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ECAD and Energy Audits: What You Need to Know

August 14, 2015

Posted in: Real Estate

What is ECAD?

The Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure Ordinance (ECAD) was approved in November 2008, and went into effect in June 2009. The primary purpose of the ordinance is to promote energy efficiency by identifying potential energy savings in homes, businesses, and multifamily properties.

How does this affect buyers and sellers?

While homeowners can have an energy audit done at any time whether or not their house is on the market, they must obtain one before the sale of their home if these three conditions apply to the property: it’s within the Austin Energy service area, it’s within the Austin city limits, and it’s 10 years or older. This includes single family homes (including townhomes), duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and condominiums.

It is possible to be exempt from the ECAD disclosure requirements. Some conditions include making energy efficiency improvements through Austin Energy programs, manufactured homes built on a permanent chassis and designed for use without a permanent foundation, and certain ownership changes or title transfers. There are also some cases where a seller could qualify for a variance if the buyer meets certain conditions, such as plans to demolish or substantially remodel the home.

An energy audit is required, now what?

If a home meets all of the above criteria and an audit is required, a certified ECAD Energy Professional must be hired to conduct the audit. Auditors set their own prices, but the estimated cost is about $200 to $300 for a typical single-family home 1,800 square feet or smaller with one air conditioning system. Austin Energy recommends getting at least three estimates and checking references before choosing someone to perform the audit.

What does the audit cover?

The ECAD Energy Professional will inspect and measure the attic insulation in multiple areas. They also pressure test the duct system and assess its condition and adequacy. They’ll examine heating and cooling equipment, and inspect weather stripping around exterior doors, plumbing penetrations beneath sinks, and air tightness of attic entries. They also will identify and measure the amount of glass in windows that receive more than one hour of direct sunlight each day. An ECAD audit generally takes about one hour per 1,000 sq ft of property.

Do improvements have to be made based on the results?

Homeowners are required by law to obtain an audit for their property if necessary, with fines ranging from $500 to $2,000 and a Class C misdemeanor for non-compliance; however they are not required to make any energy efficiency improvements based on the results. If an owner decides they want to make improvements, Austin Energy provides various energy efficiency improvement incentives that help pay for upgrades.

Does a property require a new audit every time it’s sold?

Energy audits are good for 10 years, so the same audit can be used for multiple transactions on the same property as long as they fall within that 10 year period.

Austin Energy has more information about ECAD on their website, including information regarding commercial and multifamily properties. They can also be reached by phone at 512-482-5346 or email to answer any questions.

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