We’ve grown familiar with the idea of cars, appliances and other everyday items being rated for the amount of energy they require while in use or during manufacture (or both). When we know how much electricity a dryer uses or the fuel efficiency of a car it can help us make decisions about which model to buy. But when it comes to buying a home this information about energy use and emissions is hard to come by.
Some countries, particularly in Europe, are addressing this issue. For example Norway has had an energy rating system for buildings since 2010. Homes, whether existing or newly constructed, receive a letter grade from A through G (with A being best) which is used when marketing the home. Sweden does something similar by providing extensive details in real estate listings about predicted annual energy consumption and type of heating in place; there is even information about whether or not there are triple glazed windows (ask your browser to translate this listing)!
There are some attempts in the United States to do this through the Home Energy Rating System (HERS). The HERS system could also be not only beneficial for home buyers and sellers but for communities as thousands more people need to be trained to become HERS raters.
Emissions from homes are a source of carbon in every country, but how can we make a choice to buy or rent the most energy efficient home if this type of information is not publicly available?
Why not approach the real estate board and local government in your city or town to ask whether they are willing to get involved in or start a program that would not only train and employ people to measure this information from homes? Then it could be included in real estate advertisements and we can make an informed decision.