Home energy audits: A competitive edge

Green Real Estate May 5, 2010

hs-green-EldenMore than ever, homebuyers are concerned with the security of their investment, and one excellent tool Realtors can use to optimally position themselves in the market is a home energy evaluation. “After purchasing a home, the cost of running it is the largest expense a homeowner faces. Understanding energy efficiency helps home buyers not only predict but have a better understanding of what their energy costs will be,” says AnaBela Azevedo, marketing manager at The Energuy Home Energy Advisor, Ontario’s largest organization licensed to conduct home energy audits.

Home energy audits give homeowners the benefit of learning more about their house (or prospective property) by evaluating its energy efficiency and pointing the way to improvements that could increase efficiency and reduce energy costs, as well as a house’s carbon footprint. In Ontario, it helps homeowners qualify for government grants offered for energy efficient improvements under the Ontario Home Savings Program.

The audit involves two visits from a certified energy advisor. The first is an assessment of the house’s current efficiency level. The results are assessed and a list of improvements is generated to show how the energy efficiency of the house might be improved. At this point, the owner can choose which improvements to make. After these upgrades have been installed, the second visit evaluates the improvements and the energy advisor submits the paperwork to the government and applies for the grants on the homeowner’s behalf. The energy auditor takes care of all the paperwork.

The benefits vary from home to home, depending on the initial age and condition of the housing stock, and what improvements are made. An average participant sees a 30 per cent reduction in energy costs, and receives rebates of $2,250 for their improvements. Most popular improvements are upgraded furnaces, windows and insulation.

In the hands of a savvy Realtor, audits can be a highly effective tool for differentiating one’s practice in the competitive marketplace. Realtors with selling clients can instantly add value to a sale with a home energy audit, whether it’s from showing the upside for grants that a property can qualify for, or by showing the selling client how they can increase their property value using government grant money.

The National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) recently announced a partnership with The Energuy, which is providing a course for NAGAB members that qualifies for RECO credits in Ontario. NAGAB and Energuy are also developing a series of webinars on home energy audits for distance learning. NAGAB members also qualify for discounted rates for themselves and their clients, as well as preferential scheduling of evaluations and expedited reports so that the energy audit never impedes the sales process. There are also marketing support materials that assist Realtors in educating their clients about home energy evaluations.

The home energy audit process represents a huge opportunity for Realtors to add value to the services they provide their clients. While many consumers are vaguely aware of the grant program and rebates, many of them don’t know where to get information about it or how to obtain its benefits.

For more information, visit www.nagab.org www.ecoaction.gc.ca and www.energuy.ca.

 Elden Freeman  B.A., M.E.S, broker is the founder and executive director of the non-profit National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB). 416-536-7325; elden@nagab.org