According to Move.org, roughly 35.5 million U.S. adults move every year, and June through September is the peak season for home-buying.
While price is often the main deal-closer, homebuyers should keep in mind that the monthly mortgage isn't the only thing that will impact their pocketbooks. When you do decide to buy, it's essential to make an informed decision. One of the best ways to do that is by getting a home inspection and home energy audit; both processes can alert homebuyers to problems that could be costly in the long run. It will also offer more insight into the home's true energy potential than a review of past utility bills; it will tell you how the home is built, not how the energy in the home is used.
What is a Home Energy Audit?
An energy audit is an in-depth analysis of a home's energy performance and will reveal where and how a home is losing energy; which can result from any number of issues, including poor insulation, air leakage, and inefficient appliances. For a few hundred dollars (typically ranging from $150 to $250, depending on the auditor and the size of the property), a prospective buyer can request an energy audit in addition to the standard home inspection. Before requesting an energy audit, ask your real estate agent to check to see if one has already been performed. While these details aren't typically found in the standard home listing, they can often be found through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a special database for licensed real estate agents.
What does a professional home energy audit entail?
You can hire a professional energy auditor from various sources, like local utility companies or services like RESNET). The audit involves two parts: the home assessment and analysis using computer software. Professional auditors use a variety of tools to establish problem areas within your property and come up with a list of suggested measures that you can take to make your home more efficient.
Some audits use measurement scores like HERS (Home Energy Rating System). to make it easier to compare your prospective home to other homes, based on several metrics. Each detail is entered into a database for calculation of the home’s energy-efficiency score. You will receive a report stating the home’s energy-efficiency rating, recommendations to improve it and expected return on investment after the improvements are made. The detailed analysis that the auditor provides is not only beneficial to the buyer: Sellers can use this information to identify the problem areas where the home is losing the most energy and make the necessary improvements, boosting the value of the property.
If your audit results rate your home as energy-efficient, you may qualify for an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) or special financial incentives. If you or the seller choose to make energy-efficient improvements (EIM), special financing options and tax incentives may be available. Ask your real estate agent and/or lender about additional financing options.
How do I perform an energy audit on my own?
While having a professional do your energy audit is the best way to identify specific problem areas in a prospective home (and to determine the energy efficiency score), you can conduct your own audit using our homebuyer’s energy-efficiency checklist. The checklist will help you determine how energy-efficient your prospective home is, based on the information you gather during your home search. Identifying potential issues now could save you a lot of money in the long run.
Home Energy-Efficiency Checklist
The homebuyer’s energy-efficiency checklist identifies key areas homebuyers should evaluate to measure the energy efficiency of a prospective home. Print it and take it along with you as you view properties with your real estate agent. You may also want to share this information with your home inspector.
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