A major problem faced by homebuyers today is calculating the true affordability of homes they want to buy. Consumers are increasingly aware that outside of the home loan, the highest cost of buying a home today is its energy consumption. However, the blatant lack of transparency in the housing market makes it difficult for consumers to comparison-shop for homes based on energy performance, the way they can for cars, appliances and electronics. This directly hampers their ability to make informed decisions when buying a home. The solution to this problem is the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index, which introduces transparency to the home buying process by grading homes based on their energy performance.

What is the HERS Index?

  • Developed by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) and introduced in 2006, the HERS Index is the industry standard by which a home’s energy efficiency is measured.
  • HERS Index scores are recognized as an official verification of energy performance by government agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • A HERS Index Score is determined by an energy rating, which is a comprehensive home energy performance assessment. The data is compared against a “reference home” – a design modeled home of the same size and shape as the actual home, so the HERS Index Score is always relative to the size, shape and type of house being rated.
    • The reference home conforms to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and meets the minimum requirements to be deemed energy efficient. The reference home has a HERS Index Score of 100.
    • Homes with HERS Index scores of 100 or lower are rated as being energy efficient. Those with scores above 100 aren’t. The lower the score, the more energy efficient the home.

The HERS Index Score: MPG Sticker for Homes

The HERS Index Score makes it easy for consumers to comparison-shop for energy efficient homes and identify the ones they can afford to buy. Similar to the auto industry’s miles-per-gallon (MPG) stickers for new cars, and Energy Guide labels for appliances, HERS Index scores help homebuyers make better-informed decisions about the homes they want to buy.

How to Know a Home’s HERS Index Score

  1. Look for a RESNET EnergySmart Builder. Due to the rising demand for energy efficient homes, increasing numbers of builders are committing to having their homes rated for energy performance and using HERS Index scores to market them.
  2. Multiple listing services in many states have started creating “green categories” specifically for energy efficient homes. Some of these, like the Gainesville, Florida MLS and MLSs in Colorado for example, list HERS Index scores as part a home’s energy efficient features.
  3. Another way to find out about a home’s HERS Index Score is to simply ask the builder or homeowner for it. If they don’t already have one, they can contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Rater to get a comprehensive HERS rating, and a HERS Index Score.

By enabling consumers to more easily identify energy efficient homes, HERS Index scores help them make better informed buying decisions. Talk to a certified RESNET Home Energy Rater to learn more about the HERS Index and its value to homeowners and buyers.

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