Environment

Green Energy Act for Home Resales a Good Deal

By Trey Shaughnessy
Published February 25, 2009

A mere $150 ($300 total, $150 in form of a tax credit) on transactions in the hundreds of thousands of dollars is hardly a deal breaker. If this is, then I suggest to owners, don't move to a new home the minute the baseboards get scuffed. If $150 is prohibitive then perhaps you shouldn't be selling or buying.

Real Estate Agents could use this to market themselves differently by offering to pay the $150 as an added value for choosing them. The standard fee of 6% for placing an advertisement in the Classifieds, listing on MLS and maybe having an open-house has always seemed extensive.

In an industry of professionals, who act like an army of clones, who all market themselves in exactly the same way - save for a different head ­shot - those that use the added-value of paying for the Green Audit will provide a unique selling proposition.

The home-inspection has always been an option for buyers. A Green Audit does provide an extra peace of mind knowing a home is energy efficient just like a home inspection. The efficiency will pay for itself through cheaper heating/cooling costs. This will also create a new industry and new jobs.

Lastly to the critics of the Green Audit, I want to remind them that this is for the environment, a worthy cost. They are saying that they want to help the environment, so long as it doesn't them cost money.

Trey lives in Williamsville NY via Hamilton. He is a Marketing Manager for Tourism and Destination Marketing in the Buffalo-Niagara Metro.

His essays have appeared in The Energy Bulletin, Post Carbon Institute, Peak Oil Survival, and Tree Hugger.

And can't wait for the day he stops hearing "on facebook".

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 12:12:53

with due respect for those initiatives Ryan. This is a different issue. It is likely that McGuinty will eventually put in place more Green initiatives, such as solar/wind options for homeowners and energy prices that reflect the true cost making owners want to make their home more efficient. It's a small step and an aggressive Act. Granted it's not perfect but any Green initiative will face opposition, like cap and trade.

However I'm not sure why an owner would not want to make their home efficient, windows and eff furnaces would pay for themselves eventually.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 12:32:17

Trey, we've been hearing and begging for years that the government will offer incentives for solar/wind options for homeowners. And we're still waiting. this is just plain stupid. anyone worth their salt gets a home inspection when they buy a home. it's high time the government start getting serious about green initiatives like Germany and California instead of always coming up with dumb ideas like this that only punish homeowners. I'll be plenty green on my own if the government doesn't throw up roadblocks and better yet, if they add some incentive. How stupid to charge people $300, meanwhile Stelco and Dofasco are belching out all sorts of crap whenever they please with vague responses and empty apologies. What good is it for us to create 'green' homes if they're going to constantly be covered in black soot and other poisonous toxins??

Someday I plan to do wind/solar power options in my home and even some geothermal, depending on the cost changes over the next number of years. The government should focus on massive investments into electric LRT, proper urban form and start working towards alternative forms of energy. I'd happily pay $300 if I knew the result would be getting entire towns and cities off the traditional grid. They've done it Germany. Why not here??

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By OccasionalCommentor (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 12:56:40

I'll chime in and agree with Ryan on his point of view.

Firstly, how does one deem an Energy Efficiency Auditor as legit? And by what means can we entirely be certain that their calculations on efficiency be the defacto method of testing efficiency?

I know one would point to a home inspector as proof of market, but a home inspector is not required - they are hired at your own discretion.

I've had a home inspector audit my new home and while he did point out many items of consideration, he also missed many because he couldn't modify the home in a way that would make it more clear to inspect, ie: removing drywall to find damage, inspect interior furnace mechanisms, etc.

I think the idea of an Energy Audit is great, but it should not be a requirement since it cannot be guaranteed.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 13:17:59

There is a search engine for approved auditors for the ecoenergy retrofit program http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/perso...

The other benefit when buying an older home (age of home should probably be a consideration, much like the age of cars for the clean air certification) is that a lot of that money can be recouped, as long as you aren't spending all of your available funds on the down payment.

I don't agree with making it a mandatory requirement; however, if you were, the easiest way to have that implemented is to make it a requirement for CMHC insured homes of a certain age, and to have the cost incorporated into the premium, so that the client then doesn't have to bear the cost up front.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 13:26:16

Jason it's $150.

It does beg the question, what happens when a home fails? Is it like the Drive Clean program, where one has to repair the vehicle to meet standards. Keeping with the automobile comparison, at some point a car becomes inefficient and pollutes too much, that it lifespan is over and a new(ish) vehicle makes more sense for the environment and the owner..... (so long as you don't consider the energy put into making a new car) so perhaps the furnace and windows have reached the end of their lifespan. It could also be something as simple as adding caulking.

I agree Ryan, energy prices do not reflect the true cost, but heating bills that are in the neighbourhood of $250 a month (my house is only 1800ish sq ft, i don't remember the exact sq ft) and if an owner can cut that in half with efficiency i would think that's an incentive. $1200 a year savings (heating and cooling) would pay for a new furnace/ac in in 4 years (over a lifespan of 10 years) and new windows in 10 years (over a lifespan of 25 years).

While the costs to make a home more efficient in order to sell may be great, keep in mind when the owner moves to another home, they'll enjoy the benefit that that home is made efficient too (perhaps with a new furnace or new windows). Important to remember that each buyer will benefit because the home they're moving to was a 'seller' home before you moved in, thus the previous owner had to pass the Green efficiency.

I would also argue that needed efficiency improvements that were revealed from a Green Audit could become negotiating factors. ie. Offer asking price MINUS the costs of the necessary improvements.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 15:57:39

yes, it's $150. Thanks for reminding me. Not only is this program useless, but it will cost them thousands of dollars in administrative costs and salary to send out all of these $150 rebate cheques. I'm sure the 'carbon' cost to print and mail out all of these cheques will do more damage to the environment than my old windows. This thing is flawed no matter how you slice it.

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By OccasionalCommentor (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 16:03:07

No one should point to the DriveClean program as proof of anything but imbalance.

The DriveClean program is a failure. The fraud tied to many shops because there is no definitive way to detect and ensure environmental standards and quality testing is staggering.

And to bring this inefficiency into the home and have it a mandatory requirement?

I don't think anyone is griping about $150 or $300. Chances are, if you're selling you're likely buying again, making the fee almost irrelevant.

I am a fan of making a house more environmentally friendly, energy efficient and easier on the homeowner -- but not with a pie-in-the-sky approach such as this. There is a better way to ensure efficiency, surely.

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By OccasionalCommentor (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 16:25:32

Ryan, I feel this exact way with regards to Drive Clean.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 17:06:18

ok, my fault for bringing the Drive Clean comparison into the discussion. I'd prefer we didn't get the discussion off topic. I agree Drive Clean is flawed bc virtually no car fails, and they make dif requirements for dif vehicles. eg. A Hummer could pass for meeting its emission standards, but an aged Corrolla might fail even though it has less emissions then the new Hummer that passed.

Perhaps an older home might get some accommodation in the way that a Hummer does for Drive Clean.

I would like to see opinions to my original points re: 1. The fact that home energy efficiency will pay for itself. 2. The fact that the other house you move into would've had the same Green Act standards applied to it.

and to some new points raised. 1. Government money spent domestically is circulated money and studies show that five more transactions of this money goes back to the gov in the form of taxes. ie. income tax on the income paid to new bureaucrats, income to Canada Post, income to Green inspectors, and the consumption taxes collected when the extra money is spent. 2. The fact that Solar energy is yet to pay for itself. The investment required for Solar Panels, as they exist today won't last long enough for a return on investment, perhaps that's more to Ryan's point that the current price of electricity and natural gas don't reflect the true cost, if it did then maybe solar is a ROI option. But it's the reality today. An energy plan requires both conservation and renewable source options. This is a conservation option and I'm hopeful the Feds and the Province will start to initiate renewable options.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted February 26, 2009 at 12:03:50

I'd be fine with electricity costing the proper amount however I'd seriously like to know what the "delivery charge" does. If that would actually get used to improve the efficiency of transmission lines or to research alternative energy sources, I'd be fine with it. As of now, my delivery charge is 7 times more than the charge for the electricity usage.

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