Everything you wanted to know about energy labeling

There are three bills proposed by the legislature concerning home energy labeling.

  • H.B. No. 5041 An Act Concerning Home Energy Affordability for Home Renters

  • S.B. No. 14 An Act Concerning Home Energy Affordability for Home Buyers

  • S.B. No. 53 An Act Concerning a Tax Credit for Purchasers of Certain Energy Efficient Homes

We thought we could give you a short explanation of what these energy labels options are and what they mean, especially given the fact there is a fundamental misunderstanding in SB No. 53 about how an energy label defines energy-efficiency.


In HB No. 5041 and SB No. 14, accepted energy labels are a Home Energy Score, HERS Rating, or Energy Star Score, with the ability for DEEP to evaluate and add more options in the future.


Home Energy Score (Ideal for evaluating existing homes and townhomes)


Developed by the US Department of Energy and its national laboratories, the Home Energy Score provides home owners, buyers, and renters directly comparable and credible information about a home's energy use. This score is independent of the previous owner's energy usage habits. Like a miles-per-gallon rating for a car, the Home Energy Score is based on a standard assessment of energy-related assets to easily compare energy use across the housing market.


A certified Home Energy Certified Assessor inspects each home and enters data points into the online Home Energy Scoring Tool. The report estimates the energy use, associated costs and energy solutions to improve the home’s efficiency. Connecticut is already a leader in providing Home Energy Scores through the Energize CT Home Energy Solutions program. A home energy audit is free to the income-eligible and just $50 for everyone else.

Click here to go to a website that explains the label in more detail.


Another alternative approach is using something like an automated energy model tool such as that used in Vermont. Offering a virtual Home Energy audit provides accessibility benefits by allowing the resident to obtain a score without undergoing an on-site energy audit. This effort mirrors those in other states, such as Vermont and New York, to create remote home energy audit solutions. With Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) support, the Vermont Home Energy Profile was created to offer a virtual estimate of a home’s energy performance and is being used as part of a mandatory time-of-listing ordinance in the capital city of Montpelier, as well as on a voluntary basis statewide. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is pursuing solutions to a remote home energy audit, one of which is a virtual pre-assessment tool developed by NEEP and partners.


Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index (Most commonly used to evaluate newly constructed and renovated homes and apartments, but also applies to existing residential up to three stories)


Click here to go to a website that explains the label in more detail.


HERS scores are based on the physical attributes of the home, and are independent of the previous resident's energy usage habits. To calculate a house’s HERS Index Score, a certified HERS Rater does an energy audit of the house and compares the data against a ‘reference house’. The HERS 100 reference home is based on a home built to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code, and a HERS 0 home is one that is zero energy. These zero energy homes typically score HERS 45 and lower when not including their on-site renewable energy.


The upcoming Connecticut State Building Code that will be adopted in October 2022 will require an Energy Rating Index (ERI) or HERS less than or equal to 55 without the use of onsite renewable energy.


S.B. No. 53 incorrectly identifies an energy-efficient home as one with a HERS rating of 60 or higher, but as you can see a newly constructed home with a HERS score of 60 or higher would not even be code-compliant. We are looking forward to collaborating to revise this bill language.


Energy Star Score (Typically used for commercial construction but also applies to multifamily residential of 20 units or more per property)


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star score is an industry standard for measuring and comparing a buildings energy performance to the national population. It is expressed as a number on a 1-100 scale. For example: A building with a score of 50 perform better than 50% of their peers.


Using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, EPA’s online measurement and tracking tool, doesn’t require a trained profession. Anyone can create a log in and fill out the required information to compute the score for an individual property. This score requires inputting energy utility data, and therefore, does take into account the previous residents' energy usage habits, but with 20 units or more this is more of an average than an indication of one individual's particular habits.


Click here to go to a website that explains the label in more detail.


The summary of the bills referenced are below for your reference and some reasons why energy labeling is an important policy for the State of Connecticut.


*H.B. No. 5041 (COMM) AN ACT CONCERNING HOME ENERGY AFFORDABILITY FOR HOME RENTERS.

Summary of the bill:

  • An energy label is required to be provided upon listing a dwelling unit for rent, except if the utilities are included in the rent, if the dwelling unit was constructed on or after Jan 1, 2000, or for a dwelling unit in a landlord occupied building until July 1, 2026.

  • Requirement will go into effect July 1, 2023 for municipalities containing census tracts where energy burden is 10% or higher, July 1, 2024 where energy burden is 6% or higher, July 1, 2025 where energy burden is 4% or or higher, and July 1, 2026 for all municipalities.

  • Accepted energy labels are a Home Energy Score, HERS Rating, or Energy Star Score, with the ability for DEEP to evaluate and add more options in the future.

  • Eligible municipalities may, by ordinance, impose a penalty for non-compliance of up to $500 for first violation, and $1,000 for subsequent violations.

S.B. No. 14 (COMM) AN ACT CONCERNING HOME ENERGY AFFORDABILITY FOR HOME BUYERS.

Summary of the bill:

  • On or after July 1, 2023, a homeowner is required to provide an energy label to all prospective buyers, except for homes constructed Jan 1, 2000 or after, an acquisition by foreclosure, or any pre-foreclosure sale for less than the amount owed on the mortgage.

  • Accepted energy labels are a Home Energy Score, HERS Rating, or Energy Star Score, with the ability for DEEP to evaluate and add more options in the future.

  • Any municipality may, by ordinance, impose a penalty for non-compliance of up to $1,000 for first violation, and $2,000 for subsequent violations.

S.B. No. 53 AN ACT ESTABLISHING A CREDIT AGAINST THE PERSONAL INCOME TAX FOR THE PURCHASE OF CERTAIN ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOMES.

Summary of the bill:

  • For the taxable years commencing January 1, 2022, through January 1, 2025, a one-time credit against the personal income tax, in the amount of $2,500 for a person filing as an unmarried individual and $5,000 for married individuals filing jointly, for taxpayers that purchase a newly constructed home with a score of sixty or higher on the Home Energy Rating System Index.

Why is energy labeling important?

  • Providing an energy label is basic consumer protection. Energy burden is extremely high in Connecticut. Requiring housing energy transparency and disclosure protects vulnerable communities that are disproportionately impacted by energy burden. The energy label informs people of the “total cost of owner/renter-ship”, and allows them to make an informed decision about which home is truly less expensive.

  • The physical attributes of a home that impact energy cost also directly tie to occupant health such as adequate ventilation, moisture, and temperature. A highly efficient home is often a healthier home, when done correctly.

  • Knowing the energy profile of a home before purchase allows the buyer to roll energy-efficiency upgrades into their mortgage to achieve immediate savings where the energy cost savings are more than the additional monthly mortgage expenses associated with the energy-efficiency work.

  • Requiring Homeowners and Landlords to acquire a home energy label raises awareness about energy-efficiency measures that can be taken to make their properties more economically stable for renters and more attractive for potential residents.

  • There are many programs available that provide incentives and rebates for energy-efficiency work, including, but not limited to, the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Energize CT Home Energy Solutions, the CT Green Bank Smart E-Loans, and the soon-to-be-offered Connecticut Affordable Housing Energy Efficiency Retrofit Grant Program.

  • Energy-efficiency work creates and sustains high quality jobs. In Connecticut, eight out of ten clean energy jobs are in energy efficiency, and we need many more to keep up with current demand and scale-up.

  • More benefits to the state of increased energy-efficiency are reduced need for energy assistance, reduced health care impacts, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions to meet our state’s climate targets.

Please feel free to comment on this post with any questions.

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