How Does a Home Energy Rating Work?


on November 11, 2012

Row of homes with HERS Index Scores appearing above each in a bubble

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RESNET’s HERS Index has been getting a whole lot of press recently. It’s steadily gaining traction with builders and home sellers, who are marketing their homes via HERS Index Scores. And let’s not forget homebuyers, who are now comparing houses based on their scores before they decide to buy.

All this shouldn’t come as a great surprise; after all, a lower HERS Index Score means a more energy efficient home, which translates into lower energy costs for both homeowners and potential homebuyers.

  • A standard American resale home is rated at 130 on the HERS Index.
  • A standard American new home is rated at 100 on the HERS Index.
  • A home with a HERS Index Score of 50 is 50% more energy efficient than a standard American new home.
  • A home with a HERS Index Score of 150 is 50% less efficient than a standard American new home.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But here’s the question: if you’re a homeowner looking to sell your home, how on earth do you go about getting a HERS Index Score? The answer: you have to get an energy rating and that brings us to the second point: what’s an energy rating?

What’s an Energy Rating and Where Can I Get One?

A home energy rating is a comparative analysis of how energy efficient your home is when compared to similar homes. So what does that mean exactly? It means that a certified RESNET Home Energy Rater will conduct a series of tests on your home to ascertain how efficiently it’s performing. Based on the performance results, the rater will issue your home with a HERS Index Score (which shows how well your home rates in terms of energy efficiency) and provide you with a detailed report highlighting the energy problems in the home.

What’s Tested during an Energy Rating?

You’re probably wondering by now “How does an energy rating work?” A certified RESNET Home Energy Rater will conduct testing (i.e., an air leakage test, duct leakage test and combustion safety testing) in such areas as:

  • All exterior walls (both above and below grade)
  • Floors over unconditioned spaces (e.g., garages or cellars)
  • Ceilings and roofs
  • Attics, foundations and crawlspaces
  • Windows and doors, vents and ductwork
  • HVAC systems, water heating system, and thermostats

Why Get an Energy Rating?

As a homeowner, an energy rating provides you with a good idea about issues like:

  • How much your home is really costing you
  • How you can cut your energy costs
  • Discover cost-effective ways to increase your home’s comfort level
  • Help add to your home’s resale value

If you’re in the market to buy a home, well, there’s no better way to establish the real cost of one than by its HERS Index Score. Why? Because the cost of a home is more than just the mortgage – it’s also your monthly energy bills. By reviewing homes by their HERS Index Scores, you can tell which one is more affordable, sort of like comparing the MPG (miles-per-gallon) stickers on new cars.

There’s a reason why people are talking about HERS Index Scores and energy ratings; the fact of the matter is, the housing industry is changing and the HERS Index is leading the charge. Therefore, it makes good sense to contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Rater for an energy audit; as they say, knowledge is power and knowing your HERS Index Score can lead to a whole lot of power – literally!

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