A revolution in home efficiency is taking place all across America, with a significant milestone recently being reached in Gilbert, Arizona. As reported by USA Today, certified RESNET Home Energy Rater Daran Wastchak, of Arizona-based D.R. Wastchak, a RESNET accredited Home Energy Rating Provider, carried out the ONE-MILLIONTH energy rating on a U.S. home to assess its energy performance.

The Meritage Homes built construction received a HERS Index Score of 51, ranking it as 49% more energy efficient than a new construction home (which scores 100 on the HERS Index) and 79% more efficient than a typical resale home (which receives a rating of 130). But it’s not just the statistics that are impressive; this same home will save its new owner around $158 per month (that works out to $1,890 annually) in utility expenses. Now there’s home efficiency in action for you!

The HERS Index was created by RESNET in order to give homeowners and buyers a standard by which they could measure the energy efficiency of houses they currently own or are planning to buy. You could say it’s kind of like the home industry’s version of the MPG (miles per gallon) rating that you find in the auto industry and the lower a home’s HERS Index Score is, the better its home efficiency.

And again, much like a car’s MPG sticker, a home’s HERS Index Score is increasingly being used by builders to market their properties. Meritage themselves are a good example of this: the pamphlet marketing their model home displays its annual savings in large, bold print – sure to attract immediate attention. Meritage’s Vice President of Environmental Affairs, C.R. Herro, points out that young buyers who already subscribe to a sustainability ethic are especially interested in energy efficient homes, while older buyers too, are very interested because they “understand the benefits of saving $160 a month on air-conditioning.”

According to Steve Baden, RESNET’s Executive Director, RESNET “spent almost a decade coming up with the infrastructure, educating builders and the (construction) trades on the value of the index. We went from certifying a few hundred homes a year to 120,000 in 2011, which was 40% of all the new homes sold last year.” This year the increase looks to be even greater, seeing as how the Gilbert home is already the one-millionth to be rated for its home efficiency.

Add to that a growing awareness among homeowners and buyers of the importance of the HERS Index and how it works. After all, it is the industry standard for measuring a home’s energy performance and is recognized nationally as such. Coupled together with the fact that Americans are starting to really understand the benefits of home efficiency, such as lower energy bills and improved home comfort, it’s no wonder that the number of energy ratings is on the rise.

RESNET has played a big role in this. As the organization that homeowners trust to help them increase energy efficiency and thereby reduce their utility costs, RESNET hopes to make energy ratings, together with their subsequent HERS Index Scores, a routine part of the home buying process.

As energy costs continue to climb, efforts to save on utility bills, increase home comfort and reduce our impact on the environment are now more important than ever before. The next question is no longer will there be a two-millionth home in America to get a HERS Index Score but instead how soon will it be and in which state?