Could a Certificate Motivate Homeowners to Invest in Efficiency?

80 percent of Minneapolis’s housing stock was built before World War II, but 40 percent of these homes have never upgraded their wall insulation. After investigating barriers to completing efficiency projects, CEE’s latest report, Energy Fit Homes, proposes awarding a certificate to homes that achieve basic efficiency standards.

Existing homes need their own efficiency label.

The majority of home performance certification focuses on new construction, but because Minnesota has a stringent energy code for new homes, most of our state’s residential energy potential lies in the existing housing stock. Despite long-standing utility programs for Minnesota homes, the majority of homeowners haven’t completed basic cost-effective efficiency upgrades. Why don’t they invest? Few programs offer clear information about their energy performance or offer next steps. And an energy upgrade like a new furnace or wall insulation isn’t as visible as remodeling the kitchen - and it doesn’t add value at time of sale. Houses certified as Energy Fit Homes could enjoy shorter times on the  market, quicker sales and, over time, a price premium over non-certified homes. 

Energy Fit Homes is unique among  “green” certificates for existing homes in that it focuses entirely on cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades that can lower a homeowner’s utility bills.  Studies have shown this is the green characteristic that homeowners care most about. Most existing certificates grade new and existing homes on the same absolute scale, so even homes that perform upgrades will achieve a low score. Because climate, heating fuels, and construction methods vary by region, a state-level approach has the potential to be more effective than a national “one size fits all” approach. In partnership with the Neighborhood Energy Connection, CEE developed “Energy Fit Homes,” an energy efficiency certificate program specifically for Minnesota’s existing homes.

Incorporating the value of energy-efficiency improvements at the time of sale is critical.

According to Program Assistant and report co-author Isaac Smith, energy efficiency is not currently a very visible part of the home- buying process. 
 

“We frequently do energy assessments where people find out for the first time many years after they bought the house that they have no wall insulation, even though insulating their walls can drastically cut energy bills. These homeowners were certainly not aware of the issues when they bought the house, and unless they have a way to make their investments visible for potential home buyers, they are less likely to spend money on energy upgrades. We’re trying to add value for the homeowners that invest in efficiency, as well as for the people who will eventually buy the home. They can rest assured that the home is efficient and they won’t have any surprises later on.”


After a month of field-testing the certificate at Home Energy Squad Enhanced visits, “we’re just scratching the surface of certifying homes and gauging homeowner response. We’ll learn a lot more in the coming months.” 

Download the report to learn more about Energy Fit Homes’ certification process and the program’s synergies with other efficiency initiatives.

Views: 246

Comment

You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros

Comment by David Eakin on April 4, 2014 at 11:45am

Anna,

This program looks like it may have merit, but many questions remain. I am in total agreement on the "what" and "why" of the program, just not sure of the "how". Many details are not in the CEE report - like detailed descriptions of the 9 "pattern" homes to be evaluated against, what methodologies/measurements the initial home assessment employs, what methodologies/measurements the 3rd-party assessor uses (if remediation contractors were not BPI-certified), who these pre/post assessors will be or what credentials are required.

Since there has been a month of field testing, I would be most interested in the results of those tests, and any program change recommendations due to those tests.

Home Energy Pros

Home Energy Pros was founded by the developers of Home Energy Saver Pro (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy,) and brought to you in partnership with Home Energy magazine.  Home Energy Pros is sponsored by the Better Buildings Residential Network.

Latest Activity

Chris Stratton replied to Linda Wigington's discussion Weigh in - Honorable Mention? 2nd Base? Half-Way There? 50% Better? On the Path? in the group 1000 Home Challenge
"I like that idea. Giving people as many options to engage as possible (without overwhelming them)…"
2 hours ago
Colin Genge posted an event

Duct Testing 101 Webinar at Online

July 2, 2015 from 1pm to 2pm
•Testing for Energy Code or envelope performance •Measure a known hole to prove to yourself you and…See More
2 hours ago
John Proctor commented on Mariusz Chorazy's blog post Think Your AC Won’t Make it Through the Summer San Antonio TX? We’ve Got the Fixes
"Correction -- according to the most definitive study I know of the median life is 20.5 years. 63%…"
5 hours ago
Linda Wigington replied to Linda Wigington's discussion Weigh in - Honorable Mention? 2nd Base? Half-Way There? 50% Better? On the Path? in the group 1000 Home Challenge
"Chris Another faster option in the interim could be to post a You-Tube video on how to use the…"
20 hours ago
Linda Wigington replied to Linda Wigington's discussion Weigh in - Honorable Mention? 2nd Base? Half-Way There? 50% Better? On the Path? in the group 1000 Home Challenge
"Ted -  That is why the 1000 Home Challenge has two options for determining a project's…"
20 hours ago
Empower Efficiency added 2 discussions to the group Job Board
20 hours ago
tedkidd replied to Linda Wigington's discussion Weigh in - Honorable Mention? 2nd Base? Half-Way There? 50% Better? On the Path? in the group 1000 Home Challenge
"Immediate verifiable won't work, this has been improved over 20 years..."
20 hours ago
Linda Wigington replied to Linda Wigington's discussion Weigh in - Honorable Mention? 2nd Base? Half-Way There? 50% Better? On the Path? in the group 1000 Home Challenge
"Ted -  It is important to clarify that the OPTION B 1000 Home Challenge allowance comes out to…"
21 hours ago

© 2015   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service