Home shoppers often try to estimate the cost of monthly utilities payments for prospective homes by quizzing real-estate agents. A new feature offered by a brokerage should help demystify that number. The feature, unveiled on Thursday by real-estate brokerage firm Redfin
provides energy-cost estimates for 85 million homes nationwide.

The estimates are provided by WattBuy, an energy software company, which signed a partnership with Redfin. “It’s important for house hunters to understand how much it’s going to cost to live in a given home,” Christian Taubman, chief growth officer at Redfin, said in a statement. “Our research shows that many movers assume their utility costs will be similar in their new home, but that’s sometimes way off base,” he added.  The feature will sit below Redfin’s payment calculator.  For the homes covered by the tool, the detail pages — which include homes for sale as well as off-market homes — will show one of two things. For homes that are on the market, the page will give an estimate of the home’s monthly electricity usage, bill, and seasonal changes in electricity usage and cost. For homes that are off the market, the page will estimate how much the homeowners could save on long-term energy costs by installing solar panels.  “It’s a terrific idea,” Mark Toney, executive director at the consumer-advocacy group Utility Reform Network, told MarketWatch. “It’s an absolutely essential part of a home.” Toney said that the next big step would be to include estimated insurance costs. The average monthly electric bill for a residential property in the U.S. in 2021 was $121, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Got thoughts on the housing market? Write to MarketWatch reporter Aarthi Swaminathan at aarthi@marketwatch.com

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