Imagine an energy label for a house similar to the Energy Guide label on a refrigerator or water heater. The label would provide a prospective buyer with valuable information about the true costs of owning a particular home. It would also give current homeowners — whether or not they had any intention of selling soon — a good idea of where their home stood with regard to energy efficiency, and to what degree they might be able to improve that efficiency.

Energy labeling for homes is an idea that’s been frequently proposed but, until recently, only selectively implemented. The European Union, for instance, is in the early stages of adopting a mandatory energy-rating scheme for buildings; it’s likely only a matter of time before the idea becomes widely adopted in the U.S.

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