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Ontario's Environmental Commissioner Speaks out on Home Energy Consumption

By Allison Halliday | June 14, 2012
  • Ontario's Environmental Commissioner, Gord Miller has spoken out about the need for better protection for home buyers.

    Green energy
    Image by Truthout.org via flickr

    His recently released his Annual Energy Conservation Progress Report has tracked Ontario's efforts to conserve energy. It takes an in-depth look at the government conservation promises in the Green Energy Act which was passed three years ago. One of these was the requirement for home energy information to be made available when a property is put up for sale.

    This energy audit rating was all supposed to be part of a plan to encourage energy conservation. An energy audit would give potential homebuyers the information they needed to know, as to whether or not their new home will be energy efficient. The most recent Statistics Canada data for 2009 shows the average Ontario household spent $2,500 a year on electricity, fuel and water. It's not uncommon for some houses to require double the amount of energy than average.

    Despite revisions to the original legislation to accommodate realtors concerns, the government still hasn't taken action. Miller argues that a high-efficiency house should be worth more on the general market than a lower energy house in order to reflect the higher bills the householder will incur. He thinks this energy rating would alert buyers to the energy needs, and that they would factor this into their purchase decision. Another important consideration is that people may be able to recover any investment into efficiency upgrades with a higher resale value when they come to sell up.

    Energy audits for homes are nothing new, as the European Union requires its member states to comply with its legislation. Homes cannot be put on the market before an energy audit has been compiled, and it's readily available for potential purchasers to view. Austin, Texas also requires an energy audit to be completed prior to purchase. The capital region of Australia requires energy disclosure for all existing homes at the time of sale.

    Miller is asking prospective homebuyers to let their realtor know that it's important to them to have information on the homes energy consumption. He is suggesting that homebuyers schedule their own energy audit with a professional in order to choose a home with a better energy rating.

    All of this certainly makes sense, but buying a home can be partly based on emotions. Unless the savings are significant, or home is a complete energy sieve, I'm not convinced it would make a significant difference to a home purchaser’s decision, but at least forearmed is forewarned.

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