Multiple Listing as Environmental Tool

Posted: February 11, 2012 in Environment
Tags: , ,

I was fortunate the other day to join a discussion by several workers in the home energy renovation business — the workers, not their bosses or business owners.  It had not occurred to me that because of their level of pay, they were renters.  I have been a home owner for many years, so I guess I never thought deeply about who is not going to be able to own their own home and has to rent.

The house my wife and I bought in Oregon was built in the late 90’s. It has insulation in the floors, walls, and water pipes.  It has several large windows, but they are all double pane and insulate pretty well.  My energy cost, even in cold weather is reasonable.  I think about energy cost when I get my bills for gas and electricity, but not that much between bills.

Landlords who own property to rent generally are expecting to make money on their investment.  They have to keep the property up enough to sustain the level of rent they want to earn.  But one of the hidden costs not included in the rent is the cost to hear and cool an apartment.  If you plan to rent an apartment, you definitely know ahead of time the price of the rent.  However, you don’t know the energy cost.

The energy workers were frustrated.  They were retrofitting peoples homes, but since they had to rent, there was not that much they could do to their own living arrangements.  And, they claimed they were living in high energy cost dwellings.  That’s frustrating.  But, they had an idea.  What if to be listed in the multiple listing service, a rental property had to report not just the rent, but an energy rating so apartments could be compared not only on rent, but the cost of heating and cooling.

I realized that when I have bought and sold homes as I moved, I had asked for that information in the form of the last year’s energy bills.  But it would be better if the multiple listing contained an energy rating.  You know, if that were true, market forces would suddenly come to play in favor of retrofits to save energy.  Instead of ignoring the damage that inefficient use of energy was doing to our environment, people would suddenly see the economic advantage of conservation.

So, how about it.  Do you agree?  Lets start an effort to get energy ratings on rental property and home sales, just like you get Energy Star ratings on appliances!

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