The Energy Chronicles

Utility Costs Tied to Mortgages in SAVE Act


Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) introduced a new bipartisan bill to Congress on October 19 titled the The SAVE (Sensible Accounting to Value Energy) Act. Drafted to include energy efficiency appraisals and energy costs into the mortgage guidelines of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, this bill aims to increase the demand for more energy efficient homes.

The sought after changes to the mortgage guidelines would apply to most new home mortgages and refinancing across the United States. Home buyers will be enabled to consider operational (energy) costs when searching  for a home and would even be able to finance the costs of energy efficiency improvements as part of their mortgage. For new construction, the added value would encourage home builders to install energy efficient equipment and take efficiency measures beyond code requirements.

 

 

Some organizations and experts are concerned about the passage of the bipartisan legislation.  For example, Ross Martin (“Mortgage Expert”, author of the website “Smart Mortgage Advice.com”) argues that different families have different energy needs and that adding utility costs would further complicate an already complex process  (http://smartmortgageadvice.com/?p=940).  Additionally he and some opposed to the bill worry that by tying utility costs to mortgages homeowners who choose not to improve the efficiency of their homes would be at a disadvantage in the market place.

That’s one way to put it. Or tying utility costs to mortgages would provide an opportunity for homeowners to increase the value of their homes while simultaneously lowering their energy bills. A view shared by Alliance to Save Energy, U.S. Green Building Council, and Residential Energy Services Network, among many, who support the legislation. Overall the bill will encourage construction of energy efficient homes and it will encourage energy efficiency in existing homes,  resulting in less wasted energy and a greener community.  The bill also is estimated to put 83,000 people back to work while saving 1.1 billion dollars in annual energy bill savings (http://www.imt.org/save-act).

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