So you’re looking to buy a new home…but not just any home. You want one that’s easy on the environment and uses less energy. A comfortable home that saves you money while reducing your carbon footprint.

In other words, what you want is a high energy performance home.

But how do you know when you’ve found one? I mean, how can you tell if the house you’re viewing is actually a high energy performance home? Is there a way to differentiate between a home that’s energy efficient from one that’s not?

Luckily there is and increasing numbers of builders are using it to market energy efficient homes. It’s called a HERS Index score and hopefully one day soon every house will have one.

Energy Performance and the HERS Index Score

So what is a HERS Index score anyway? The home energy rating system (HERS) was developed by RESNET to help homebuyers compare homes based on their energy performance. For example, when a certified RESNET Home Energy Rater does a home energy rating, they’ll give the home a HERS Index score based on its energy performance.

A standard new American construction home that adheres to current energy guidelines is awarded a default HERS Index score of 100, which serves as a benchmark against which all other homes are measured. A higher HERS Index score translates into a less energy efficient home, and vice-versa. A typical American resale home scores 130 on the HERS Index, making it 30% less energy efficient than a new construction home. On the other hand, if a house gets a HERS Index score of 50, it means that it’s 50% more energy efficient than a standard new construction home.

Why the HERS Index Score is Important to Builders

Thanks to the HERS Index and HERS Index scores, for the first time homebuyers can actually get an true understanding about how energy efficient a home really is. This naturally changes the way people are viewing homes they’re interested in and builders have been quick to understand that. Consequently, many are now actively marketing their homes using HERS Index scores to advertise potential savings that homebuyers could enjoy when purchasing a high energy performance home.

In addition to this, utility companies too are jumping on the bandwagon by offering builders rebates on energy costs based on their homes’ HERS Index scores. In fact, LG&E and KU Energy, a utility company based in Louisville, Kentucky, recently had their Energy-Saving New Homes Program recognized as a RESNET EnergySmart Program. The program rewards enrolled builders with rebates based on the HERS Index scores of their houses. For example, single family dwellings with HERS Index scores of 85 are eligible for a rebate of $440, and it increases up to $1,200 for homes that score 50 or lower. LG&E and KU Energy are the first utility in the U.S. to earn this designation from RESNET.

What Does All This Mean to Homebuyers?

Thanks to increased efforts and awareness, it’s now getting easier for homebuyers to identify and buy high energy performance homes. As the popularity of HERS Index scores continues to grow, and with builders actively promoting energy efficient homes via their scores, the future is starting to look a little…well…greener than it once did!

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