Minneapolis homeowners who want to sell their properties will soon be required to conduct tests for energy efficiency, a measure touted by elected officials as a step toward reaching the city's sustainability goals.
The tests, approved by the City Council on Friday, would become a part of a basic inspection already required when selling a home. They include inspecting insulation in attics, heating systems and windows and drilling a hole in walls of homes built before 1980 to check for insulation.
Council Member Jeremy Schroeder, who co-sponsored the measures with Council Member Cam Gordon, said energy disclosures will give homeowners a market incentive to make improvements to their properties.
"This is the on-ramp for people becoming more energy efficient," Schroeder said. "They have to know what they can do."
The added requirements would go into effect in 2020. Beginning in 2021, landlords also will be required to disclose the energy cost per square foot of their building to prospective tenants.
Energy disclosures were recommended in the city's 2013 Climate Action Plan. At Friday's council meeting, Schroeder called it a "first step" to fighting climate change at the local level.
"If you're thinking about selling your house, it's not just the bathroom that you should update and the kitchen you should update," he said. "Think about how energy efficient your home is, because overall that's what's going to save … the next homeowner money."
Residents were mostly in favor of the proposal during a public hearing last week, saying it would bring more transparency to energy costs for prospective home buyers.
The final version of the ordinance eliminated an earlier proposal to require a blower door test — using a large fan to check a property for air leakage. Schroeder said people felt it would be too expensive, costing up to $200 and adding 30 more minutes to an inspection.
At Friday's meeting, Council Member Linea Palmisano also asked city staff to help clear the large backlog of homeowners who voluntarily sign up for an energy audit.
"There is a lot of demand for people … who actually want to live in their homes and know what are the first things they want to address to make their own dwelling units more energy efficient," she said.
The home inspections, known as the Truth in Sale of Housing reports, must be conducted by licensed professionals within three days after a home goes up for sale. They will soon list recommendations for what a homeowner can do to improve their energy rating.