Selling a home in Bend may never be the same. It may be slightly more expensive and more hassle.
The payoff may be that Bend will be greener.
Bend city councilors heard Monday about the proposal to require a home energy score when a home is listed for sale. Many of the questions revolved around finding ways to ensure the price of a score would not get too high and that there would be enough inspectors — not if the city should implement the score.
A home energy score is like a miles per gallon rating for a home. It helps provide the public with a standardized yardstick to compare homes and estimate energy costs.
Most people probably won’t make a decision about what home to buy based on the energy score alone. But it might encourage people to make improvements to homes. To be clear, people are not required to make energy improvements under the proposed code.
City staff say a home energy score might cost between $150-$300 in Bend. The city has talked about setting up some sort of program to help people if that cost is a barrier. The fee would be paid to the assessor, private individuals or companies that are certified. Violators of the requirement might be fined $750 if they do not comply. City staff said the goal is to get people to comply, not issue fines.
Right now, according to the database of Earth Advantage, there is only one local, certified home energy assessor in Bend. Other companies do offer the service here.
One is not enough. Bend may need 10, the city says.
What happens if there are not enough? Or if the price skyrockets?
The city could suspend or delay implementing the program. City Attorney Mary Winters said that could be written into the findings of any ordinance and there could be administrative rules that allow the city to make that call.
Prices for home energy scores have indeed increased in Hillsboro, going from about $150 to $220. But city staff and members of the city’s Environment and Climate committee believe the market will adjust in Bend and enough people will be certified to provide service at a reasonable cost in a reasonable amount of time. What is not clearly defined is what the city would consider an unreasonable cost or an unreasonable time. Shouldn’t the city clearly establish that before it implements the ordinance?
If you think the city of Bend is not moving fast enough on climate action or is doing too much, here’s something else to think about. Listen to what one councilor, Anthony Broadman, said Monday about the home energy score. “I feel like this isn’t nearly enough,” he said. “I’m anxious to start having a conversation about eliminating natural gas from new construction.”
Now that would be a big change for Bend.
You can find more about the proposed Bend home energy score at: tinyurl.com/BendHES