Testimony before the Environmental Matters Committee
HB 1331 – Residential Property Sales - Disclosure of Utility Consumption

Maryland PIRG urges a favorable report on HB 1331. For most consumers, buying or renting a home is the biggest expense they ever incur. Given the magnitude of the investment, consumers deserve to make this choice with the most information possible. Disclosing a home’s energy use is the best way to make sure a potential buyer or renter has all the information they need to account for a home’s full operating costs.

Since 2006, the price of residential electricity in Maryland has risen 51 percent and utility costs are one of the top five household expenditures. Home buyers should be able to take these major costs into account when purchasing a home, and have the right to know this information.

By disclosing a buildings energy use at the time of sale or rent, it gives a potential buyer the information they need to budget effectively and gives them the tools they need to make educated choices about the kinds of homes they can afford. Empowering homebuyers and renters with energy data will lead them to choose more efficient homes, thereby driving up demand for better buildings.

As demand for energy efficiency grows, it will be accompanied by demand for retrofits on older buildings, as owners of older homes seek to make their property more attractive in the real estate market. Updating old homes and building more energy efficient homes will lead to the creation of jobs in the green construction, retrofitting, and energy audit sectors.

By requiring the disclosure of a residential building’s energy use, we can protect consumers from bad investments, empower them to make better choices, create jobs, and lower our energy use. HB 1331 will accomplish this at no cost to the seller and will help Maryland make progress towards its strong energy efficiency goals codified in the EmPOWER Maryland Act. Ultimately, we must give Marylanders the tools to make smart decisions, and residential energy disclosure will allow us to reap the many benefits of an educated consumer.

Maryland PIRG respectfully urges a favorable report on HB 1331.