Energy Audit Can Raise Your Home Value

A home energy audit might not be at the top of your to-do list, but if you’re getting your home market-ready, here’s why you should make it a priority.

If you’ve ever been in the market to buy or sell a house, you’re probably familiar with a few key questions when it comes to utilities. Septic or sewer? Oil or gas? And how much will it cost to heat and cool this place?

The answer to those questions can affect the final offer, because what buyers want to know is, how much will this place really cost me? The monthly mortgage payment is one consideration, but ongoing maintenance and utility bills are also part of a smart consumer’s equation.

In other words, an energy-efficient house is an attractive house. So while a home energy audit might not be at the top of your to-do list when getting your home market-ready, it should be. In fact, in some states, an energy audit is required before selling a home.

Energy labels for homes exist — LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) and Energy Star, for example — but you don’t need an official (and sometimes expensive) title to reap the benefits of efficiency. What you do need is an energy audit from a reputable provider who can measure your home’s performance. Is it drafty? How’s the HVAC? Is the insulation effective? Think of this as the equivalent of a miles-per-gallon rating for your home.

With that in mind, here’s how an energy audit before selling a home can boost your property’s value when it’s time to sell.

1. Show you where to put the money

A home energy analysis, such as the Home Energy Rating System Index, provides a detailed report regarding energy problems and fixes. Results in hand, you’ll know where to put your home improvement dollars, making your home more attractive to prospective buyers.

2. Lower utility bills

Once you know where to make cost-effective fixes, you can pinpoint the ROI on those upgrades, large or small. Repairing caulking, say, or sealing a fireplace may be key to reduce your monthly energy bills. Alternatively, a bigger investment, such as replacing old windows, could cost more upfront but make a bigger impact on the value of your home overall.

3. Competitive advantage

A theoretical buyer looks at two similarly priced houses in the same neighborhood. House #1 has an energy bill of $1,000 per year; House #2 clocks in at $3,000. The math is simple: Over the course of 10 years, House #2 would cost $20,000 more. For a 30-year mortgage, that’s a difference of $60,000. Which is more appealing to buyers? Memo to sellers: Be House #1.