Sen. Dawn Euer, D-Newport, is the sponsor of legislation that recently moved through the Senate, which would require real estate disclosures of home energy costs.
The legislation is aimed at giving new homeowners a better idea of what they may encounter for utility costs, she said. It would add an annual building energy cost estimate, produced by an approved energy rater, to the list of required disclosures that sellers must provide buyers.
The bill was not expected to move through the House this year, Euer said, but she explained to the Providence Business News why she thinks it makes good sense for consumers.
PBN: What would this legislation do that is not already required?
EUER: Basically, it would require energy efficiency disclosures during real estate transfers. There are a number of different ways to get that information. But the ability to get that information, especially under new construction, is quite limited. And I don’t think it’s done in a concise manner. This is really intended as kind of a consumer protection bill. So that folks are really having a good understanding of what kinds of investments have been made into a property, with regard to energy efficiency, and give them a sense as to what the energy bills are going to look like.
PBN: What inspired this?
EUER: I actually hear a lot from everybody about how expensive utility costs are. I do have a friend who purchased a home and then was surprised by the utility costs. As I dug into it, and I talked to some folks who build energy-efficient homes, I found that utility bills are often the second-highest bills that a homeowner will pay.
PBN: Has it run into opposition from the real estate industry?
EUER: Yes, the [R.I. Association of] Realtors [was] opposed to the legislation. I did ask them if they would be willing to sit down. They submitted testimony that it was going to hurt the real estate market.
PBN: Where does the legislation stand?
EUER: Realtors have since weighed in with detailed concerns about how the legislation was drafted. I’m not advocating for it to move forward in the House. But I do think it is a great bill. I’m happy to work with the Realtors to come up with a resolution as far as any of the language concerns. We passed it in the Senate. We think it is a good consumer protection and environmental bill.
PBN: Can it sometimes be hard to compare consumption from family to family?
EUER: We’re in a unique situation here in New England because we do have such cold winters and we have old housing stock. I rent, and I’m not sure there is any insulation in the walls. We obviously have all the colonial homes in Newport.
Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.