A newly constructed Gilbert, AZ home recently became the one-millionth home rated in the U.S. for its energy performance.  As reported by USA Today, the home was rated by certified RESNET Home Energy Rater, Daran Wastchak of D.R. Wastchak, an Arizona-based RESNET Accredited Home Energy Rating Provider.  The rater conducted the series of tests on the Meritage Homes built house, awarding it a HERS Index Score of 51. Similar to the miles-per-gallon calculation for cars, a home’s HERS Index Score provides buyers with a reference point for how energy efficient it is as compared to other homes. The rating for the Gilbert home calculated that it will save its new owner about $158 monthly, or $1,890 annually in utility expenses – as promised by the builder.

RESNET, which is short for the Residential Energy Services Network, is a non-profit organization that was launched in 1995 with the goal of standardizing home energy efficiency ratings and helping homeowners reduce energy costs by making their homes more energy efficient. Certified RESNET Home Energy Professionals are trained in energy efficiency practices and must adhere to the RESNET Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

With over 3,000 RESNET certified Auditors, Raters and Contractors across the United States and Puerto Rico, RESNET hopes to make home energy ratings a common marketplace feature for homes one day, much like the miles-per-gallon sticker on new automobiles. Energy ratings are starting to play an increasingly important role in the housing industry, with more utility companies now offering builders rebates based on the efficiency of their homes, as rated by certified RESNET Home Energy Professionals. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency relies on certified RESNET Home Energy Raters to verify ENERGY STAR labeled homes and the Internal Revenue Service too, recognizes RESNET’s standards for verifying energy efficiency homes for federal  tax credits.

“What we want to do is create a marker so consumers can readily understand the difference between homes,” says RESNET Executive Director Steve Baden. One of the ways they are doing this is through the HERS Index, which was created by RESNET and is a nationally recognized system for measuring a home’s energy efficiency. The lower the HERS Index Score, the more energy efficient the home is.

A standard new construction home that meets current energy guidelines is awarded a HERS Index Score of 100, and is used as the benchmark against which other houses are measured. For example, according to the Department of Energy, a typical resale house in the U.S. will earn a score of 130, making it 30% less energy efficient than a new construction home. On the other hand, the Arizona home that was rated with a score of 51 is 49% more energy efficient than the new construction home and 79% more efficient than the typical resale home.

According to Baden, the popularity of HERS continues to grow with more and more builders using HERS Index Scores to market the energy efficiency of their homes. “We spent almost a decade coming up with the infrastructure, educating builders and the (construction) trades on the value of the index,” he said. “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.”

In addition to builders, there is also a growing awareness among buyers about the benefits of energy ratings and purchasing an energy efficient home. This, in turn, is leading many to first ask about a home’s HERS Index Score before taking any decisions.

To find out more about RESNET and the HERS Index, visit their website at www.resnet.us
About RESNET

The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) is the independent, national nonprofit organization that homeowners trust to improve home energy efficiency and realize substantial savings on their utility bills. RESNET’s industry-leading standards are recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others.

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