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Will Austin’s new energy audit law ever apply to Pinellas County real estate?

energy-illustrationHave you thought about having an energy audit done on your Pinellas County home? If you lived in Austin, Tex., and you were planning on selling your home, you’d be doing that energy audit because the city requires it.

Under a new city ordinance, homeowners MUST pay to have an energy audit done before they can sell their homes. And they must pay between $200 and $300 for the privilege.

The new law went into effect at the first of June.

Austin isn’t the first U.S. city to require energy audits of home sellers. Similar laws have been in effect in San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif. since the 1980s. In those communities you not only have to have the audit performed; you also must make the recommended repairs and upgrades. That provision does not exist in the Austin statute.

The requirement applies to homes that are more than 10 years old. The home sellers must provide copies of the energy audits to any and all potential buyers.

A number of Austin homeowners have registered their displeasure about the new law.  Some of them don’t like the idea of having to fork over $200 or $300; others say that the energy audits may make it more difficult to sell their homes in an already challenging market.

But supporters say that the audits can find enough energy-related problems that, if repaired, could prevent the city from having to build a new 700-megawatt powerplant by the year 2020.

So far, more than 300 energy audits have been conducted in Austin. The most common findings: HVAC ducts leak a lot of air, on average double what is recommended; and attics lack adequate insulation, often needing six more inches to get up to code.

I don’t know of any move afoot to make  similar laws apply here to Pinellas County real estate. But a number of communities around the country are watching the Austin experiment very closely.

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