Making home energy audits the law
An Ontario legislator, Ottawa-Orleans MPP Phil McNeely, introduced a private members’ bill this week that proposed the creation of the Ontario Home Energy Act, which would require “the preparation of Home Energy Rating Reports with respect to detached and semi-detached homes and low-rise multi-unit residential buildings.”
Any building/home owner who makes application for a building permit on or after Jan. 1, 2010, would have to provide such an energy audit if they were planning to sell or lease the property. The law would extend to all home sellers after Jan. 1, 2011. The bill has been applauded by the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance.
I applaud it as well — and encourage its swift passage. What such a requirement does it build the energy-efficiency of a building into the resale price of the property, allowing buyers to pass clearer judgement on the value of a building by factoring in ongoing operating costs. Increasingly, homebuyers are demanding to see natural gas, electricity and other energy bills for a home before committing to a purchase. The requirement for an energy audit, almost like the provision of a home inspection, will put more pressure on homeowners to consider energy efficiency when they go about home renovations. It means each turnover of a property is likely to result in improved efficiency, otherwise the sellers’ property when put on the open market will be discounted against other properties with higher efficiency ratings. Eventually, these efficiency scores will start showing up on MLS real-estate listings and become a key consideration when buyers are on the prowl.
No longer should people be able to hide the inefficiency of their homes in advance of a sale.
I liken this to the early days of network computing, when initially the prime consideration was upfront cost of the hardware and software. It became increasingly clear to many corporations, however, that total cost of ownership — that is, servicing and maintaining the equipment, and ongoing energy consumption — was a much higher cost. It made sense for organizations to pay a little more upfront and save much more over the life of the equipment by purchasing more efficient and easier-to-maintain products.
This is just one example of how a single, simple piece of legislation can increase awareness and accelerate change.