Home Values and Energy Efficiency Officially Linked

As you can see from this formprovided for the use of appraisers to determine the monetary value of residential property, a variety of energy efficiency items are now considered in determining the value of such properties.

Prudent home buyers and sellers (and real estate professionals that advise them) will invest in a diagnostic energy efficiency evaluation (aka “energy audit”) conducted by a certified professional to provide them with the data that will help them to arrive at an accurate determination of the home’s worth.

Test data on simple “home energy scores” have provided relatively low numbers and have compounded these low scores by officially providing an even less chance of future improvement.

Much more weight, as shown here (bottom of page one), is given to the energy audit and the results. In the absence of renewable energy sources, the energy audit is the most positive means immediately available to home buyers and sellers to reflect the increased value provided by implementation of recommendations and reflecting the available rebates (which also are reflected in the home’s value) for such implementations.

Pass the word.

What word?

Just like a home inspection, opinions will vary when it comes to energy efficency of a home and what monetary “value” is added. Until some government guidelines appear, any auditor or appraiser can determine a home’s value at whatever he/she wants.

Again, a home that may save energy will not save money. It is all about the utility companies charging more, when their customers use less.

Soon, everyone, from inspectors to engineers, to appraisers, to hardware stores, to utility companies will all be offering “their version” of an energy audit.

Very true. There are a variety of people who sell things and are using what they call “energy audits” as sales presentations. Consumers need to know the difference.

BPI and RESNET have established specific protocols that are accepted and used by federal, state and city governments for their rebates and tax credit plans … as well as most utility companies. Energy audits performed by these standards and the computer modeling derived from them will provide appraisers with accurate and useful information … and will help the seller to clearly demonstrate how his investments in efficiency have enhanced the value of his home. Energy “ratings” or “scores” do not do this … nor do the so-called “audits” performed by those you mentioned.

Using a State certified energy auditoris the best way for a consumer to know they are getting an actual energy audit as opposed to a sales presentation, but sometimes that is not enough since some State auditors are also selling solutions to their findings.

The consumer’s best bet is to have their energy audit performed by a State Certified Energy Auditor who is not affilliated with any manufacturer or service provider that performs work that he recommends.

Will never happen. Until there are laws, such as radon, termite, and home inspections, the cheap, or free, will rule energy audits.

Why pay when it is free?

My radon business is done, since now a Virginia company is offering them for free, with free mitigation if radon test is high, to new home buyers.

All are great ideas, but there is always going to be someone out there that offers the services for free.

Already happening.

This is not a service for people who cannot afford their electric bills and need a “free” audit to help them. There are some good programs for low income families to help them.

Home owners who are looking for legitimate savings and increased home values know better than to have the window salesman give them a “free” energy audit. Those who don’t know better figure it out fast enough when every “free” audit turns into a sales presentation.

Low income consumers who cannot afford energy audits and/or energy efficiency improvements should contact their local county governments for special programs designed to help them. Even the “free energy audits” conducted by the window and insulation salesmen are going to be of little value to them. There are special weatherization programs available to them to help them lower their bills.

This post is for the public to know that there are options to assist them in increasing the value of their homes, not to argue that home inspectors need to be providing this service. Many can’t and shouldn’t.

One of these days when Gary is sitting on the couch a light bulb will come on, I hope it will be a CFL type of bulb to save that stored up negative energy from sitting around for so long…

In regards to the form, I recieved two calls today from (gasp) used house sales type persons and the questions were related to the form Jim was talking about… my heart is still futtering around from the shock of it all…:wink:

Jim, if the consumer has called me for an audit (certified and qualified) and I provide him a laundry list of issues that need improving, why would I hand him the list and leave? I was the one to crawl through the home and I have no problem giving any consumer a quote for improvements. When you say “selling solutions to their findings”, what exactly do you expect them to do? BPI does not expect you to do the audit and leave. Would I take my car to one mechanic and then get another one to repair it?

Sorry, Brad, but I totally disagree with you.

I have never … even once … seen a “free energy audit” performed by a window salesman that ever identified the consumer’s need to seal and insulate before investing thousands of dollars into his product, even knowing that it would result in a greater energy savings than replacement windows.

I have never seen a “free energy audit” from a person selling HVAC merchandise result in advising the client to first invest in increased insulation and air sealing to reduce the designed load and then installing a system of smaller size (and purchase price) after they have done so, even knowing that it would result in a greater return on their investment and greater energy savings.

Guess what the recipient of every “free energy audit” offered by an insulation company will be advised to do, first, as a result of his “energy audit”.

Even smaller contractors doing weatherization work will usually recommend (as a result of their own “free energy audit”) those products and services, first, that are within their own levels of expertise … often without regard to something that a competitor might have to offer as a better product or at a better price.

It is absolutely ridiculous, IMO, to expect someone who is providing a sales presentation in the form of an “energy audit” to go through the time and the expense of doing so … and to recommend anything other than their own product or service. It is foolish and imprudent, IMO, for any consumer to think otherwise. "Free energy audits" provided by service and product providers are simply sales presentations and their “reports” are little more than job bids. Nothing more. If there are exceptions to this, they are rare enough to encourage consumers not to count on them.

Certainly a real estate agent could train himself to do his own home inspections and provide his client with a complete inspection report on every house he sells … and offer it as a “free” service for choosing him as their real estate salesman, couldn’t he? Is that likely to result in a complete, accurate and unbiased description of the home? Of course not. I don’t see a difference.

No … a prudent home owner should receive a complete diagnostic home performance evaluation (or “energy audit”) from someone who will not be linked, financially, to any recommendation in his report … to use it as their road map as they collect competitive bids from a minimum of three contractors prior to having the work done, IMO.

Ok, I guess we can agree to disagree.

I am not in the business to provide free audits to sell a product. In my WX business, we provide an audit as a tool for US to use when we weatherize the home so we can also use the numbers to verify what we did. My audit is not a sales presentation for any material or product and quite frankly, we focus on air sealing, insulating and duct sealing only. I am all about free trade and commerce, my clients can certainly get other bids, but who do you think they trust?

This is my point … and thank you for your honesty.

You focus on what you sell. When the window salesman does his “energy audit”, so does he, and so does the insulation salesmen, HVAC salesman, and so on.

IMO, the consumer is better served by getting a complete audit that does NOT focus on any one particular specialty … but upon the entire home as a system. With a report that informs them of** ALL** of the opportunities to improve, ranked not in the order of what I sell but in the order of their greatest return on investment, I think they are better served. With that tool, they are free to seek competitive bids from several qualified contractors who can do the work.

In answer to you question regarding “trust”, I think the consumer can best trust the report of the certified energy auditor who has no financial interest in the client’s choices of recommended actions.

Thanks for underlining only. That really makes the point. I am not selling anything. I provide a service and when asked about who can do this work, I give them a proposal. I also recognize that the house is a system and I certainly include all of those items in the report. IMO, the best bang for the buck is air sealing, followed closely by insulating and duct sealing. I assume that windows on your list are at the bottom if not on the 2nd page for ROI.

When you suggest that the consumer trust the report of the energy auditor that has no financial interest, you are suggesting that there is no way that this situation can turn out good for the consumer. That is ridiculous. Trust the roofer you called? Trust the electrician you called? Trust the plumber you called? A WX contractor is no different.

If I need a new roof, I call a few roofers and get some bids. If I have minor plumbing or electrical work that I need done … I call the appropriate contractor (and for major jobs, I collect competitive bids).

But for energy efficiency advice that can encompass a range of issues that can include any combination or all of roofers, plumbers, HVAC techs, insulation guys, foam applicators, window installers, and others … I believe that the consumer is better served by an independent certified energy auditor who can objectively evaluate and recommend solutions based upon their merit — and not based upon his own limited abilities to provide some or all of the service(s).

The consumer can trust his advice and. with that trusted advice, they can select the contractor(s) that they trust to implement the upgrades.

Empowered with the information contained in their detailed diagnostic analysis report, the consumer can obtain competitive bids for the work that they select to have done based upon their own priorities.

I don’t think that is ridiculous at all. I think it is a very prudent and wise approach.


Remember that any home as to breathe to some degree. Over-sealing can also cause in-home problems, such as lack of oxygen and increase in moisture from sinks, showers, cooking, etc.

And that is actually why we use diagnostic equipment during the energy audit to determine those parameters (meet or come as close to a minimal air exchange of .35 ACHn) to ensure a healthly, safe and comfortable home whereas I see a lot of weatherization contractors who claim to be energy auditors do not pursue the safety portion of a energy audit and seal a home properly but forget about the other environmental issues that come about from sealing a home because they have satisfied their one objective - seal & insulate and/or install windows in a house with their products…

Correct. InterNACHI better teach these differences between energy audits and energy assessments in their CE’s. There is so much mis-information already about these “audits” out there, promoted by utility companies, contractors, even run-of-the-mill hardware stores.

Homes do not need to breathe, the people in them do!