There’s a new buzzword being thrown around the housing industry with increasing regularity these days: the HERS Index. For those in the know, the HERS Index is the most effective way of identifying an energy efficient home.

But what about those folks who aren’t in the know and have absolutely no idea what the HERS Index is, or how it benefits them as homeowners? Well, help is on the way. In this article, we’ll explain what the HERS Index is, how it works and why it’s important to you.

First things first: what is the HERS Index?

The Home Energy Rating System Index, better known as the HERS Index, is a scoring system used to measure the energy efficiency of a home.

Developed by RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network) and introduced in 2006, the HERS Index is the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance. It was also recently adopted by the Department of Energy to replace DOE’s E-Scale as the method used to determine those homes that qualify as a DOE Challenge Home. The DOE Challenge Home is a government program that represents a new level of home energy performance based on stringent requirements, designed to ensure extraordinary levels of energy savings and home comfort.

How does the HERS Index work exactly?

The way it works is quite simple really. A certified RESNET Home Energy Rater conducts an energy rating on a home to determine its energy performance. A HERS Index score is generated based upon the results of the rating. This score gives the homeowner an indication of how energy efficient their home is in comparison to other similar homes. A lower HERS Index score means a more energy efficient home.

A typical resale home in the United States is rated at 130 on the HERS Index, while a standard new home that conforms to the current International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) standards scores 100. These figures have been determined by the U.S. Department of Energy. In layman’s terms, what this means is that a home with a HERS Index score of 70 is 30% more energy efficient than a standard new home, and a home scoring 130 is 30% less efficient than the standard new home.

Where’s the value in the HERS Index?

So, it all sounds very interesting but the big question is: of what benefit is the HERS Index to homeowners? It’s all very well knowing that your home is 30% more energy efficient than a standard new house, but how does that help you in tangible terms?

Well, consider this: when you’re buying a new car, what’s one of the things you look at? The MPG (miles-per-gallon) sticker, right? The HERS Index score is much the same except it’s for houses. While a MPG sticker will tell you how much mileage you can expect out of your new car, the HERS Index score gives you an indication of what kind of energy costs you can expect from your new home.

Let’s say, for example, that there are two homes that you’re interested in. One has a HERS Index score of 55 and the other a score of 130. You’ll know immediately that the home scoring 55 is more energy efficient, which translates into lower energy costs and a more comfortable living environment – making your decision that much easier.

And it’s not only homebuyers who are reaping the benefits of the HERS Index; those selling their homes are as well. Homeowners who’ve put their houses on the market, and have done an energy rating, can use their HERS Index score to command a better price. In fact, more and more builders across the United States are actively marketing their homes via HERS Index scores.

Americans are waking up to the value of owning energy efficient homes, both in terms of cost and health factors. And it’s through the HERS Index and HERS Index scores that they’re able to identify which homes are the most energy efficient. So, if you’re in the market for a new home, or want to sell your existing one, do yourself a favor: find out what your HERS Index score is!