Premier Dalton McGuinty is defending a plan to saddle homeowners with a mandatory $300 energy audit as part of his Green Energy Act, dismissing critics who say this is yet another way to tax overburdened residents.

Forcing people to conduct audits is a good idea, McGuinty said, because it will allow buyers to know their energy costs.

“When it comes to buying the single most expensive thing that you’re likely to buy during the course of your lifetime — a home — you’re entitled to know what kinds of costs you’re going to incur when it comes to energy,” McGuinty said.

“We want to make sure that you can compare one house to another on an apples to apples basis.”

Ontario realtors, however, said the additional costs will hurt homeowners in what are increasingly difficult economic times.

“The results of these audits will be used by home buyers as bargaining chips to significantly reduce the final selling price,” said Gerry Weir, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association.

“Home sellers are already worried about lost equity in their homes. A move like this, which will reduce their value even further, will not help them in any way.”

The group also notes there isn’t one standard for energy audits and no regulation of auditors.

“The question that immediately came to my mind is: what then? After you do the energy audit, what happens?” asked Mel Fruitman of the Consumers Association of Canada.

Progressive Conservative critic John Yakabuski said the mandatory audits will simply mean more stress for homeowners.