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More than 8,700 homes received a Home Energy Score through the end of 2018 based on a new requirement within the city of Portland. Homes listed for sale must now include a Home Energy Report and the Score (on a scale from 1 to 10), which is generated through an in-home assessment. Homebuyers can use this information to better understand the full costs of home ownership and compare their choices. The report recommends the most cost-effective improvements to save energy – and money – on their utility bills.
Data from the first year of the Home Energy Score program shows that Portland homes have plenty of opportunities for improvement. The average Home Energy Score in Portland to-date is 4.6. If these homeowners implemented all the cost-effective improvements recommended in the Home Energy Report, they’d save an average of nearly 20 percent annually on utility bills. An energy efficiency improvement is considered cost-effective if it has a simple payback of 10 years or less.
Homeowners with the lowest Home Energy Scores – a score of 1, 2 or 3 – could save nearly 30 percent on their annual utility bills by implementing the recommended energy efficiency improvements. These lowest scoring homes represent nearly 40 percent of all homes that were scored in Portland.
The most cost-effective ways to save energy and increase comfort vary from home to home, but the most helpful measures help keep heat in during the winter and heat out in the summer. This includes attic and wall insulation and air and duct sealing. Mechanical upgrades for heating, cooling and water heating can also be cost-effective if replaced with more efficient models when the equipment reaches end-of-life.
Northeast Portland homeowner Marcia Norrgard received an initial Home Energy Assessment for her mid-century house and it scored a 1, even though it had a new high-efficiency furnace and new windows. However, the house had little attic or wall insulation and an inefficient water heater.
“I noticed that during the summer, my living room was getting hotter and hotter,” said Norrgard. She prefers a cool living space in the summer and knew there could be value in saving energy in the winter. Norrgard worked with local contractor Kris Grube of Good Energy Retrofit to increase her insulation levels and replace her water heater. These upgrades cost her less than $10,000 and her house now has a Home Energy Score of 7.
Besides benefiting homeowners’ bank accounts, reducing energy use in homes also helps reduce carbon pollution in the atmosphere, a benefit for the entire community.