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Baker bill would require sellers to provide home energy scorecard

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The scorecard would include an estimate of annual energy consumption​ and the associated cost based on the home’s physical features, such as lighting, insulation, and heating equipment. AP

To reduce greenhouse gases and lower energy costs, Governor Charlie Baker filed legislation today that would require sellers to provide home-energy performance ratings to potential buyers.

Initially, the bill would require qualified providers like Mass Save to give energy ratings and a home energy scorecard to homeowners who have free assessments done. After Jan. 1, 2021, however, sellers of one- to four-unit residential properties who list their homes publicly would have to give that information to potential buyers.

“These improvements will result in the reduction of hundreds of thousands of tons of greenhouse gas emissions and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings for Massachusetts ratepayers,” Baker said in a statement.

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito noted in a statement that this would expand upon the state’s Mass Save programs. “Energy costs have a significant impact on family budgets across Massachusetts, and energy scorecards will help families be better informed about their homes’ energy performance and how they can reduce those costs through incentivized energy-efficiency upgrades.”

The scorecard would include an estimate of annual energy consumption​ and the associated cost based on the home’s physical features, such as lighting, insulation, and heating equipment, according to the news release. The scorecards for existing homes would be coupled with recommendations for cost-effective improvements.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has ranked Massachusetts No. 1 in the nation for energy efficiency for the last seven years. The state would be the first to require sellers to provide energy scorecards to potential home buyers.

Not everyone is pleased with the proposal.

Mike McDonagh, general counsel and director of government affairs for the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, said the measure “will unnecessarily interfere with transactions,” and expressed concern about how long owners would have to wait for appointments.

Eric Berman, communications director for the association, said the measure could hurt low- to middle-income homeowners who might not have the money to make improvements. “Now the score could impact the value of the house,” Berman said.

According to association data, the number for homes for sale in Massachusetts has gone down for 72 of the last 73 months. This lack of inventory has pushed median home prices to their highest level on record. A mandatory energy audit required prior to a home being listed for sale would further restrict inventory levels at a time when more homes are needed to meet demand, the association said in a statement.

“Realtors are for energy efficiency, but the mandatory nature of this bill won’t do what its supporters hope it will,” said Rita Coffey, association president and general manager at Century 21 Tullish & Clancy in Weymouth. “The key to increasing energy efficiency in Massachusetts is through incentives and not mandates. Programs like Mass Save that provide incentives is the right way to go.”

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