By Adrian Duyzer
Published February 25, 2009
The requirement in the Ontario government's proposed Green Energy Act that all homes undergo an energy audit before being sold is unfair and unwise, and it disproportionately punishes people who own old houses in dense urban neighbourhoods.
It's easy to support the idea if you live in a new house. However, many people, myself included, live in old houses (mine is 120 years old).
I would love to put in a new furnace and new windows, for example, but I simply can't afford it. Half of the windows in my house are modern, the other half are not. I was quoted almost $10,000 for upgrading the rest of my windows.
I don't have $10,000 to spend on windows.
Energy audits are great big bargaining chips for anyone looking to buy a house. An energy audit on my house is going to turn up problems. When that happens, it's going to cost me a lot more than $300. It will probably cost me thousands of dollars: for a problem that if I could fix, I absolutely would.
My current plan is to make a hefty profit on my current house, and sink a good $10 or $20 thousand into my next house on upgrades, including energy efficiency. I'm not going to be in my current house for long enough to make that kind of investment worth it.
So ultimately, this could lead me to get less money for my current house, leaving me with less profit that I could apply to energy upgrades on my next house. (The argument that investments in my current home will be repaid when I sell it doesn't fly: some will, some won't. It's a gamble I'm not willing, or able, to take.)
I don't know how common my scenario is, and this act would likely force investment in green technology. But my problem is that I want my house to be more energy efficient, but I simply can't afford it. This Act has the potential to hurt me personally, not just by a little bit, but potentially by thousands of dollars.
Worse, this act is going to disproportionately hurt the people living in older neighbourhoods - the dense, urban neighbourhoods we promote at Raise the Hammer. And it's going to reward the people who are living in new homes out in the 'burbs, because those are going to be more energy efficient just because they were built later.
In other words, the fact I chose to purchase an older home in a dense, urban neighbourhood, just a few blocks from my workplace (less than five minutes walking distance) and within walking distance of almost all of the amenities I need, would be hugely penalized by this Act. My family and I would have been much better off purchasing a new home in some sprawling subdivision where I have to drive to buy a bag of milk.
This Act is unfair, unwise, and in my case, totally counterproductive.