The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has formally adopted the Home Energy Rating System Index (HERS) and the use of HERS Index scores for homes that qualify as a DOE Challenge Home. The HERS Index will replace DOE’s E-Scale and all DOE Challenge Homes will now be issued a certificate containing that home’s HERS Index score.

Formerly known as the Builders Challenge program, DOE Challenge Home requirements also stipulate that an energy rating by a certified RESNET HERS Rater must first take place in order for a home to qualify as a DOE Challenge Home. Based on its performance during the energy rating, the home is then awarded a HERS Index score.

The HERS Index was developed by RESNET. It is the industry standard by which a home’s energy efficiency is measured and the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance. The lower a home’s HERS Index score is, the more energy efficient it is. A typical new home that conforms to current energy standards scores 100 on the HERS Index and is the baseline against which other homes are compared to for energy efficiency.

As a result of the changes to the program, RESNET accredited HERS software providers are being asked by DOE to update their rating software in order to be able to print the certificate for homes that qualify as a DOE Challenge Home. The certificate will show the actual HERS Index score for the home being rated.

This move by DOE reflects the growing importance of the HERS Index in the housing market. It also follows the direction set earlier by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whose ENERGY STAR for Homes program also issues certificates with HERS Index scores to homes qualifying for their program.

About the DOE Challenge Home

Since 2008, the DOE Challenge Home program has been recognizing hundreds of leading builders for their achievements in energy efficiency, resulting in over 13,000 energy efficient homes and millions of dollars in energy savings. Originally known as the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Builders Challenge, the program represents a new level of home energy performance based on rigorous requirements, which are designed to ensure exceptional levels of energy savings, home comfort, health and durability.


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.