Energy e from
is a Way of Life
My fellow Californians ,
alifornia is a national leader in
promoting energy efficiency. As a
result, our energy use per person has
remained stable for over 30 years while the
national average has steadily increased.
Despite this success, we still have
much to do to reduce energy use in
our homes. The benefits are highly
valuable — reducing energy use not
only lowers your energy bills, but helps
our electricity system remain reliable,
even during high peak load periods,
while also protecting our environment.
In 2006, California established
aggressive goals to reduce greenhouse
gases that cause global warming. These you recognize what energy efficiency
goals seek to end annual increases measures have been built into the home,
and cut today’s carbon emissions and to make further improvements to
by 25 percent, so we can return to save energy and reduce peak demand.
1990 levels by the year 2020. I hope it kindles your interest in saving
Efforts to accomplish this goal represent energy, whether in your current home or
important first steps in addressing the the one being considered for purchase.
threat of global warming. We owe our Thank you for your energy efficiency
children and our grandchildren nothing less. actions that help make California
As you consider the sale or purchase a better, more environmentally
of your home, this booklet asks that sustainable place to raise our families.
W hether you are buying or selling
a home, you should consider
how much energy it will take to make
insulation or in efficient heating and air
conditioning, you may still cause high
energy consumption if you operate your
it a comfortable place that meets your home inefficiently. Behaviors, such as
needs. Not only do energy bills consume setting the thermostat higher than 68
a growing share of our household budgets, degrees during the winter and not turning
but experts now agree that the way we it down at night or when no one is home,
use energy today will have a profound or leaving the lights and computer on all
effect on our climate for years to come. the time, will increase those bills. In other
This booklet will help you words, while equipment may be operating
uncover the facts about the energy efficiently, it is operating longer than
efficiency of a home and how to find necessary so that total energy consumption
out the best ways to improve it. increases. To lower energy bills, invest in
Keep in mind that energy efficiency energy efficiency and renewable energy
is different than energy consumption. and follow energy-wise behavior.
You may live in the most energy efficient
house in your neighborhood but that
may not mean you will have the lowest
utility bills. If you increase home energy
efficiency by investing in additional
After the mortgage payment, the energy bill is often the
second largest monthly home ownership expense.
Know the Facts
If y o u a re a se ll e
r, th is b o o k le t:
Helps you determin
e if there are any
material facts that m
ay be your legal
obligation to disclose
energy efficiency of yo
hether you are getting ready to sell ur home.
your home – or preparing to buy one
Will help you identif
– disclosure of the facts regarding y energy improvemen
that may make your ts
the property is a major consideration. home more
attractive to buyers a
Sellers must fully disclose everything nd appraisers.
they know about their property that
If y o u a re a b u y e
may influence the buyer’s decision. This r, th is b o o k le t:
information, referred to as “material facts,”
will help sellers determine the price Can help you le
arn what kinds
and terms they are willing to accept. of energy inspections
want to seek before y
Can help you know
what to expect
BEFORE your first e
nergy bill arrives.
Offers tips to h
elp you shop and
compare the energy e
homes you are consid
Can help you learn
about some of the co
effective options for l st-
owering the energy b
in any home you ar ills
e thinking of buying.
Identifies resources t
o help you
finance energy impr
If y o u a re a re a l
e st a te li ce n se e ,
th is b o o k le t:
Helps you to under
stand why energy
efficiency aspects of a
home may be
material facts that b
uyers and sellers
could have questions a
How to Raise Your
Energy Efficiency I. Q .
P urchasing or selling a home involves
several steps, including disclosures
and inspections. During this process it
the efficiency and comfort of a home.
Once you have decided to buy, determine
whether to make some improvements
is a good idea to evaluate home energy- to the house before moving in.
related features to avoid utility bill When deciding to have a home
surprises. For instance, if you are a buyer, inspection, it is a valuable step to
reviewing a year’s worth of utility bills request information on energy efficiency
paid by the previous occupant may help as part of the home inspection report.
you anticipate your new energy bills. Requesting an inspection that includes
As a seller, you may decide to evaluate a look at the present energy features of
the energy efficiency of your home and the house is your choice as a consumer.
make some improvements before putting Consider including solar power
your house on the market, making it easier as part of your decison, particularly
to sell or to potentially receive a higher if roof work is to be performed. Page
price for the house. As a buyer, consider 13 describes available incentives.
Begin With The Basics:
The Energy Bill
A s a potential buyer, the energy bills of
the previous occupant can be a first
step to help you understand what your
in different ways. For example, some
utilities offer customers historical monthly
use figures online or upon request. Most
energy costs are likely to be. While sellers provide previous month comparisons in
are not obligated to share their utility each bill. Keep in mind that utilities do
bills, many are willing to do so if you ask. not release this personal bill information
If the old bills have not been saved, to any third party without written consent
the information is available to the current from the customer. This means that the
resident through the local utility’s customer seller would need to request that this
service Web site or by calling the utility. information be provided to you.
Throughout the state, utilities give
customers access to their usage histories
The energy bills of a current homeowner may not be representative of a future owner’s bills.
This is because energy use habits can – and often do – differ in significant ways. Similarly,
an energy inspection or rating report is only an estimate by the inspector or rater. Remember
to consider utility bills and energy reports carefully. Your actual home energy bill depends
not only on the energy features of your home, but on your usage patterns as well.
Making Sense of Prior
H aving the previous owners’ utility
bills makes you better informed.
Do not forget, however, that
efficiency of the home you are considering.
Your real estate agent may be able to
help you obtain this information.
energy bills are only part of the story. Important improvements to the energy
Comparing your energy bills to someone efficiency standards for new homes were
else’s can be like comparing apples put into place in 1982. If the house was
to oranges. If your energy use habits built before then, chances are that it is
differ greatly from those of the current less efficient than a post-1982 house unless
occupant, their bills could be misleading. significant improvements have been made.
A number of factors can cause these While an energy inefficient older home
differences: the number of people living may be costly to its current owner, it could
in the home, the number, age, and size be a real opportunity for a buyer who is
of any plug-in appliances, the settings ready to invest in the right improvements.
on thermostats, water heaters, pool or For example, adding additional ceiling
spa timers, and more. In addition, living insulation can cut your energy costs
habits or extra plug-in equipment such significantly, and newer model ENERGY
as a large TV, second refrigerator, wine STAR® appliances use as little as one-third
cooler, freezer, aquarium, fountain, the electricity of older models. Adding
water bed, landscape lighting or medical solar, particularly when reroofing, can
equipment can make a big difference. drastically reduce your electricity bills.
If you are a potential buyer, asking a few
key questions may help you understand the
previous occupant’s energy consumption.
Ask what, if any, energy efficiency
improvements have been made to the
home. The current occupant may already
be taking steps to reduce energy bills.
The end of this booklet contains a
simple checklist with helpful questions
for you to consider. Answers to these
questions may help you determine what
you could do to increase the energy
A $100 per month difference in utility bills is
worth the same as a $15,000 change in the sale price.
— Assuming a seven percent mortgage interest rate over 30 years.
The Next Step:
Energy Ratings and Inspections
Under California law, buyers or sellers
may request a home energy inspection.
— To view the law on energy inspections, go to:
Check “Business and Professions Code,”
and enter section number 7195.
B uyers and sellers seeking professional assistance to help them assess the energy
efficiency of a property have two distinct options to choose from. These are:
1. Home Energy Rating Services
2. Home Energy Inspections
Home Energy Rating Services
Home energy rating services use a comprehensive diagnostics and
professional to systematically inspect perform repairs and energy efficiency
and analyze the energy systems of each improvements. These specialists are
home based on a standardized scale. referred to as whole-house or home
The resulting rating is a structured performance contractors. They are
assessment of the energy efficiency licensed contractors who are trained to use
of the home which also recommends special diagnostic tools to uncover energy
cost-effective measures to make efficiency problems and opportunities for
the home more energy efficient. improvements that would not otherwise
Home Energy Rating System (HERS) be determined. They may or may not
raters are energy specialists. They can be members of the California Building
quantify expected energy use and Performance Contractors Association.
determine cost-effective improvements
for home sellers and buyers. They also
are trained to visually assess how well
energy efficiency measures have been
installed and perform diagnostic testing
on certain building components.
Energy-related features most often
tested by HERS raters include air
conditioners, ducting, and the building
envelope (including exterior roof, walls,
doors and windows). HERS raters often
use special pressurization fans to measure Photo
air leakage from duct work and/or the courtesy of
building envelope as a whole. Some check Renewable
the refrigerant charge and airflow of air Energy
conditioning systems. Others may use Inc.
heat-sensing infrared cameras to seek out
poorly installed insulation in walls, floors
and ceilings. The cost of these additional
services are charged to the customer.
In addition to HERS raters, there
are a few businesses that offer more
For more information visit: www.energy.ca.gov/HERS
Home Energy Inspections
In California, the sale of a home often While the home energy inspection
involves a home inspection. Buyers are report will contain many useful
anxious to find out everything they can observations, be aware that the home
about a property before purchasing inspector is not required to be a licensed
it. Sellers may or may not get a home contractor, engineer or architect and that the
inspection prior to putting a property energy systems inspected are not typically
up for sale, depending on local custom field-tested with diagnostic equipment
and/or the condition of the property. to verify their actual performance.
A home inspection is a noninvasive, When choosing a home inspector, you
physical examination of the plumbing, should know that home inspectors may be
mechanical, electrical and structural a member of a professional association,
systems of a property to search out such as the American Society of Home
material defects. You may also request Inspectors (ASHI), the California Building
that a home inspection include an Performance Contractors Association
energy inspection. Be sure to select (CBPCA), the California Real Estate
an inspector who has been trained Inspection Association (CREIA), the National
evaluating the energy features of a home. Association of Certified Home Inspectors
If you request a home energy (NACHI), the National Association of
inspection, here are examples of energy Home Inspectors (NAHI), the National
efficiency items that may be included Institute of Building Inspectors (NIBI) or
on your inspector’s checklist: the American Institute of Inspectors (AII).
These organizations have a code
of ethics and professional guidelines
Insulation R-values in attics, roofs, walls, for their members. To see what
floors, and heating and cooling ducts membership entails and how to find a
home inspector in your area visit:
Window frame types and
number of glass panes
Age, fuel type, and efficiency ratings of www.cbpca.org
the heating and cooling equipment, water
heater, and other major appliances
General integrity and air leakage through www.nachi.org
walls, windows, doors, and duct system.
Under California law, home inspectors may not offer compensation of any kind
to property owners and/or real estate agents for home inspection referrals.
New Requirements for Heating and
Cooling System Replacements
O ne of the most pervasive
energy wasters in homes with
central heating and air conditioning
has established, and in some cases
exemptions may apply. Find out more at:
systems are leaky air ducts. Studies Although licensed heating and cooling
have shown that in California the average contractors are legally obligated to obtain
home’s ducting system leaks nearly necessary permits for compliance with
30 percent and some leak even more. building codes when they replace heating
That’s why it’s a good idea to have the and cooling equipment, they sometimes fail
ducts tested and sealed, particularly to do so. Note that the Real Estate Transfer
if you use central air conditioning. Disclosure Statement requires a seller to
Beginning October 2005, California disclose any alterations to a home that are
homeowners whose homes are located away made without necessary permits or are not
from the coast in climate zones specified in compliance with building codes. That’s
by the Energy why it is wise
Commission, for the seller
The average home’s heating and cooling
must have their to take care of
ducts leak nearly 30 percent. This
ducts pressure the duct sealing
raises energy bills, draws dirt and air
and verified by pollutants into the home, and on hot the house if
a HERS rater days can contribute to utility outages. this was not
whenever heating done when the
and cooling equipment was
equipment is replaced. The
replaced. There best course for
are some specific the buyer is to
conditions, inquire about
procedures, and duct sealing
alternatives that if equipment
the Commission was replaced.
Photo courtesy of The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Inc
I f you are looking to finance energy
improvements, there are several
types of loans to consider.
If you are purchasing a home, you may
may still be eligible for these financing
options. Check with lenders in your area
to determine if an EEM is right for you.
Another common way to finance energy
be able to qualify for an Energy Efficient improvements is through an equity loan
Mortgage (EEM). These loans provide the or equity line of credit. Check with your
borrower with special benefits either by lenders to find out if this is feasible for you.
stretching the debt-to-income qualifying Federal tax credits for energy efficiency
ratio when purchasing an energy efficient upgrades are available through 2007 and
home or by providing additional financing may be extended. Ask your home inspector
for the cost of efficiency measures as part or rater about these incentives. For more
of the mortgage.
information visit: www.energystar.gov/taxcredits
EEMs are Utilities also usually offer financial
available from incentives for adding insulation, purchasing
the Federal a new refrigerator, or installing high
Housing efficiency heating and air conditioning
systems, compact fluorescent light
conventional bulbs, whole house fans and efficient
water heaters, as well as many other
Mae, Freddie measures. Contact your utility for
Mac), the information on their program offerings.
Veterans It may also be helpful to check
California’s Flex Your Power Web site for the
most recent information on rebates, grants,
Housing Finance Authority (CalHFA), loans or other incentives that may be
and other first-time home buyer programs. available at www.fypower.org/res/tools/rgl.html
While the median price for a home in Manufacturers also offer discounts or
California exceeds the guidelines of rebates on efficient products, so check their
these programs, many homes being sold websites or your retailer for possible offers.
The following websites provide additional information that may help
you to finance your energy efficient home improvements:
A s part of Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger’s Million Solar
Roofs Program, California has set
a goal to generate 3,000 megawatts of
new, solar-produced electricity by 2017
— moving the state toward a cleaner
enefits of going
energy future and lowering the cost of To learn more about all the b
e, visit the “Go Solar
solar systems for all consumers. Senate solar in your California hom
Bill 1 (Murray), signed by the Governor osolarcalifornia.ca.gov.
California!” website www.g
on August 21, 2006, directs the California
Public Utilities Commission and the Energy
Commission to implement the program.
The California Public Utilities In addition to rebates available through
Commission, through its California the California Solar Initiative, you can save
Solar Initiative, will provide over $2 on your new solar electric power system
billion in incentives over the next by taking a federal income tax credit
decade for existing residential homes for up to 30 percent of the net installed
and existing and new commercial, cost, capped at $2,000. Also, while the
industrial, and agricultural properties. value of your home will increase, your
The California Energy Commission is property tax bill will remain the same
managing a 10-year, $400 million program to since your solar system is tax exempt.
encourage solar in new home construction
through its New Solar Homes Partnership.
Photo courtesy of Sa
The California Solar Initiative offers
incentives for installing solar power,
taking up to 30 percent off the installed
cost of the system for a typical home!
Incentives will be paid “up front”
based on expected performance.
If you install a solar system that
produces more electricity than you need,
you can make your meter run backwards!
Utility Distr ict
The energy charge on your electric bill could
actually be close to zero since you only pay
the difference between how much electricity
you generate and how much you use.
The energy used in the average home produces
roughly twice as much greenhouse gas
pollution as the average car (US EPA).
You Can Take
Tip s to Tri m Yo ur Ga s
an d Ele ctr ic Bil l
Set your thermostat to 68 or lower in winte
and 78 or higher in summer when
are home. Turn it off when you are not a
Replace incandescent bulbs with comp
fluorescent ones. Use combined photo
motion sensor controls for exterior lighting.
Wash only full loads of laundry and use c
water when possible.
Turn your home computer and monitor o
gy bills for any existing ff
1. Examine past ener when they are not in use.
home you are conside rt
energy inspection repo Caulk, seal or weatherstrip seams, crack
2. Get a written home inspection service. and openings to the outside around window
issued by a profession
rating for the house.
3. Get a home energy t Mortgage or
out an Energy Ef ficien Close the fireplace damper when
4. Ask your lender ab ents the
gy ef ficiency improvem fireplace is not in use.
oth er ways to pay for ener
after you move in. Replace furnace filters monthly, or
required duct sealing
5. Make sure legally
specified by the filter manufacturer.
ng and air
is done whenever heati
nt is replaced. Let the sun shine through your windows i
d the winter and close draperies at night. You
pliances, light bulbs an
6. Buy Energy Star ap can also use drapes to block the sun out
electronics and follow
operating tips for your Use fans, including whole house
to complete a
Go to these Web sites
ceiling fans or portable fans in place of a
ergy audit : conditioning whenever possible.
free do -it-yourself en
Pacific Gas Electric
Plant trees to provide shade, but keep so
Southern California Ed Install ENERGY STAR® products.
ic: For Additional Tips to Trim Your
San Diego Gas Electr and Electric Bill visit:
Southern California Ga www.consumerenergycenter.org
ites at : www.energysavers.gov
Municipal utilit y webs
www.cmua.org Your local utilit y Web site, or
Home Energy Saver:
Home Buyers’ Were there any long vacations, periods
when equipment was broken or unused or
Energy Checklist other conditions that might have caused
these bills to be higher or lower?
o Yes o No o Don’t Know
Property Address: If yes, please explain:
Have any new appliances been installed or
other energy-using equipment been added?
o Yes o No o Don’t Know
If yes, please explain:
Have any energy efficiency improvements
Questions to A sk the Seller: been made to the home since it was built?
o Yes o No o Don’t Know
Are the previous occupant’s energy If yes, please list.
bills available for my review?
o Yes (at least 12 months) Are you aware of any ways that you or
o Some (less than 12 months) o No others conserve energy in the home?
o Yes o No o Don’t Know
If bills are unavailable, will you provide a Please explain:
usage history report from the utility?
o Yes o No o Occupant Unavailable Have you ever had any kind of energy
inspection at this address?
How many people were living in the o Yes o No
home during the billing period? If yes, when?
o Vacant o 1 o 2 o 3
o 4 o More Than 4 o Don’t Know Who performed the inspection?
Are these energy bills typical of what Did you receive a written report?
was being paid each month? o Yes o No
o Yes o No o Don’t Know Is the written report available?
If no, please explain: o Yes o No
Has the heating and air
What features of this home do you think are conditioning equipment
driving the energy bills up or down? been replaced?
Driving bills down: o Yes o No
Was the legally required duct
Driving bills up: sealing completed?
o Yes o No
not en ifornia Ener
dorse gy Com
manufa an m
c t u r e r, y p r o d u c t , s i s s i o n d o e s
The te r o r o r p p l i e r,
be info t in this boo tion.
rmatio klet is
d not designed to
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Arnold Schwarzenegger
Mike Bachand CalCERTS, Inc
Doug Covill REALTOR®, Sacramento CA
Jacalyn Evone REALTOR®, Oakland CA
Elizabeth Gavric California Association of REALTORS®
Robert Knight California Building Performance Contractors
Tom Pool California Department of Real Estate ENERGY COMMISSION
William Poulton California Real Estate Inspection Association
Robert Scott CHEERS® Chairman
Charles Segerstrom Pacific Gas Electric Company
James D. Boyd
Arthur H. Rosenfeld, Ph.D
Tom Conlon GeoPraxis John L. Geesman, J.D.
Charles Eley Architectural Energy Corporation Jeffrey D. Byron
Lois Kadosh REALTOR®, Berkeley CA
Lisa Walsh SDV/ACCI Executive Director
ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTORS Deputy Director
Energy Efficiency and
Steve Baden Residential Energy Services Network Demand Analysis Division
Ron Caudle Southern California Gas Company
Bruce Ceniceros Sacramento Municipal Utility District Office Manager
Beverly Duffy California Energy Commission Buildings and Appliances Office
Eurlyne Geiszler California Energy Commission Bill Pennington
Bobbi Glassel Glassel Associates
Maxine Jennings REALTOR®, Livermore CA D ale Tr e n s c he l
Bruce Maeda California Energy Commission
Ann Pettijohn REALTOR®, Orange CA Buildings and Appliances Office
Rob Schlichting California Energy Commission 11 N i n t h S t r e e t , M S -
1 - 1
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