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Builder Magazine Features HERS® Index

Sep 9, 2019

On August 16, 2019, Builder Magazine posted the feature,” How Low Can You Go? An Inside Look into HERS® Scores“.  The story finds that “The Home Energy Rating System—known best as HERS—is helping to provide a competitive advantage, improve quality assurance, and drive energy efficiency in U.S. housing stock.”

The feature explains the HERS® Index and highlights builders who have their homes HERS® rated.

Florida appraiser Sandra Adomatis (keynote speaker at the 2019 RESNET Conference) was quoted, “You would never buy a car without test-driving it or knowing how many miles per gallon it gets, yet we make the largest investment in our lives without either – that a ‘lightbulb’ moment.  HERS® is helping to move the public to a low-carbon residential market.”

The magazine notes that “A HERS® rater’s additional scrutiny provides homes with an extra level of quality assurance.”  It quotes RESNET’s Ryan Meres, “It’s an extra set of eyes that are looking for any potential energy-related issues, and this can save the builder on callbacks, which cost a lot of time and money.”

The story also highlights the following HERS® Raters and RESNET builders:

New Tradition Homes (September Builder of the Month): “The first step is to seek out a qualified HERS® rater, and use them as a consultant to help you in the process,” says Steve Tapio, project manager and building science team leader at New Tradition Homes in Washington state, which ranked No. 149 on the latest Builder 100 list. “For those who are just starting out, it can be very daunting. But the HERS® raters will tell you what will get you the most bang for the buck.” In our area, we have to try to meet the prices of similarly sized homes with similar amenities, but energy efficiency is a key differentiator for us. We have consistently held on to a larger market share over our competitors in volume and dollar amounts. Our margin isn’t as large, but we make up for it in volume.”

Desert Skies EnergyHERS® Rater Stephen Mogowski of Desert Skies Energy, who works with more than 200 custom home builders in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz., says he sees some sort of problem with ductwork or insulation in about one in every two homes he tests. “You cannot believe the problems in modern construction,” says Mogowski. “Everything can look like it’s installed great, but if you’re not doing due diligence, things will get missed.” The cost of getting a HERS® rating varies depending on production volume and other factors, but expect to pay $400 to $800 and up.

Energy Diagnostics: Even in more moderate climates, insulation and air sealing are important for maintaining consistent, comfortable temperatures. Careful air sealing in the proper locations is the “low-hanging fruit,” says Matt Gingrich, director of quality assurance and training at Energy Diagnostics, which does HERS® ratings for builders in Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. A close second in priority is insulation.

McAllister Construction: “Anyone can say they build an energy-efficient house, but having third-party certification makes a huge difference,” says Jason McAllister of McAllister Construction, a custom home builder in Amherst, Ohio, who is currently working on a subdivision of 27 townhomes that will all be HERS-rated. “The buyer knows that you’re not just trying to blow smoke.”

Blue Sky Homes:  “When Nick Blue of Blue Sky Homes, a builder and developer in Phoenix, decided to focus on “future-proofing” his company’s homes and increasing their energy efficiency, his first step was to get a HERS® (Home Energy Rating System) score. “We thought, “Let’s take a test to see how we’re doing,’ and we saw that we had a lot of room for improvement,” he says.  At the time, the company was simply building to code and the HERS® score it received, in the mid-70s, reflected that. After working with a HERS® rater as well as a third-party energy auditor on improvements such as passive solar orientation, spray-foam insulation, and LED lighting, Blue Sky’s homes are now all Energy Star–certified and have an average HERS® score under 50. “HERS® is fantastic—it’s really hard to hit a goal if you can’t hold your contractors accountable,” says Blue.  It’s “helpful for any builder to know where they stand initially, and then they can make their own determination about the cost-benefit tradeoffs. But every builder should know how efficient their homes are.”

To download the story go to https://www.builderonline.com/building/building-science/how-low-can-you-go-an-inside-look-into-hers-scores_o