ECAD for Residential Homes
Why the Energy Conservation and Disclosure (ECAD) ordinance?
ECAD improves energy efficiency by requiring energy disclosures that uncover energy improvement opportunities. Residential customers must have an energy audit conducted on their homes prior to sale if their homes are 10 years old or older.
What is a residential building?
The Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure (ECAD) ordinance defines a residential building as having four or fewer units.
Do I need an ECAD audit if I get my electricity from Austin Energy but live outside the city limits?
No. The ECAD ordinance applies only to properties within the Austin city limits that receive electricity from Austin Energy.
Is my condominium affected by the ordinance?
Yes. Individual owners selling their condominium must have an energy audit done as a residential customer under the ECAD ordinance.
How old must my home be to require an ECAD audit if I sell it?
Residential homes 10 years old or older may require an ECAD audit before being sold. ECAD calculates the age of the property by using the calendar year of construction as determined by the county appraisal district.
Who performs the ECAD audit?
The ECAD audit must be performed by an auditor who is a certified Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) Rater or a Building Performance Institute (BPI) Building Analyst Professional. Austin Energy maintains a Web-based list of certified ECAD Energy Professionals who have registered with Austin Energy (pdf). In addition to being certified, these ECAD Energy Professionals attend an orientation to understand the Austin Climate Protection Plan, the ECAD ordinance, and Austin Energy Rebates and Incentives programs and standards.
What must I provide to a potential home buyer to show that I had an ECAD audit?
Home sellers should be prepared to disclose details pertaining to their exemption or provide a copy of the ECAD audit three days before the end of the option period or at the time a contract is executed if there is no option period.
When do I need to have the energy audit done?
The City and Austin Board of REALTORS® recommends the ECAD audit be conducted far enough in advance of the end of the option period or contract signing to meet this requirement.
Do I need an energy audit if I am selling a property with multiple units and state law doesn’t require an option period?
Yes. If there isn’t an option period in the sales contract, the property seller is required to provide the energy audit to the property buyer before the contract is executed.
Can I use a multifamily energy audit done for my condominium owners association when I sell my condo unit?
Yes, if there is one available for the entire property.
I had an energy audit performed by a third party to close out my City building permit when I installed my new central HVAC system. When I sell my home, can I use this energy code performance report as the ECAD audit?
No. The energy code performance report required to close out a City building permit does require scientific testing, but doesn’t include all the same information such as insulation, solar shading, or appliance information. However, many of these third-party energy code performance testers are also registered to perform ECAD audits, so you could have them do both during the same visit (additional charges may apply).
What if I sell the house without an audit?
Non-compliance with the ECAD ordinance is a Class C misdemeanor with fines of up to $500 and $2,000. Reported violations will be forwarded to the City of Austin Municipal Courts for complaints to be filed, review, and action.
How many homes does the ECAD ordinance affect?
It is estimated about 3,000 homes each year.
How long does an ECAD home audit generally take?
An ECAD audit takes about two hours for an average 1,800-square-foot home and one hour per 1,000 sq ft.
What home components does an ECAD auditor evaluate?
The ECAD auditor evaluates the home’s windows, window shading, attic insulation, air conditioning and heating system, low flow toilets, and the air duct system.
What information is included in the ECAD home audit report?
- Attic insulation’s condition and estimated R-value
- Percentage of air leakage from the duct system
- Number of windows receiving more than one hour of direct sunlight
- Estimated air conditioning system EER (Energy Efficiency Rating) value and general condition of the mechanical system
- Recommendations for improving the home’s energy efficiency
What does the ECAD audit report look like?
The ECAD audit is a multi-page form that includes the evaluation of the audited home components, recommendations for energy-efficiency upgrades, and information about Austin Energy loan and rebate programs.
How much does an ECAD home audit cost?
The ECAD audit was designed to keep the cost under $300 for a typical single-family home 1,800 square feet or smaller with a single air-conditioning system. Auditors set their own prices, which depend on the size of the home.
What is the difference between the required ECAD audit and the assessment a Home Energy Savings contractor performs to create a job scope for a whole-home rebate project?
ECAD audits are required by City Code 6-7 for homes that do not meet any of the exemptions or variances. All ECAD audits are conducted by ECAD Energy Professionals certified as a BPI Building Analyst or a RESNET Home Energy Rater. Whereas participating contractors will assess the homes of customers interested in participating in the Home Energy Savings rebate program and recommend energy efficiency improvements. Participation in the Home Energy Savings program is voluntary and completed rebate projects may exempt the property from the ECAD ordinance for 10 years.
What is Austin Energy’s role with the ECAD audits and the ECAD ordinance?
The Austin City Council appointed Austin Energy to implement and manage the Austin City Code Chapter 6-7 ECAD ordinance. Austin Energy verifies that ECAD auditors are certified as RESNET Raters or BPI Building Analyst Professionals and registers them as qualified ECAD auditors. Austin Energy also collects and maintains ECAD audit records.
Where are the results of the ECAD audits stored?
ECAD auditors provide audit results to Austin Energy, which maintains a record of each audit for the City of Austin.
What energy-efficiency improvements qualify the home for an exemption from the ECAD ordinance?
You have made qualifying energy efficiency improvements to your home through the following Austin Energy programs within the last 10 years:
- Home Energy Savings, formerly known as Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®, a whole-home energy-efficiency program
- Rebates and Incentives, through which you made three or more energy-efficiency improvements or received a minimum of $500 in residential energy efficiency upgrade rebates
- Weatherization Assistance (available only for customers with low-to-moderate incomes.)
To obtain documentation of improvements made to your home through these programs, or to get your ECAD status, call 512-482-5346 or email Austin Energy.
Does the ECAD ordinance require that I provide a potential home buyer with monthly electricity bills?
No. The only required document is the ECAD audit, unless the home has a exemption or variance. Providing a home buyer with past electricity bills does not replace the required ECAD audit. If you would like to request past utility bills, please complete and send the Austin Energy Release of Customer Information Authorization Form (pdf).
My home had an energy “audit” and I made energy-efficiency improvements within 10 years after the audit. How can I get these improvements on record with the City of Austin?
Austin Energy keeps records of energy-efficiency improvements made by registered Austin Energy contractors.
Is my home exempt from the ECAD ordinance if I implemented energy-efficiency measures without participating in an Austin Energy residential energy-efficiency program?
No. Only improvements made through Home Energy Savings, formerly known as Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®, or an equivalent Austin Energy program can exempt your home from the ECAD ordinance. The quality of materials and methods can be ensured only if the work is performed under Austin Energy program guidelines.
What can I provide a potential home buyer to show that I completed energy efficiency improvements?
Austin Energy provides homeowners with information about the energy efficiency improvements a home has received through Austin Energy programs. To assist homeowners with past program history, call 512-482-5346 or email Austin Energy with the home’s address and their telephone number.
How do I apply for a variance to the ECAD ordinance?
If the home buyer plans to substantially remodel the home, does it need an ECAD audit before the sale?
The home may receive a variance if the buyer applies no later than six months after the sale for a building permit to substantially remodel the home. The seller and buyer must submit a variance request and enter into a binding agreement where the buyer agrees to complete an ECAD audit no later than six months after the remodel.
If a house is scheduled for demolition by a new owner, does it need an ECAD audit before the sale?
The home may receive a variance if a variance request is submitted to Austin Energy prior to the time of sale and the new owner applies no later than six months after the sale for a City permit to demolish the home.
Is my condo unit exempt from the ECAD audit if the condominium owners association participated in the Austin Energy multifamily program’s duct sealing or HVAC upgrades throughout the entire property?
Yes. If the entire property meets the multifamily exemption for duct sealing or replacing all HVAC equipment for all units onsite each would exempt each individual condo unit.
Energy Efficiency Improvements
What energy-efficiency improvements might be needed under the ECAD ordinance?
The ECAD ordinance does not require residential customers to invest in home energy efficiency improvements. However, certain improvements made through Home Energy Savings, formerly known as Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®, or an equivalent Austin Energy program can exempt the home from the ECAD audit. These improvements include: increasing attic insulation to R38; installing solar screens or solar film; replacing or insulating ducts; reducing air infiltration and sealing ducts; and installing new qualifying HVAC systems.
Does Austin Energy offer any rebates or assistance for making energy efficiency improvements?
How do I apply for rebates or loans?
For information about applying for rebates, see Austin Energy’s Rebates and Incentives. Customers can also call a participating contractor and request a free energy assessment and estimate for energy efficiency improvements.
Please call 512-482-5346 or email us if you have any questions or need additional information about the ECAD ordinance.