most common recommendations included in Berkeley Home Energy Score reports to date have been floor insulation, attic insulation and air sealing, and installing a central gas furnace. The city’s home energy disclosure policy not only provides consumer protections and critical information to residents about home energy use and costs, but is also helping the city identify where the greatest energy efficiency needs are in its housing stock.
- Columbia, MO:
The City of Columbia, MO’s municipal utility, Columbia Water & Light, offers the Home Energy Score at no cost to customers in its Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program and provides the Score both before and after energy improvements are made. Homes that achieve a Home Energy Score of 8 or higher (on a 10-point scale with 10 being best), a Columbia Water & Light Efficiency Score (which is based on the Home Energy Score) backed by a Home Energy Score of 8 or higher, or a HERS rating of 65 or lower are eligible to receive a Gold Certificate from the Missouri Home Energy Certification p rogram. Homes that can’t reach that threshold cost effectively, but can significantly reduce their energy consumption can qualify for a Silver Certificate. The Missouri Green Building Registry™ (GBR) was designed to automatically pull home energy data through an application programming interface (API) connection which can then generate the Missouri Home Energy Certificate. The GBR pulls Home Energy Score data from Columbia Water & Light (as well as HERS and other energy efficiency data from others in the state) and offers the potential to auto-populate home energy data into real estate Multiple Listing Services.
- Minneapolis, MN:
In February 2019, the city of Minneapolis passed a time of sale energy disclosure ordinance, requiring energy efficiency characteristics to be included as part of the already-required Truth in Sale of Housing (TISH) report when selling a home. This includes information on the home’s insulation, heating system and windows. Tacking the energy assessment requirement onto the TISH inspection will lower costs for both the city and home sellers. According to the City, the ordinance will “promote energy awareness among residents, allow the City to track residential efficiency, and incentivize energy projects that will help reach the City’s carbon reduction goals.” The policy is part of a three-pronged residential energy disclosure strategy which also includes energy use disclosure for rental properties, and benchmarking of multifamily buildings 50,000 square feet and larger with an energy evaluation requirement for properties with high savings potential. The time of sale energy disclosure policy goes into effect in January 2020.
- Portland, OR:
Launched in January 2018, Portland’s Home Energy Score Ordinance requires sellers to obtain a home energy performance report prior to listing their properties. The report must contain the DOE Home Energy Score, and the report must be included in real estate listings and provided to prospective buyers. Data from the first year of implementation of this policy shows that if homeowners implemented all of the cost-effective improvements – improvements with a simple payback of 10 years or less – recommended in the Home Energy Score report, they could save an average of nearly 20% on annual energy bills. Homeowners with the lowest Home Energy Scores – a score of 1, 2 or 3 out of 10, representing 40% of Portland homes scored – could save nearly 30%. The city’s climate action plan, which includes an action to require energy performance ratings for all homes, served as a jumping off point for this policy. In developing the policy, the city engaged a variety of stakeholders, including representatives from the real estate industry, energy efficiency and home performance industry, energy efficiency advocates, equity organizations representing low-income homeowners, communities of color, tenants and advocates for homeownership and affordable housing, as well as residents. After researching best practices and consulting with experts on home energy disclosure policies, the city decided on the Home Energy Score as a market-based solution for conveying previously unknown but critical information to both buyers and sellers of homes. Home Energy Score data in Portland is entered into a local Green Building Registry and that data then auto-populates RMLS, Portland’s local multiple listing service, which in turn, populates several consumer-facing real estate portals, such as Zillow and Trulia.
- San Francisco Bay Area, CA:
The Bay Area Regional Energy Network’s (BayREN’s) voluntary Home Energy Score program is available to residents in the 9-county Bay Area. A $200 rebate is available (as of June 2019) to Home Energy Score Assessors for each home scored outside the City of Berkeley, as Berkeley is covered by the mandatory time of sale ordinance. After getting their home scored, residents can get help prioritizing energy upgrades by consulting with their contractor or by contacting a no-fee, independent Home Upgrade Advisor at BayREN. The contractor or Advisor can also help customers access the various rebates and incentives that are available in the area.